Food Safety in Georgia: Challenges and Success

The economy of Georgia is based on two major industries: agriculture and tourism. Both of those critical industries can be adversely affected, if not ruined, by (i) “agriculturally- important” pathogens which are present in the agricultural products of many countries – including Georgia – but may go uncontrolled for many years until they cause potentially devastating outbreaks of human disease, and (ii) new pathogens/diseases that may enter Georgia from abroad, a scenario which is becoming progressively more likely because of the increased number of direct flights and other travel options to and from Georgia. The situation may be further exacerbated by the fact that, more often than not, a disease that affects agriculture also may have a severely deleterious impact on tourism (i.e., it impacts both critical industries in Georgia at the same time). Paradoxically, despite being of such obviously critical importance for the future development of the country and its economy, there is a remarkable paucity of rigorous data about the incidence, prevalence, molecular clustering, basic biologic properties, etc., of major foodborne pathogens in Georgia. Moreover, there is striking lack of solid, science-based data concerning the clonal clusters of “agriculturally-important” bacterial pathogens found in various key agricultural products and how they affect the incidence and severity of human disease (e.g., salmonellosis), and/or loss in harvest and associated agricultural revenues caused by plant pathogens (e.g., Xanthomonas axonopodis and citrus canker). Several organizations in Georgia address some of the above-noted issues; however, there is currently no centralized organization that comprehensively studies “agriculturally-important” pathogens in Georgia and helps to develop science-based intervention strategies for managing them.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Lela Bakanidze

HORIZON2020 Opportunities

The Horizon 2020 programme will run from 2014-2020 with a budget of €70 billion to fund research and innovation projects.

Georgian institutions are eligible so there are now more opportunities for Georgian institutions. It is essential to be one step ahead of the game and prepare for the forthcoming challenges in the years running up to 2020.

The new scheme of H2020 and its participation and administrative rules will be presented, as well as the differences with the previous FP7.

Speaker: Soraya Bernard

Technological Strategies for Pomegranate Functional Products Development

Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) has become to be an attractive product for consumers both for its organoleptic properties as its high content of phenolic compounds. The aim of this conference is to summarize some technological development of products with commercial interest and high value-added products for the integral use of this fruit.

The use of different processing technologies to obtain industrial juice from Spanish pomegranate cultivars was evaluated. Furthermore, the extraction efficiency of pomegranate juice using industrial blender, press or turbo finisher in presence or not of peel was tested in order to obtain a juice rich in bioactive compounds. The effect of different stabilization technologies of the juice on its physicochemical composition, focusing on compounds with biological activity, as well as colour and turbidity, when subjected to heat treatments was also evaluated. The juice was treated from 65°C 30s to 90°C 5s (time / temperature conditions) to compare the effectiveness of different heat treatment concluding that low pasteurization temperature is able to reduce the initial microbial load of the juice up to safe values (more than 5 log reduction in cfu of the initial population) with a lower degradation of colour and bioactive compounds.

Finally current situation of functional drinks and pomegranate wine development will be analyse, as well as guidelines for nutraceutical production from peel and seeds.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Nuria Martí Bruñá

The Advances in Cultivation of Medicinal Fungi Biomass and Pharmaceutical Compounds

Medicinal mushrooms Ganoderma lucidum (W.Curt.:Fr.) Lloyd, Grifola frondosa, Trametes versicolor and Hericium erinaceus were cultivated by a submerged liquid substrate cultivation as well as in solid state cultivation in various types of bioreactors. Laboratory and pilot bubble columns, fix bed, stirred tank and horizontal stirred tank reactor were used. Extracellular and intracellular polysaccharides were obtained by extraction, ethanol precipitation, and purification by ion-exchange, gel and affinity chromatography.

