The food and herbal industries processing fruits, vegetables and other plants produce millions of tons of organic waste, by-products and residues annually. Today's technology for reusing these waste materials is very limited, and industry mostly disposes of them through composting or incineration, costing millions of Euros and contributing to environmental problems.
The European Union is searching for novel uses of organic waste materials. The Specific Targeted Research Project SAFEWASTES project combined 12 participants from seven countries who were working totargeted the development of innovative biotechnology for processing and purifying organic materials from the food and plant-based extracts industries. Several of the investigated by-products show still a remarkable antioxidative, antimicrobial or other beneficial activity to be used in food and feed additives with possible significant health benefits for animals and human beings. Despite effectiveness and a positive risk assessment only some selected materials are, however, useful due to economic reasons.
The industrial processing of fruits and vegetables as well as the extraction of herbs produces millions of tonnes of organic waste, by-products and residues annuallyeach year. These waste materials are costly and are mainly disposed through composting or combustion, costing millions of Euros and contributeing to environmental problems through pollution and methane emissions. One alternative use of such waste materials is nowadays the production of biofuels, especially biogas. But some of these organic residues might be too valuable to be disposed since they still contain a number of useful substances as e.g. polyphenols, galacturonids, flavonoids or terpenes which could lead to value- added by- or co-products.
[+] Read More
Organic residues from the plant processing industry still have valuable compounds which are currently under-utilised or disposed of. This project focused on the evaluation of such industrial organic waste materials and the development of novel technological processes to recover and transform the valuable compounds for use in food or feed additives with significant health benefit for humans and animals. The analysis of these materials and the creation of novel added value products will provide the basis for defining new areas of application. One key item was to develop organic feed additives to replace in-feed antibiotics, which are banned in the EU member states since beginning of 2006.
Key project aims were:
The aim of theSAFEWASTES aimed project was therefore to find innovative ways for generating novel, high added value products, e.g. as novel food/feed additives, and to demonstrate to the food as well as plant-based additives industry that there is a potential in recycling their organic by-products for the purpose of producing new products acceptable to all stakeholders as e.g. food and feed additives and cosmetic industry, farmers as well as consumers. Since data on the quality, efficacy and applicability of such materials, but also on their limits of use due to risks and economic calculations are scarce the project should establish an easy-access website database compiling the results of its research.
By the way, SAFEWASTES improved the co-operation between the respective industry and academia, generating new employment in biotechnological processing.
By-products of the plant processing industry as e.g. mango peel, carrot and artichoke pulp or herbal residues after extraction have beenwere (re-)extracted before and after enzymatic fermentation and investigated phytochemically, in -vitro and partly also in -vivo in farm animals. In several materials a A remarkable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-adhesive (antimicrobial) activity could bewas found in -vitro and in vivo. In few cases also a reduction of ammonia production could be observed. The most interesting compounds isolated are pectins, polyphenols and flavonoids. Enzymatic break down of the materials did, however, neither increase the quantitative extract output nor improve the activity. Some materials could be classified as novel products and respective patents have been applied for e.g. larch and horse-chestnut by-products.
The results have also shown that not all such by-products are useful and that a risk assessment is necessary case by case concerning undesirable plant compounds, solvent residues or microbial load. Limits of use are also given due to economic reasons.
In the consortium three objectives of lower input farming were taken into account:
The results of SAFEWASTES will help food manufacturers in employing scientific approaches to meet consumer demands for safer, higher quality food. By providing new, natural and functional products that improve animal welfare and, hence, lead to better food products.
Improved recycling of organic wastes should reduce the load on landfills and cut methane production by composting, as well as reducing other potentially toxic compounds.
SAFEWASTES improved the co-operation between industry and academia, generating new employment in biotechnological processing. The project established an easy-access website database compiling the results of its research.