Theme Food and Health

The Belgian food companies, traders, restaurant chains, catering companies, and the government have made agreements to lead consumers to a healthier and more balanced food pattern in the Covenant for a Balanced Diet (2016). With these concrete commitments from the entire sector, Belgium is a European leader. The food companies are committed to continuing efforts to reduce fat, salt and sugar content in processed foods. To achieve this, specialized efforts are needed in product development. ILVO identifies with the United Nations trajectory to ban malnutrition by 2030 in the context of Sustainable Development Goal 2. Overfeeding and malnutrition are increasing problems in Flanders as well.


Optimization of production processes

High quality food depends in large part on the production process. ILVO research helps to optimize existing production processes with attention to the different aspects of quality: taste, health and safety, societal acceptance of the production process, and the composition and characteristics of the end product.

Covenant for a Balanced Diet

In the Belgian Covenant for a Balanced Diet (see above), the Belgian food companies have committed to increase their efforts to reduce fat, salt and sugar in foods. In addition, the Covenant pays attention to the nutritional composition of food products, consciousness-raising and research, and product development to expand the available range and supply of food products. With its research and expertise, ILVO aims to support the food companies and the government in meeting the goals of the Covenant.

Ban malnutrition by 2030

ILVO is on the same track as the sustainability trajectory of the UN, i.e., to ban malnutrition (under- and overfeeding and unbalanced diets) worldwide by 2030. We are constantly looking for opportunities to integrate new raw materials, new processing techniques, and new insights in the area of nutritional needs into this trajectory. At the same time, we want to continue to guarantee the food safety of food products that may present new risks due to a recipe change (e.g. less salt).

Because of the complexity of malnutrition and the fight against it, we always start this type of research by involving all stakeholders: the agricultural and food companies, distribution, food service, consumers and health workers. In this way, all of the relevant available information can be used when performing this research. This approach also creates a foundation of support for fast transfer of research results to practice.

Primary production and functional foods

In this line of research, we aim to:

1. Develop a system to make an inventory of the intrinsic properties of the primary products. We start with a targeted characterization of desired functionalities (nutritional value, dietary fiber) and bioactivity. We then make optimal use of these characteristics in the production process.

The functionality will be determined, among others, through model systems and high-tech measurement techniques. As stated above, it is generally accepted that there is a link between the composition of the intestinal microbiome and health, both in animals and in humans. Therefore, it is highly relevant to map the impact of the composition of food and feed on the composition of the intestinal microbiome and on intestinal health in general. Based on these insights, the next step is to guide product composition and processing.

2. Develop models that make possible to develop and reformulate food products in a targeted and efficient way, in function of specific goals.

We want to make these prediction models applicable for a larger range of food products. This approach is also used for the development of food for special target groups that require specific food characteristics.

Contact an expert

Marc De Loose

Marc De Loose

Scientific Director within Food Science unit


See also