SRDA Projects

Highly sensitive flexible sensor technologies and modeling for sulfur compounds traceability in food cold chain (bilateral project SK-CN-21-0023)

Biotransformation as potent tool of plant enzymes for the preparation of natural aroma compounds

Collaborative study of acrylamide occurrence and qualitative aspects of Triticale-based confectionery products

Establishment of pilot facility and the development of mass rearing methods for edible insects production

Bioactive compounds of sea-buckthorn and their application in functional foods

Complex utilization of plant biomass in biofoods with added value (Biofoods)

Improvement of organoleptic quality of wine by application of non- Saccharomyces co-starters optimized on the basis of microflora profiling using NGS and aroma profiling

Direct culture-independent quantitative detection of bacterial pathogens in traditional Slovak and imported food products of animal origin

Highly sensitive flexible sensor technologies and modeling for sulfur compounds traceability in food cold chain (bilateral project SK-CN-21-0023)
Duration time: 2022-2023

In food cold chain, the gas atmosphere surrounding the food are very complex and in a state of dynamic change. Meantime, sulfur compounds are common among these gas atmosphere, including gases such as hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. Exposure of fresh products to levels above their sulfur compounds tolerance limit may cause further physiological damage, and exposure risk to human health. The sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) is currently broadly adopted as the treatment of choice in many countries for prolonging shelf-life of fruit such as the table grapes. However, the sulfur compounds could make the food to be more perishable once the concentrations of which are lower or higher than the standard necessary/allowed level. On the other hand, the higher concentration may induce injuries in food, and sulfite residues pose a health risk for some individuals. Therefore, it is important to accurately sense the concentration of SO2. Moreover, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas is generally produced when meat products are spoiled and the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in the early stage of decay is very low (<10ppm). In order to detect early corruption of meat products, hydrogen sulfide sensors need to have higher sensitivty. Meantime, some foods have a long cold chain and storage time, the developed sensing device should be suitable for smart packaging of food and is low power consumption.

Traditional sensors for sulfur compounds are limited by their rigidity, fragility and big size, making it difficult to apply them in food cold chain applications requiring flexible contact. Different from the traditional electronics based on metal or semiconductors, the flexible electronics demonstrate a wealth of merits in food packaging traceability flexible contact. However, in order to practically adapt to these emerging applications, flexible sensors face challenges in terms of high sensitivity. The relationship between the quality of fresh products and the sulfur compounds inside the cold chain logistics is frequently underestimated and not studied so far. Truly wide-spread application of sensing technology may thus require the development of mathematical models that incorporate some measure of the food’s dynamic response to the storage environment.

The proposed project will therefore dominantly deal with high sensitivity flexible sensor technologies which will monitor given products during the transport and storage phases, and construct multi-parameter coupling model which link the quality of products to the sulfur compounds inside the gaseous microenvironments, increasing thus the assurance of food quality and improving supply chain efficiency, transparency and traceability.



Biotransformation as potent tool of plant enzymes for the preparation of natural aroma compounds
Duration time: 2018-2022

The project focuses on the research and optimization of the preparation of natural aromatic compounds (oxylipins) by means of reactions catalysed by plant lipoxygenases and hydroperoxide lyases. Potatoes, cucumbers and champignons will also be studied as enzyme sources. A comprehensive approach to the development of clean and sustainable technology combining physical, chemical and biological processes to convert agricultural raw material to chemical products will be used: biochemurgy. The solution includes the selection and introduction of selected plant species (Viola odorata, Dracocephalum moldavicum and D. austriacum, Pelargonium graveolans, Borago officinalis, Plantago lanceolata) and determination of the conditions of their cultivation as source of the enzymes necessary for the preparation of natural flavours. The individual genotypes will be characterized in terms of phenological, morphological and economic characteristics, according to the descriptors. Crop methodologies and methodological cards will be developed.

Key enzymes present in biomass will be characterized in terms of pH optimum, dependence  on temperature, chemical additives and detergents, concentration of reactants. Part of the solution will be the standardization of reaction conditions as well as the testing of induction conditions for selected enzymes. An integral part of the research will also be the development of processes for the isolation and purification of natural aroma compounds.