The results showed that polysaccharides from Ganoderma lucidum induced moderate to high amounts of innate inflammatory cytokines. Fungal intracellular polysaccharides were stronger innate inflammatory cytokines inducers while extracellular polysaccharides demonstrated higher capacity to modulate cytokine responses of IONO+PMA activated lymphocytes. The results indicate that Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides enhance Th1 response with high levels of IFN-? and IL-2, and display low to no impact on IL-4 production. Similar pattern was observed at regulatory cytokine IL-10. All the fractions tested enhanced IL-17 production at different levels. After obtaining different fractions of two polysaccharide groups, polysaccharide-protein complexes (PPK) and polysaccharides with removed proteins (P), the cytokine responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from leukocyte concentrates (PBMCs) were studied in vitro. The cells were activated by various polysaccharide fractions and hence the ability to induce inflammation in a cell culture was determined by the measurement of TNF-?, IFN-? and IL-12. The ability of different polysaccharide fractions to modulate cytokine responses of lymphocytes, activated with polyclonal activators ionomycine (IONO) and forbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA) was studied. The concentration of IL-2, IL-4, IFN-?, IL-10 and IL-17 in the cell cultures was determined. Polysaccharides stimulated cytokine responses of polyclonal activated lymphocytes and polarized into Th1 response. The strength of responses was dependent on the type, purity and concentration of polysaccharide fractions. Intracellular polysaccharides had a greater impact on the inflammatory immune response, however, exopolysaccharides were stronger stimulators of the immune response of T lymphocytes. Present research has also revealed the effects of polysaccharides on synthesis and secretion of IL-17, what represents a new, not yet published original contribution to the knowledge of controlling effector functions of lymphocytes T.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Marin Berovič

Foodomics: A New Discipline to Investigate Food in the Postgenomic Era

Nowadays, the use of advanced “omics” tools in food science and nutrition allows investigating topics that were considered unapproachable few years ago. This trend has generated a new discipline defined for the first time by our group as “Foodomics” . We will introduce in this lecture the new discipline of Foodomics, describing its fundamentals, presenting the tools usually employed, discussing the role of Foodomics to solve some current and future challenges in food science and nutrition, and showing several Foodomics applications carried out in our laboratory related to food quality and food bioactivity.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Alejandro Cifuentes

Isolation of Bioactive Components from Foods Using Green Processes

In the area of food science and nutrition, the finding of new bioactive compounds able to prevent or improve the health status of the individuals, mainly acting as food supplements or functional food ingredients, is of upmost importance nowadays. Considering the tremendous market value of the functional food industry, it is easy to understand the enormous interest in new compounds, extracts and products that, once its efficacy has been proved with scientific evidences, should be produced at large scale. A good example of this are, for instance, compounds such as antioxidants, associated to lower risk of certain diseases that are nowadays widespread in the developed countries, such as coronary heart diseases and cancer.

Nature can be considered a unlimited source of bioactives and the search of new compounds with improved activities have ran parallel to the search for new natural sources. It is well known that there are many families of compounds with proved antioxidant activity, such as phenolic compounds, carotenoids and tocopherols, which are easily available in the vegetal kingdom. But at present there is a huge interest in the potential use of marine natural sources to obtain these bioactives, mainly considering their huge diversity, in terms of number of different species that might be potentially used, their sometimes unique chemical structures and their ability to work as natural bioreactors potentiating the synthesis of valuable compounds depending on the cultivation conditions.

Moreover, researchers are facing new challenges in the development of new extraction processes to obtain valuable products from natural sources. Up to now, traditional extraction methods (mainly S-L extraction) have been used to extract bioactives; these methods have several drawbacks since they are time consuming, laborious, have low selectivity and/or low extraction yields. New challenges involve the development of fast, selective, efficient, sustainable, green (without using toxic organic solvents), with high yields and at lower cost. The techniques able to meet these requirements are, among others, those based on the use of compressed fluids such as supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), pressurized liquid extraction (PLE) and subcritical water extraction (SWE), which are among the more promising processes.

In this presentation, different examples will be shown, considering different raw materials such as plants, algae and food by-products and employing the above mentioned green technologies. With this approach we will try to demonstrate the possibility of tuning the extraction conditions depending on the target compound(s) and the raw material to achieve sustainable processes.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Elena Ibañez

Mushrooms – A Biofactory for Bioactive Compounds Production

Edible and medicinal macromycetes for ages have been used by humans as a source of food and medicinal resources in the civilizations of the East. In recent years, they have become subjects of numerous fundamental and applied studies in Europe and United States since they constitute a rich source of bioactive compounds exhibiting antitumor, hypocholesterolemic,immunosuppressive, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds include non-starch polysaccharides, polysaccharide–protein and polysaccharide–peptide complexes,ribonucleases, proteases and lectins. Mushrooms also accumulate many secondary metabolites, that is, polyphenols, polyketides, terpenes and steroids. In this lecture, the mushrooms health-promoting potential and the physiology of bioactive compounds production in submerged and solid-state fermentations will be characterized.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Vladimir Elisashvili

