We are pleased to inform you that the Healthgrain Forum (HGF) is preparing to showcase its collaboration and activities at the 17th International Cereal and Bread Congress (ICBC24) in Nantes, France from April 22 – 25!


ICBC24 is organized by the International Association for Cereal Science and Technology (ICC) and is designed to offer a diverse range of informative sessions, each exploring various aspects of cereal science, ranging from the intricacies of agricultural policies to the progressive innovations of processing technologies.


ICBC24 is a significant conference, serving as a meeting point for thought leaders, researchers, and industry professionals in the field of cereal science and technology“, adds Kristof Brijs, Chair of the Board of HGF.


Kicking off with a preliminary activity, the HGF General Assembly and strategy workshop are scheduled for Monday, April 22, 2024, from 16:00 to 18:00. During this meeting, Kristof Brijs, the recently appointed Chair of the Board of HGF, will elaborate on the goals and activities of HGF for the near future. This pre-conference platform will also offer members the opportunity to engage in strategic discussions. Furthermore, HGF will host a special session during the conference to highlight the research contributions of its esteemed members.


HGF members will receive exclusive benefits for this important conference. HGF Members are eligible for an extended early bird rate until March 31st, 2024, along with an additional -25% discount for at least one member from your organization.


To receive these exclusive offers, HGF members are encouraged to reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for their registration code. Join this immersive experience designed to inspire, connect, and pave the way for the future of cereal science and technology.

HealthFerm Webinar | Health Aspects of Plant-Based Fermented Foods: A Point of View from the HealthFerm Project

HealthFerm is a European research project investigating innovative pulse and cereal-based food fermentations together with the health effects and consumer perception of novel fermented foods. Fermented foods have gained a reputation for being beneficial to health. However, with the exception of yogurt and other cultured dairy products, little concrete evidence exists for the actual health benefits of fermented foods. 


Therefore, the HealthFerm project performs several human intervention studies to better understand the interaction between food fermentation microbiomes, fermented grain-based foods and the human gut microbiome and how they support human health. A community-science approach plays a vital part in collecting diverse food fermentation microbiomes used to design innovative fermented plant-based foods with optimal health benefits.


Health Aspects of Plant-Based Fermented Foods: A Point of View from the HealthFerm Project

Feb 21, 2024 10:00 AM CET

Register Now!

*This webinar, conducted in English, is open to all and free of charge.


Webinar Overview: Unraveling the Health Aspects of Plant-Based Fermented Foods


This upcoming webinar will introduce you to the health aspects of plant-based fermented foods, focusing on insights from the HealthFerm project. Food fermentations are often said to improve the nutritional and health profile of fermented foods. In this webinar, we look at this from different angles. After covering the basics aspects of plant-based food fermentation and its consequences for the fermented foods, we look deeper into potential mechanisms for health benefits and end with a presentation on existing evidence for health effects of fermented foods. 



1. Prof. Christophe Courtin – KU Leuven

Abstract: In this introductory presentation, we first look at different types of fermentation and fermented foods. We then discuss why food fermentation has gained renewed interest in industry and society. In the third part, the consequences of fermentation for food composition are considered. Finally, some prospects regarding food fermentation research are presented.


2. Prof. Kristin Verbeke – KU Leuven

Abstract: The internet and popular media mention plenty of reasons why we should eat fermented food products. This presentation will delve deeper in the potential mechanisms that may explain the presumed health benefits of plant-based fermented foods. These mechanisms are not uniform for all fermented foods but depend on the type of food, the type of microorganism and the type of processing.


3. Prof. Marjukka Kolehmainen – University of Eastern Finland

Abstract: The presentation will explore the potential gut mediated health impact of plant based foods. After this critical discussion will focus on the current evidence on health impact of fermented plant based foods, and justification why fermentation could be regarded as improving the health impact of plant based foods.


Moderator: Jan de Vries, Communication Manager of the Healthgrain Forum


For more detailed information about the HealthFerm project, please visit: www.healthferm.eu. The project is funded by the European Union. The views and opinions expressed in this webinar belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. The European Union and the granting authority cannot be held responsible for them.

