MRI´s statutes define the responsibilities and duties of the federal research institutes within the remit of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) as follows: drawing up scientific criteria to facilitate policy decisions in the fields of food, agriculture, forestry and consumer protection. In doing so, the MRI is also responsible for extending scientific knowledge in these areas to the benefit of the common good. In the context of this assignment the federal research institutes are scientifically indepent.
Research at the Max Rubner-Institut (MRI) focuses on consumer health protection in the nutrition sector. The department advises the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in this area. MRI was founded on 1 January 2008 as the successor to the Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food (BfEL). In addition to its headquarters in Karlsruhe, MRI also conducts research at centres in Kiel, Detmold and Kulmbach.
Four of MRI’s nine departments use a cross-product approach, focusing their research on investigating nutritional physiology and health, nutritional behavior, child nutrition, food technology and bioprocess engineering as well as microbiology and biotechnology. This approach traces the active chain of nutrition from the level of molecules and cells to the entire organism. One particularly important area is the study of nutritional behaviour. The results of this research are incorporated in recommendations for healthy nutrition.
The research work undertaken in the other four department relates to specific categories of foodstuffs such as cereals, vegetables, milk and meat. In these department the entire food chain is studied. MRI’s research, related to the production chain, targets the safety and quality of foodstuffs as well as the sustainability of food production. Investigations cover the whole process from the moment of harvesting or production through to the consumer. The National Reference Center on Food Authenticity (NRZ-Authent) has been newly adopted at the MRI in order to combat food fraud.
The Max Rubner-Institut is responsible for the continued development and implementation of National Nutrition Monitoring and the German Nutrient Database. It also undertakes national tasks in the context of the Agricultural Statistics Act and the Precautionary Radiation Protection Act.