Collaborative study of acrylamide occurrence and qualitative aspects of Triticale-based confectionery products - bilateral project (SK-SRB-18-0035)
Duration time: 2019-2020

The proposed bilateral project gives a platform for perspective joint research of both scientific teams – Food Research Institute of the National Agricultural and Food Centre in Slovakia (NPPC VÚP) and

Serbian Institute of Food Technology in University of Novi Sad (FINS) – focused on development of novel cereal products based on triticale (cereal hybrid of wheat and rye), evaluation of quality (rheological, textural and sensory properties) and safety (processed contaminants acrylamide and 5-

hydroxymethylfurfural). Collaborative study on the mentioned topic will be performed via short-term stays focusing on harmonization of analytical methods of both scientific teams (analysis of rheological properties using Mixolab instrument, sensory analysis and antioxidant capacity methods), education and dissemination of knowledge in the field of cereal technology (at FINS Serbia) and analysis of processed contaminants by liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (at NPPC VUP Slovakia). Exchanges during a bilateral project will provide an opportunity to share experiences, present results on national and international scientific and professional forums, educate the young science generation, and engage in new project challenges in the current issue of innovation research and quality and safety assessment using triticale.

Establishment of pilot facility and the development of mass rearing methods for edible insects production
Duration time: 2018-2021

It is estimated that in 2050 the human population will reach 9 billion, with the demand for food resources rising by 70 to 100%. The search for new alternative forms of food thus becomes one of the greatest challenges of humanity. The production of food insects is one of the ways to solve the problem. The nutritional composition of the insect body is optimally balanced, very similar to that of fish meat. The aim of the project is to build a pilot facility for the research of biology of edible insects, methods of its mass production and the use of produced biomass for food purposes. The microbial flora in larvae breeding media and the dynamics of its changes during the breeding process will be examined. Analyses of the content of the main nutritional components, as well as some other substances that are richly represented in the body of insects and are an essential part of healthy nutrition, will be done. A standardized breeding process of model species will be proposed, including production structure, work-flow, waste-free elimination of processed food from breeding and the possibility of food utilization of the produced biomass. The results achieved within the project will be used by the project applicant - Scientica, s.r.o. when building real production facility after project completion.

Bioactive compounds of sea-buckthorn and their application in functional foods
Duration time: 2018-2021

Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a shrub or tree with orange-coloured berries which are the natural source of many bioactive compounds. Among them there are especially vitamin C and rutin effective in the prevention and treatment of diseases related to vascular insufficiency, further carotenoids, tocopherols, sterols, essential amino acids, unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In the production of fruit juices and oils, which is carried out in the Slovak Republic in a single plant of the PD Tvrdosovce, the by-products are produced – residues which are also rich in many valuable compounds. The use of these residues in daily consumed foods such as bakery products in particular in combination with nutritionally valuable cereals and pseudocereals, further identification of the bioactive compounds and their stability after heat treatment is the subject of the proposed project. The research of the nutritional and qualitative aspects of the newly developed functional foods consists in the characterization of the presence and stability of the abovementioned bioactive compounds using modern analytical methods and in the comprehensive evaluation of qualitative parameters by means of instrumental and hedonic sensory analysis. Thermal treatment of products containing sea-buckthorn results in natural formation of undesirable food-borne contaminant, probably carcinogenic compound acrylamide which is eliminated by application of appropriate procedures below the safe benchmark level set by the European Commission Regulation. The technological process of manufacturing new functional products will be protected by a utility pattern. Dissemination activities will promote the production and consumption of health beneficial functional foods that are enriched with bioactive agents of sea-buckthorn in the context of healthy nutrition.

APVV- 16-0088
Complex utilization of plant biomass in biofoods with added value (Biofoods)
Duration time: 2017 - 2021

Situation of plant biomass processing is best documented in opinion of the Rural Development Programme for  programming period 2014 - 2020 and in report of the Council of the European Parliament (SEC (2010) 65 final).  These documents show that plant biomass is not used comprehensively and is needed to increase the proportion of processing of waste biomass and plant residues. According to the European Commission  (Brussels, 28.7.2014, SWD (2014) 259 final), opinion of the sustainable production of biomass have important role in addressing the concerns on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, security of energy supply and is therefore globally  necessary. Focusing of project on complex processing of plant biomass is highly actual. Benefits of project are to investigate the obtaining of materials with added value, mainly from unused (waste) plant biomass and study of its using in bio food and "NOVEL FOOD". The EU requirements are that foods were innovative, ecological and contain natural ingredients derived from sustainable plant biomass. The fulfillments of these requirements are one of the objectives for projects. Aims of the project:

