Food quality and safety: lipids, vitamins and other bioactive compounds

Address
  • Finland

Find us here

Organization profile

Organisation Profile

Food quality of safety: lipids, vitamins and other bioactive compounds

Food components and reactions affecting nutritional and sensory quality and safety of foods are investigated. We investigate bioactive compounds of the dietary fibre complex and  natural enhancement of vitamins in foods. The special focus lies on vitamin B12 and folate production by bioprocessing.  We also study lipids and their chemical and enzymatic reactions, utilization of micro algae and flavor-active compounds and antinutrients in legumes and other plant-protein sources.

Vitamins

Research on vitamins has been one of our major expertise from the beginning of 1980s. We have studied both lipid- and water-soluble vitamins: occurrence in foods, chemical and nutritional properties, importance in foods and diets and factors influencing the levels. In addition, development of analytical methods for different vitamers as well as validation and harmonization of the methods through international collaboration are among our priorities. Recent collaboration projects have focused on enhancing vitamin contents in cereal and legume-based foods by plant breeding, fractionation of the materials and bioprocessing. Currently the research focus lies on investigating microbial in situ synthesis of vitamin B12, folate and other B vitamins in cereal and legume matrices to improve their nutritional quality and  develop new food applications.

Recent major projects:

  • Natural fortification of foods: microbial in situ synthesis of vitamin B12 and folate in cereal matrix (2012–2016; the Academy of Finland; PI Vieno Piironen).
  • Enhancement of folate in gluten free cereal-based products (post doc project/Susanna Kariluoto; 2011–2014; the Academy of Finland)
  • Contribution of cereal-based fermented foods to folate intake in European and African countries FolEA  (2014-2018; the Academy of Finland and Finnish Cultural Foundation. Coordinated by Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)/France; collaboration with  three African partners; PI at UH Susanna Kariluoto)
  • Utilization of algal components and biomass as food, feed, and fuel (LEVARBIO) (Coordinator professor Martin Romantschuk, collaboration of the UH, Häme University of Applied Science HAMK and the Finnish Environmental Institute SYKE; 2016-2017; European Regional Development Fund)
  • Bio-enriched bran ingredients - in situ synthesis of vitamin B12 and folate with propionibacteria and lactic acid bacteria – BIOFORCE (2017-2018; Lantmännen Research Foundation; PI Vieno Piironen)
  • Vitamin B12-bioenriched wheat bran ingredients for food applications - BIOB12 (2018-2019; Lantmännen Research Foundation; PI Vieno Piironen)
  • Molecular basis for natural vitamin B12 fortification of emerging new foods by utilization of Propionibacterium freudenreichii (2019-2023; Academy of Finland; PI Pekka Varmanen UH)
  • Molecular basis for natural vitamin B12 fortification of emerging new foods by utilization of Propionobacterium freudenreichii - B12WEGAIN (2021-2023; NovoNordisk; PI Pekka Varmanen, UH)
  • In the Leg4Life project (below) we study formation of B12 in legume matrices.

Lipids and their reactions

We study different lipid classes and lipid profiles in food matrices as well as chemical and enzymatic reactions of lipids. Phytosterols and their conjugates have been studied as natural food components belonging to the dietary fibre complex. On the other hand, questions related to sterol enrichment, especially oxidative stability, have also been on our focus.   Controlling lipid oxidation is essential while developing new food technologies and compositions. We use diverse methods to study proceeding of oxidation from primary products to monomeric oxides, volatiles and polymerization products. Thus, valuable information on factors influencing oxidation and consequences of oxidation reactions is obtained. Controlling enzymatic reactions leading to volatile and non-volatile off-flavors in cereal and legume matrices is also among our interests. In addition, utilization of  valuable lipids, such as long-chain omega-3-fatty acids and pigments, from microalgae has been investigated

Recent major projects:

  • Tools for healthy foods with appealing texture and high stability (Hybridi) (collaboration project with VTT; 2011–2014; Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation; Coordination VTT; PI at UH Vieno Piironen).
  • Health promoting food and feed from micro-algal omega-3 fatty acids, pigments and bioactive peptides produced on food industry side streams (Algomeg) (collaboration with the UH/Department of Environmental Sciences, VTT and Indian partners; 2014-2016; Tekes-DBT funding for Indo-Finnish collaboration. Coordinator: Professor Martin Romantschuk)
  • Utilization of algal components and biomass as food, feed, and fuel (LEVARBIO)  (collaboration of UH, Häme University of Applied Science (HAMK) and the Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE); 2016-2017; European Regional Development Fund; Coordinator professor Martin Romantschuk)
  • PhD project on oxidative stability of lipids in plant-derived foods: flavor deterioration by enzymatic and chemical reactions (Zhen Yang; CSC, China, The Finnish Cultural Foundation, 2014-2019) 
  • In the Leg4Life and Expro projects (below) one of our main contributions is to study lipid-related off-flavor formation and its prevention.