Potentials in Medicinal Mushroom Cultivation

Medicinal mushrooms offer a wide source of medicinal compounds. For thousands of years they have been used as natural remedies, with their wide use resulting in different cultivation techniques developed in the past few decades. Medicinal mushroom cultivation on logs, sawdust based substrates and composted materials is now slowly developing into highly standardized and automated cultivation methods, with high yields usually being the primary goal. Besides high yields also content of medicinal compounds plays an important role in medicinal mushroom cultivation and can be influenced by different parameters such as substrate composition, cultivation technique used fungal strains, cultivation environment, etc. Wide spectra of substrates show a promising potential for medicinal mushroom cultivation. Presented are cultivation techniques using organic materials as cultivation substrates for cultivation of different medicinal mushroom species focusing on their yield and quality parameters.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Andrej Gregori

From Bench to Market: A Case Study

CEBAS-CSIC is a research institute belonging to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the largest public research organization in Spain and the third in Europe. CSIC’s mission is to generate knowledge through research, to train scientists and to transfer its knowledge for the benefit of society. CSIC has 139 research institutes and centers nationwide. CEBAS-CSIC is one of the leading CSIC research centers in Agri-Food Science & Technology. Since 2002, CEBAS-CSIC has an active technology transfer unit, which, among other activities promotes and commercializes CSIC Intellectual Property to market.

There are several steps that should be complied with for a scientific result to be transferred from the lab to the market, giving rise to a new product, process or service. Here, I will illustrate most of these steps using a CEBAS-CSIC case study. Research is generally performed within competitive R&D projects funded by either public or private institutions. In our case, initial funding came from a national research project (1999-2001) dealing with postharvest treatments of fruits and vegetables. While developing this project a new and unexpected result was obtained. After confirmation, the result was the subject of a new invention protected by a Spanish Priority Patent application in 2001 (ES200100910). Once the patent application was filled for, it began an examination process, which took four years and eventually led to the granting of the patent in April 2005 (Patent ES2177465). As patents are territorial rights, by virtue of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) a patent filed in a country could be extended to other countries within a year from the priority application. In this case the PCT patent application was filled in 2002 (PCT/ES02/00192) and published as WO 02/085137. However, a patent gives the owner the right to exclude others from doing commercial activities with the patented invention, but by no means guaranties either successful commercialization or even the possibility of reaching the market. Technology Transfer Units have here a fundamental role, by connecting academia and companies, helping to find or create a private partner to develop the invention and place it on the market.

Speaker: Dr. Yolanda Hernando

Sample Preparation in Food Analysis. Towards Simplicity, Miniaturization and Speed

Sample preparation is a crucial step in analytical method. Usually is also the most tedious part of analytical process and the main source of errors. The selectivity and sensitivity of chromatographic methods depend on sample preparation step, therefore it is important to develop techniques providing sufficient sample enrichment. There is also a trend towards using methods based on green chemistry – with minimized use of solvents, or solvent less. Numerous micro extraction methods emerged, and are used in food analysis, such as SPME, LPME, SDE, MEPS.

Overview of methods used for the analysis of volatile and flavour compounds in food will be discussed with the particular focus on headspace analysis, solid phase microextraction, sorbent extractions and microextraction techniques used in this field. Also traditional methods will be compared for food volatile compounds extraction.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Henryk Jelen

Enhancing Health Promoting Compounds in Wine

According to official data Kakheti winegrowing takes a start from VI millennium BC. Grape leftovers, discovered by the archeologists, date back to the mentioned period and they are the oldest around the globe, which proves once again that Georgia is a homeland of wine. Above 500 out of world-known 2.000 grape species are Georgian endemic varieties. Endemic yeasts varieties adapted to fermentation of high content of sugar (up to 30%) and the unique Qvevri (large ceramic jugs, called amphora) tradition of clay pots used to produce delicious, organic wines especially reach by specific compounds creating strong body and specific taste of the wine. Georgian traditional (Kakheti) wines are made by old technology from genuine vines - Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Saperavi, Qisi, etc., which are collected from the middle of September. They crush the grape and put all mass in Qvevri (large ceramic jugs, called amphora), buried in the ground. During fermentation they stir it two-three times per day. As fermentation stops (three four weeks) - they tightly close the jug till the spring. At spring they decant wine to barrels, and age it for about a year. The white wine has deep amber color, up to 14% ethyl alcohol and very extractive. The wine is perfect with fat meat, especially lamb. The content of phenolics exceeds the same wine fermented by European technology almost ten times and reaches for white wine 2,0-2.8 gr/l in white wines and up to 4,5 gr/l for red wines. The amount of flavonoids is correspondingly increased.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Giorgi Kvesitadze

Gas Chromatography in Food Analysis

Gas chromatography is still one of the most powerful separation technique which is used in a wide variety of applications in food analysis. Starting from the determination of major food components (fats as fatty acid methyl ester) over undesired residues (pesticides, plasticizer, dioxins, PCBs) to desirable aroma compounds or unwanted off flavors thousands of different applications are described in the literature.

