In spite of all the knowledge about food a lot of products are being consumed of which the composition is not exactly clear. The call for higher biodiversity in grasslands, the introduction of new, disease resistant agricultural crops, adaptation of production processes under the pressure of cost price and sustainability, are examples of factors that influence the composition of foods. Sometimes positively, sometimes negatively.
In a highly competitive market Dutch agriculture will, apart from quantity, have to focus more and more on high-quality and safe foods. Produced as sustainable and animal-friendly as possible while keeping in mind the needs and safety of the consumer. Thus, playing with biodiversity can improve the health of cows and yield environmentally friendly dairy products with specific advantages for certain consumer groups.
The professorship Food Safety and Health examines the advantages and safety of products of the entire food chain, but the dairy chain in particular. It is building a scientific network in order to answer national and regional food-related questions in the best way possible. In practice this means that in cooperation with knowledge institutions and the industry (Multinationals and small and medium sized enterprises) and with the help of VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) students, the professorship translates food-related questions into applied scientific research.
Just as in humans, the food of the cow largely determines the composition of the milk. Therefore it is interesting and imperative to know which changes are brought about in the milk by herbs, crops and conservation techniques, and what the effects on the health of different consumer groups are. Knowledge is gathered by literature studies, feed tests, analytical-chemical research, in-vitro (toxicity) tests and in-silico modelling. The gathered knowledge will be published and implemented in the educational programme. In addition, the professorship strives to make this knowledge easily available to the general public.
Sometimes food is consumed in large quantities or out of balance as a result of life style. This can result in different effects on different consumer groups, and sometimes small changes in lifestyle can compensate the imbalance in food. Besides, through the treatment process, changes can occur unintentionally and irrevocably, in the composition of food. Making an inventory of the risks (or advantages) of food components in disbalance or food components that have changed after the treatment process, is of great importance for future food policy and education. Gathered knowledge will be shared in the form of publications or safety reports.
The Professorship is supported and monitored by a knowledge centre consisting of professors, lecturers and researcher-lecturers of Hogeschool VHL, an expert on business and a professor emeritus. Every two months the knowledge network discusses ongoing and new projects and assesses what knowledge is to be included in the education curriculum. Where possible gaps in education will be acknowledged and solved.
The knowledge network Food Safety and Health consists of: