Safety in the food chain

This associate applied research group focuses on research into the safety, quality and integrity of food throughout the supply chain, from cultivation to processing, distribution and consumption. The fate of the materials in the (circular) food chain is examined and possible health risks, and risk mitigation strategies are identified. Furthermore, research is done on the product integrity of food (food fraud). State-of-the-art techniques are employed and further developed in the research studies, including analytical chemical and chemometric techniques, physiologically based kinetic models (PBP), and in vitro technologies (kinetics and toxicity testing). The research done in this associate applied research group is multidisciplinary and thus contributes to a sustainable future for humans and the environment. In cooperation with knowledge institutes and the business community (Multinationals and Small to Medium Enterprises), and with the help of students from Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (HVHL), research questions are converted into applied scientific research by the associate applied research group.


  • BioDiverseMilk: herb-rich grasslands can contribute to biodiversity and, if properly applied, have positive effects on soil quality, animal health and emission reduction, among others. The BioDiverseMilk project investigates the effect of herb-rich grassland on milk composition, and methane and nitrogen emissions. Outcomes provide dairy farmers with tools to apply functional herbs in a targeted way on their farms and add economic value to their efforts. 
  • Design of ruminant digestive model: the effect of livestock feed on the composition of foods, including milk is largely determined by the processes that take place in the cow's forestomach and small intestine, which can be investigated in targeted animal studies. As an alternative to the use of animals, this project investigates the potential for an in vitro digestive model for cows.
  • Cleaning options for sesame seeds contaminated with ethylene oxide and/or 2-chloroethanol: in 2020, batches of sesame seeds entered the market that exceeded the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) set by the European Union for the pesticide ethylene oxide. Using a theoretical and laboratory study, the cleaning possibilities of contaminated sesame seeds were investigated and the international standardisation of the application of ethylene oxide as a pesticide was explained to the client.
  • FARM-LIFE - refarming the future: in order to stimulate the transition from conventional monocultures to climate-resilient forestry, knowledge and tools are exchanged among stakeholders. Additional research is being conducted on the impact of climate-resilient forestry on biodiversity, soil quality and, where this associate applied research group contributes, the nutritional value and nutrient composition of products derived from agroforestry systems. 
  • HortiTechIndia: through the Food Safety Webinar 'From harvest to plate’, knowledge was disseminated to the horticulture sector in India about substances in the food chain. The webinar can be watched on YouTube.
  • Origin determination of PAHs in herbs: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are found in some herbs above the EU standard for dried herbs. The origin of PAHs in dried herbs has been investigated and (content reducing) measures and advice have been formulated so that companies active in the herb sector can (continue to) supply products that meet the applicable standards.
  • Development of physiologically based pharmacokinetic models: predicting the toxicity of substances including pesticides, additives, chemicals, and (veterinary) drugs has traditionally been done using animal experiments. Alternatively, in vitro and in silico models are being developed that describe the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of substances in the human and animal body. By combining these models with in vitro toxicity tests, the toxicity of substances can be predicted without animal testing. 


All publications of the associate applied research group Safety in the Food Chain can be found on Greeni, the online library of the green HBO.

Research techniques and facilities

  • Analytical chemical techniques: within the associate applied research group, various analytical chemical techniques are used to identify and quantify targeted and untargeted substances. HVHL has several analytical techniques available 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 employed that can be used to determine the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination (ADME) of substances in tissues or artificial systems. The results of these in vitro tests can be translated into values relevant to humans and animals. Physiologically based kinetic (PBK) models developed and applied within the applied research group allow ADME processes of substances in the body to be modelled and the kinetics of substances to be predicted.
  • Specific facilities: within the associate applied research group, the specific facilities of the Food Application Center (FACT), the Water Application Center (WAC) and Dairy Campus Leeuwarden can be used to conduct practice-based research. For example, within the BioDiverseMilk project there is cooperation with the DairyCampus and the WAC’s laboratory facilities were used for the project on the cleaning possibilities of sesame seeds.

About the professor

Dr. Marije Strikwold ERT is associate professor at Safety in the Food Chain within HVHL's Applied Research Center. Marije studied environmental science and biomedical sciences and received her PhD from the toxicology department of Wageningen University. She studies the fate and risks of chemical compounds in the food chain and conducts research on food integrity. In her research, she also works to develop alternatives to animal testing assessing risks from chemicals. Marije is a lecturer at the Forensic Laboratory Research programme at HVHL where she, among other things, coordinates the Food Forensics & Toxicology minor. She has experience in developing and applying exposure and physiologically based kinetic (PBK) models, in vitro toxicity and ADME testing, and analytical chemical techniques. She received 3 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 would like to know more about the associate applied research group, please send an email to [email protected] or call +31 6 2221 8304.