Perfectly preserved - naturally
Food-related research can have a profound effect on an industry worldwide. The fact that many food-related health issues are also global issues means that diverse improved foodstuffs have the potential of getting a significant share in the global food market. An interesting example of such SME-involved research aimed at discovering a natural preserving agent for use in the sausage industry. We talk to one of the project developers to learn more of this EU-funded project's success and its follow-up.
Growing concerns over the health implications of the use of chemical preservatives in food have led to the search for safer natural alternatives. Consumers of traditional foods do not object to new and healthier food processing, as long as the traditional taste is not altered. In August 2006, NOCHEMFOOD, a partnership of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research institutes, received EUR 2.26 million of EU funding from the 'Food Safety and Quality' thematic priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to explore the use of natural preserving agents as substitutes for nitrites and nitrates (chemical preservatives commonly used in the sausage industry).
Lead by Bioma, a Swiss SME whose core business is the production and marketing of biotechnologies for the agro-food sector, NOCHEMFOOD began by rigorously testing vegetable extracts on sausage meat. The extracts, taken from eight plants (such as rosemary) had the task of preventing the development of undesired microorganisms and preserving the meat's colour.
After extensive research and testing, the NOCHEMFOOD project produced exciting results. 'We were able to demonstrate,' says Dr Pier Luigi Franceschini, project developer, 'that our mixture of natural vegetable extracts performed as effectively as their chemical counterparts. In all cases we had good results.'
Dr Pier Luigi Franceschini
Project Dissemination Leader
Tel. + 39 0640040358
Dr Alessandro Capodicasa
Tel. +39 0666159086