Chemical Safety of the Food Chain

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Operational Direction

Chemical Safety of the Food Chain

Organization chart : Karine Vandermeiren

Operational Director:

Karine Vandermeiren

Tel : +32 (0)2/ 769 22 33

Fax : +32 (0)2/ 769 23 05

Gsm : +32 (0)494 14 74 25

E-mail : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tasks and Mission


The Operational Direction "Chemical Safety of the Food Chain":
  • Carries out an integrated research on chemical safety of the food chain aimed at an accurate risk assessement
  • Provides the stakeholders with approved analysis results and expert advice
  • Aims at providing a pro-active support of the food safety policy


The Operational Direction's aim is to ensure that all plant and animal products intended to the food industry are free of undesirable or hazardous chemical compounds.

From the pitchfork to the fork


Chemical Safety of the Foodchain

The "Trace Elements" service focuses its research primarily on mineral elements which are present in our environment and in our food in low concentration levels and can cause problems, whether they are present in excessively large quantities (in the case of Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb) , Arsenic ( As) and Mercury (Hg)) or in excessively small quantities (lack of oligo-elements).


The emphasis is currently laid on determining the precise chemical form under which some of these elements occur in the food chain. For certain chemical forms, such as arsenobetaine, the toxic impact is negligible, while for others, such as methyl mercury, the presence in certain foods such as fish must be as small as possible.


In addition, particular attention is also paid to newly emerging risks which can be hazardous to the safety of the food chain such as the presence of nanoparticles or endocrine disrupting components (EDCs) in food.

The "Toxins & Natural Components" service is primarily interested in the development of strong potential for chemical analyses based on upt-to-date techniques. Mycotoxins (secondary metabolites of fungi) are the primary objective, but phytotoxins (stemming from plants such as pyrrolizidine alkaloids) constitute a potential hazard for public and animal health.


The service's main priority is to make sure that instruments needed to assess better the risks connected to the presence of mycotoxins in cereals and cereal-based products (bread, pasta, corn flakes, polenta, etc.), animal feed (mainly cereals and derived products such as gluten feed) and other foodstuffs. At issue are primarily trichthecene type A (e.g. T2), type B (e.g. Deoxynivalenol) and other Fusarium toxins such as Ochratoxin A and other Aspergillus and Penicillium toxins.


Research projects in the Operational Direction


Ongoing projects

  • ZendonConvert - Investigation on the conversion profile of masked deoxynivalenol and zearalenone in the porcine and human gastrointestinal system
  • BioCov - Biomerkers als toegevoegde waarde bij de blootstellingsinschatting van chemische contaminanten in voeding
  • COMPAs - Analyse en risicokarakterisatie van arseenspecies in voedingssupplementen
  • Minoil - Mineral oil migration from cardboard food contact materials : hazard identification and exposure assessment of the Belgian population
  • To2DeNano - Towards a toxicologically relevant definition of nanomaterials
  • CEN - Determination of citrinin in food by LC-MS/MS
  • Nanoval - Validatie van methodes om nanomaterialen te karakteriseren via single particle ICP-MS, DLS en kwantitatieve TEM analyses

Closed projects (2014-2015)

  • Biomyco - Assessment of mycotoxin exposure in the Belgian population using biomarkers (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Karine Vandermeiren)
  • Dwti-china - Mycotoxins and mycotoxigenic fungi in China: analytical tools, dietary exposure and Fusarium diversity (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Karine Vandermeiren)
  • Biotras - Bioavailability and speciation changes of arsenic from human nutrition: role of food preparation, conservation and digestion (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Ann Ruttens)
  • Nanorisk - Development of methods to assess the toxic effect of ingested manufactured nanoparticles on health (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Karine Vandermeiren)
  • Altpolycarb - Study of the possible migration risks of materials that come into contact with food for children younger than 3
  • Endomyco - Improving early detection of emerging vector borne diseases by using existing production and diagnostic data (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Heidi Demaegdt)
  • Foodcad - Modelling the uptake of cadmium in leaf and root crops (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Karine Vandermeiren)


Chemical Safety of the foodchain

The Operational Direction "Chemical Safety of the Food Chain" is made up of the following Operational Services :

Operational Units

Trace elements

Toxins and natural components