Healthy Foods

Photo: Manuel Gutjahr

Gentle processes for fresh products from harvest to consumption - to ensure healthy nutrition for both humans and animals

The programme area 'Healthy Foods' addresses complex scientific issues in the spectrum between primary production and processing of food and feed.

'Healthy foods', which are produced fairly taking into account environmental and animal welfare, include hitherto underutilized plant species such as legumes and pseudocereals, as well as alternative bioresources, e.g. land-cultivated macroalgae and insects.

Our research aims to minimize post-harvest losses, improve product quality and simultaneously increase resource and process efficiency embedded in the context of a circular bioeconomy. To this end, we develop innovative interdisciplinary approaches along the entire value chain and integrate side streams into bioeconomic process chains.

Following the concept of 'Quality by Design' in the optimization and development of sensors and control systems, we first analyze the respective system requirements and design the process based on this. The development of tailored physical, physicochemical and/or biological processes considers important ingredients and product properties as well as desirable or avoidable microbial systems. We also analyze environmental impacts in production and post-harvest, especially with regard to water, wastewater, energy, by-products and residues.

For our research, we have access to laboratory areas with high-end specialized equipment, including the freshness lab and microbiology laboratory.

Product properties and in-situ sensing

For the in-situ monitoring of the quality in perishable food products along the value chain, we develop sensor-based methods that allow us to analyze product properties non-destructively and to record process variables. In the field and post-harvest, we use methods including hyperspectral imaging, chlorophyll fluorescence spectroscopy, laser-induced multispectral backscatter analysis and Raman spectroscopy. The product information obtained is used in agronomic models as well as for the development of digital twins.

Dynamics of microbial communities

We develop methods for early and specific detection of microbial contamination in postharvest fresh produce. In this regard, we pursue both cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent approaches based on the analysis of microbial DNA sequences. The characterization of microbial communities and their dynamics along the process chains from substrate to product will contribute to the application of methods for the targeted inactivation of pathogens or also for the promotion of desirable microorganisms.

Thermal and non-thermal processes for preservation and hygienization

The focus is on efficient, product-friendly solutions for the preservation of food and feed - from their fundamentals to their industrial implementation. We are investigating product-process interactions in drying as a fundamental thermal process in the preparation of bulk materials such as grain. Using apples as an example, we further develop the combination of process models with measured ingredient-specific reaction kinetics.

In the area of non-thermal treatment processes for sanitization, such as hydrostatic high pressure and low-temperature plasma, we are further expanding our expertise through upscaling and transfer to industrial applications. A newly established laboratory platform enables basic, large-scale experiments with pathogens in model processing chains.

Packaging and storage systems

We investigate the interactions between environmental conditions and product quality during cooling, storage and transportation of fresh food. We develop technologies for a tailored packaging or storage regime along the supply chain to reduce post-harvest food losses. In particular, our goal is to better understand the mechanisms of water vapor and condensation dynamics in packaged fresh produce and, on this basis, to develop optimized packaging in a moisture-regulating design, increasingly from bio-based materials such as cellulose or polylactic acid (PLA).

Speaker for the programme area

Speaker for the programme area

Prof. Dr. agr. habil. Sturm, Barbara

Scientific Director, Chair of the Board


Department: Executive Board

Email: director@spam.atb-potsdam.de

to the profile

To the team of the programme area

News related to the programme

News
The freshly installed bee hive behind the CIRCLE.

Probably the best-known pollinators have found a home at ATB. Just in time for their "awakening", dedicated ATB researcher Saskia Strutzke settled a…

News
Prof Barbara Sturm signs the Memorandum of Understanding. (Photo: ATB)

A clean environment is a human right. Together, the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB) and the German Research Centre…

News
macroalgae cultivation at ATB

A planning meeting followed by a construction coordination meeting took place on 12 February 2024 as part of the ZifoG construction project "Leibniz…

News

Science thrives on openness and internationality. We, the ATB, stand for a world-open, respectful and solidary together and resolutely oppose hate and…

News

Microbiome management is a key technology for optimising bioeconomic processes, increasing their productivity and reducing the use of resources. From…

News

On October 17–18, 2023, RoKoCon was held at the Robert-Koch-Institute in Berlin, providing a platform for a knowledge exchange in terms of scientific…

News
From residual to valuable material: Microbial conversion to biobased chemicals

On September 27th–28th, the BeonNAT Consortium met in Cottbus for the 6th General Assembly of the project. They visited us at ATB on September 28th to…

News
Xabier Díaz de Otálora Aguirre Umzug

In recent months, three of our PhD students successfully defended their respective PhD thesis. Wiebke Janke finished her doctorate in April, Ali…

News
Book a scientist - Dr. Katrin Drastig (ATB)

The event "Book a Scientist," offered by the Leibniz Association, provides the opportunity for enthusiasts to engage with experts on specific topics…

News

Joint meeting to expand and intensify the long-standing cooperation between the Osnabrück University and ATB.

News

Kick-off meeting of the PhD candidates in the Joint Lab for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.

News

Prof. Da-Wen Sun visited ATB on August 17, 2023 after many years of cooperation with numerous ATB colleagues.

Events

10
Apr

The Leibniz Research Network "Mathematical Modeling and Simulation" invites to the seventh Leibniz MMS Days from April 10-12, 2024. It will be hosted…

more
09
May

From May 9th – 10th, 2024 the 15th international Frutic symposium will take place at the MACFRUT fair in Rimini (Italy) Expo Centre. The symposium…

more
14
May

The INSECTA 2024 International Conference aims to give an overview of state-of-the-art technology of insects for food, feed and non-food application.…

more
All Events

Research projects

More projects within the programme area

Publications of the programme area

More publications of the programme area