Harald Perten Prize Awardees 2024: Dr. Bruce Hamaker & Prof. Sergio Serna-Saldivar

The Harald Perten Prize, named in honor of Ing. Harald Perten, a committed contributor of ICC, is intended to recognize outstanding achievements in the field of cereal science. While serving as the chairman of the ICC Working Group on Alpha Amylase and Sprouting, Harald Perten played a pivotal role in establishing standard methods, including the renowned "Falling Number" method. This esteemed award symbolizes his exceptional work and is presented every second year, in connection with ICC Congresses.


This year, in a celebration of outstanding contributions to the field of cereal science, the Harald Perten Prize for 2024 has been awarded to two exemplary researchers, Dr. Bruce Hamaker and Prof. Sergio Serna-Saldivar for their pioneering work in advancing our understanding of cereal carbohydrates, proteins, and their profound implications for health and industry.


Dr. Bruce Hamaker

Department of Food Science and Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research 

Purdue University, USA


Dr. Hamaker has been and continues to be productive and successful in the field of cereal carbohydrates and proteins. His multidisciplinary and unique background spans the fields of biology, human nutrition and food science/chemistry, and an extensive international experience. His groundbreaking research focuses on carbohydrate structures and their intricate interactions with the human body, particularly in the realm of nutrition and health outcomes. Notably, his work has clarified the perception of digestible carbohydrates, demonstrating their potential to be health-promoting rather than non-satiating and fattening. His innovative methods to slow starch digestibility have ushered in a new era of carbohydrate-based processed foods that contribute to weight management and overall well-being.


Recognized for his 30-year commitment to cereal science, Dr. Hamaker's impact extends globally. His research program spans the mechanistic to applied aspects of carbohydrates, physiology, dietary fibers, and gut health, addressing critical challenges facing society. His work has already influenced the cereal science field, with applications in the production of quality slowly digestible carbohydrates for industry and contributions to the burgeoning plant-based protein product market.


Dr. Sergio Serna-Saldivar

Centro de Biotecnología FEMSA

Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, México


Dr. Serna-Saldivar's expertise lies in the processing of maize and its applications, particularly in the production of tortillas and tacos. His research on the loss of starch crystallinity during the transformation of nixtamalized maize flour into these iconic products has reshaped our understanding of their unique texture. Beyond his impact on baked goods, his work on legume starch, particularly beans, has improved techno-functional properties and digestibility.


In addition to his academic achievements, Prof. Serna-Saldivar has contributed to the improvement of food nutrition and accessibility, particularly in developing regions. His research on Mexican autochthonous crops, such as maize and legumes, has revealed novel sources of essential nutrients, offering solutions to combat malnutrition and address food insecurity.


The professor's innovative research on maize processing technology, particularly nixtamalization, has played a pivotal role in the development of the tortilla industry in North America. With 12 awarded patents and seed rights, Prof. Serna-Saldivar has successfully translated scientific knowledge into efficient and sustainable industrial processes for producing healthy and nutritious foods.


The International Association for Cereal Science and Technology applauds both Dr. Bruce Hamaker and Prof. Sergio Serna-Saldivar for their exceptional contributions to the field. The awards are set to be presented at the 17th International Cereal and Bread Congress in Nantes in April 2024. This recognition underscores the significance of the awardees' ongoing impactful work in advancing our understanding of cereals.

TNO Symposium: Optimising food and fibre composition for enhancing health | Highlights and Perspectives


This symposium (20 September 2023, Leiden, Netherlands) was organized as a farewell symposium for Jan-Willem van der Kamp, who has been active in the areas of dietary fibre and whole grain  for decades. It revealed new insights, tools and perspectives for major innovations in topics ranging from personalized nutrition, combating diseases, reformulation of products (more fibre, less sugars and fats) whilst maintaining product attractiveness and improving public health, especially of low-income consumers. Highlights and perspectives are outlined below.  Detailed results, references, contact details of speakers can be found in the presentations and the Symposium programme. For further information you may also contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Precision prebiotics - dietary fibres with consistent predicted microbiome response

Many  prebiotic fibres are fermented by a large number of gut bacteria, resulting in major differences in bacterial responses depending on the microbiome composition of individuals. Keynote speaker Professor Bruce Hamaker highlighted that fibres with complex chemical or physical structures (often with limited or moderate solubility and fermentability) can only be degraded by specific bacteria. 


