Safety in the Food Chain

This associate applied research group is focused on the safety, quality and integrity of the entire food chain, from crop production to processing, distribution and consumption. The group researches what happens to resources in the food chain and identifies potential health risks and risk-mitigation strategies. It also researches the integrity of food products (for fraud). The research uses and develops state-of-the-art techniques, including analytical chemical and chemometric techniques, physiologically based kinetic models (PBP) and in vitro technologies (kinetic and toxicity tests). The research carried out in this associate applied research group is multidisciplinary and contributes to a sustainable future for people and the environment. The associate applied research group works with research institutes and the private sector (multinationals and SMEs) and draws on input from students at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (HVHL) to turn research questions into applied scientific research.


  • BioDiverseMelk: herb-rich grasslands can contribute to biodiversity and, when used effectively, can have positive impacts on issues such as soil quality, animal health and emission reductions. The BioDiverseMelk project is investigating the effect of herb-rich grassland on milk composition, and on methane and nitrogen emissions. The research outcomes will help dairy farmers use functional grassland herb species on their farm and to valorise the economic input. Read more >>
  • Designing a ruminant digestion model: the effect of animal feed on the composition of foods, including milk, is largely determined by the processes that take place in the cow’s front stomach and small intestine, which is something that can be investigated in animal studies. As an alternative to using animals, this project is investigating options for an in vitro model of cow digestion.
  • Decontamination options for sesame seeds contaminated with ethylene oxide and/or 2-chloroethanol: in 2020, batches of sesame seeds came on the market that exceeded the maximum residue level (MRL) set by the European Union for the pesticide ethylene oxide. A theoretic and laboratory study researched decontamination options for contaminated sesame seeds, and the client was provided with the international standards for the application of ethylene oxide as a pesticide.
  • FARM-LIFE - refarming the future: the transition from conventional monocultures to climate-resilient forestry is being supported through the exchange of knowledge and tools between stakeholders. Complementary research is also being carried out into the impact of climate-resilient forestry on biodiversity, soil quality, and – with the help of this associate applied research group – the nutritional value and nutritional composition of products derived from agroforestry systems. Read more >>
  • HortiTechIndia: the Food Safety Webinar ‘From harvest to plate’ provided a briefing to the horticultural sector in India about compounds in the food chain. The webinar can be viewed on YouTube.
  • Determining the origin of PAHs in herbs: some herbs contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at levels that exceed the EU standard for dried herbs. Research was done into the origin of PAHs in dried herbs, which led to the design of measures to reduce the levels and recommendations to help businesses in the herb sector to supply products that comply with applicable standards. Read more >>
  • Development of physiologically based pharmacokinetic models: predicting the toxicity of substances including pesticides, additives, chemicals and drugs (including veterinary drugs) has traditionally relied on animal tests. As an alternative to those tests, in vitro and silico models are being developed that can indicate the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of substances in human and animal bodies. Combining these models with in vitro toxicity tests makes it possible to predict the toxicity of substances without conducting animal tests.


Everything published by the associate applied research group on Safety in the Food Chain can be found on Greeni, the online library for the green universities of applied sciences.

Research techniques and facilities

  • Analytical chemical techniques: the associate applied research group uses a variety of analytical chemical techniques to identify and quantify compounds in both targeted and untargeted ways. HVHL has access to a variety of analytical techniques including UHPLC-MS-TOF, GC-MS, GC-FID, HPLC-DAD, FTIR, NIR, ICP-OES and ICP/Ms.
  • In vitro and in silico techniques: in vitro techniques are used to determine the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination (ADME) of compounds in tissues or artificial systems. The outcomes of these in vitro tests can be translated into values that are relevant to humans and animals. Physiologically based kinetic (PBK) models developed and applied within the applied research group can be used to model ADME processes for compounds in the body and to predict the kinetics of compounds.
  • Specific facilities: the associate applied research group has access to the specific facilities available at the Food Application Center (FACT), the Water Application Center (WAC) and the DairyCampus Leeuwarden for the purpose of conducting applied research. For example, the BioDiverseMelk project works with the DairyCampus, while the project on identifying decontamination options for sesame seeds used the laboratory facilities at the WAC.

About the professor

Dr. Marije Strikwold ERT is an associate professor of Safety in the Food Chain at HVHL’s Applied Research Center. Marije studied environmental science and biomedical sciences and was awarded a PhD from Wageningen University’s toxicology department. She studies the risks and outcomes associated with chemical compounds in the food chain and researches the integrity of food products. Her research also looks into the development of alternatives to animal testing for assessing the risks associated with chemical compounds. As a lecturer, Marije is affiliated with HVHL’s study programme on forensic laboratory research, where her role includes coordinating the minor in Food Forensics & Toxicology. She has experience in developing and applying exposure-based and physiologically based kinetic (PBK) models, in vitro toxicity, ADME testing, and analytical chemical techniques. She has received three awards from the Society of Toxicology for her scientific publications on alternatives to animal testing. Marije is a EUROTOX registered toxicologist.

Marije Strikwold

Want to know more?

If you have any questions about the associate applied research group, please email [email protected] or call +31 6 2221 8304.