Wageningen University and Research (WUR) has announced the launch of its Safe Precision Fermentation (SAFERMENT) project, which is aimed at enhancing the safety of animal-free dairy protein production. The project consortium—comprising international research institutes and industry representatives—is still open to additional partners and encourages interested parties to submit their interest to WUR through a contact form.

Animal-free proteins are produced through precision fermentation technology, in which microorganisms undergo targeted genetic enhancements to produce ingredients that were previously only sourced from animals.

Research in SAFERMENT will focus on the food safety aspects of the entire animal-free dairy protein production chain, from the factory to the end product and consumer. Researchers will examine the allergenic properties of dairy proteins produced by microorganisms, as well as study the biochemical differences between animal-free dairy proteins and dairy proteins derived from animals, in the context of food fraud.

The project also aims to identify and mitigate potential food safety hazards that may arise in each step of the novel production processes for dairy-free animal proteins. Consumer attitudes and acceptance of food products containing animal-free proteins produced using precision fermentation will also be investigated.

This Public Private Partnership is funded by Dutch Top Sector Agri and Food, and is a collaboration between research institutions Wageningen Food Safety Research, Wageningen Food and Bio-based Research, Wageningen Plant Research, Wageningen University—Marketing and Consumer Behavior Group, NIZO Food Research, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM); and private companies Those Vegan Cowboys, TurtleTree Labs, Real Deal Milk, Fonterra, and Abbott Laboratories. The consortium is still seeking additional partners.