Prof. Dr. ir.

Frederic LEROY

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Room 7G405
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels | Belgium

Homepage of the research group IMDO


After having studied Bio-engineering Sciences at Ghent University (1992-1997), Frédéric Leroy (°1974) obtained a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2002, where he continued his academic career at the research group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology (IMDO) as a post-doctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO). Since 2008, he holds a professorship in the field of food science and (bio)technology.

His research primarily deals with the many ecological aspects and functional roles of bacterial communities in (fermented) foods, with a focus on animal products. In addition, his interests relate to human and animal health and wellbeing, as well as to elements of tradition and innovation in food contexts. The research is often of an interdisciplinary nature, involving collaborations with experts in microbiology, animal production, veterinary sciences, social and consumer sciences, cultural anthropology, and food history. He is also a member of the research group of Social and Cultural Food Studies (FOST).

Extra muros, Leroy offers various societal contributions, all being pro-bono. As such, he is editorial board member of Foods, the International Journal of Food Microbiology (IJFM), and the magazine 'Food, Science and Law' (FSL), board member of various academic non-profit organizations, including the Belgian Association for Meat Science and Technology (BAMST; president), Belgian Society for Food Microbiology (BSFM; secretary), and Belgian Nutrition Society (BNS), president of the scientific committee of the Institute Danone Belgium, and effective member of the Advisory Commission for the "Protection of Geographical Denominations and Guaranteed Traditional Specialities for Agricultural Products and Foods" of the Ministry of the Brussels Capital Region.

Leroy's teaching activities include several courses in the field of food science and technology.

Nutrition (*)

The course discusses the nutritional importance of dietary components, with emphasis on their diversity, their digestion and metabolism, and their often controversial effects on human health. The societal relevance and impact of food and nutrition are addressed, with a particular focus on malnutrition, diet-related chronic diseases, and the establishment of dietary guidelines and recommendations (plus the limitations and pitfalls of this process). In addition, the importance of nutritional sciences for the agrifood sector is explored, for instance with respect to their role in food legislation and the targeting of new markets (novel foods, functional foods, etc.)

Food chemistry (*)

The societal role of food chemistry is outlined, including its relevance for food fraud and food processing issues. An overview is given of  the different macro- and microconstituents of food products, with specific attention to their structual diversity and functionalities, as well as of the major food additives (E numbers). Next, major transformation processes are discussed, including browning reactions (caramelization, Maillard-type reactions, etc.) and the oxidation of fat and protein. Finally, the chemical ideosyncrasies of some major food categories are presented.

Technology of animal products (*)

The course introduces the concept 'meat' and its societal relevance and controversies (cultural effects, health, ethics, sustainability, etc.) The mode of action and structure of muscle are discussed, as well as the physical, biochemical, and microbial processes that occur post-mortem (during cooling, aging, distribution, etc.) The latter aspects are then related to quality, healthiness, and (bio)safety. In addition, the major technological processes involved in the manufacturing of meat products are outlined (salting, fermentation, smoking, drying, and cooking), and situated within the complex framework of tradition and innovation.

Food microbiology and ecology (*)

The course consists of the partims 'Food microbiology and hygiene' (prof. dr. Bruno Pot) and 'Quantitative and predictive microbiology' (see below). The major pathogens and spoilage microorganisms are addressed for different food types, as well as their modes of action (virulence mechanisms, spoilage manifestations, etc.) Also, risks and opportunities for improved microbial control are outlined (including processing, sanitation, HACCP, predictive modelling techniques, etc.)

Quantitative and predictive microbiology (*)

Focus is on the major tools and methodologies needed to simulate and predict the quantitative aspects of microbial behaviour in food environments with respect to growth and/or inactivation and metabolite formation, as well as modelling of microbial interactions and the growth/no-growth interface. Application of this methodological framework is documented for both harmful and beneficial microorganisms. The importance of quantitative and predictive microbiology for the concept of risk assessment is also discussed. Finally, basic concepts of quantitative microbial system biology are outlined (e.g., metabolic control analysis).

1 - Animal products and their microbial communities

Meat products harbour a wide range of microorganisms. Research deals with the biodiversity and community dynamics, ecological aspects, and functional roles of bacteria during meat fermentation. Bacteria of interest include Lactobacillus sakei and the group of coagulase-negative staphylococci, especially with respect to their use of alternative energy substrates, production of bacteriocins, and role in the generation of colour and aroma. Non-fermented meat systems are also studied, in particular cooked ham and the use of bioprotective cultures to delay bacterial spoilage.


2 - Animal products within human communities

The eating of meat is an important bio-social activity. Current research investigates how the procurement, transformation, sharing, and consumption of meat relate to evolving cultural frameworks. Also, the multiple societal dimensions of tradition and innovation in meat science and technology are being explored. The research is of an interdisciplinary nature, involving experts from a variety of disciplines (food science and technology, cultural anthropology, sociology, and food history). See also: FOST.

3 - Beneficial bacteria for human and animal health

Certain bacteria confer health benefits to humans as well as to their domesticated animals. With respect to humans, research deals with bifidobacteria and their relevance for intestinal health (e.g., due to the cross-feeding of butyrate-producing colon bacteria). Also, the potential health benefits of fermented foods are being evaluated based on the microbial compositions and their functional activities. Regarding animal health, the controversial role of coagulase-negative staphylococci in udder skin ecosystems is explored in collaboration with the M-team (Ghent University).

