Post-harvest science and technology | Optimization of food processes


Post-harvest science and technology
Work is centred on the physiological and biochemical bases for the quality of perishable horticultural commodities – fruit, vegetables, and ornamentals – to support the development of new technologies or optimization of current systems for quality maintenance. Focus will initially be on the current lines of work on the regulation of ripening and storage-related disorders of ‘Rocha’ pear, ecophysiology of roses under high relative humidity and their effects on cut flower, vase-life, quality of fresh-cut produce, the postharvest preservation of phytochemicals in fresh fruit, and the effect of processing technologies on fruit phytochemicals. The approach concerning technologies for shelf life extension will develop further work on the development of novel edible films with enhanced quality and safety attributes.

Researchers working in the above topics:


Optimization of food processes
Food Process optimization is crucial to deliver products with improved quality, while assuring its safety, or to achieve plant’s economic efficiency.

A very important tool is process modelling, that allows the better understanding of the phenomena involved and the impact of different variables on final performance. The nonlinear nature of food processing models or the dynamic nature of processing conditions, make the optimization of food processes a very challenging field.

Thermal Processes (e.g. blanching, pasteurization and sterilization, drying and freezing) and Non-Thermal Processes (e.g. ozonation, thermosonication and UV) are the food processes on which the research effort lays on. The main research framework is based on horticultural products, although food formulations, meat and fish are also food products under study.
Food’s quality is settled on the development of kinetics determination methodologies. Quality indexes, such as vitamin C, chlorophyls, starch, reducing sugars, rheological properties, texture and microstructure, are the main parameters and characteristics analysed. Studies on sensorial analysis are frequently accomplished.
In the area of Food Safety, research is inserted in the field of predictive microbiology, with the development of methodologies to determine microbial kinetics. Microorganisms in foccus are Listeria, Salmonella, E. Coli and Pseudomonnas.
Together with the area of transfer phenomena modelling, the collection of kinetic data allows the design, planning and optimization of food processes. A last stage is centred on the experimental validation of the optimized processes.

Researchers working in the above topics: