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FreshPlaza host final QUAFETY eventFreshPlaza hosted the final event of the three-year QUAFETY project (36 months + a 3 month extension) co-financed by the EU and dedicated to quality and safety (i.e. quafety) research and innovation for fresh-cut products.
The event took place on the ship SS Rotterdam on 24-25 March 2015 at the presence of all work package leaders.
Group photo. Click here to enlarge.
Pieter Boekhout, the editor owner of FreshPlaza B.V., presented the event and the work was coordinated by Sander Bruins Slots, editor-in-chief of the international edition.
Sander Bruins Slot and Pieter Boekhout.
The guest speaker was Harrij Schmeitz, Managing Director of Fresh Informationmanagement Center, the Dutch information centre for all IT and technological developments that can be useful for the business.
According to Schmeitz, the complexity of the fresh produce chain must be blended together with the guarantee of quality and safety. Three aspects are fundamental: the public nature of the question, the need for proof that guarantees the safety of fresh products and the necessity to be prepared for innovations.
Harrij Schmeitz during his speech.
Prof. Giancarlo Colelli from the University of Foggia illustrated the general structure of the project, its articulation in different WPs and the most significant steps of the history of QUAFETY. He was satisfied about the completion of all deliverables and the feedback.
After its "formal" conclusion, QUAFETY will continue in the academic world.
Work package leaders then reported on the activities and results of the respective work groups. For WP1 (diagnostic kits), Antonio Ferrante from the University of Milan (in the photo below) presented the results concerning the development of quick diagnostic kits used to detect pathogens and the identification of molecular markers that indicate the quality and shelf-life of fresh produce.
As for WP2 (process controls) Hilary Rogers from Cardiff University said that the objective of her group was the evaluation of the nutritional and organoleptic quality of products starting from the degeneration of external attributes. In addition, it worked on the assessment of VOCs as indicators of post-harvest quality and the identification of useful markers to determine the nutritional and functional quality of products. The final step is the development of a system useful for companies operating in the fresh-cut sector.
The objective of WP3 was instead to supply decision support tools that companies can use during crucial processing phases. Manuela Pintado from the Catholic University of Porto (in the photo below) reported on the results.
The research of partners involved included the identification on melons suitable for fresh-cut processing; the benefits and limitations of using MAPs; the use of different polymer films; deterioration and unpleasant smell control; the study of the main pathogens in different environmental conditions and the creation of a forecasting model at the service of companies. The software enables the understanding of what actions can be taken and what are the innovations available.
As regards the innovative processes group (WP4), Victor Rodov from 'The Volcani Centre' (Israel) explained the various tasks such as the improvement of soil-less cultivation techniques, the implementation of washing water (and produce) disinfection methods that do not use chlorine; sustainable methods to decontaminate the surface of melons; techniques to inhibit the formation of biofilms by pathogens; the design of an automatic peeling and slicing system for melons; the effects of thermal and UV treatment system on the quality and safety of fresh-cut products; "smart" and "active" packaging solutions and passive refrigeration techniques.
The work carried out by WP6 was then analysed. Its objective was the economic assessment of innovations and their viability. Antonio Stasi from DARE-Distretto Agroalimentare Regone Puglia stressed the importance of viability for companies and consumers especially in terms of processing and purchasing costs. A cost/benefit analysis was carried out for each single innovation.
The information that emerged is quite interesting, especially concerning the various habits of various countries. 97% of people choose ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables in the UK, yet the percentage represented by salad is only 36.7%, among the lowest in Europe. The population spending more money on food per week are the Greek with €96 (see chart below).
As regards the willingness of consumers to spend more for specific characteristics, it emerged that a longer shelf-life is not first on the list (and is actually regarded with suspicion) and that natural preservatives are preferred to inert gases.
For what concerns the industry, two different models were identified. Then the impact was measured (in terms of cost, price/packet and profit from initial investments) for each innovation part of the QUAFETY project. The most profitable solutions are highlighted in green in the chart below.
Pariklis Tzamalis (in the photo below) from the University of Athens talked about WP7 (Food Safety & Quafety Management System-FQMS) instead of leader Prof. Eleftherios Drosinos, who could not take part.
Thanks to its partners, a guide on good practices was drafted that includes correct agronomic, hygienic, post-harvest and processing practices.
Finally, Rossella Gigli, director of the Italian edition of FreshPlaza talked about the activities concerning dissemination (WP8).
These included the opening of QUAFETY sections in English, Spanish and Italian news sections, the launch of a dedicated website (www.quafety.eu), the drafting of articles (over 500) on the quality and safety of fresh-cut products, the opening of a real-time networking platform and the publication of the FQMS guide and CD.
The material handed out during the event.
The event ended with a gathering in one of the restaurant halls of SS Rotterdam.
Anyone interested in a copy of the reports presented in Rotterdam can request one from: Fedele Colantuono - UniFoggia - firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: 3/31/2015
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