At the 31st International EFFoST conference in Barcelona (Sitges) in November 2017, eleven projects funded under the FP7 ERA-Net SUSFOOD calls in 2013 and 2014 will present their work. Most of these projects have ended or are about to (2018) and want to share their results to the research community and stakeholders during the first day at the EFFoST conference in a special SUSFOOD session. A first glance of the eleven projects is given below; learn more about them at the EFFoST SUSFOOD session on November 14th 2017 from 11 until 13h in room Tramuntana 1 (Programme) in Sitges (Barcelona). 


BERRYPOM: Processing of berry pomace: lab vs. industrial scale

Pressing residues from berries contain, next to dietary fibres, high amounts of bioactive compounds, which contribute to health promoting effects once added to the human diet. To avoid food waste and to provide sustainable products, the incorporation of berry pomace in cereal products can be considered as an interesting approach. However to be able to do that, knowledge of gentle drying and milling conditions to obtain a fine powder is a key prerequisite.

OATPRO - Engineering of oat proteins: Consumer driven sustainable food development process

There is a global need to increase plant protein consumption. Availability of sustainable plant protein ingredients could be increased by finding novel sources of protein or by efficient valorisation of the existing ones. Cereal processing side streams are underutilised despite their high content of health promoting valuable components such as dietary fibre, protein and bioactive compounds.

The OATPRO project aimed to further valorise an oat processing side stream as plant protein ingredient and develop new food applications taking into account consumer preferences. Technological properties of oat protein ingredients and applicability are tailored towards high sensory functionality.

Sustainable&Healthy - Development of sustainable processing technologies for converting agricultural by-products into healthy, added value ingredients and food products

The Sustainable&Healthy project applied supercritical fluid extraction on bilberry press-cake to optimise extraction of phenols and bioactive oils. A bilberry seed oil with enhanced vitamin E content, and antioxidant activity was obtained. Spray drying and Particles from Gas Saturated Solutions experiments were carried out to stabilize the extracts. It was shown that successful encapsulation of bilberry extract in maltodextrin, palm fat and eudragit was possible and by controlling processing parameters, different particle properties could be obtained. Finally, dried food products with added value; favourable organoleptic properties and enhanced levels of health promoting ingredients were generated.

The SUSDIET project: Towards sustainable diets in Europe

The general goal of the SUSDIET  project was to (i) assess health and environmental impacts of current and alternative diets in Europe, (ii) better understand consumers’ preferences for food, (iii) assess the effects of policy instruments supporting more informed choices, or affecting the market environment. The SUSDIET approach was multi-disciplinary, encompassing researchers in consumer studies, environmental science, economics, nutrition, and public health. In the first part, a the comparison of dietary patterns was observed and it was determined which adjustments in consumers’ diets would have to be prioritized in order to improve public health and environmental impact. The second part focused on consumers’ motivations and preferences in relation to sustainable food consumption: What are major barriers, what’s the effectiveness of different message characteristics in persuading consumers to change their decisions,…

The third part of the project focused on the effects of policies aiming to influence food choices: the impact of food labels on consumers’ trade-offs, joint vs. separated labelling of health and environmental dimensions, analyzed policies which modify the relative prices of the different food groups (e.g. carbon tax). 

Sustainability in the vegetable food supply chain - overview of the results of the project SUNNIVA

SUNNIVA  addressed the entire food supply chain for tomatoes, Brassica and their derived products. The project focused on sustainability by using high-throughput non-destructive optical tools to optimize harvest time and determine the effects of elicitor treatments during pre-processing storage; the effect of subsequent innovative processing on the health beneficial compounds; mathematical modelling of the oscillated convection of an innovative shaking retort system; developing bio-refinery process schemes for several vegetable by-products and applying pilot-scale tests with innovative pressing technologies and evaluation of vegetable waste fractions for their potential to be included in organic fertilizers or soil amendments. The results demonstrated that non-destructive optical tools for monitoring specific phytochemicals in tomato and Brassica could replace expensive destructive analyses allowing rapid decisions on harvest time and how to best utilize vegetable raw material or waste fractions. Rational designs of cabbage and/or tomato containing foods were applied to exploit biological activity of phytochemicals where vegetables were microwave-processed and applied in commercial meat production lines to obtain pâtés and sausages with improved health quality. Vegetable by-products represented interesting feedstock with opportunities to recycle into the food chain. Product development within the project is focused on juice and puree products.

SUSMEATPRO: Can antioxidant and antibacterial plant extracts make meat products healthier?

The European Union has in the Europe 2020 strategy a vision to achieve sustainable and safe food systems. One big challenge in this regard is that many epidemiological and experimental studies suggest that a high intake of red and processed meat is associated with increased colorectal cancer risk. However, meat is a healthy food item and has proteins of high biological value, a high content of essential minerals and B-vitamins, but lacks antioxidants. The addition of complex antioxidant plant extracts to processed meat could result in healthier products due to decreased level of oxidation in the meat, thus preventing the inflammation reactions upon consumption. In addition, innovative preservation strategies are needed for both conventional and organic meat products to improve sustainability and reduce potentially harmful effects of processing and meat consumption. Again, complex plant extracts, with high contents of specific phytochemicals obtained from various horticultural plant materials and side streams from the processing of these materials, could have synergistic antimicrobial effects, inhibit the growth of pathogenic and spoilage bacteria in different meat products, and improve overall quality and safety of meat. Therefore, the project "Sustainable plant ingredients for healthier meat products - proof of concepts (SUSMEATPRO)" started. In this project, local horticultural plant material and side streams were collected and screened for antioxidant and antimicrobial capacities in different test systems in vitro. Extracts of superior capacities were selected and tested in conceptual meat products with promising results. In order to prove the concept of healthier meat products with complex plant additives against colon cancer, animal tests are under performance during the last year of the project.

