New EU Research Project HEALTHFERM Just Launched: Plant-based Fermented Foods for Healthier and More Sustainable Diets.

HGF is part of an interdisciplinary consortium of 22 international partners, which targets with the help of community science the societal and industrial transition from traditional to sustainable plant-based fermented foods by design for a healthy everyday diet.

Fermented foods are consumed in Europe and across the globe. Especially in the past decades, fermented foods have been hailed for their nutritional and perceived health benefits. Yet little is known about the impact of fermentation on human health or how fermentation can be leveraged to enhance the use of sustainable plant-based raw materials. The new EU research project HealthFerm, a collaboration of 22 partners from across Europe, will shed light on this forward-looking topic. Funded through the European Union’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and the Swiss government, the project has a budget of EUR 13 million over the next four years. HealthFerm is coordinated by the KU Leuven, Belgium, and the consortium kicked off its activities with the 1st of September.

HGF, with support of ICC, will be responsible for organising the training and capacity building activities in the project by combining HGF activities with the project activities as much as possible.

Fermented foods are ‘foods made through desired microbial growth and enzymatic conversions of food components’ . Humans have consumed different types of these foods for thousands of years. First, fermentation processes occurred spontaneously rather than intentionally, and the main benefit was the increased shelf-life of foods. In the 19th century, people started to understand the actual fermentation processes better. It was not until the early 20th century that fermented foods gained a reputation for being beneficial to health. At present, they are more popular than ever due to their perceived healthiness.

Interestingly, little concrete evidence exists for their actual health benefits. There are few dedicated studies describing the mechanisms behind any impact of fermented foods on human health, and in-depth knowledge of how fermentation microorganisms and fermented foods interact with the human gut microbiome is missing. Only with the availability of such knowledge will it be possible to design fermented foods with optimal health benefits, rather than relying on spontaneous fermentation processes. At the same time, there is a global trend toward a more sustainable food system by reduced consumption of animal-based foods. Unfortunately, using plant-based ingredients in many food products remains challenging due to, e.g. flavour or processing issues. In Healthferm, new plant-based fermentations will be designed to improve the palatability of plant-based ingredients and leverage their use in a range of foods.

These areas are where HealthFerm will leave its mark: The project has been established to understand better the interaction between food fermentation microbiomes, fermented grain-based foods and the human gut microbiome and how they support human health. At the same time, HealthFerm will use these newly gained insights alongside microbial resources and fermentation technology to develop novel, healthy and nutritious foods based on legumes (pea and faba bean) and cereals (wheat and oat), with particular attention to the inclusion of side stream stemming from the processing of these grains. Consumer attitudes towards fermented foods will be studied throughout Europe.

“The research undertaken in HealthFerm will potentially have a wide-reaching impact on not only individual, societal and planetary health, but also the wider EU food industry through greater resource efficiency and increased use of plant-based raw materials,” explains Prof. Christophe Courtin, Professor of Food Biochemistry at the KU Leuven and Coordinator of the project.

At the heart of HealthFerm lies a community-science approach for developing innovative plant-based food fermentations. Citizens, artisans and companies will collect food fermentation microbiomes in Europe and worldwide to be analysed for their potential to devise these novel foodstuffs that can serve as alternatives to fermented dairy drinks, yoghurts and meat-based products and confer sensorial and health benefits, not only to these alternatives but also to more common products like (sourdough) bread. A specially developed online interface will support this effort.

Prof. Courtin adds: “Of particular interest to us is also how dietary changes including fermented foods can reduce inflammation and prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. This we would like to understand better based on human intervention studies and will do so in comparison to a standard plant-based diet. Alongside, we will also optimise fermentation processes and investigate further the consumer perceptions towards fermented and plant-based foods in Europe.”

The HealthFerm consortium responsible for this innovative endeavour comprises academic, clinical and industrial partner institutions from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Sweden and The Netherlands. Two Swiss partners complete the consortium. The project officially kicks off its activities with the first meeting in Leuven, Belgium, on September 1 and 2, 2022.

For more details, please visit the project’s website.

Project Key Facts

Full Name
HealthFerm – Innovative pulse and cereal-based food fermentations for human health and sustainable diets
Start Date
1st September 2022
Duration
48 months
Budget
€13 million
Coordinator
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Dear HGF members,

our Autumn Workshop 2022 will be organized in connection with the 8th International Dietary Fibre Conference 2022 (DF22) as a special HGF Session at the conference.

More details about the session will follow soon.

For all information about the conference, please refer to the event website.

Please be informed that as HGF member, you can benefit from 25% discount on registration fees. Contact the conference secretariat to get the discount code and register now!

Do not hesitate to contact us at office@healthgrain.org for further information!

