Milano Territorial unit
The Milan Territorial Unit is located at the Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences (DeFENS) of the University of Milan. Staff currently working at the Milano territorial Unit are 3 researchers, 1 technician, and 1 administrative staff. Contributions to the section’s research activities also come from 3 research fellows, and some undergraduates and PhD students.
The results obtained by the Milan Unit enabled, in past and present time, small and medium-sized enterprises to enhance quality and productivity with a technological and scientific support for innovation and valorization of their productions.
The research area is focused on food quality and safety, with the aim of valorizing traditional food and for developing foods with higher nutraceutical and functional value.
The main research areas are as follows:
STUDY OF THE MICROBIAL BIODIVERSITY INVOLVED IN FOOD PRODUCTS
Spoilage and pathogenic microbial populations
Study of spoilage microorganisms and their biochemical characterization in order to identify potential markers of contamination useful for the early detection of bacterial spoilage.
Study of the enzymatic activity of gram-negative psychrotrophic bacteria, in order to develop strategies to control the proteo-lipolytic spoilage of processed milk and cheese that causes gelation, off-flavours, and loss of sensory quality and shelf life.
Phenotypic and molecular protocols are applied in order to investigate the incidence of antibiotic resistance and virulence factors within food bacteria and pathogens
Advanced technologies to control food spoilage and to improve food safety
Assessment of food additives efficacy against spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms
Methods for implementing and monitoring hygienic standards
Analytical methods development to detect bacteria directly implicated in cheese-making process and cheese defects
Biosafety: set up of lactic acid bacterial cultures to improve shelf-life; production, isolation, and characterization of bio-molecules produced by bacteria of agro-food interest; employment of natural essence to control the development of undesirable microorganisms
Characterization and selection of useful microorganisms to guarantee quality and tradition
All strains are typed by molecular analysis and assessed for their antibiotic resistance pattern in accordance with ESFA specifications. Wide differences in technological properties are present between and inside the species. Wild strains are characterized by different technologically relevant biochemical properties such as acid production and redox activity, lipolytic and proteolytic activities in milk, but also for their flavour enhancing capabilities and their antagonism against potential pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms.
The knowledge of such traits is a key factor determining the success when developing and producing tailor-made starter cultures for different traditional cheese products.
Characterization and selection of beneficial microorganisms
Specific strains of LAB have been shown to be involved in potential human health benefits, including reduction in cholesterol, improvement in lactose metabolism, folate enrichment, GABA and CLA production, antimicrobial activity. The characterization and use of strains with proven beneficial activities allow furthering improving the quality and safety of dairy products.
Selection of bacterial strains for their application in traditional and functional foods
STUDY OF THE LIPOPHYLIC VOLATILE AND NON-VOLATILE FRACTION OF FOOD
Characterization of traditional mountain cheeses by means of their terpenic profile
Cheeses produced in Mountain areas reflect the richness of the pasture, in terms of a lot of volatile compounds, especially terpenes that can be used as marker of the forages that cattles grazed, as the terpene production is influenced by the species of plants and by their phenological stage.
Monitoring of the catabolic issues during aging and shelf-life by means of the volatile metabolome
The biochemistry activity of the microbiota in fermented food (cheese, yogurt, but also beer and wine) leads to the production and evolution of the volatile flavor compounds. The study of the resulting metabolome can give information on the regular aging process and/or emerging defects.
Improvement of flavor in fermented food by using selected microbial strains
Microbial strains are capable of producing high levels of pleasant volatile compounds. Those strains can be added in manufacturing to improve flavor.
Improvement of nutraceutical value of milk and dairy
As part of milk fat is not built in the mammary gland but derive directly from the blood stream, milk fat composition can be modified by suitable diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Mountain grazing also can implement the levels of CLA in milk and cheese. Moreover the use of selected strains in cheesemaking can result in lowering cholesterol level in cheese and increase CLA level.
Studying the interaction between cheese and packaging
Food packaging protects food from contamination and improves shelf-life, controlling the microbial proliferation, oxigen and water vapour exchange with the environment. Depending on the type of packaging, food volatile composition can change. Moreover, when the food has an high percentage of fat, like cheese, improper choice of material and/or improper storage conditions can lead to the migration of low molecular weight substances -detectable in the headspace- from plastic packaging materials into food.
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Istituto di Scienze delle Produzioni Alimentari – UT di Milano
Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano
Phone: +39 02 50316685 – Fax: +39 02 50316687
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autochtonous starter; genotyping/phenotyping characterization
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lactid acid bacteria; spoilage bacteria; food pathogens; shelf-life
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