Over the next four years a major consortium led by TNO will be developing standardised research methods for use in studies into the health effects of food.
This will give manufacturers greater insight into these effects and allow them to develop new health-promoting food as well as provide better scientific substantiation for health claims.
To this end TNO has established the NutriTech consortium of 23 research organisations and universities from around the world. The European Commission is backing the initiative with €6m.
A second consortium has been established with eight major European food manufacturers to the tune of €4m in order to accelerate application within the food industry. Both projects begin in January and will last four years. TNO has a coordinating role due to its leading position in this conceptual innovation and vast experience in leading major European research projects.
“Global standardised and accepted research methods will enable manufacturers to scientifically substantiate their health claims,” said Dr Ben van Ommen, principal scientist and programme director of system biology at TNO.
“Food manufacturers develop products that have a positive effect on health but the scientific substantiation of such effects can be difficult to establish. To date many health claims have not been acknowledged by the EFSA on the grounds of insufficient scientific substantiation. This is discouraging, which is a shame because manufacturers need to be stimulated to continue developing healthy food. The new measurement methods that the consortium will develop will enable the health effect of food to be better demonstrated and so facilitate the development of new, healthy food,” Dr Ben van Ommen added.
The TNO challenge concept is at the basis of the method NutriTech will be using to measure how flexible the body deals with and recovers from ‘unhealthy’ stress situations by subjecting it to a so-called challenge, a kind of stress test. Like a sudden strenuous cycle ride or eating a lot of fatty food.
The more flexible the body responds and the quicker it can recover to its initial situation, the more we can speak of a healthy body. It is therefore possible, for instance, to compare the effects of different foods by subjecting groups that have eaten the different foods to a stress test and to see who responds more flexibly.
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