Organisation - November 2, 2017

Workplace: Toddler nutrition

Roelof Kleis

With its wooden shelves full of foodstuffs, the room where Annemieke Pustjens and her colleague Dave Khodabux work looks a bit like a warehouse or a larder. But it is an office on the campus. To be precise: the office of the Authenticity and Nutrients team at Rikilt, on the third floor of the building in the far western corner. It is bit of a goldfish bowl, with a lovely view over the Dassenbos and The Field. ‘

photo Margriet van Vianen

‘In clear weather you can see the wind turbines near Ede,’ says Pustjens. But what she’s here for is these groceries. They haven’t been stocked up to keep the wolf from the door; they are research material. Part of an ongoing study on toddler nutrition. ‘We know quite a bit about what macronutrients and toxins adults ingest. But we don’t really know anything about children of one to three years old,’ explains project leader Pustjens. The research is intended to close this gap, and to that end a collection of items has been put together which represents the average toddler’s diet. ‘1942 products consisting of 160 different kinds of food.’ Only the non-perishable foods are still on the shelves: tomato ketchup, tinned vegetables, apple sauce, rice etc. The perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables have already been processed. The analysis focuses on macronutrients such as proteins and fibres, as well as on heavy metals. Pustjens: ‘Arsenic is important, for instance. That is sometimes found in rice, and toddlers eat a lot of rice cakes.’