Optimization and innovation of processes and products
The research activity in this area aims to the development and optimization of processes and procedures for the manufacturing and stabilization of foods, the understanding and evaluation of innovative technologies, the optimization of formulations as a function of key-goals for the consumers and the food processing industry, the design of new foods and food ingredients with unique technological and functional features, and the promotion of the by-products coming from the food industry.
Sensory analysis and consumer science
Main topics concern the assessment of the sensory quality for the optimization of food formulations and correlation with instrumental indices, the understanding of the consumer food behavior and the variables that affect his preferences and choices. Recent studies focused on the sensory perception of obese and normal weight subjects, the food education, the consumer perception of the ‘sustainability’ concept, the optimization of gluten-free foods, and the study of the mechanisms of food memorization.
Food structure and formulation technology
This research area concerns the design and development of the structure of food products in accordance with the ‘composition-structure-process’ relationship, with the goal of providing peculiar functional properties. Specific studies aim to understand the relationship between food structure and functionality within the digestive process and to develop controlled release systems. Additional research subjects deal with the application of mechanical, rheological, and ultra-structure methods to raw materials, middle products and end products, with the goal of understanding the effects of the technological processes on the micro- and macro-structural characteristics of foods and to assure high quality standards of the final products.
Quality, authenticity and shelf life of foods
The research activity within this area mainly focuses on the nutritional and technological assessment of food quality as well as of the influence of technological processes, of storage, of genotype and/or cultivation environment. Additional research topics concern the set-up of methods and models for shelf life studies and for the determination of molecular markers linked to the product, to the process, and to the authenticity of the food. We also deal with the set-up and validation of analytical methods and with the definition of quality classes for the food products.
Characterization and promotion of typical food products
Main topics within this area concern the definition of analytical parameters for the characterization of typical food products, with special attention to the dairy sector, and the development of innovative proceses and products for the technological and functional promotion of the milk produced in mountain zones.
Main subject areas are based on the use of middle- and near-infrared spectroscopy techniques and image analysis methods. The non-invasive approach allows evaluating food matrices to promote quality, authenticity and origin in a fast and sustainable fashion. The use of spectroscopy techniques to processing investigations allows both in-line and remote control and optimization. A chemometric background is necessary for the interpretation of the instrumental output.
Bioactivity of food-related molecules
Characterization of potentially bioactive molecules (peptides, antioxidants e antiglicants in particular) found in foods. Understanding of the effect coming from the technological treatments on the formation/degradation of bioactive components and on their bioavailability in vitro.
The research activity in this area concerns shelf life studies of packaged foods and food/packaging interactions (e.g. migration phenomena, sensory contaminations, etc.). More recent topics deal with the development and validation of new materials and packaging systems with active and intelligent features, by non-conventional approaches, e.g. based on nanotechnology routes to develop nanocomposite and nanostructured materials.