  BIOPROT: Novel multifunctional plant protein ingredients with bioprocessing
Finding new sources of plant proteins is a necessity to obtain sustainable and affordable foods for the growing global population. Potential source of good quality plant protein is wheat bran, which contains fibre, minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals and up to 20% of proteins. However, their digestibility is hindered by aleurone cell walls restricting their bioavailability. Another potential protein source is faba bean, one of the oldest crops in Europe, characterized by high protein content (28-30%). The use of faba bean is limited due to presence of antinutritional factors such as vicine and convicine, tannins, lectins, and trypsin inhibitors. The aims of BIOPROT were to improve protein and nutritional functionality of bran and faba bean by tailored bioprocessing with microbes and enzymes and to establish technological functionality of modified plant protein sources in different food categories. Through fermentation, selected starters (lactic acid bacteria) enhanced the nutritional value of bran and faba bean. Improved in vitro digestibility of bran proteins was also obtained, together with improved phytase activity and total phenols content. Similarly, faba bean fermentation was able to enhance the nutritional profile of wheat bread and pasta. Results showed that lactic acid bacteria fermentation provides a natural bioprocessing tool for modification of nutritional and technological properties of bran faba bean flours that could be applied in the development of novel plant-protein based products.
FOCAS: Reframing convenience food

The FOCAS (Food, Convenience and Sustainability) project examined four types of convenience food (processed baby-food, supermarket ready-meals, canteen food and meal-box schemes) through comparative research in Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the UK.  The research adopted a ‘theories of practice’ approach, emphasising the meanings that consumers attach to convenience food; the practices with which convenience food is associated; the embeddedness of convenience foods in the routines and rhythms of everyday life; and the ‘do-ability’ of convenience food in terms of its practicality and cultural appropriateness.  Based on qualitative research (including interviews, focus groups and ethnographic observation), the research demonstrates that convenience foods do not stand alone as a separate category in terms of everyday consumption being frequently combined with other kinds of food.  Nonetheless, convenience foods are often contrasted negatively with ‘homemade’ food, cooked from scratch using fresh ingredients.  Research participants frequently rationalized their use of convenience food and culinary short-cuts, using irony and self-deprecating humour to negotiate potentially troubling issues regarding the alleged decline in cooking skills and culinary competence, the evidence for which is extremely sketchy.  The research also addressed the temporal dimensions of convenience food and its normalization as part of part of many people's routine consumption practices.

  Short time high quality cooking of boiled ham using radio frequency electric fields. RF Cooking of Ham

The project investigated the use of radio frequency (RF) electric fields to significantly reduce cooking times of cylindrical hams in plastic casings. The process uses a water bath filled with deionized water, in which the electric fields are applied to the food. The water as a high permittivity dielectric medium results in a very efficient transfer of electric fields into food items, in particular into salty ham with high electric conductivity. In cooperation with IRTA, cooking loss, casing meat adhesion, surface appearance and sensory attributes were assessed. RF-cooked hams showed a slightly lower cooking-loss, a smoother surface, were much easier to peel and were judged as slightly juicier and more gel-like than the conventionally cooked control samples.

FREEZEWAVE SUSFOOD ERA-net: Freezing assisted by low energy microwave irradiation to improve frozen food quality

FREEZEWAVE concerns the freezing of foods under the assistance of low energy microwaves (2450 MHz). Freezing assisted by low energy microwave permits to obtain a higher number of nucleation sites and in the end a higher frozen food quality with less freeze damage. In the case of conventional freezing process, fast freezing is usually recommended, resulting in a reduction of the ice crystals but also an increase in energy demand (low ambient temperature & high air velocity to enhance the rate of heat transfer). FREEZEWAVE proposes to optimise the freezing rate while exposing foods to a small amount of emitted microwave energy in order to obtain high quality frozen food. In the end, FREEZEWAVE project aims at adapting and optimizing the concept to a broader variety of foods (sauce, meat, fish, fruits, vegetables & ready to eat meals) as well as at the designing of an industrial scale equipment.

The novel concept concerns the freezing equipment sector thanks to a French SME partner (SAIREM) and the global frozen food sector. FREEZEWAVE will provide scientific knowledge and new scientific insights in food freezing. Project's outcomes may also be of interest for non-food applications such as in biology and biotechnology. ONIRIS, RISE and TTZ partners are now equipped with different equipment and first results obtained in 2017 confirmed already the interest in this technology. This presentation will propose a state of the art on this technology and a short presentation of the first results obtained. The final results from FREEZEWAVE will be presented in detail during EFFOST 2018 at end of project.

CEREAL: Improved and resource efficiency throughout the post-harvest chain of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables - Last experiences and final outcomes

The relevance of fruit and vegetables extends as they play a pivotal role in promoting consumers’ health, thus reducing costs associated to obesity, cardio-vascular and other social diseases. Nevertheless, the introduction of new and safe ready-to-eat fresh products, particularly fruit and vegetable, requires significant improvements in produce cleaning. Proper disinfection technology is required to ensure microbial safety avoiding at the same time the formation of disinfection by-products such as chlorinated chemicals. Furthermore, the quality of fresh-cut products also depends critically on packaging technology, which has to preserve good appearance and flavour, as well as meet safety requirements.

In view to increase the capacity of the EU industry to provide safer and more durable produces the CEREAL project goals were; (1) the reduction of the inputs used in the processing of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables via the introduction of new membranes with biocidal functionality; (2) the increase of the shelf life of the packed fresh cut products by developing of a hybrid technology in which the use of ozone combined with ultrafiltration; (3) the accomplishment of a higher level of chemical and microbiological safety of processed produces via the production of new active packaging components for fresh produces, which are expected to increase shelf life and to reduce wastes.