Oxidation in foods is a complex set of chemical reactions catalyzed mostly by light and high temperature that involve mainly lipids and oxygen. The products are number of highly reactive species that cause the formation of undesirable flavor and/or color, and thus make foods less acceptable or totally unacceptable to consumers.
Vicenzi SPA represents a key player in the Italian pastry market, being one of the main producers of traditional biscuits like Sfogliatina (puff pastry). The latter, due to the high amount of fat and the particular texture characterized by low density, is particularly prone to oxidize, with a reduction of shelf-life. This could represent of great limitation for the company that has important market opportunities in different African and Middle East countries, characterized by hot climate.
The University of Verona could contribute to the solution of this problem thanks to the competencies gained by the laboratory of Food Chemistry in the study of natural antioxidant molecules and their stabilization by micro- and nano-encapsulation. The project idea is to improve the oxidative shelf-life of puff pastry by adding natural antioxidants coming from the selection of fully characterized plant natural extracts and their stabilization by microencapsulation to better resist the cooking process. During the storage of food, the contribution of light to oxidative reactions can be limited by packaging. On the contrary, temperature is a parameter more difficult to control. Thus, the core of the project will be the implementation of an accelerated shelf-life test (ASLT) in which the most promising puff pastry formulations coming from a preliminary screening will be stored at different temperatures for 5 months with the measurement of a number of chemical markers. The data collected will be mathematically elaborated, combined with the results of the sensory analysis and validated to achieve a prediction model of the stability in different environments.