Dear HGF members,

our Spring Workshop 2022 will be organized as an online event on Wednesday 27.4. – 15:00 – 16:30 CEST and Thursday 28.11. – 14:30 – 16:30 CEST.

The programme will include following two sessions:

BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS TO INNOVATION

UNDERSTANDING THE PROTEIN TRANSITION

You can find a detailed programme here.

On Thursday, Apr. 28, 2022, 14:30-15:15 CEST the HGF General Assembly Meeting will take place. All HGF Members are asked to join us there!

The agenda for the HGF General Assembly Meeting will be soon published in the HGF Member Area (please mind that you need to login!).

Please find below following link to register and please note, as HGF Member you can join this workshop for free. In case you did not receive your discount code, please contact the HGF Secretariat!

After registering, all participants wil receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the workshop.

HGF organises a free webinar on DIETARY FIBER AND THE GUT MICROBIOME.

Join us for this webinar on February 15, 2022 at 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CET. You can register here.

Bruce Hamaker is Distinguished Professor of Food Science at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He also holds the Roy L. Whistler Chair and is Director of the Whistler Center of Carbohydrate Research. He obtained his undergraduate degree in biological sciences from Indiana University; his graduate studies were in human nutrition (M.S.) and food chemistry (Ph.D.) from Purdue University, and post-doctoral study at the Instituto de Investigacion Nutricional in Lima, Peru (supervisor, George Graham, Johns Hopkins University). He was in the U.S. Peace Corps in Liberia, West Africa from 1977-1979. He has over 280 refereed publications in food science, human nutrition, biochemistry and broad-spectrum journals, as well as numerous book chapters. He has advised over 70 M.S and Ph.D. students and 25 post-doctoral scientists. Bruce’s research is known in the area of food carbohydrates and proteins with applications related to topics of processing, nutrition, health and wellness. He has been and continues to be active in international research collaborations in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and particularly in development-oriented research and applied programs in West and East Africa.

Presentation title: “Gut microbiome composition in relation to structure-function of dietary fibers”.

Frank Schuren received his PhD at Groningen University in 1987 on the molecular biological analysis of fungal development. After a postdoc on genetic transformation systems in filamentous fungi at the same University and a postdoc at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland he joined TNO in 1996. At TNO he started the implementation of microarray technology in applied research which led to successful implementation in applied microbial research. These include novel diagnostic tools which enable the discrimination between closely related bacterial strains (such as the Legionella chip) and the analysis of complex microbial populations (such as the intestinal and vaginal microbiota). Also tools for analyzing the immediate responses of microbes or microbial populations towards multiple stressors have been developed. Furthermore Frank has extensive experience with different approaches for novel antimicrobial strategies. Currently Frank is senior scientist in the Microbiology team within TNO and actively involved in activities towards better understanding the role of the microbiome in human health and especially in ways to modulate microbiome in order to improve human health.

Presentation title: “Individual and group-based differences in gut microbiota responses to in vitro fiber interventions”

Jan de Vries (Nutrition solutions & HGF Board Communication Manager) will moderate this webinar.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

P.S. YOUR CALENDAR DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TIME TO PARTICIPATE? Register to automatically receive the recording of this webinar afterwards.

Healthgrain Forum (HGF) is a European association that develops and advocates science based concepts fully unlocking the health promoting potential all along the grain food production chain to encourage healthy, convenient and appealing foods. It is the vision of HGF that grain based foods assist consumers in health maintenance worldwide, help reduce health care costs and provide added value for companies in the production chain.
To improve our activities, HGF targets to attract organizations in the grain area to participate actively in our mission and vision. For this aim, we are looking for two active PhD students who have the interest, time and skills to support HGF in reaching out to potentially interested organizations, e.g. via LinkedIn and other internet related media. Furthermore, we will ask the candidates to support us with setting up and conducting a European wide survey amongst organizations conducting grain research and industries producing grain-based products.
The expected profiles for the positions are 1) PhD student in grain/cereal research, 2) having interest in the use of internet related media, 3) having some experience in conducting surveys / interviews with colleagues in the field. The candidates will be able to work on a large European network and get in direct contact with established key persons in the grain research area, food industry and governmental organizations. The work will be mainly volunteering, however a stipend and/or travel funds can be anticipated.
Your application for the position with a short CV and summarizing your motivation can be send to office@healthgrain.org, latest by Feb 14th 2022.

As partner of the Whole Grain Initiative (WGI), HGF is pleased to announce that the WGI has published a global consensus definition of whole grain as an ingredient and whole grain food in the journal Nutrients (December 29, 2021), https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/1/138.

Globally, whole grain and whole grain food has been inconsistently defined. The new, consensus definitions promote uniformity and consistency among researchers studying intake as well as industry when communicating the presence of whole grain as an ingredient or in products. The published paper will serve as the basis for advocacy efforts to standardize whole grain definitions and their adoption by national and regional authoritative bodies, as well as industry, is encouraged.

