The head of Technology at the National Technology Centre for Food and Preserves, Presentación García, presented the scientific and technical results of the Agromatter project at the 1st International Congress on Food, Nutrition & Public Health held in Portugal on 17 November, with online attendance.
Through the presentation of a scientific poster, García has detailed the conclusions observed after the first results of the project obtaining an extract of lemon rich in bioactive compounds, from by-products of this citrus fruit, as well as lemon extracts with antimicrobial and antioxidant capacity have been achieved.
García explained that these results have been possible thanks to the application of a methodology for the extraction of bioactive compounds from food by-products in which the advantages of using enzyme-assisted extraction technology and ultrasound have been compared with conventional extraction.
Traditional methods such as solvent extraction, steam distillation or high hydrostatic pressure are characterised by the use of large amounts of solvent, long extraction times, low yields, and high energy consumption, with consequent damage to human health and the environment. On the other hand, the high pressure and temperature conditions used affect, in some cases, the quality of the extracts or destroy the active component.
At CTNC we are committed to the development of highly efficient clean extraction technologies that allow the effective isolation of biologically active components, reducing extraction time, without loss of activity, with good performance and high purity. All of this, moreover, at a lower operating cost. One of them, ultrasound-assisted extraction, is the most economical and has the lowest instrumental requirements. Its application is very appropriate when the stability of the raw material or the active component to be extracted is affected by the high temperatures of conventional processes. Furthermore, the solvent-free enzymatic method does not pollute the environment, and the versatility of enzymes to catalyse a wide variety of processes for the production of natural bioactive compounds represents an environmentally interesting approach to be exploited.
The extracts developed are currently being used in the elaboration of new functional foods, validating their application to make them known to our business sector.
In this line, next December the CTNC will organise an open day in the framework of the Agromatter project of the Cervera Network. At the CTNC we are working on new models and tools for technology transfer in the agri-food sector to make it easier to transmit the results of our researchers and their reception by companies.