Welcome to the second ISOFOOD newsletter. This newsletter is intended to keep you informed about all that is current within the project and up and coming events. Since our first newsletter the work of ISOFOOD has been progressing well.
Our group has continued to expand and we would like to congratulate Dr Martina Lorenzetti and Dr Kelly Peeters who have joined ISO-FOOD to carry out postdoctoral positions. Dr Lorenzetti with Prof Saša Novak Krmpotič will, within the Department for Nanostructured Materials, begin to research nanoparticles (NPs) as food contaminants, specifically titanium dioxide (TiO2) and silicon dioxide (SiO2) in products in daily use (e.g. chewing gums and food colorants). Different methods for NPs extraction from the original matrix will be exploited and samples will be physico-chemically characterised both under dry and wet conditions. The study of their material properties will be used as a milestone for further studies of cytotoxicity and risk assessment. Dr Kelly Peeters will be studying speciation of important elements in food in the Department of Environmental Sciences.
Reflections on Conferences
European Winter Conference on Plasma Spectrochemistry in Muenster
The role of nanotechnology in food has been growing increasingly over the past few years. Nanoparticles can enter the food chain in a variety of ways (through food additives, food processing or packaging), which may potentially affect human health. Therefore, research on how to detect and characterize the nanoparticles in complex matrices, such as food, are necessary.
To follow the fate and behaviour of nanoparticles in the environmental and biological samples, the Inorganic Environmental Analytical Chemistry Group at the Jožef Stefan Institute are optimizing the method of single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (SP-ICP-MS) a new approach for the quantification and sizing of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. The advantages of this SP-ICP-MS technique are minimal sample treatment during analytical procedure, which makes it possible to maintain the original NPs properties, its superior sensitivity (ng L-1) and element specificity that can overcome many of the problems associated with complex matrices (e.g., food) containing background levels of natural particles, as well as the simultaneous characterization of analytes in nanosize and dissolved form. The work was presented at the European Winter Conference on Plasma Spectrochemistry, which took place in February 22-26 2015 in Muenster, Germany. At the conference, which was focused on the major topics in analytical methodologies using plasma sources, the topic of nanomaterial analysis in various matrices was the most widely represented.
Janja Vidmar, Young researcher at Dept of Environmental Sciences 1st International Conference on Food Contaminants in Lisbon
The International Conference on Food Contaminants: challenges in chemical mixtures (ICFC 2015) was organized by the National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge I.P. and held in Lisbon (Portugal) on April 13-14 2015. This multidisciplinary conference provided an interesting forum for both internationally established and young researchers to exchange advanced knowledge on Food Contaminants and Human Health. State-of-the-art developments in different fields of chemical mixtures: analytical, exposure assessment, bioavailability and toxicity of food contaminants were covered during the presentations. Assist Prof Barbara Koroušić Seljak, from the Computer Systems Department, was invited to give a keynote lecture on the Open Platform for Clinical Nutrition and presented also ISO-FOOD.
B Koroušič Seljak, Assist Prof at Computer Systems Dept Food Integrity: Assuring the integrity of the food chain
ISO-FOOD was present at the 2nd Food Integrity conference: Assuring the integrity of the food chain: food authenticity research priorities and funding opportunities in Bilbao Spain, 26-27 March 2015. The meeting, held in the Euskalduna Conference Centre located next door to the world famous Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. The talks and workshops were aimed at researchers and funding bodies and presented the latest research outputs from the European Food Integrity project and the opportunities that exist for funding for food research in 2015 including H2020 priorities in the food sector.
ISO-FOOD presented two posters entitled: “Characterization of Slovenian milk and dairy products using elemental composition and stable isotopes” and “Determination of geographical origin and authenticity of olive oil using stable isotope approach”. These showcased the research work of students, under the mentorship of Prof Ogrinc, looking at the use of stable isotopes in determining the authenticity and geographical origin of important food products.
Conference highlights included a talk by Peter Whelan of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland about the fight against food crime and an Industry perspective from John O’Brien leader of the Nestle Food Safety and Integrity Research programme and Deputy Head of the Nestle Research Centre in Lausanne. The meeting provided the perfect opportunity to meet several of the key players from both academia and industry involved in the use of isotopic techniques, including Prof Federica Camin and Prof Andreas Rossmann, which hopefully will result in closer ties and possible future collaborations between their organisations and ISO-FOOD.
Prof Nives Ogrinc & Dr David Heath
Presentation at the Chamber of Commerce
Prof Ogrinc had an invited talk on April 24th, 2015 at the “Great Food Spring Seminar, Legislation and Trends” organized by the Chamber of Commerce. She presented the ISO-FOOD project and the use of stable isotopes for food authenticity and traceability to the stakeholders from agro-food industry.
Our students about ISO-FOOD
Anja Mahne OpatičI come from Gorenje, a small village near Sežana and I commute from Gorenje to Ljubljana daily. I have got two small children and although it is sometimes hard to coordinate family life and work, I don’t regret having chosen to combine family life and study – it has been going well so far.
My background is Food Technology and Nutrition at the Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, and I also passed some extra exams in microbiology. Currently I’m a doctoral student at the J. Stefan International Postgraduate School – Ecotechnology programme. My PhD topic is the translation of isotopic fingerprints of soil, water and fertilizers into different sorts of vegetables under different agricultural practices. Preliminary tests have been done on lettuce (Lactucasativa L.), sweet pepper (Capsicumannuum L.) and tomato (Solanumlycopersicum L.) where the bulk N and C stable isotope fingerprints were tested so far. To better differentiate the production practices, further elemental and isotopic analyses will be carried out (O isotope composition in plant water, O and N in plant nitrate, analysis of major and trace elements including rare earth element profiles. The first pot experiments have also been started. The study will be carried out in collaboration with the Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana.
Eva KranjcAny Slovenian person would easily be able to determine from my name that I have roots in this country. What is not so obvious is that I was born, raised, and educated in the United States (Illinois, Michigan, and Rhode Island). Prior to starting my doctoral studies at the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School, I majored in Environmental Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and I completed a post-baccalaureate, pre-medical program at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. These two programs provided me with the ideal background for my current project monitoring and assessing how current food production and processing practices contribute to the inadvertent inorganic nanoparticle content of food. Much of my work in this first year has consisted of learning to use and apply a variety of methods and techniques for the detection, counting, and characterization of nanoparticles. Preliminary results from factory measurements and independent experimental work suggest that I can expect to find very large nanoparticle concentrations in air within food processing locations as well as distance-dependent effects on nanoparticle distributions and number concentrations. As the start of the second year approaches, I look forward to applying my new-found knowledge in the field.
Tome Eftimov I am from Strumica, the largest city in eastern Republic of Macedonia. When I got the PhD position I came to live in Ljubljana, it was the first time I had visited Slovenia and it was love at first sight.
My background is in Computer Science. I finished Informatics and Computer Engineering at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies, Ss. Cyril and Methodius – University, Skopje, where I also finished my MSc degree in Computer Networks and e-Technologies. My research areas include statistics, data mining and machine learning, text mining and the semantic web. Currently I am a PhD student at the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School – ICT programme. My work is related to the extraction of knowledge on evidence–based nutritional recommendations. Because these are presented by natural language, I use text and data mining and semantic web approaches to capture dietary reference intakes of nutrients from scientific publications and to provide the missing values in the food composition databases used to calculate nutritional properties of recipes. With this, my aim is to provide support for exchange of research information that is very important and can be used in decision support systems, which can predict, in real time, adverse effects before they happen.