Welcome to the third ISO-FOOD newsletter, which provides an update of the work of the ERA Chair ISO-FOOD. Since the publication of our last newsletter, the work of ISO-FOOD has continued to gather pace with the conclusion of several major milestones. In this edition we report on our various activities including our first stakeholder workshop, first training session on metrology, and ISO-FOOD’s role in the new EU project MASSTWIN–Spreading excellence and widening participation in support of mass spectrometry and related techniques in Health, the Environment, and Food Analysis. We also report on our other various activities and present you with all the news and details of future events. We hope you find these newsletters useful and informative, and if you have any questions or comments please contact us at http://isofood.eu/.
One of the major events for ISO-FOOD was the first stakeholder workshop held in November entitled “Recent Advances in Mass Spectrometry in Food, Environment and Health”. The event attracted over sixty individuals representing government agencies, NGOs, and academia. The workshop provided our stakeholders with the opportunity to share their views on how they see the role of research groups like ISO-FOOD in formulating policy and advancing state-of-the-art methods and techniques in food research. The workshop was held over one day in two parts. The morning session included speakers from government, industry and academia who discussed their role in terms of food safety with each representative setting out their needs and perspectives on how the many different stakeholders involved in this field can best work together. The focus of the second session was to present current state-of-the-art methods and techniques in food research with an emphasis on mass spectrometry and isotopic methods for food safety, traceability, and authenticity. Making this event especially meaningful was the fact that it coincided with the opening of the Department of Environmental Sciences’ new research facility, which will play a major role in further promoting the future of the ERA Chair. The whole event provided great opportunities for networking and for ISO-FOOD to demonstrate our potential for undertaking advanced, cutting-edge research. The full report from the stakeholder meeting is available on our website: www.isofood.eu.
New infrastructure at the Department of Environmental Sciences for the benefit of ISO-FOOD
Within a project co-funded by the EU Structural Funds, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, and the Jožef Stefan Institute, a new research facility of the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Reactor Centre in Podgorica has been built, enabling the reconstruction of more than 1100 m2 of laboratory space, which now represents the core of the department’s Mass Spectrometry Centre. The analytical infrastructure was upgraded with several new instruments, which are already enabling ISO-FOOD students and researchers to conduct leading research in the areas of food composition, traceability and authenticity using mass spectrometry and radioactivity measurements. Pieces of new analytical equipment include: a multicollector ICP – mass spectrometer for isotope analysis of so-called “non-traditional” stable isotopes (e.g. Hg, Sr, Fe, Pb), a LC-Qtrap liquid chromatograph coupled to a hybrid mass spectrometer for the analysis of polar organic compounds, a laser ablation unit attached to a QQQ mass spectrometer for elemental microanalysis and mapping, an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) with an elemental analyser and pyrolysis unit for stable isotope analysis of light elements, and a liquid scintillation spectrometer for the determination of alpha and beta emitters. More information can be found in (Slovene) interview with the head of the department, Prof. Milena Horvat and in our latest brochure available on the website.
The MASSTWIN project started
January 1, 2016 marked the beginning of the Horizon 2020 twinning project MASSTWIN – spreading excellence and widening participation in support of mass spectrometry and related techniques in health, the environment and food analysis. Participation in this project brings greater opportunities to establish a community of practice in the domain of advanced mass spectrometric and related techniques applied to health, food and the environment. It will also complement the ISO-FOOD networking programme by providing group training and individual hands-on experience in the use of advanced instruments to ISO-FOOD researchers. The aim of this collaboration in the field of food analysis will be to bridge the knowledge gaps in our understanding of migration of non-intentionally added substances (for example, toxic elements, organic compounds, and nanoparticles) and their bio-transformations, analytical procedures for quantification and sizing nanoparticles, compound-specific isotope analysis of relevant groups of compounds (e.g. lipids, proteins), stable isotope analysis of elements such as Hg, Sr and Pb, and the identification of biomarkers for food traceability. The international partners of the project are, beside the J. Stefan Institute as the coordinator, the Edmund Mach Foundation (Italy), University of Pau and Pays d’Adour (France), the National Institute for Agronomic Research (Spain), the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Germany).
Training course: “Quality assurance for Hg measurements in food and environmental samples” at the Jožef Stefan Institute
November 25-27, 2015, the ERA Chair ISO-FOOD held its first training course entitled “Quality assurance for Hg measurements in food and environmental samples” at the Jožef Stefan Institute, Reactor centre, Ljubljana, Slovenia. The training course provided participants with the knowledge to produce quality assured data based on metrological principles. The meeting consisted of lectures, exercises and practical demonstrations. The course, organised and funded by ISO-FOOD, was designed for early stage researchers (doctoral and postdoctoral level) and application scientists from National Laboratories. Our workshop attracted participants from EU and Non-EU countries, including Albania, Belgium, China, Croatia, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, Italy, Macedonia, Republic of Korea, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain. Thirty-four participants in totals participated, reflecting the interest in Hg as a contaminant and metrology in general. The participants ranged from doctoral students, researchers, and professionals in service providing laboratories. The workshop was organized and funded by the ERA Chair ISO-FOOD and was hosted by the Department of Environmental Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Participants from China and Serbia were additionally sponsored by bilateral agreements between the countries and funded by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) project funds.