Dear HGF members,

our Autumn Workshop 2021 will be organized as an online event on Wednesday 17.11. – 14:00 – 15:30 CET and Thursday 18.11. – 13:30 – 15:30 CET.

The programme will include following two sessions:

    • CONSUMER INTEREST AND PERCEPTION FOR GRAINS
    • CEREAL PRODUCTS: IMPROVE SUSTAINABILITY THROUGHOUT THE FOOD-CHAIN

Find here the detailed programme for the HGF Online Autumn Workshop .

On Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, 13:30-14:15 CET the HGF General Assembly Meeting will take place. All HGF Members are asked to join us there!

The agenda for the HGF General Assembly Meeting will be soon published in the HGF Member Area (please mind that you need to login!).

Please find below following link to register and please note, as HGF Member you can join this workshop for free. In case you did not receive your discount code, please contact the HGF Secretariat!

After registering, all participants wil receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the workshop.

HGF organises a free webinar on SENSORY ASPECTS OF PLANT-BASED PROTEINS.

Join us for this webinar on September 30, 2021 at 12:00 PM  – 01:30 PM CEST. You can register here.

Erminio Monteleone is a Full Professor at University of Florence, where he teaches Sensory Evaluation of Food and Consumer Testing and leads the Sensory Unit. Coordinator of the PhD programme in Sustainable Management of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Resources (UNIFI). From 2010 to 2016 he served as coordinator of the Master in Food Science and Technology at Florence University. His research activity, and his scientific contribution to the sensory food science field is documented by over 120 papers published in peer reviewed international scientific journals indexed on Scopus (h index 34). Permanent member of the Executive Committee of the Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium and of the Eurosense scientific committee. Since 2011 chairman of the Italian Sensory Science Society (SISS). Co-founder of the European Sensory Science Society (E3S). Member of the Accademia dei Georgofili of Florence. Associate Editor of the scientific journal Food Quality and Preference (Elsevier).
Presentation title: “Consumer perception of Alternative Proteins”.

Christoph Hald is Research Associate at the Chair of food chemistry and molecular sensory science at TU Munich. His research field is about the discovery of new taste and color-active molecules in food. In particular, his doctoral work was about taste active metabolites in rapeseed protein isolate. His expertise is compound isolation, structural elucidation, and metabolite quantification in complex samples.

Andrea Spaccasassi is Doctoral student at the Chair of food chemistry and molecular sensory science at TU Munich. His research field is about the untargeted metabolomics of food. In particular, his doctoral work is about the high-throughput screening of culture fermentation performances in pea protein-based emulsions. His expertise is untargeted metabolomics, data processing, and statistical evaluation.
Their presentation title: “Sensometabolomics of plant-based protein: an approach to discover and profile sensory active metabolites in novel plant-based ingredients”. 

Anne Nugent (Queen’s University Belfast) will moderate this webinar.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

P.S. YOUR CALENDAR DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TIME TO PARTICIPATE? Register to automatically receive the recording of this webinar afterwards.

Very recently the Well on Wheat project published detailed findings of the Wheat amylase/trypsin inhibitors (ATIs): Wheat ATIs: Characteristics and Role in Human Disease.

The paper is open access and can be downloaded from the above link.

 

HGF organises a free webinar on CONSUMER UNDERSTANDING ON DIETARY FIBRE AND PROTEINS

Join us for this webinar on May 20, 2021 at 1:00 PM CEST. You can register here.

Dr Kyösti Pennanen is a Senior Scientist at VTT Ltd (Technical Research Centre of Finland) and holds a Docent position at University of Vaasa, School of Marketing and Communication. He has over 15 years of experience in consumer research related to food. He is passionate about understanding food consumption and integrating consumers’ voice with new food product and food technology development aimed at supporting healthy and sustainable life. Recently, he has been leading consumer research in projects dealing with consumer acceptance of sustainable food ingredients.
Presentation title: Consumers’ understanding and views on dietary fibre

Dr Daniele Asioli is Lecturer in Consumer Studies at the Department of Applied Economics and Marketing at the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading (United Kingdom). His research spans a wide range of topics in domestic and global agrifood systems and focuses on understanding consumer preferences for new food products, and agribusiness decision-making to better inform agribusiness strategies, and food policies. He has research experience in Canada, United States, Italy, Norway, and United Kingdom.
Presentation title: Consumer perspectives on sustainable ingredients

Jan de Vries, Communication Manager of the HealthGrain Forum will moderate this webinar.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

P.S. YOUR CALENDAR DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TIME TO PARTICIPATE? Register to automatically receive the recording of this webinar afterwards.