Food safety and quality
Food should be safe and of high quality. Our research helps to ensure food safety, optimum shelf life, proper packaging and reduced waste.
- Initiatives for reducing the number of pathogenic microorganisms in food and production environments – carrying out research in realistic conditions in our unique Pathogen Pilot Plant
- Assistance in solving challenges related to the selection of materials, packaging technologies, food quality and shelf life. Trial production can be carried out in our packaging hall, light-room and climate room
- Application of beneficial microorganisms during product development for healthy and safe food
- In-depth studies of microbial populations in food, production environments, humans and animals
- Assistance in preparing documentation and compliance with regulations for food-grade packaging
- Training courses on fermentation, packaging, cleaning and sanitization. We can tailor our courses to the needs of your business
- Creating packaging solutions that contribute to reducing food waste and the use of plastics
- Creating active packaging solutions, such as CO2 emitters, which helps increase shelf life and improve transport efficiency
- Treatment with UV light and organic acids which have a good efficacy against Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter in food
- Practical guides for the prevention, monitoring and elimination of listeria from production environments for meat and salmon.
Controlling unwanted microbes
Microorganisms such as bacteria, mould and yeast in food and production environments represents a continuous challenge for the food industry. Cooking at home also requires the relevant knowledge in order to avoid food waste and minimize the risk of food-borne illness. We conduct research that help us understand conditions that promote and inhibit the growth and survival rates of microorganisms in the food chain – from the raw materials via processing and production environments to the consumer.
We study the formation of biofilms on surfaces and how technologies can slow down or kill unwanted microorganisms on production equipment and in food, such as salmon and chicken. We are also examining new and improved methods for cleaning and disinfection.
We are working to apply tools such as DNA sequencing and bioinformatics to bacteria, mould and yeast – both on individual microbes and in complex microbial communities. These technologies have great potential for providing us with new insights into sources of infection and the various properties of the different microorganisms. This will hopefully enable us to optimize control with raw materials and products as well as improving process management.
Our main strength lies in our knowledge of raw materials, processes and microorganisms, which we can use when studying new measures in realistic conditions and might have practical applications in food production environments. In our unique “Pathogen Pilot Plant” research facility we can for example produce food containing the most dangerous bacteria (such as E.coli EHEC) under realistic conditions in order to study growth and survival.
Beneficial microorganisms: fermentation
Fermentation is an old method for conserving and processing raw materials. Yeast and lactic acid bacteria are the main groups of microorganisms involved in the fermentation processes.
We have examined lactic acid bacteria’s ability to have a positive impact on taste and consistency through fermentation of products such as cured sausage, sourdough, and fermented vegetables and beverages. Lactic acid bacteria also inhibit the growth of dangerous bacteria such as listeria, and can be used commercially to improve food safety.
We also have expertise on the probiotic effect which lactic acid bacteria have on both food and in our intestinal tract, and their ability to help ensure food safety by inhibiting dangerous bacteria.
Insights into microbial populations in the food, production environments and intestines
There is a complex interplay between microorganisms in food, production environments and in the intestines of humans and animals. We utilize the latest DNA sequencing methods, bioinformatics and statistics to identify and characterize bacteria, mould and yeast. The diversity of microbes can exceed several hundred different types.
The human intestine has the greatest diversity of microbes, and Nofima has models for studying the effect our food has on the intestinal microbiota. Our expertise can be of help in developing healthy foods and meals.
Packaging solutions that provide optimal shelf life and ensure that the product maintains a high quality can contribute to reducing food waste. We work to optimize packaging methods by using, among other things, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), vacuum and skin packaging, as well as active packaging through the use of antimicrobial materials, CO2 emitters and O2– and moisture absorbers. We have expertise in the various ways to combine packaging requirements for different products with sustainable packaging solutions.
We work closely with the industry, and have considerable experience with applied research. In our packing hall we can package products with different materials and packaging methods, and study how they impact quality and shelf life.
The work to reduce the environmental impact of food and packaging is important to Nofima. The “green shift” requires to development of bio-based materials with the same quality and properties as the traditional ones.
We use new technologies such as nanotechnology to improve the characteristics of the materials, as well as sensor technology that can help monitor the food quality.
In order to reduce the production of plastics, we examine how we can re-use plastic and increase the use of recycled materials. Our knowledge of the interaction between food, packaging materials, packaging methods and distribution conditions enable us to look at the entire process as a whole.
In order to ensure food safety, the materials used to package and store food must be safe for our health. All materials in direct contact with food must meet the applicable regulations. We have extensive experience in this field, and we assist the industry in their compliance with the regulations on food-grade packaging.