1. find of the suitable processes for modifying plant biomass,
2. isolation of substances from plant biomass and obtaining the selected
    materials with added value,
3. screening of biological properties, antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of
    isolated substances compositions,
4. study of the plant biomass use and its extractives in bio food and "novel
    food" with added value,
5. study of the in vitro biological activity of selected compounds isolated
    from plant biomass, effective in preventing lifestyle diseases,
6. examination of theuse of plant biomass, extracts and its fractions in:

  • dermal formulations with improved protective and revitalizing properties
  • bio feed,
  • specific chemicals suitable for biological forest protection,
  • green chemicals and biofuels obtained from unused was te produced during processing of plant biomass.

APVV- 16-0264
Improvement of organoleptic quality of wine by application of non- Saccharomyces co-starters optimized on the basis of microflora profiling using NGS and aroma profiling
Duration time: 2017 - 2020

The importance of the contribution of autochthonous non-Saccharomyces strains to the final organoleptic characteristics of wine is already well established. During fermentation, these strains, together with Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains, can enrich the wine bouquet by different types of flavor compounds. It is evident that enzymatic characteristics of S. cerevisiae and non-Saccharomyces yeasts are of crucial importance in order to design and improve the wine unique properties. To understand the enzymatic potential of the microbial community in wine fermentation, it is necessary to perform investigation on RNA level, which may provide important information regarding the live microflora and its abilities in wine-related samples. Modern molecular methods based on next generation sequencing (NGS; also known as high-throughput sequencing) facilitate transcriptomic analysis, which provides a dynamic and functional view of microbial activity under particular conditions by gaining data on RNA and the expression profile. These new molecular approaches consent the analysis of the whole or targeted mRNA extracted from various wine-related samples. In this way, information on the gene expression of different microorganisms during the wine fermentation process can be obtained and, consequently, the function of such microorganisms regarding glycolytic, proteolytic, esterolytic and pectinase activities can be described.

APVV- 16-0119
Direct culture-independent quantitative detection of bacterial pathogens in traditional Slovak and imported food products of animal origin
Duration time: 2017 - 2020

Foodborne pathogens pose serious public health risks causing diseases that constitute a major burden to consumers, food business operators and national governments. Microbiological analysis is an integral part of food safety control and monitoring systems. Rapid, accurate technologies to detect or quantify low numbers are in demand in order to ideal assess product safety in hours. The proposed project will be focused on culture-independent quantitative analysis of pathogenic bacteria (Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli) in food. Culture-independent approach will be studied, involving separation of bacterial cells, optimized DNA extraction and nucleic acid amplification, facilitating bacterial quantification in a couple of hours. Broad-range identification of standard monitored usual as well as unusual bacterial species by high-throughput sequencing (next-gen) will be oriented to application of specific primers, improvement of detection limits, and also to internal standard development and implementation. The aim of the comprehensive research will be a validated procedure of direct quantification of food-borne pathogens in food with required limits of detection, allowing to obtain reliable results in one working day.

Quality and authenticity of fruit juices - study of relationships between the origin of feedstock, processing technology and quality of fruit juices
Duration time: 2016 - 2019

The applied research project is prepared in collaboration with a leading Slovak producer of fruit juices. It is focused on identification and monitoring of key aspects affecting quality of food products (particularly fruit juices and nectars) using modern analytical methods. Main focus will be on the monitoring of the quality of the feedstock, with an ambition to obtain markers enabling the development of the model for the authenticity of its origin proving, what is a factor significantly influencing the quality of the final product. Besides that, selected qualitative parameters of processing intermediates (semi-finished products) from various processing units/operations as well as of the final product will be monitored.