Plant constituents as antinutrients and bitter-tasting compounds

Certain antinutrients, e.g., raffinose oligosaccharides and secondary plant metabolites, may limit the use of  plant protein sources, e.g. legumes, in foods.  On the other hand, many bioactive compounds, such as saponins, avenantramides and many other phenolics, may have bitter taste. We study these components as part of broad collaboration projects aiming  to enhance wider utilization of  plant-based protein sources.

Recent major project:

  • Fababean – legume-based new foods and food ingredients (2012–2014; Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; coordinator professor Hannu Salovaara, UH)
  •  PhD project on reactivity and elimination of vicine and convicine in faba bean (Marjo Pulkkinen, the Doctoral Program of Food Chain and Health, The Finnish Cultural Foundation; 2016-2018).
  • PROVE - Functionalisation and valorisation of proteins of vegetable sources (2018; EIT Food; Coordination VTT; PI at UH Associate Professor Kati Katina)
  • In the Leg4Life, Expro and Taste2Meats projects (below) our main contribution largely focuses on these components.

Utilization of microalgae

We study in collaboration projects potential of micro algae as sources of  high value bioactive compounds as well as proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.  Microalgae can be used as food and feed applications as well as for pharmaceutical purposes.  

Recent major projects

  • Health promoting food and feed from micro-algal omega-3 fatty acids, pigments and bioactive peptides produced on food industry side streams (Algomeg) (collaboration with the UH/Department of Environmental Sciences, VTT and Indian partners; 2014-2016; Tekes-DBT funding for Indo-Finnish collaboration. Coordinator: Professor Martin Romantschuk)
  • Utilization of algal components and biomass as food, feed, and fuel (LEVARBIO)  (collaboration of  UH, Häme University of Applied Science (HAMK) and the Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE); 2016-2017; European Regional Development Fund; Coordinator professor Martin Romantschuk)
  • Algae factory (Business Finland; 2018-2019; PI Dr Elina Peltomaa, UH)
  • Building students skills in micro-algae processing, component characterization and innovative product development (EIT Food;  2018; PI at UH Docent Anna-Maija Lampi)

Other recent major collaboration projects

We have participated or are currently paticipating in the following projects:

BACCHUS beneficial effects of dietary bioactive peptides and polyphenols on cardiovascular health in humans (2012-2016; European Commission; PI at UH professor Marina Heinonen).

Chemical oxidation of mixed linked beta-glucans; oxidation pathways, oxidation products and product functionality (2012–2016; the Academy of Finland; PI at UH  Dr Tuula Sontag-Strohm).

EuroFIR NEXUS (2011–2013; European Commission; PI at UH professor Vieno Piironen).

OATyourGUT: Oat-derived Wellbeing by Clinical and Perceived Assessment (2017-2019; Business Finland; Coordination University of Turku; PI at UH Dr Tuula Sontag-Strohm)

OatHow: Novel indicators and technologies for oat quality and applicability (2019-2020; Business Finland; Coordination VTT; PI at UH Dr Tuula Sontag-Strohm)

3TexVegS+H: Tasty Texture-Tailored fibre/protein rich vegetarian Health Power food & novel extrusion technology platform for the manufacture of such (2019-2020; EIT Food; Coordinator Beatrice Bonde-Petit, Buhler Group; PI at UH Vieno Piironen)

Legumes For Sustainable Food System and Healthy Life (Leg4Life) (2019-2021; STN; Director Anne-Maria Pajari UH, Vice Director Vieno Piironen UH)

Globally Competitive Processing Technologies for Meat Alternatives (EXPRO)(2020-2022; Business Finland; Coordination VTT; PI at UH Associate Professor Kati Katina)

From Side-Streams to Tasty Meat Alternatives and Hybrides (Taste2Meat)(2021; EIT Food; Coordination VTT;  PI at UH Docent Rossana Coda)

PhD theses

Mari Lehtonen: Oxidation of steryl esters. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-10-7943-6

Tanja Nurmi: Variation of phytosterols and steryl ferulates in wheat grains and fractions.http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-10-8347-1

Minnamari Edelmann: Occurrence and natural enhancement of folate in oats and barley. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-10-9752-2.

Annelie Damerau: Oxidative stability of solid foods with dispersed lipids. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-0874-6

Bhawani Chamlagain: Fermentation fortification of active vitamin B12 in food matrices using Propionibacterium freudenreichii: Analysis, production and stability http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-2753-2

Zhen Yang: Role of lipid-modifying enzymes in oat and faba bean: synthesis of off-flavour compounds. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-5545-0

 

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.