The department works on issues concerning different steps of the food processing chain, including processing of food materials to high quality ingredients and product prototypes, packaging, storage and distribution. Research is focused mainly on the study and modelling of conventional and new processing and biotechnological methods, as well as on the use of nanotechnology in the food sector. Research tasks include the characterization of the raw materials in terms of processing suitability and the description of -desired or undesired- physical and chemical changes of the materials along processing. Further research tasks are the study and description of the impact of processing on the nutritional and sensory quality of finished products and quality retention along storage. Numerous analytical methods are used to evaluate the changes in the physical, chemical and thermal properties of the studied materials throughout processing and storage. In addition the stability of food and food ingredients along the human gastrointestinal tract and the possible impact of processing on the availability of bioactive components are evaluated using an in vitro digestion model. Based on the achieved results unit operations and processes are designed aiming at an optimal retention and bioavailability of nutritionally valuable bioactive components.
The department combines the typical natural science approach of research in nutrition and food science with the typical engineering approach of the food processing area. The department supports the transfer of the obtained scientific knowledge to the industrial sector, aiming at the assurance and enhancement of food quality, thus contributing to consumer protection. Key activities in accordance with the research tasks of the Ministry are the assessment of conventional and new food processing methods, consumer and environment protection in the field of food processing, and the assessment of selected aspects of food safety.