German Research Centre for Food Chemistry | Leibniz Institut

ForschungsrahmenprogrammResearch Overview

Research Programme

The Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Lebensmittelchemie (DFA) is aiming to promote the science of food chemistry, ensuring public welfare and the maintenance and improvement of the quality of food. As processing methods as well as the composition of the raw materials during food production are continuously developing, the statutes of the DFA state:

"The task of the institute created by the foundation is to carry out research on the chemical composition of foodstuffs, their evaluation with regard to microbiology, toxicology, and dietary properties, as well as with legal and other aspects."

Consistent with this and in line with the Scientific Advisory Board the Managing Board adopted the following research program at its meeting in January 2013:

Based on the state-of-the-art of food chemistry and related disciplines, the rapid progress in food processing, the development of new food resources, new additives and new products (Novel Foods) four main research tasks of the DFA have been identified, taking into consideration the interests of both, food industry and the consumer:

Working Group I:
Characterisation of endogenous food ingredients, especially odour- and taste-active compounds, which contribute to the quality of food by entering into interactions with corresponding chemoreceptors of the human body (Sensomics), with the aim to define quality parameters, and to objectify quality changes depending on the raw material and on technological processes.

  1. Development of new and improvement of existing methods for identification and quantification of key impact compounds to objectively assess the sensory quality of food.
  2. Acquisition of data on key compounds, which are suitable to objectify the impact of
    ● the raw materials (breeding, cultivation, feeding),
    ● the processing conditions as well as
    ● the storage conditions
    on the sensory quality of foods of plant and animal origin.
  3. Clarification of molecular reactions leading to the formation of sensory active compounds as well as undesired by-products (quality parameters) during processing and storage of food by conversion of sensory inactive precursors.

Working Group II:
Clarification of structure-function relationships of biopolymers with the aim of improving quality and preventive healthcare by specific chemical, enzymatic, physico-chemical, and technological processes.

  1. Characterisation and quantification of health-related structures of biopolymers, especially of plant proteins, with the aim of preventive healthcare.
  2. Development of chemical-instrumental and biochemical-analytical methods for the characterization and quantification of plant biopolymers.
  3. Studies on the influence of
    ● chemical, enzymatic and physical modifications,
    ● low-molecular-weight ingredients,
    ● additives,
    ● genetic and environmental factors as well as
    ● food processing
    on the structure-forming properties of polymeric food ingredients.
  4. Development and improvement of physical methods to objectify the texture-forming properties of macromolecules.

Working Group III:
Characterization of structure-activity relationships of food ingredients in terms of their interaction with chemosensory receptors in the human body.

  1. Studies on structure-activity relationships using biochemical, molecular and cell-biological methods.
  2. Establishment of activity-based screening methods.
  3. Studies on the impact of raw materials and processing conditions on receptor-based effects of food ingredients.
  4. Studies on the metabolism of food ingredients.

Working Group IV:
Food Composition and Nutrition Tables

  1. Acquisition of data on nutritionally relevant food ingredients by literature searches and
  2. by own experimental studies.
  3. Scientific evaluation of the data collected.
  4. Documentation and publication of the data in a regularly updated database.

In addition to its scientific work the DFA gives scientific advice to the German federal government and the state governments.