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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Dental plaque is not only damaging to teeth but, according to reports, it is also damaging to the European economy. Over €54 billion is spent annually across the EU to treat the effects of dental caries and gingivitis, both of which result from the accumulation of oral biofilms known as dental plaque. Recent scientific developments, however, could radically change this situation and introduce new ways through which we can safeguard oral health.

It has long been suggested that a number of foods contain substances which are able to protect against caries and gingivitis and the European research community, under the backing of the EC, set out to investigate this. The NUTRIDENT project was set up to determine exactly those food ingredients that provide protection against the formation of dental plaque and its adverse effects. Once isolated and shown to be clinically safe, these compounds can form a basis for the production of novel functional foods and oral hygiene products.


Functional foods are receiving an increasing amount of attention, given their potential as a delivery vehicle of choice for a number of products that could enhance and protect consumer health. In the field of oral hygiene, functional foods like chewing gum, could prove extremely helpful in the fight against caries and gingivitis, given the ease of administration compared to tooth brushing or the use of dental floss. According to NUTRIDENT, functional foods with ingredients of a beneficial nature could be a reality in the field of oral hygiene before the end of the project. Identifying the range of foods and beverages that have a favourable set of properties is the first step towards that goal. Once the actual constituents responsible for the antiplaque properties have been isolated, researchers will have at their disposal a host of potentially beneficial materials that can be used as food additives. The positive impact on public health would be significant, given that consumers could protect their teeth simply by chewing a stick of gum.


NUTRIDENT has set ambitious goals for all the partners that are involved in the consortium. Identifying potentially beneficial food products is only the beginning for the participants. Instead of urging consumers to merely concentrate on eating more of those specific foods, NUTRIDENT will identify the specific components of those foods which give them their anti-plaque properties. Once their safety and effectiveness have been ascertained in a clinical trial setting, these components can be formulated into a range of products. But the objectives are even loftier than that: NUTRIDENT aims to utilise partners’ biotechnology skills to develop new strains of plants, able to produce large quantities of those components, therefore ensuring a constant supply. Overall, keeping our teeth and gums healthy may soon be simpler than we ever thought possible.

List of Partners

  • UCL Eastman Dental Institute (UK)
  • University of Pavia (Italy)
  • University of Tel Aviv (Israel)
  • University of Genova (Italy)
  • Goteborg University (Sweden)
  • Academic Centre for Dentistry, Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  • University of Verona (Italy)
  • Quest International (UK)
  • Glycologic Ltd (UK)
Full title:
Towards functional foods for oral healthcare – isolation, identification and evaluation of beverage and food components with anti-caries and/or anti-gingivitis activities
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Michael Wilson, UCL Eastman Dental Institute,
EC Scientific Officer:
Rosanna D’Amario, rosanna.d’
EU contribution:
€ 2.1M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top