Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Process contaminants: Mitigation and elimination techniques for high food quality and their evaluation using sensors and simulation (Food Quality and Safety)

Project acronym: PROMETHEUS

Title of project: Process contaminants: Mitigation and elimination techniques for high food quality and their evaluation using sensors and simulation

Research area: Food Quality and Safety

Contract No: 265558

EU contribution: €2 999 573

Start date: May 2011

Duration: 36 months

Status: on-going

The main objective of the PROMETHEUS project is to help the European food industry to protect consumers against exposure to undesirable compounds formed during food processing – without affecting food quality or microbiological safety. The research will generate new knowledge on the dynamics of priority chemical hazards; structural changes and interactions with other molecules or substrates during food processing and storage.

PROMETHEUS builds on the previous EU projects HEATOX and ICARE.

The project is investigating:

  • Four mitigation strategies: vacuum baking, high hydrostatic pressure treatment, ohmic heating and microencapsulation of heat-labile ingredients;
  • Three innovative monitoring strategies to simultaneously measure the relevant contaminants, their precursors and some quality indicators: front face fluorescence analysis to monitor food process contaminants, ambient mass spectrometry and computer vision based on image analysis. Nutritional and sensorial indicators will also be measured for each food product.

The studies are based on food models (infant formulas, biscuits, canned baby foods, and canned fish and vegetables) that have been selected for their nutritional relevance to consumers, especially infants and children. Processing contaminants (acrylamide, 3-monochloropropanediol esters, glycidol esters, furan, hydroxymethylfurfural and carboxymethyllysine) have been chosen for their toxicology and relevance to the food product and process.

PROMETHEUS is following a novel, holistic approach, involving the continuous real-time online monitoring of contaminant formation during food processing. Ambient mass spectrometry, fluorescence spectroscopy and image analysis will measure contaminants simultaneously, and allow the team to model the reactions that form contaminants and affect food quality.

The project outcomes are expected to improve the competitiveness of the food industry by anticipating future contamination regulations, and to help it innovate by implementing promising, innovative technologies that control the safety and overall quality of their products more effectively.

Website of project:

Coordinator: Christophe Cotillon,

Organisation: The Association de Coordination Technique pour l'Industrie Agro-alimentaire, France,