UNEP/WHO Training workshop on monitoring human exposure to mercury
Mercury in biological matrices was also the theme of the UNEP/WHO project “Development of a Plan for Global Monitoring of Human Exposure to and Environmental Concentrations of Mercury” hosted by the Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia, with the participation of experts from the Institute of Health Carlos III, Madrid, Spain and RECETOX, Brno, Czech Republic. The training workshop consisted of a two-day long joint sessions for national coordinators and laboratory analysts, followed by three more days of a dedicated training. Twenty-five participants representing ten different countries participated in the workshop. Prof. Horvat, one of the workshop coordinators, used this opportunity to promote the work of ISO-FOOD.
ISO-FOOD work presented
ISSS 2015, 21st International Symposium on Separation Sciences
ISO-FOOD also participated in the 21st International Symposium on Separation Sciences from June 30 to July 3 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The symposium is one of the major calendar events in the field of separation sciences, a topic fundamental to food sciences. The symposium was an ideal opportunity not only to present the work of ISO-FOOD and to network with those working in chromatography and mass spectrometry but also to learn about the latest analytical developments and innovations. Although The ISSS is a general symposium there were a significant number of contributions regarding food related research. During the conference Dr Heath presented a post entitled: “Determination of Bisphenol A and its Analogues in Honey” – a collaborative work by Maria Laimou-Geraniou, David Heath, Tina Kosjek, Dušan Žigon, Marjeta Česen, Dimitra Lambropoulou, and Ester Heath, and met several of the key players in this field both internationally and from here in Slovenia, which hopefully will result in closer ties and possible future collaborations with their organisations and the ISO-FOOD ERA Chair.
RAFA 2015, 7th International Symposium on Recent Advances in Food Analysis
Dr David Heath attended the 7th International Symposium on Recent Advances in Food Analysis RAFA 2015, in Prague, Czech Republic. The symposium is one of the major events in the field of food analysis. The symposium covers all topics possible in food analysis and pays particular attention to Mass spectrometry techniques. This year RAFA also held a separate session on nanoparticles in food, which is of special interest to ISO-FOOD. At the symposium Dr. Heath presented a poster entitled: “Determination of Bisphenols in Honey” – a collaborative work by Marjeta Česen, Maria Laimou-Geraniou, Urška Blaznik, Dimitra Lambropoulou, Ester Heath, and David Heath.
ESIR Isotope Workshop XIII
Anja Mahne Opatić, an ISO-FOOD PhD student, presented results from the first year of her studies on the use of stable isotopes and metal concentrations for discrimination between conventional, hydroponic, and organic vegetable production regimes at the European Society for Isotope Research (ESIR) Isotope Workshop XIII in Zadar, Croatia, which took place September 20-24, 2015. ESIR is an association of scientists engaged in isotope research, which primarily engages researchers from Eastern and Central European countries, but is now open to all interested parties from around the world.
Cutting Edge 2015
Anja Drame, one of the ISO-FOOD Masters’ students, presented the poster “Extraction and Characterization of TiO2 Nanoparticles in Chewing Gums” at the Cutting Edge Conference 2015 (UL FKKT, Ljubljana, 22.9.2015). The purpose of this work was to verify if chewing gums available on the Slovenian market contain nano-sized TiO2 and further, to characterize the physico-chemical properties of such particles isolated from chewing gums.
Information society 2015
Tome Eftimov, an ISO-FOOD PhD student, presented the paper “Ingredients matching in bakery products” at the Data Mining and Data Warehouses (SiKDD) Conference, which is a part of the IS 2015 multiconference (IJS, from 28. September to 14. October, 2015). The purpose of this work was to find the analytical results of ingredients matching in bakery products represented with association rules.
EFSA’s 2nd Scientific Conference
Dr. Martina Lorenzetti, one of the ISO-FOOD postdocs, attended EFSA’s Second Scientific Conference “Shaping the Future of Food Safety, Together”, which took place in Milan (Italy) October 14-16, 2015. The conference mainly focused on current issues about food safety in connection to medical issues (i.e. cardiovascular diseases and diabetes) and toxicology. The submitted abstract was selected as part of the “Young Researchers contest” for a scholarship prize, and the poster contribution entitled “E171 as ingredient for cake decorations: physico-chemical characterisation of titania (nano)particles” was presented.
KDIR 2015, 7th International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Information Retrieval
Tome Eftimov, the ISO-FOOD PhD student, attended the 7st International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Information Retrieval (KDIR 2015), in Lisbon, Portugal, which took place November 12-14, 2015. Tome presented a paper entitled: “POS tagging-probability weighted method for matching the Internet recipe ingredients with food composition data”, a collaborative work by Assist. Prof. Dr. Barbara Koroušić Seljak. The purpose of this work was to match recipe ingredients extracted from the Internet to nutritional data from food composition databases.