Biofunctionality and food safety

Food safety assessment is one of BfR's principal tasks. In particular novel foods and novel food additives must be assessed.

The focus of development and application is on modern molecular and cellular methods in order to identify new biological end points for the assessment of potential risk substances in foods and establish effect-directed analysis.

Modern analytical methods for the examination of biofunctionality are:

  • Nutrigenomics
    Nutrition, health and genes are closely related. Firstly, there is a connection between certain genetic predispositions and the occurrence of health risks. Secondly, the action of genes is influenced in different ways by various foods.

  • Proteomics
    The proteom encompasses all the proteins in a cell and is another approach to identifying targets both for protective substances and risk substances.

In its research BfR concentrates on new food additives and their claimed positive properties. For instance the effects of fatty acids (conjugated linoleic acid isomers and branched-chain fatty acids) on signal pathways will be studied. The goal is the early identification of possible toxic or protective effects as the basis of risk assessment.

Research areas

  • Development of a cell culture model for the evaluation of the impact on gene expression in colon cells using the example of fatty acids
  • Identification of new molecular proteomic biomarkers for the risk assessment of food ingredients in thermally exposed foods using the example of furan fatty acids
  • Influence of plant sterol esters on the protein pattern of mononuclear cells in the blood of healthy women
  • Safety aspects of new functional foods: Do conjugated linoleic acid isomers and their oxidation products have a putative teratogenic effect?
  • Studies on the food contaminant benzo(a)pyrene


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