The Science Team performs research on food technology, including changes in food components in relation to processing, packaging, storage, and shelf-life of foods that determine their nutritional and technological quality. We focus on beyond state-of-the-art technological solutions to secure quality, convenience, affordability and shelf life of foods, and reduce food losses including postharvest physiology and technology throughout the entire value chain.
The outcome areas encompass characterization and understanding of how molecular components interact during post-harvest, processing, packaging, storage, logistics and transportation, and how these structure-processing-function relationships at all length scales can be used for designing more sustainable and circular food solutions, such as development of new storage and processing approaches, new packaging materials, novel foods and food ingredients.
Key areas are biopolymer chemistry, food micro- and macro-structures and their function in networks, food ingredients, digestibility of food proteins and glycemic carbohydrates, texture and rheology, and the preservation of sensorial, nutritional and health-promoting constituents of fresh and processed foods. The team is internationally recognized for transformative research in the area of complex food matrices, colloids, emerging technologies in postharvest, food processing, eco-design of packaging and logistics.
State-of-the-art analytical facilities aligned to these areas are Light scattering, analytical and preparative Size Exclusion Chromatography, a large range of Mass Spectrometry (MS) instruments, e.g. MS techniques for metabolome analyses, ultrasensitive gas analysis, Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), fluorescence spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, texture analysis, tensiometry, rheometry, Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), potentiometric titration, multispectral analysis for visual quality, microbiology techniques, and advanced postharvest storage.
Laboratory and pilot processing facilities include micro- and ultrafiltration units, a pilot dairy plant, laboratory and pilot twin-screw co-rotating extruders, laboratory and pilot scale extruders equipped with cooling die for plant-based food developments, homogenizer, equipment for high intensity ultrasound, spray dryer, UHT-DSI, and laboratories for development and characterization of food packaging materials. We have state-of the-art storage rooms to simulate different environmental storage conditions for studies of quality of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, and other perishable foods, and portable equipment to monitor T and RH, and capture volatile organic compounds.