Our work

Clean label product development

Over the years, we have witnessed a widespread and steadily growing demand for natural, healthy and ‘clean’ food products with fewer additives. At TNO, we support food companies who wish to meet this demand and modify the composition of their products. We help them clean up their labels by finding alternatives for additives and improving preservation techniques.

Although the use of additives in food is permitted under EU regulation, some of these additives have certain image problems. Many consumers have developed a growing dislike for them. As a result, this group is now turning towards cleaner products: products that contain the familiar ingredients that they would also use in their own homes and that contain an absolute minimum of synthetic or chemical additives. At TNO, we use our long-standing and proven expertise to assist manufacturers in their efforts to replace food additives and shift towards a cleaner product. In addition, TNO helps to bridge the knowledge gaps between all stakeholders in the food industry in order to balance the discussion on food additives and their safe use. This holistic approach enables firms to meet their consumers’ needs in the best possible way.

Clean label strategies

There are three ways of modifying the list of additives:

  • We can remove the additive from the product while still maintaining original product quality  and meeting safety requirements;
  • We can replace certain additives with ingredients of similar functionality. This can be done,  for example, by replacing preserving additives with herbs and spices while retaining  effectivity;
  • We can modify the ingredient used. This can be done, for instance, by modifying starch via  physical, non-chemical means.

The selection of the appropriate method to be used ultimately depends on the ingredient itself and the product into which it is incorporated. Several questions have to be answered first, and issues related to effects on product quality, preservation, stability and food safety are given careful consideration.  Other important points of focus are product properties concerning smell, taste and texture. Thanks to our long-term research work, we have acquired a thorough understanding of the microstructure and physical properties of a vast range of products. In this way, we can support manufacturers and offer them solutions that fit their specific product and production processes.

Unique multidisciplinary approach

Matrix approach for defining the clean label framework

To create reliable and practically applicable solutions, we adopt a unique multidisciplinary approach. We combine our knowledge of the structure and functionality of ingredients with our expertise in the field of non-chemical processing methods. The first step in this process involves a thorough analysis of the functionalities of the various ingredients in the end product. To this end, we have designed specific model systems to provide a defined matrix that can be used to clarify the functionality of a particular ingredient or additive. Such model systems can then be used to test the impact of elimination, replacement or modification, thus enabling us to measure and interpret any changes in physical properties . We then compare our findings with the original product and formulate effective solutions for application throughout the food industry. 


Join our Anti-Clostridium Solutions Clean Label Project

16 March 2016
TNO starts a unique research project to develop new anti-clostridial solutions using novel natural preservation strategies and invites you to join. With consumer demand for clean labels, milder processed... Read more

Joost Blankestijn


Joost Blankestijn


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