The Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA-CNR) is a centre of excellence, worldwide renowned, acting in the fields of scientific research, innovation and technology transfer aimed to improve safety and quality of agro-food products. By creating synergistic actions between scientific research and production sectors with the transfer of scientific knowledge, ISPA-CNR fosters technological innovation paths of small, medium and large national and foreign agro-food enterprises. In particular, in the field of food and feed safety, innovative methodologies for detection of mycotoxins, toxigenic fungi, microbial pathogens and allergens in cereals, wine, pasta, milk, baby foods, dried fruits, are being developed in national and international projects.
Particularly noteworthy is the current coordination by ISPA-CNR of a large cooperative research project within the 7th European Framework Programme (with 25 partners) aiming to reduce mycotoxins in food and feed chains. In the area of food production, research is mainly aimed at improving food nutritional and organoleptic quality, adding value to typical local products (dairy, bakery and meat products, fruit and vegetables). Innovative lines of probiotic and functional foods using traditional products are being developed in cooperation with enterprises and regionally-based medical and health research groups to demonstrate health benefits.
Major scientific outcomes with economic impact are:
- microbial collections available for agro-industries;
- creation of functional foods – vegetable probiotic gastronomy and fermented beverages;
- selection and use of autochthonous yeasts for wine production;
- identification of molecular markers for assessing quality of typical local products;
- development of organic diets for fisheries;
- packaging innovations for fresh cut fruits and vegetables;
- new fruit and vegetable fresh-cut and minimally processed products;
- application of new biopreservatives for extending food shelf life;
- use of beneficial microorganisms and natural compounds for crop protection with methods having reduced environmental impact;
- agricultural reuse of organic wastes.
The Institute is also involved in research activities in the following fields:
- assessment of microbial diversity using bioinformatics and advanced molecular and proteomic methodologies;
- application of biotechnological tools for the production of biomolecules (antioxidants, proteins, enzymes, etc.);
- quality and shelf life assurance of fruits and vegetables by innovative techniques to support infrastructures and logistic facilities;
- use of eco-sustainable techniques for greenhouse and open field horticultural crops;
- identification and characterization of food allergens and development of multi-target methods based on LC-MS/MS for allergen detection in complex foods.
The Institute policy targets continuous innovation and socio-economic growth of territories by building and implementing strategic cooperative partnerships with world leader Institutions in the area of agro-food (FAO, EFSA, FSA, USDA, etc.) as well as with SMEs and large enterprises (Barilla, IBM Italy, Syngenta, Bayer, Thermo, Copaim, etc.) within funding programs promoted by local, national and international bodies (POR, PON, FP7, etc.).