Food quality encompasses various aspects, ranging from product composition to consumer perception. As a result, understanding the elements that contribute to food safety, sensory and nutritional performance, functional properties, sustainability, authenticity, and perceived quality are the focal points of research associated with this theme.
Our research teams are dedicated to:
- Detecting, characterizing, and understanding the role of microbiological, chemical, and physical factors to enhance the quality and safety of food.
- Developing formulations for food with optimal nutritional, taste, and bioactive qualities.
- Creating new strategies for natural preservation that uphold authenticity and naturalness.
- Promoting the distinctiveness and diversity of food resources, as well as the development of local products.
Food Safety and Preservation
To ensure food safety and prevent deterioration, the food industry faces various challenges related to detection and control. On one hand, the presence of toxins, allergens, or pathogenic microorganisms can compromise the safety of food, posing risks to human health. On the other hand, chemical reactions or undesirable microbial growth can decrease the acceptability of food, altering its organoleptic properties.
At INAF, several researchers dedicate their efforts to characterizing chemical contaminants, studying the microbial ecosystem and its role in food spoilage, and developing methods for detection, control, and prevention strategies.
Nutritional, Sensory, and Functional Properties of Food and its Components
Performance is a fundamental aspect of product quality. Food performance can be attributed to its nutritional, sensory, and functional characteristics. For instance, a food product is deemed high-performing if it provides essential nutrients necessary for maintaining good health or if it enhances the gastronomic experience. Moreover, certain compounds or ingredients can improve food performance by imparting benefits that go beyond mere nutritional value, for example antioxidant properties.
To optimize these aspects, researchers at INAF strive to characterize the components of food and their biological activities. They also seek to comprehend their interactions with food structure, their impact on sensory experiences, and their effects on the body, including the intestinal microbiota.
Strategies for Developing Healthy and Natural Foods
Consumers are becoming increasingly mindful of their food choices. They seek healthier and authentic foods with reduced chemical preservatives, without compromising on shelf life, as food waste is also a significant concern.
At INAF, several research projects are dedicated to innovative solutions that tackle these contemporary issues. For instance, researchers are actively developing antimicrobial formulations using natural ingredients.
Typicality and Diversity of Food Resources
Our environment is abundant in natural resources that support the production of food from a diverse range of biological sources. Gaining knowledge about, developing, and promoting the use of our local products and their by-products is a winning strategy in the pursuit of sustainable food.
The research conducted by INAF’s scientists aims, among other things, to understand all the characteristics that contribute to the uniqueness and typicity of these foods, to better comprehend how they can be effectively utilized.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE AND CHAIRS
Areas of Expertise
- Identification, characterization and quantification of active molecules – proteins, peptides, polyphenols, lipids, polysaccharides, fibres
- Rheology and texture of foods
- Nutritional value of foods
- Sensory and taste analysis of foods
- Food formulation and clean label
- Genomics and proteomics
- Food microbiology and virology
- Natural antimicrobials
- Lactic acid bacteria and probiotics
- Methods for detecting allergens and chemical components
- Methods for detecting authenticity of foods (food fraud)
- Milk and dairy products, fruits and vegetables, marine products, meats, maple products
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in metabolic activity and the functionality of bioprotective lactic cultures (METABIOLAC)
Research Chair in Foodborne Virus Control Capacity Building (VIROCONTROL)
Leadership Chair in Cheese Technology Education
Research Chair in Meat Quality and Safety (MuscULo)
Research Chair in Food Safety
Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Nanotechnology for Food and Agriculture
Institut de technologies des emballages et du génie alimentaire (ITEGA)
See all research themes
Our scientific program revolves around six major unifying themes.