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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Having that midday snack or that little midnight nibble has become increasingly popular despite the association with obesity and compulsive eating disorders. The truth of the matter is that snacking, i.e. eating smaller amounts of food on a more regular basis, is actually healthier.

Even though the growing fondness for snacks reaches the billions of euro mark, their ingredients are destined for change since they are threatened by issues regarding their health benefits.

Snacks are, traditionally speaking, filled with preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavourings to the point where their contribution to health is questionable. The rise of functional foods, however, has heralded a union that could have dynamic, if not financially staggering, results.

Functional foods are foods containing natural but bolstered ingredients that might, in some future scenario, be used as a means to combat specific diseases. It is NUTRA-SNACKS' objective to harness this potential.


Nutraceutics constitutes a growing sector of the food industry which attempts to define food components that can benefit human health. Under the support of the European Commission, the NUTRA-SNACKS project utilises a combination of technologies, through the synergies of which it can achieve innovative ready-toeat foods with functional health-promoting attributes.

The use of biotechnology enables researchers to isolate natural metabolites with anticancer, antiinflammatory, antioxidant and other properties as well as include them in food products. During the initial stages of the project, partners from research institutes and SMEs isolated those specific metabolites with anticancer, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anticholinergic and antioxidant activity. One of the main aims is developing microbial or plant-based bioreactors, which are used to produce bulk quantities of the desired metabolites.

These systems are subject to further optimisation in order to improve yield and quality at a later stage. In an effort to combine different sets of skills and competences which culminate in the production of innovative ready-to-eat food products, the project consortium spans 6 EU countries with participants from the public and private sectors. The objectives also include the development of regulatory guides for the emerging nutraceutics sector, as well as safety and control protocols for all the processes involved.


NUTRA-SNACKS provides the correct framework through which a new generation of food products can reach the European consumer. The purpose is to create a favourable economic climate that stimulates the spinoff of SMEs, thus achieving the commercialisation of a new wide range of health-promoting products.

NUTRA-SNACKS aims include plans to enrich the production chain. It is developing novel production systems (including innovative sensor-controlled bioreactors). It also intends to set and define new standards for the nutraceutics industry, complete with regulations and risk assessment documentation.

Health issues remain with a great number of functional foods and the consortium is devising new methods for assessing the potential health hazards of these innovative food products. NUTRA-SNACKS offers not only the possibility of innovation in the fields of knowledge creation and technology, but also the provision of adequate regulatory and quality assurance procedures.

List of Partners

  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Italy)
  • Martin-Luther-Universitaet Halle-Wittenberg (Germany)
  • University of Crete (Greece)
  • Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation (Poland)
  • UniversitÓ di Pisa (Italy)
  • National Institute for Biological Sciences (Romania)
  • UniversitÚ de Perpignan (France)
  • NÚoSENS (France)
  • ALSO (Italy)
  • DAS (Italy)
  • University of Milan (Italy)
Full title:
Ready to eat food for breakfast and sport activity with high content of nutraceutics preventing disease and promoting public health
Contract n░:
Project co-ordinator:
Maria Teresa Giardi, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche,
EC Scientific Officers:
Wilfried Diekmann,
Isabelle de Froidmont-G÷rtz,
EU contribution:
€ 2.4M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top