Danone’s Open Science Research Center for Life Transforming Nutrition in Shanghai

Danone’s new Open Science Research Center for Life Transforming Nutrition, based in Shanghai, will carry out scientific research and development work in specialized nutrition. The new center will develop evidence-based nutritional solutions tailored to the tastes, traditions and health needs of China’s consumers. To do this, Danone will work in partnership with the public sector, medical and academic institutions, business partners and consumers in China.

Research at the new center will focus on early life nutrition and nutrition for those with specific medical needs or the elderly – with a specific emphasis on breast milk research and gastrointestinal health.

The center will also carry out projects that apply new local market, data-driven insights & digital tools to these fields of nutrition. In addition, research and development projects that contribute to ongoing advances in food safety and quality in China.

The following are examples of projects, which illustrate the caliber of research and development work that will be undertaken at the new center in Shanghai:

The Dragon Study

The first study of its kind for Danone in China, this multicenter randomized controlled trial is being carried out in collaboration with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Xinhua Hospital as the leading site across six sites in four cities in China. The study is designed to gather clinical evidence on how baby formulas, fortified with pro- and pre-biotics and partially hydrolyzed protein, are tolerated by infants in China and what impact such formulas have on a baby’s growth. The study also explores the impact such formulas have on the development of a baby’s gut microbiota and on the establishment of appropriate immune responses.

The Golden Stool Decoder

This collaborative project, involving leading pediatricians in China, uses artificial intelligence technology to create a mini-app available on the Chinese messaging, social media and mobile payment platform, WeChat, which provides parents with automatic photo recognition of baby stools and customized feeding tips. This digital tool works by ‘decoding’ a baby’s stool using four types of data driven insights – the color of the baby’s stool, the characteristics of the baby’s stool, the baby’s age and the baby’s feeding method.

The EU-China-Safe Program

Comprising 16 participants from the European Union and 17 from China, the EU-ChinaSafe Program includes key research organizations, government and industry needed to develop and jointly implement major advances in improving food safety and combating food fraud in China and the EU. The program – which focuses on food inspection, food control laboratories, and food safety and quality – will develop innovative traceability tools to strengthen the most vulnerable supply chains. The program will focus on infant formula, processed meat, fruits, vegetables, wine, honey, spices. Danone is supporting this program through its technical expertise in the fields of food authenticity & fraud detection as well as food packaging & microbiological food safety analysis.

“The opening of this Danone new R&I Center is also a great opportunity to generate specific data serving to the best Chinese population through tailored solutions adapted to their environment, genetic background and cultural eating behaviors” says Dr Christine M’rini Puel, VP R&I Specialized Nutrition, Danone Research & Innovation, Utrecht.