Food & Nutrition: development of healthy and safe food

Nutrition has a major impact on people’s health. TNO already collaborates with many food producers and in the coming years we plan to increase this number, working with even more companies to further improve the production, health aspects and safety of food. ‘That way we can work together on reducing disease as far as possible and keep people healthy for longer’, says Peter van Dijken, director of Food & Nutrition. 

Healthy food

Many everyday products, such as dairy products and meat, have a TNO ‘ingredient’. Van Dijken: ‘That may sound odd, but we advise food producers on such things as reducing salt, fat and sugar content, and replacing these with healthy components. As a result, our know-how is in a lot of products’. TNO also develops methods that allow the health effects of foods to be measured quickly and accurately. By assessing the various aspects of digestion, for instance, we can advise companies about the health effects of ingredients and help to make their products healthier. 

New and safer protein sources

The growing world population has strongly increased the demand for proteins and, as a result, meat consumption has risen. Therefore we are studying new, sustainable protein sources. Algae are an example of a source of essential food ingredients, while insects are a potential new protein source. It is important that these ingredients are safe and do not cause food allergies or other problems. We are also focusing our efforts in these fields.

3D food printing

Together with partners in the food industry, we are using 3D printing to produce other types of food. This could be useful for people who have difficulty swallowing or who have allergies and are therefore unable to consume certain types of food. Or it could be used for people who need certain nutrients supplemented. By changing the appearance or composition of food, and by making it look more appetising, we can solve such problems. These developments are highly interesting for institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes.


Although consumers are inundated with information on health, many people still fail to eat healthily. How can you reach these people and ensure that they change their eating habits? We are working on this with the food industry. Peter van Dijken: ‘The ultimate goal is to personalise food. This will contribute to people consuming everything they need, while becoming healthier and reducing their risk of disease. One way to do this could be an app that tells people what food would fit their current health status and their genetic background, and then allow them to order it with one simple click. That would be what I consider smart food.’

If you would like to know more about our Food & Nutrition activities, continue reading below or get in touch with us.


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TNO starts research initiative with industrial partners to combat obesity-associated liver disease

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Dr. Peter van Dijken


Dr. Peter van Dijken

  • Food
  • nutrition
  • healthy diet
  • food innovation
  • food safety

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