Mamma Mia! Dairy Innovation, Crops in Outer Space, Protein Quality and Phytochemicals!

The semester of Healthy Food Design has just begun and in this month, we have had the opportunity to attend presentations from guest lecturers and industry seminars that have broadened our understanding to this discipline of the food science.

On the 30th of October, Parmalat’s R&D Team carried out a workshop with us. Parmalat is a global leading company, pioneering in the production of long-lasting milk through ultra-high-temperature processing. This brought back good memories to some of us, as the company ran operations in our home countries (Guatemala, Brazil and Ecuador). The R&D Team shared with us their experiences and insights on innovation and how handy it is for a company to remain as a main player on the market. Additionally, during the workshop, we had the opportunity to ideate a product based on an actual requirement that was given to them a few years ago. We shared our ideas with them and compared them to the actual developed product, where we concluded how important it is to drive our developments on the need of the consumer.

As November started, we attended the Inauguration of the Laboratory of Plant Characterization Unit, a collaboration between UNINA and the European Space Agency (ESA), as part of the MELISSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) project. At this conference we learned about the pioneering work that is being carried out in the Agriculture Department of UNINA, where different plant crops are being characterized with top technology sensors in a controlled environment in order to harvest them in outer space. Additionally, the results of this research will lead to great improvements on sustainability on Earth. Thanks to this event, we are now encouraged not only to improve the food system on Earth, but to innovate on food production to reach the moon and beyond.

Finally, Prof. Louise Bennett from Monash University of Australia was an invited lecturer to the course of Nutrition Applied to Healthy Food Design of Prof. Paola Vitaglione. In the lectures of Prof. Bennett, we had an interesting approach firstly on how the protein quality of a food product should be assessed. The factors include the food matrix, the bioavailability and antinutritional factors to manage the protein quality of the product. Additionally, we explored with Prof. Bennett the possibility to innovate with proteins in an upstream-way, as they could be used as substitutes for additives, especially in the case of clean-labelling. The last topic discussed with our guest lecturer was the behaviour of Phytochemicals in the body, how can they be analysed and how important it is to understand their absorption in the human body, in order to perfectly match their health benefits with the needs of the consumers. It is important to note, that these lectures made us realize how important it is to look beyond the food ingredients of our developments.

Jorge RIVERA, Guatemala, Cohort 8

- Updated December 2019 -