Cognomi A-Z

Food Chemistry

Teachers: 
Credits: 
6
Year of erogation: 
2021/2022
Unit Coordinator: 
Disciplinary Sector: 
Food Chemistry
Semester: 
Second semester
Year of study: 
1
Language of instruction: 

Italian

Parent activity: 

Learning outcomes of the course unit

Knowledge and understanding
During the course students will have to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the main chemical food safety issues, of the main chemical contaminants of food and their toxicological significance, as well as of risk mitigation strategies. They will also have to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the main chemical reactions of food components both in terms of reaction mechanism and of the effects on the qualitative characteristics, in particular nutritional and organoleptic characteristics, of foods. Finally, students will have to acquire a good knowledge of the main issues relating to the authenticity of food products and possible fraud, also investigating possible analytical approaches useful for verification. Students will have to acquire the ability to correlate and integrate the different chemical aspects that are the basis of food safety and quality, thus understanding the correlation between composition and quality and acquiring the ability to operate effectively in a production, control and management context, as well as for the design of new products and processes.
Applying knowledge and understanding
Students must be able to use the knowledge acquired to understand and predict the main chemical safety issues in food, the changes that food components undergo as a result of technological and storage processes and how to control them to ensure quality and safety. Moreover, students have to know which possible approaches are useful for authenticity verification. Students will also acquire operational skills regarding analysis techniques through the laboratory experiences provided.
Making judgements
Students must be able to define which are the most relevant chemical food safety problems according to the type of raw material or food and the technological processing and conservation treatments, as well as to predict the effects of the main reactions and to identify which process or storage conditions can affect the overall quality of the product.
Students must also be able to define which possible approaches may be useful for verifying the authenticity of a food product according to its specific characteristics.
Communication skills
Students should be able to appropriately utilize the scientific language and the specific lexicon of food chemistry, showing the ability to describe and transfer in oral and written form the acquired concepts.
Laboratory reports should be written correctly, with a synthetic but proper language and with a clear exposition and comment of the experimental data.
Learning skills
Students will be able to increase their knowledge of Food Chemistry, by consultation of specialized texts, scientific and educational journals, also beyond the topics discussed during lessons.

Prerequisites

Good knowledge of organic chemistry and instrumental analytical chemistry as well as fundamentals of food chemistry

Course contents summary

The course deals with advanced topics of food chemistry and is divided into three parts, including lectures and laboratory exercises.
The first part of the course focuses on food safety issues. The risk assessment procedures, the bodies in charge and the European approach to risk management will be described, also providing some basic concepts of food toxicology. The main classes of food toxicants (natural toxins, residues, process contaminants) will be examined, investigating the causes of their presence in food, the toxicological aspects and the control and mitigation strategies. The second part of the course focuses on the qualitative aspects of food, with particular reference to color and organoleptic aspects. The chemical-physical principles and biological mechanisms of perception of color, taste and aroma of foods will be described, examining the main classes of colorants and pigments and the substances responsible for taste and aroma, their origin and their reactivity/stability. The main chemical reactions that occur during the transformation and storage of food will be studied in depth, describing in detail the mechanism and their effects on the texture, nutritional and sensorial aspects. Finally, the third part of the course will deepen the issues related to food authenticity, also describing the main analytical approaches that can be used for its evaluation.
The laboratory exercises will be carried out in close correlation with the Course of Natural Organic Substances in Food and will mainly focus on the qualitative aspects of foods (organoleptic aspects, antioxidant activity, color) and on the analytical methods for their characterization.

Course contents

Food safety: approach and entities. The European approach to food safety. Risk assessment. Notes on the main toxicological parameters and basic aspects of food toxicology. The role of EFSA and RASFF. Natural contaminants (mycotoxins, algal toxins, plant toxins). Contaminants and residues: environmental (dioxins, PCP), from anthropic activities (pesticides, veterinary drugs), process contaminants (acrylamide, MCPDs, furans). Food quality: main chemical reactions in food (Maillard, Strecker, oxidative reactions), organoleptic characteristics (taste and aroma, color). Description and characteristics of the main aromatic and coloring components and their chemical stability/reactivity. Food authenticity: classification of food fraud, analytical strategies for verifying the authenticity of food (targeted and untargeted methods).

Recommended readings

Text books: Luisa Mannina, Maria Daglia, Alberto Ritieni (a cura di) “La chimica e gli alimenti. Nutrienti e aspetti nutraceutici” Casa Editrice Ambrosiana (Milano, 2019); T. P. Coultate, “La Chimica degli Alimenti”, Ed. Zanichelli (Bologna, 2004); P. Cabras, A. Martelli (a cura di) "Chimica degli alimenti“, Ed. Piccin (Padova, 2004).
Other useful study books: H.D. Belitz - W. Grosch – P- Schieberle, “Food Chemistry”, Springer-Verlag Ed. (Berlin, Germany, 2005); O. R. Fennema, “Food Chemistry”, CRC Press Ed. (New York, USA); Leo M. L. Nollet eds., Handbook of Food Analysis, Marcel Dekker (New York, USA).

Teaching methods

The course consists of face-to-face lectures (35 hours) and laboratory exercises (15 hours).
The lectures will be held with the help of power point presentations, which will be uploaded as teaching material (in pdf form) on the Elly page of the course before their discussion, along with other bibliographic material on each individual topic covered.
During the lessons several case studies will be illustrated, with particular attention to recent news, in order to allow the student to develop his own critical sense and communication skills. Attendance to lectures is not compulsory, although strongly recommended.
Compatibly with the evolution of the epidemiological emergency COVID-19, the lessons will be in attendance with registration of the same through the Microsoft Teams platform and uploading to the Elly page of the course, together with the teaching material.
The laboratory exercises will be carried out in the chemical teaching laboratories of the Campus on several sessions depending on the available workplaces in the laboratories. The calendar and sessions will be established at the beginning of the course and published on the corresponding Elly page.
Students have to prepare a report for each laboratory experience. A template for the preparation of the reports will be made available on the Elly website of the course.
Attendance to laboratory exercises and the delivery of reports (which must be uploaded to a special repository indicated on the Elly page of the course at least one week before the exam date) is mandatory in order to be admitted to take the exam. For well documented reasons, failure to participate in one of the foreseen lab experiments would be accepted.

Assessment methods and criteria

Written exam: 6 open questions, covering all the program (score: max 5 points for each question).
If it is impossible to carry out the written exam in person due to force majeure imposed by the University on account of COVID-19 epidemic, an oral exam will be carried out remotely through Teams.