Masja Nierop Groot

Science to Business | Round 2 | Food Safety

Survival strategies of microbes – food safety and preservation research at TIFN

The development of effective processing and preservation strategies that on the hand do not compromise sensory and nutritional characteristics of food, but assure food quality and safety, remains a challenge for food industries.

Bacteria have developed smart adaptation and survival strategies as for example the formation of highly resistant spores, production of biofilms, and population diversity and heterogeneity, to overcome harsh environmental conditions including those encountered in food or during food processing. Understanding the mechanisms underlying these survival strategies will provide leads for targeted interventions to enhance food quality and safety.

Within the Food Safety and Preservation research program of TiFN, industry, academia and research institutes studied adaptation and survival strategies of foodborne spoilage and pathogenic microbes. Using modern omics and imaging techniques, underlying mechanisms and differences within microbial populations were unraveled and models to predict survival and subsequent outgrowth were developed. An overview including highlights of the research program will be presented.

Dr. Masja Nierop Groot is senior scientist (microbiology) at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. She obtained her MSc degree in Food Technology and a PhD degree at Wageningen University.

As microbiology expert, research activities at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research focus on control of foodborne spoilage and pathogenic micro-organisms along the food production chain. She participates in numerous multidisciplinary research projects aiming to develop (novel) mild processes for pasteurisation or sterilisation with less heat impact and improved quality compared to conventional processing, for example High Pressure processing, Pulsed Electric Field, or cold plasma. From 2011-2015 she was leading the research project on bacterial biofilms within the Food Safety and Preservation theme of the Top Institute Food and Nutrition (TiFN).

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