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Welcome to ISO-FOOD

This is the first newsletter of the ISO-FOOD European Research Area (ERA) Chair. Its goal is to keep you informed about all that is current within the project and up and coming events. The ERA Chair ISO-FOOD was established in July 2014 under the EU 7th Framework Programme. We are an independent body situated within the Jožef Stefan Institute formed from a collaborative effort built around the capacities of four departments:

  • Environmental Sciences contributing expertise in inorganic and organic analytical chemistry (element speciation, new and emerging contaminants), radiochemistry and isotope geochemistry:
  • Condensed Matter Physics studying the structure and dynamics of disordered and partially ordered condensed matter at the atomic and molecular level);
  • Nanostructured Materials focusing on inorganic materials with specific physical properties that are a consequence of their structural and chemical phenomena at the nanostructural and atomic levels and
  • Computer Systems (meta-heuristic optimization approaches to engineering design and logistics problems as well as electronic system design and test). 

We aim to carry out research and education specialising in isotopic and elemental ‘fingerprinting’ for traceability and authenticity and advanced analytical methods for the detection of adulterants and contaminants in food. These include inorganic contaminants, speciation and organic residues. We are also focusing our attention on emerging pollutants and potentially new food hazards such as nanoparticles. Our vision is to become a leading research group in Slovenia and the broader ERA in the field of food integrity, traceability and authenticity. Our mission is about creating knowledge in the context of food safety and putting that knowledge to work for the benefit of our partners and stakeholders and the wider society. We want to inspire, educate, recruit and train researchers so they can develop the necessary critical thinking skills and a desire for the lifelong pursuit of knowledge; fostering innovation and creativity is also a key component of our undertaking.

ERA Chair holder

Dr David Heath received his PhD in environmental sciences from the University of Plymouth in 1995. His first position was as an analytical chemist in the National Museum of Slovenia’s Prehistory Department in collaboration with the National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia. After moving to Montreal, Canada in 2000, he worked for two years at the McGill University in the Department of Chemical Engineering in the field of biotechnology. In 2002 he took a research position at the International Centre for Sustainable Development in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and in 2008 he joined the International Postgraduate School Jožef Stefan, where he has worked up to now as a researcher in the field of ecotechnology, management of technology, knowledge management and supporting industrial students (management and boardroom level) returning into postgraduate education.

ISO-FOOD Activities



ISO-FOOD provides opportunities to PhD students and early stage researchers in form of fellowships and one- or two year postdoctoral research contracts for excellent interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research using the advanced facilities and instrumentaiton of the contributing departments and two Centres of Excellence: Nanocenter and Advanced Materials and Technologies for the Future. The research topics cover element speciation in food, determination of low levels of radionuclides in food and water, determination of organic contaminants posing health hazard in foodstuffs, nanoparticles in food, elemental and isotopic fingerprinting, and development of the repository for data and knowledge about food and feed composition and their region-, species- and practice-specific fingerprints. The research will be funded from national and international research projects conducted in collaboration with excellent national and international research institutions.


Summer Schools

Four thematic summer schools will be organized beginning in Spring 2015. They will be open to undergraduate and graduate students and will cover topics such as determination of radionuclides in food, food authentication using isotope and element fingerprinting, element speciation in food and nanoparticles in food. Summer schools will be announced at the ISO-FOOD web page and in the regular eNewsletters.


Exploratory Workshops

Workshops will cover all main scientific topics of the Chair: food traceability methodologies, nanoparticles in food, isotopic techniques of food characterisation and metrology in food analyses. Ample time will be devoted to discussions, exploring possibilities for future international collaborations and, if applicable, on-site solving practical technical problems. They will be organized annually, starting in winter 2015/16. 


Intercomparison Exercises

In the framework of quality assurance and quality control programme, international intercomparison exercises will be organized as external performance evaluations for an independent assessment of analytical proficiency of participating laboratiories. Up to 10 partner laboratories will be invited to participate. ISO-FOOD will prepare and distribute the test samples for analyses of element speciation and stable isotope (C,N,O) analysis in selected food samples.


