The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) is going to study whether the Extract Library of the Centre of Expertise for Plant Compounds can be used to develop new clean-label solutions for sustainable food production. The emphasis is on preventing fungal growth causing food spoilage.

The trend towards healthier, sustainable and clean-label food provides new challenges for food producers, such as the replacement of traditional, chemical preservatives by natural solutions. As part of a big international consortium, TNO is going to test the plant extracts from the Extract Library for their capability to inhibit the growth of fungi causing problems in food products. The Extract Library, containing a wealth of plant compounds, can be used by companies active in e.g. cosmetics, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and food to discover and develop novel products.

“Consumers are increasingly wanting natural and healthy food, produced in a sustainable way and supplied with a clean label. That creates new challenges for managing micro-organisms which cause decay,” says Jasper Kieboom, TNO’s project manager Microbiology & Systems Biology. “In particular, decay caused by fungi is as yet a largely unsolved problem. A lot of food is wasted as a result. TNO is contributing its advanced screening and molecular-biological technology to an international venture with 5 industrial partners. The aim is to find natural solutions to control and prevent fungal growth in food products.”

Global interest in Extract Library
After the Italian company Valagro, TNO is the second user of the library. The library contains extracts from a very wide biodiversity of crops. Together these extracts contain hundreds of thousands different plant compounds. The library can offer new opportunities to organisations in agriculture and horticulture. For example, they can collaborate on product development with companies that discovered bioactive compounds of interest in the Extract Library. The Centre of Expertise for Plant Compounds is currently in discussion with various companies worldwide that want to use the library to discover bioactive molecules and natural ingredients for their products.

New solutions, valuable opportunities
“We are delighted that TNO is going to screen the Extract Library to discover new clean-label solutions,” says Jan Pen, manager of the Extract Library. “Together with TNO and TNO’s industrial partners, all the components are in place for discovery, development, plant production and commercial application.”

“Plant compounds clearly offer valuable new opportunities for the food sector,” adds Dr Leon Mur, managing director of the Centre of Expertise for Plant Compounds. “For that reason, we greatly value the partnership with TNO. It strengthens the realisation of the Extract Library, generating innovations and new business with plant compounds, with positive consequences for the Dutch horticultural sector.”

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