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Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods. Experimental research as a means for the innovation of already existing products: reporting of a type case.

  • Autori: Fabio Caradonna; Flores Naselli
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2023
  • Tipologia: Contributo in atti di convegno pubblicato in volume
  • OA Link:


Innovation and the creation of new products in a company, or in a food industry, is an expensive process and requires profound transformations of the production processes. For this reason, the governance of some businesses often gives up on the idea of innovating, especially if some of their products, driving the market, can ensure short and medium-term earnings security. It is also quite well known, however, that the long-term solidity of a company is ensured only by innovation: mediating between these two possibilities is very difficult but one sustainable possibility, today, may consist in functionalizing already existing food products, adding, in the industrial manufacturing process, bioactive and healthy substances in order to increase the nutritional value of the product, adding beneficial effects for human health and thus reducing the transformations of production processes to a minimum. Experimental research can make this idea feasible by refining concentrations of the bioactive molecule(s), physicochemical parameters and functionality analyses. Various examples can be reported of company-university collaborations aimed at this form of innovation. The one that involved my lab refers to a food product for children that has been functionalized with Bronte pistachio extract. In this specific case, our experimental research has demonstrated the maintenance of bioactive activities of the functional extract downstream of the food production process. Furthermore, in vitro studies, on cell models that simulated human intestinal tissue, demonstrated the beneficial capability of pistachio extract to modulate the cell DNA damage induced by mutagens and/or epimutagens, characteristics that we have also been found in other vegetables molecules with the same nutrigenomic effects (Volpes et al., 2023). In conclusion, we propose the functionalization of already existing foods as a sustainable form of innovation that with few modifications of manufacturing processes, can generate "new" food products with at least two advantages: nutritional and healthy.