Within the experimental part of the project, selected physico-chemical quality indicators such as refractometric dry matter content, pH, fibre content (especially in juices with pulp), the contents of the selected acids (e.g., ascorbic, oxalic acid) and flavonoids (e.g., hesperidin, narirutin), selected contaminants (patulin, ochratoxin A, 5-hydroxymetylfuraldehyd) on samples of well defined origin will be monitored. Last but not least, the profile of aroma-active compounds will be characterised using a combination of highly sensitive methods of GC/GC-MS/ GC-O. Whenever relevant, the set of experimental characteristics will be supplemented also by the content of selected trace metals and minerals,antioxidant and radical-scavenging capacity tests, and color characteristics. Using the methods of multivariate statistics, the correlations within the set of experimental characteristics and also between the factors such as juice feedstock origin, year of production, composition, and product quality characteristics will be evaluated in order to develop the model/s suitable for authenticity of juice origin and production practices proving.

Cooperation in research and development of sea-buckthorn enriched foods
Duration time: 2017 - 2018

Current issue of the advanced modern society is an active lifestyle, the prevention of civilization diseases and healthy nutrition. Irreplaceable role in this program belongs to research aimed at finding new sources of health-promoting foods and the rediscovery of valuable components of traditional crops and their introduction into the human diet in its natural form. Such valuable crops include also sea buckthorn. The utilization of sea buckthorn brings many positive effects to enriched foods but may have also potential effects on nutritional, technological and sensory quality of the foods.

Within the multilateral joint cooperation project aimed at research and development of new uses of sea buckthorn in human nutrition activities will focus on:

  • Investigation of qualitative properties of sea-buckthorn enriched food products: development, adaptation, demonstration, sharing and comparison of methods,
  • Organizing of workshops intended to sharing of knowledge, research and development of seabuckthorn enriched food products,
  • Organizing of tutorials, training schools and short stays dedicated to young and female scientists for improvement of their skills in analysis of qualitative properties of sea-buckthorn enriched food products,
  • Presentation of results of mutual research on scientific and special conferences and events focused on food analysis, food safety and quality and health nutrition.

APVV- 14-0025
Metatranscriptome of ewes' lump cheese: An RNA-based approach to determine the contribution of microorganisms to organoleptic quality of bryndza cheese
Duration time: 2015 - 2018

Bryndza cheese is an important Slovakian traditional food product. In order to improve its position on the national as well as international markets, essential requirements for microbiological safety should be treated without affecting the traditional organoleptic quality. It is generally accepted that bryndza cheese produced from pasteurized milk is organoleptically inferior to the traditional version of the product, produced from raw ewes‘ milk. Technical solution of the quality and safety problems is impossible without gaining of new knowledge on the role of microorganisms in the ripening process of this type of cheese. This project will continue the research in the field that was started by the previous project BryndzaPro, in which microflora and volatile aromaactive compounds of the ewes’ curd were characterized by modern methods (ewes’ curd is an intermediate product in bryndza cheese production and is known to be responsible for its organoleptic quality). The aim of this project is to define the responsibility of microorganisms or groups of microorganisms (in particular Lactococcus spp./Streptococcus spp., Lactobacillus spp. and Geotrichum spp.) for bryndza organoleptic properties.

APVV-SK-PL- 2015-0002
Characterization of microbial consortia in traditional fermented foods by molecular methods
Duration time: 2016 - 2019

The project was oriented to characterization of microbial consortia in traditional fermented food products of Slovakian and Polish origins (cheese, wine, fermented vegetables), making use of the recent developments in molecular-biological methods. Exchange and complementation of methods between the partner laboratories will facilitate development and application of a combined approach, which will produce new knowledge in the field. The outcomes of the project involve scientific articles and a basis for a longer-lasting scientific cooperation created.

Improvement of safety and quality of traditional Slovakian cheeses on the basis of application of modern analytical, mathematicalmodelling and molecular-biological methods, and identification of the innovation potential
Duration time: 2016 - 2019

Bryndza, oštiepok, parenica and other steamed or smoked cheeses belong to traditional Slovakian food products with a great market potential in Slovakia and in neighbouring countries of Central Europe. Due to the discussed issues of microbiological safety, their production hygiene and technology was improved after the entry of the Slovak Republic to the European Union. This led to improvement of their safety, in most cases, but in some cases largely at the expense of sensory quality. The aim of the project will be an objective, scientific characterization of the traditional versions of Slovakian cheeses, which will regard aroma-active compounds, microbiological safety, and microbial diversity. Such research has not been done yet, with the exception of bryndza cheese. Relevant scientific knowledge on other traditional cheeses has not been updated yet.