In this talk basic requirements and instrumental set-up from column selection to injection techniques and detection systems will be discussed. In addition optimization strategies for enhancing sensitivity, selectivity and speed will be presented.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Erich Leitner

Engineering Tea Molecules for Cancer Therapy

Tea is the most popular beverage and is consumed by two-thirds of the world’s population. Among all teas, green tea is the most studied for health benefits. Tea polyphenols are considered to contribute to preventive effects against various pathological disorders, including cancer. The major components of tea are catechins, which contain a benzopyran skeleton with a phenyl group substituted at the 2-position and a hydroxyl (or ester) function at the 3-position. Variations in the catechin structure include the stereochemistry of the 2,3-substituents and the number of hydroxyl groups in the B-ring and D-ring. Belonging to the flavanol class of flavonoids, the most abundant catechins found in tea leaves include epigallocatechin-3-gallate [EGCG], epigallocatechin [EGC], epicatechin-3-gallate [ECG], epicatechin [EC], catechin-3-gallate [CG], and gallocatechin-3-gallate [GCG]. Several in vivo experiments have shown the chemo-preventative effects of EGCG against all stages of carcinogenesis in animal models of breast, lung, skin, prostate, and colon cancers. There has been extensive investigation into the mechanism by which EGCG might act in cancer prevention, and recent attempts to define the molecular action mechanism of green tea components have found that EGCG affects several molecular targets and the pathways of carcinogenesis. Recently, we reported that the ester-bound gallate catechins isolated from green tea are potent inhibitors of DHFR activity at concentrations found in the serum and tissues of green tea drinkers. Since this first report describing the antifolate activity of tea polyphenols, several studies by us and by other research groups have confirmed this activity and have reported that EGCG inhibits DHFR from a variety of biological sources. However, the excellent anticancer properties of tea catechins are significantly limited by their poor bioavailability, which is related to their low stability in neutral or slightly alkaline solutions and their inability to easily cross cellular membranes. In an attempt to solve these bioavailability problems, novel derivatives of tea catechins have been synthesized, and a structure-activity study, related to the capacity of these polyphenols to inhibit DHFR was performed. Here, we described the technology for developing novel anticancer drugs based on the structure of tea catechins.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Jose Neptuno Rodriguez-Lopez

Development and Commercialisation of a New “Superfood”

In October 2010 a new variety of broccoli, named “Beneforte™” was launched in the USA, followed by a European launch the following year. The launch made headline news in papers across both continents, as the first example of a food plant variety deliberately bred to provide substantive health benefits to the consumer. Beneforte™ is a triumph of basic science, translational science, commerce and medicine, and could go on to dominate the broccoli market.

However, the path to the launch of the Beneforte™ product has not been smooth nor easy. Scientific, commercial and regulatory issues have been, and remain, a significant challenge for the partners involved in bringing the product to market.

I will outline the development of the Beneforte™ variety, explain the science underlying the product and the current situation with its roll-out across global markets, as well as highlighting past and current obstacles that have been encountered on the way.

Speaker: Dr. Martin Stocks

Pharmacologically Active Substances from Medicinal Mushrooms

The medicinal potential of some mushrooms have been discovered and used for many centuries in Asian and South American countries whereas the modern Western countries discover their health effects since last decades. Many various pharmacological effects of mushrooms have been investigated, predominantly in the field of oncology, and infective disease. Many anticancer, antiviral and antibacterial compounds were isolated and tested. Beside, highly active immunomodulatory, antiaterogenic, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic mushrooms and their products were isolated. Some identified compounds in clinical studies show a high potential in the development of novel natural or semi-synthetic medicines. In the present article, the pharmacological potential of medicinal mushrooms and their compounds will be presented.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Borut Strukelj

EU Commission   FP7
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