Precision prebiotics – general health and Parkinson’s disease

Precision prebiotic mixtures may be tailored for robust (i.e. not depending on an individual’s microbiome) promotion of target bacteria and related health responses. Studies with a small cohort of Parkinson’s disease participants showed that the applied precision prebiotic mixture was highly tolerable and effective in only 10 days in increasing gut epithelial health and reducing brain injury. 


Synergistic effects of mixtures of fibres and fibres with other bioactive compounds

Synergistic effects presented by Jan Willem van der Kamp and Frank Schuren indicated: 

  • Mixtures of fibres and in combination with other bioactive compounds contributed more effectively than single fibres to the production of short chain fatty acids and a diverse gut microbiome.
  • Single fibres eliciting individual responses of gut microbiota (responders vs. non-responders), did not elicit such differences when added as a fibre mixture.
  • Cereal bran contributed to increased microbiota diversity and/or abundance.
  • Recent meta-analyses on studies with dietary fibre and whole grain show that 25 g/day of dietary fibre is associated with a similar risk reduction for non-communicable diseases as ~ 50g whole grains/day –which contains only 4-6g fibre. This shows the synergistic effect of fibre in combination with a wide range of bioactive compounds in case of whole grain.


Sugar replacement based on polymer science; the power of fibres and fibre-rich by-products

The key challenge of sugar and fat replacement in bakery- and other products is how to get, or keep, a good texture. Stefano Renzetti’ s approach, based on integrating food technology with fundamental theories from polymer science resulted in the reformulation of food products with major reductions in sugar levels and increased levels of fibres. Sugar acts as a humectant, characterized by its water-absorbing capacity (interaction parameter Χeff ), and as a plasticizer, characterized by its capacity to softening texture (hydrogen bond density parameter Φw, eff). One example of using these new reformulation principles is the improved sensory perception of a pound cake with 30% less fat, 30% less sugar, 10% less flour, more water and more fibres, both soluble (plasticizer, humectant) and insoluble (soft filler). 


Consumers – how to bridge the fibre gap

Louise Dye reported that in the UK the intake of fibre and micronutrients decreases with decreasing income; persons with low socio-economic status (SES) are more strongly affected by non-communicable diseases. Studies and efforts for increasing fibre access and intake are part of the h3 project  - Healthy soil, Healthy food, Healthy people. Among the barriers for sufficient fibre consumption in low SES populations are low health literacy, focus on convenience (more important than health) and lack of economic resources and of social support. Effective communication specifically for this low SES group and a framework for product reformulation enriched in fibres are important factors for realizing health improvements – with a key role for food technology.  


Can health benefits be maximized? Beyond ‘just more fibre’?

As in many countries, life expectancy in the Netherlands increased in the past decades but the number of healthy years without chronic diseases decreased  (Suzan Wopereis). Many consumers will or cannot change their dietary habits to comply with the recommended patterns. However, by finding and exploiting synergistic effects of mixtures of fibres and other bioactive compounds, significant benefits to health may be realized also with less than ‘perfect‘ diets. Searching, finding and optimizing synergistic effects of mixtures is a challenge with multiple  facets. 


Optimizing of benefits of mixtures with reliable rapid methods

This wide range of options may be assessed effectively with reliable rapid methods, such as TNO’s i-screen system. Frank Schuren and Femke Hoevenaars presented results based on th highthroughput TNO I-screen system for evaluating the effects of fibres on the gut microbiota composition and its metabolic activity. These in-vitro results corresponded well with those of subsequent in-vivo studies. Suzan Wopereis outlined multiple examples of how the innovative PhenFlex methodology for assessing health effects was applied to reveal the subtle impact of whole wheat and fibres on health from a one-size-fits-all as well as from a personalized approach. 


