Research project
36 | monthsALPRO_FOOD

Production of alternative source of proteins, through technological and biotechnological processes, to be used as innovative and safe food ingredients

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Task involved

Task 3.2.1.

The task includes: a) the development of advanced predictive models describing the effects of uncontrolled or unexpected processing/storage conditions on chemical biological risks; b) the reduction of the allergenic potential/toxicity of foods

Task 3.2.2.

Innovative mitigation measures to reduce the risks through the application of bacterial pathogens challenges in food models. Tailored fermentation processes, based on QPS microorganisms (i.e., biocontrol agents, lactic acid bacteria, non-conventional yeasts, symbiotic culture of microorganisms) and hydrolysed food matrices, will be set-up and integrated in traditional food production protocols to increase food safety. Selected natural antimicrobials (e.g., essential oils) and hydrolysed raw matrices will be used to inactivate pathogens at food processing, storage, and retail levels.

Task 3.2.3.

New breeding techniques like genome editing will be used to produce customised safety food and to generate lines with an improved nutritional profile covering both compounds with beneficial properties and reducing anti-nutritional components. Biotechnological processes will be used to eliminate toxic compounds to produce new food/beverages from novel substrates. Tailored (bio)technological approaches will be set up to valorise alternative protein sources (i.e., cricket powder, micro- and macro-algae, single cell proteins, and yeast biomasses, agri-food and fishery by-products, insect-based foods. Set- up of a safe system of cellular agriculture for the development of novel food, like cultured meat and cheese in connection with Spoke 2 and 4)

Project deliverables


Development of innovative additive(s) with reduced allergenic potential (M24)


Protocol of innovative microbiological cultures and fermentation for food improvement.


Report on the optimised fermentation protocols for the development of novel foods (M36)


Report on innovative biotech processes improving quality and safety of insect-based foods (M36)

Interaction with other spokes

State of the art

Animal protein production will not increase over the next decade, nor will the consumed amount per-capite (FAO, 2021). However, market demand will increase, due to the increase in world population. Therefore, obtaining and upgrading proteins from alternative sources is becoming increasingly interesting. Examples of new protein sources include vegetables (e.g., legumes, cereals), food industry by-products (e.g., fruit pulp and peels, vegetable leaves, fish by-products), microalgae, and insect powders. These ingredients can be extracted, functionalized, or made safer by using innovative technologies (such as High Hydrostatic Pressure (HHP), High Pressure Homogenization (HPH), Pulsed Electric Field (PEF), Cold Plasma (CP), ultrasound) and biotechnologies (fermentation, safe microorganisms with specific activities, food-grade enzymes). In addition, microbial biomasses grown on these substrates can themselves become sources of novel proteins. All the new products can be used as ingredients in conventional and/or innovative food formulations.

Operation plan

The project aims to optimize functional and rheological properties of flours and protein matrices (by applying innovative technologies like HPH, HHP, PEF, and CP. In parallel, microorganisms will be selected for their pro-technological (adaptation acidification and enzymatic properties), functional (production of aroma, antioxidant, bioactive peptides or antimicrobial compounds),safety (antibiotic resistance and production of biogenic amines) and bioprotective (bioactive peptides and bacteriocins production) properties; as well as matrices will be characterized microbiologically, nutritionally (e.g., protein digestibility), and for safety (allergens or nutrient-hostile compounds) before and after treatment with non-thermal methods. An integrated approach, including chromatographic and electrophoresis analysis, will be used to evaluate the effect of the technological and biotechnological treatments on proteins, protein derivatives and digestibility. The growth performance of selected microorganisms will be tested as a function of initial matrix and optimized as a function of process variables. The ingredients obtained by the defined technological and/or biotechnological approaches will be characterized for safety, nutritional value, and stability (shelf-life).

Expected results

1. Tailored protocols using novel technologies and biotechnologies, or combinations thereof, to produce innovative and/or functional ingredients that can be reused in conventional food formulations or in novel foods.

2. Safe and sustainable alternatives for future protein needs.

3. Better awareness for a more sustainable use of novel technologies and microbial sources, while promoting the reuse of waste and by-products from the agro-food industry in a circular approach.

4. Publication in scientific journals.