Our laboratory presents multidisciplinary research that integrates engineering, chemistry, and links to biology and microbiology. Our research emphasis is on the effects of formulation and processing, both innovative and traditional, on food products and biological materials. The goal is to gain an in-depth fundamental understanding of the effects of the process on food ingredients and the effect of these changes on nutritional values and health-promoting activity.
In terms of innovative technologies, we specialize in high-pressure food processing, both hydrostatic and dynamic. The advantage of this method is that pressure (up to 1000 MPa), unlike the conventional thermal treatment, does not alter covalent bonds and therefore flavor, vitamins, antioxidants and other small molecules are less affected by this technique. However, the pressure alters quaternary and tertiary structures of macromolecules, therefore destructive to microorganisms resulting in improved microbial safety of foods. The fact that pressure as a thermodynamic parameter, in addition to heat, is capable of affecting both the equilibrium and the kinetics of certain reactions, opens up new avenues for further research to optimize this technology in ways beyond microbial destruction.
Our research projects are conducted in a variety of fields, starting from fundamental research of exploring interactions of polyphenolic compounds with macromolecules and the effects of pressure on the structure and function of (macro)molecules, and continuing to applied research dealing with shelf life elongation, functional improvements of existing food products and the development of completely new structures and products by utilization of novel protein sources. We explore interactions, mechanisms, and formulations contributing to the stability and functionality of the studied ingredient under atmospheric and elevated pressures and the effects of the matrix on those factors.
The fundamental nature of our studies contributes to the better understanding of the effects of processing and storage and enables us to seek opportunities in the development of food products from novel sources as well as the development of processing that will allow the age of personalized and group-based nutrition.