Perspectives: combination of expertises for additional benefits to health

The symposium presented recently developed insights, plans, technologies and marked progress.    Combination and integration of the presented approaches may result in additional benefits for health as is outlined in the hypothetical cases below. 


1. Precision Prebiotic fibres for health also contributing to sugar and fat reduction 
  • Precision prebiotics can contribute to both specific and overall health benefits (Hamaker).
  • Fibres with specific physico-chemical characteristics are key contributors to healthier foods (less sugar and fat, more fibre) (Renzetti).

Fibres fulfilling both physico-chemical and precision prebiotic requirements may be found: 

  • Based on insight.
  • Supported by high throughput i-screen assessment for initial searches (Schuren) and by assessment of health benefits with Phenflex methodology (Wopereis).


2. Fibre-rich by-products – impact on the gut microbiome and for sugar replacement 
  • Fibre-rich by-products are being assessed for their technological performance (Renzetti).
  • Combinations of fibres and of fibres with a wide range of bioactive compounds show major synergistic effects/ benefits to health (Van der Kamp, Schuren).
  • With an approach similar to 1. stronger benefits to health may be realized.


3. How to improve intake of whole grains in populations?
  • The fortification of food products with fibers/whole grains, while reducing simple carbohydrates (Louise Dye) to also reach persons with low socio-economic status.
  • The communication around whole grains / fibres (Dye).
  • Building a dossier to apply for a health claim on whole grain wheat (e.g. PhenFlex, (Wopereis).
  • A personalized (communication) approach to increase awareness and adherence to whole grains/fibres (Wopereis).


4.Note: TNO is discussing a new Public Private Partnership Project

Fibres for health. Targeted microbiome modulation through in vitro pre-screening of optimal fibres                      

Improving health and preventing disease is now an important aspect of healthcare. Dietary fibres are generally considered as healthy and to function, amongst others, via the gut microbiome. Although positive effects of increased fibre intake on human health are described, it has also become clear that not every fibre is effective for every individual (and its gut microbiome). To further improve health effects a better alignment of choosing the right fiber(mix) for a specific individual is highly needed. 

We have shown in a previous study that short-term in vitro exposure of individual microbiome samples to selected fibers is predictive for longer-term in vivo effects. In this study we aim at selecting the best fiber combination for each individual based on in vitro analysis , followed by a human nutritional intervention study in which each individual receives the best fibre product for his/her microbiome. This requires a novel, flexible set-up of a human intervention study which will include multiple intervention products. Since the expected power of this study will be much higher, only a small number of participants will be needed to allow for determining statistical significance. This will simplify precision nutrition advices and thereby speed-up nutritional lifestyle interventions aimed at preventing human disease. 

Welcoming Valentina Narducci as ICC's New Technical Director

We are happy to announce the elevation of Valentina Narducci to the position of Technical Director. Having previously served as Co-Technical Director, Valentina brings a wealth of experience and dedication to her new role. Her extensive background in cereal science, coupled with her leadership as a Co-Director, positions her as a valuable asset in guiding ICC towards continued excellence.

Valentina's journey with the ICC began 16 years ago, and her familiarity with the organization's methods and practices has been a cornerstone of her career. During her previous role as Co-Technical Director, she played a pivotal role in standardizing methods and collaborating with European institutions. Now, as she steps into the role of Technical Director, Valentina's commitment to continuity and advancement ensures that ICC Cereals Science maintains its standing as a global leader in the field.

In this new chapter, Valentina takes on the role of Technical Director, while her four colleagues continue their positions as Co-Directors. The ICC community celebrates her promotion, looking forward to the collective impact of their leadership on the future success and growth of ICC Cereals Science. Congratulations to Valentina Narducci on her well-deserved appointment as the new Technical Director.