Research project
36 | monthsLAB_REDSPOIL

Use of autochthonous or ge lactic acid bacteria food cultures to reduce spoilage and increase the shelf life of traditional products

Related toSpoke 03

Principal investigators
Daniela Bassi,Pier Sandro Cocconcelli,,
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FeaturesMay 17, 2023

Risk mitigation strategies in food production, processing, storage and retailing

Task involved

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


Protective bacterial and phage cultures


GE bacterial strains with improved functions for food safety


Protocol of innovative microbiological cultures and fermentation for food improvement.


Use of genome editing for producing safe food (M36)

Interaction with other spokes

State of the art

The food market is facing a new era: consumers look for biological and sustainable products, often to be eaten “on-the-go” and with higher attention to a “clean label”. In addition, avoiding food waste is turning to be one of the most important goal both at manufacturer and at consumer level. Food spoilage is considered an important issue affecting foodstuffs at the production step, at shelf-life time and at consumer level. A crucial cause of food spoilage are microorganisms as contaminating agents that can colonize the food matrices in the primary production, during the manufacturing process or along the shelf-life, changing their organoleptic features but causing, in some case, also food poisoning. Protective cultures, as biopreservatives, represent a very interesting tool able to help producers avoiding food spoilage, extending shelf life and meeting the public needs. The selection of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) included in the qualified presumption of safety (QPS) list of European Food safety Authority (EFSA) to be used as starter or food cultures constitutes a striking approach due to their potential to synthesize bacteriocins and antimicrobial compounds. In recent studies, LAB have been used in dairy production to limit the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, Shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli, and Salmonella as well as to inhibit spoilage microorganisms in vitro and in cheese models. LAB can be used as single strain or as a pool depending on their efficacy as antimicrobial. 

Operation plan

Based on the food products object of the analysis, the first step will be to detect the spoilage microbiota affecting the products by microbiological analysis or evaluation of the pathogenic bacteria at risk for each food category; then, selected food cultures will tested for each product category, primarily in lab conditions and food models, followed by pilot scale screening; this second step will be based on quantitative microbiological risk assessment and challenge studies, where the foods will be spiked with the pathogenic/spoilage microbiota, will allow to identify the best combination between the Food Cultures and the studied food conditions. The possibility to increase storage temperatures (e.g. from 4 to 8°C) and the protective action during temperature abuses or changing processing conditions will also be evaluated. In addition, genome edited microorganisms with increased capacity to produce antimicrobial compounds will be evaluated. This activity will be performed by applying traditional microbiological methods and new metagenomics/metabolomics.

Expected results

The data collected will allow to build competitive and robust Food Cultures with protective effects range. A positive environmental impact will derive from the expected reduction in food loss and waste. Moreover, decrease of logistics and reprocessing due to non-compliance will lessen energy consumption. A specific purpose of this solution is the production of food that fits for human consumption, with a reduced risk of foodborne outbreaks and an acquired advantage in healthy solutions.

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FeaturesMay 17, 2023
Risk mitigation strategies in food production, processing, storage and retailing

Spoke 03 working context, Work Package 3.2 activities and the LAB_RESPOIL flagship research project.