Understanding the impact of food on health


Access to better food for everyone 

The purpose of ALIAS is to contribute to making safe and healthy food accessible to the greatest number of people and promote eating behaviours that lead to well-being and staying healthy. To do this, ALIAS mobilises laboratories from many disciplines (from process engineering to nutrition by way of microbiology, sociology and economics).

The 250 researchers will gather at the future sites of the INRA (Institut national de la recherche agronomique –National Institute for Agricultural Research) and AgroParisTech. Coming from many European projects (MétaHit, Dream, etc.) and from the Micalis Institute, ALIAS is closely related to the Métagénopolis demonstrator (a study of the impact of intestinal microbes on human health).

Reducing all types of risks 

Food products are mainly obtained industrially, and the entire food industry is currently reaching a certain ceiling of productivity, with necessary integration of energy and environmental constraints. The study of the relationships between food, nutrition and health absolutely must be introduced according to various points of view, by mobilising several scientific disciplines to open up innovative and pertinent social and economic proposals.

ALIAS bases its action on four main research areas:

  • The impact of food and diet on physiopathology, particularly on chronic (obesity, diabetes) and degenerative (cancer) diseases
  • The impact of food components on microbial risk all along the food chain
  • The “reverse” engineering of food, that is, the improvement of manufacturing processes and compositions of food closely connected to the desired properties of taste and “health”
  • The behaviours of consumers and the changes in the food market related to public health policies

The ALIAS advantages

There are many functionalities required today for food products in terms of nutritional capacities, organoleptic qualities and health and environmental impact.

Within the Université Paris-Saclay, ALIAS, with very high-level human and experimental capacity, broaches a problem that combines:

  • high stakes for public health with the simultaneous mobilisation of researchers, lecturers, consumers and the food processing industry;
  • a group of laboratories in food sciences, food processing engineering, microbiology, nutrition and economics and sociology; and,
  • innovative approaches to the growth of technology, the economy and social life.



“Health benefit” is a new criterion for consumers. The pressures on the markets of farm products may have a significant impact on food prices and on the healthy quality of food. In this context, the food processing industry is forced to innovate and diversify its products. However, new products and processes raise new issues of acceptability, hygiene and cost. Taking on these challenges involves innovation along the entire length of the food chain, new tools for prevention and control and a better understanding of eating behaviour.

The effect of a particular food component on a particular human physiological process does not completely make sense from the point of view of a public health policy or in view of industrial innovation unless we understand the future of this component during the intestinal transit, the effect of the process of manufacturing and preparing the food on this component, the cost of its portion of the composition of the food, the acceptability and the choice of consumers regarding this food item, etc.


M. Aymerich Stéphane