New research will unveil the future of natural food preservation

PICTURE: Associate Professor Clarissa Schwab, Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering, University of Aarhus. view After

Credit: Ida Jensen, AU Foto

Associate Professor Clarissa Schwab from the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University has just received a DKK 10 million bottom-up researcher grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation for her research project, BioFunc, which aims to improve the sustainability in the preservation of food products.

The project focuses on the use of natural biological preservation methods rather than chemical preservatives to eliminate the problem of food waste.

“Worldwide, around 30% of the food produced is lost, and the main cause is spoilage by bacteria and fungi. Microbial spoilage and poisoning of food can occur all along the value chain, despite modern preservation methods, and bacteria and fungi are therefore a problem for the consumer, and for the whole world. food industry, which guarantees food safety and quality, and also wants to reduce waste, ”explains Clarissa Schwab.

Today there are many different ways to preserve food, and organic preservation using microbes is not exactly a new concept.

The favorable microbes and bio-preservative substances produced by these microorganisms have been used for thousands of years in different branches of food production to inhibit or remove unwanted contaminants in foods such as yeast and fungi in the dairy fermentation.

In addition, natural methods of food preservation have become more popular among consumers. In fact, more than 50 percent of Europeans are concerned about the use of preservatives in food and want natural alternatives (Eurobarometer 394).

“Organic acids are natural preservatives produced by plants and bacteria, and these inhibit the microbes that ruin food products. There are many different organic acids out there, but it’s still unclear exactly why and how these organic acids inhibit microbes, and what organic acids are. acids work best in a particular food product, ”explains the associate professor, and explains that one of the main goals of the project is to achieve a much better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms behind these processes.

Another goal of the project is to examine which organic acids are most active and under what conditions, and to develop a proof of concept for a biopreservation system that can dramatically improve food safety and reduce food waste.

“The project is the culmination of my more than 10 years of research on the subject, and I hope to be able to help provide sustainable and natural microbial solutions to make food safer in the future.”


The project is called BioFunc (ancient natural compounds of organic acids with under-exploited biofunctionalities) and will last for five years. The project is led by Associate Professor Clarissa Schwab and her research group: Functional Microbe Technology.

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