Engagement of stakeholders

Interaction and collaboration with stakeholders is essential to extend the impact of the ERA Chair beyond the scientific community. Stakeholders are invited to participate in all events organized by ISO-FOOD, which will provide a platform for discussion, exchange of ideas and collaboration in problem solving through target oriented research. Two main stakeholder events are planned – Stakeholder Workshop and ISO-FOOD Final Conference; stakeholder sessions will also be organised back-to-back with other events such as exploratory workshops.


ISO-FOOD Headquarters open

September 1, 2014

Since September 1, the ISO-FOOD office has been situated in the Building J (Jamova cesta 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia) and is now open for business. The ISO-FOOD offices will be permanently staffed by the Chair Holder Dr David Heath and our project officer Vanja Usenik.

Kick-off Meeting

October 8, 2014

October was our kick of meeting to officially launch the ERA Chair in food safety here at the JSI. We had a successful meeting with over 30 attendees. The morning session provided a real insight into the potential for what ISO-FOOD can achieve in this field.

PhD Fellowships awarded

ERA Chair welcomes the first ISO-FOOD fellows! Three 3-year fellowships were awarded to doctoral students of the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School, who will perform their research at the Jožef Stefan Institute. They will start their research in November 2014 and shall receive the PhD in 2017/18.

Mr. Tome Efimov will perform his PhD work in the field of food data and knowledge management at the Computer Systems Department. He will develop new methodologies and tools for data management, exploration and exploitation. His study will be conducted at the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School within the third-level study programme Information and Communication Technologies.

Ms. Eva Kranjc will measure nanoparticle air pollution in food production areas and food processing facilities, and the nanoparticle distribution and characteristics in food products from these areas. These measurements will provide baseline rates to guide the creation of nanoparticle contamination reduction measures as well as raise awareness about the issue of inorganic nanoparticle contamination in food resulting from current food production and processing. She will conduct her research in the Department of Condensed Matter Physics.

Mrs. Anja Mahne Opatič, will study the translation of site-specific isotopic fingerprints of soil, water and fertilizers into different sorts of vegetables and fruits (lettuce, sweet pepper, tomato) under different agricultural practices. She is enrolled into the Ecotechnology programme at the J. Stefan International Postgraduate School. Her research will be conducted at the Department of Environmental Sciences in collaboration with the Faculty of Agronomy and Faculty of Food Science and Technology of the University of Ljubljana.



ISO-FOOD at “1st IMEKOFOODS – Metrology promoting objectives and measurable food quality and safety”, Rome, Italy

In October 2014, Prof Nives Ogrinc presented the ERA Chair ISO-FOOD at the conference “1st IMEKOFOODS – Metrology promoting objectives and measurable food quality and safety” in Rome, which focused on new approaches in analysis of foodstuffs and nutrition.


Stakeholder Workshop

The first ISO-FOOD stakeholder event will take place in May 2015 in Ljubljana. Representatives of business, academia, governmental organisations and NGOs will be invited to present their views on the food quality and traceability issues, and become engaged into a stimulating discussion on the emerging topics of the food research, generating ideas and initiating collaborations. The key conclusions of the workshop will be published through a post-workshop press release. Detailed information will be released soon. Contact: erachair@isofood.eu



ERA Chair holder

Dr David Heath

Phone: (+386 1) 4773194



Project Coordinator

Prof Milena Horvat

Phone: (+386 1) 5885389



Project officer

Vanja Usenik

Phone: (+386 1) 4773746



ISO-FOOD ERA Chair for isotope techniques in food quality safety, and traceability is a FP7 project funded by the EC under Contract No. 621329 (2014–19).

Foto: Shutterstock; TIC Ljubljana, Stane Jeršič; Marjan Verč, JSI

Copyright © 2014, ERA Chair, All rights reserved.

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