4 - 'Positive' predictive microbiology and food technology

Predictive microbiology is usually applied to estimate the growth of pathogens and spoilers in foods. However, the same tool box can also be applied to simulate the growth and metabolic behaviour of desirable bacteria. Research relates to the behaviour of lactic acid bacteria, coagulase-negative staphylococci, and bifidobacteria, with respect to their growth, carbohydrate metabolism, use of alternative substrates, and generation of functional compounds (bacteriocins, conjugated fatty acids, aromas, etc). Food systems of interest include fermented meats, milks, and cereals.

Frédéric Leroy published various book chapters and >130 peer-reviewed journal publications, having attracted >11k citations (Google Scholar) since his first publication in 1999. Most of the research was published in Q1/Q2-ranked journals, situated mainly in the fields of food science and technology and of biotechnology and applied microbiology. His h-index is situated between 42 (Publon/Web of Science) and 51 (Google Scholar). Bibliographic profiles are also available on ORCID, Scopus, Academia, Loop, ResearchGate, SciProfiles, Exaly, and Kudos.

Details on the publication record can be found below:


Chapters in books

  • Ethical defence of eating meat: the place of meat eating in ethical diets. Leroy F, Ben-Dor M & Mitloehner FM (2020). In: Grandin T & Cockram M (eds.) The Slaughter of Farmed Animals. Practical Ways of Enhancing Animal Welfare. CABI, Boston, MA, USA, p. 301-308.
  • Meat and meat products. Geeraerts W, Stavropoulou DA, De Vuyst L & Leroy F (2019). In: MA Azcarate-Peri, RR Arnold, JM Bruno-Bárcena (eds.), How Fermented Foods Feed a Healthy Gut Microbiota. A Nutrition Continuum. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, p. 57-90
  • Cross-feeding during human colon fermentation. De Vuyst L & Leroy F (2019). In: G González-Ortiz, MR Bedford, KE Bach Knudsen, CM Courtin, HL Classen (eds.), The Value of Fibre: Engaging the Second Brain of Animal Nutrition. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, The Netherlands, p. 313-338.
  • Meat in the human diet: a biosocial perspective. Leroy F & De Smet S (2019). In: J Lorenzo, P Munekata, F Barba, F Toldrá (eds), More than Beef, Pork and Chicken – The Production, Processing, and Quality Traits of Other Sources of Meat for Human Diet. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, p. 1-19.
  • Food innovation and tradition: interplay and dynamics. Geyzen A, Ryckbosch W, Scholliers P, Teughels N, & Leroy F. 2019. In: CM Galanakis (ed.), Innovations in Traditional Foods. Woodhead Publishing, Duxford, United Kingdom, p. 27-51.
  • Approaches to assess the risks/modeling of microbial growth and toxin production. Murru N, Mercogliano M, Cortesi M-L, Leroy F, Condoleo R & Peruzy MF. 2017. In: AY Tamime (ed.), Microbial Toxins in Dairy Products, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NY, United States, p. 229-286.
  • Arginine deiminase in microorganisms. Leroy F & Charlier D. 2017. In: JPF D’Mello (ed.), Handbook of Microbial Metabolism of Amino Acids, CAB International, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, p. 70-80.
  • Fermented meats. Leroy F & De Vuyst L. 2015. In: B Caballero, P Finglas & F Toldra (eds.), Encyclopedia of Food and Health, Elsevier, Oxford, United Kingdom, p. 656-660.
  • Fermentation. Demeyer D, Toldrá F & Leroy F. 2014. In: M Dikeman & C Devine (eds.), Encyclopedia of Meat Sciences, 2nd edition. Elsevier, Oxford, United Kingdom, vol. 2, p. 1-7.
  • The influence of processing parameters on starter culture performance. Leroy F, Goudman T & De Vuyst L. 2014. In: F Toldrá (ed.), Handbook of Fermented Meat and Poultry, 2nd edition. Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, United States, p. 169-175.
  • Metabolomics. Leroy F, Van Kerrebroeck S & De Vuyst. 2014. In: CA Batt & ML Tortorello (eds.), Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology, 2nd edition. Elsevier, Oxford, United Kingdom, p. 780-787.
  • Fermentation and acidification ingredients. Leroy F & De Vuyst L. 2009. In: R Tarté (ed.), Ingredients in Meat Products: Properties, Functionality and Applications. Springer, New York, United States, p. 227-252.
  • Latest developments in probiotics. Leroy F, Falony G & De Vuyst L. 2008. In: F Toldrá (ed.), Meat Biotechnology. Springer, New York, United States, p. 217-229.
  • Modelling microbial interactions in foods. Leroy F & De Vuyst L. 2007. In: S Brul, S van Gerwen & M. Zwietering (eds.), Modelling Microorganisms in Foods. Woodhead-publishing, Cambridge, United Kingdom, p. 214-227.
  • Bacteriocin-producing strains in a meat environment. Leroy F & De Vuyst L. 2005. In: JL Barredo Fuente (ed.), Microbial Processes and Products, Methods in Biotechnology, Humana Press (Springer), Totowa, New Jersey, United States, p. 369-380.
  • Sakacins. Leroy F & De Vuyst L. 2000. In: AS Naidu (ed.), Natural Food Antimicrobial Systems. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, Florida, United States, p. 589-610.
  • Sausage isolates are favourable candidates for application as bacteriocin-producing starter cultures for sausage fermentation - a case study. Leroy F & De Vuyst L. 1999. In: ACJ Tuijtelaars, RA Samson, FM Rombouts & S Notermans (eds.), Food Microbiology and Food Safety into the Next Millennium. Ponsen & Looyen, Wageningen, The Netherlands, p. 647-652.


Peer-reviewed journal publications