New software for food quality and hygiene management is being developed
Nowadays, food producers must guarantee high standards with respect to the quality and hygiene of their products. On top of everything, consumers are increasingly demanding "healthy" products. Especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, fulfilling this demand is a major challenge. The aim of the "SOPHY" research project is to make this task easier by developing a prediction system.
A good salad must be fresh, healthy, crisp and tasty. But with a new recipe, how does a food manufacturer know that this is the case? In the framework of "SOPHY", an EU-funded project, software is being developed which makes predictions about the safety, quality and shelf life of food. Delicatessen salads are the test case being used to develop the system. The project is coordinated by ttz Bremerhaven, a research service provider. There are a further nine national and international partners working in the area of salad and vegetable production, as well as food technology and software experts who are examining the traceability and management of food logistics. The 3-year project was launched on 9th and 10th of February 2012 in Bremerhaven.
The technology developed within the "SOPHY" project offers many advantages: With the help of the software, the salad manufacturer can test new products or plan their optimization by means of virtual simulation: Product parameters such as ingredients, pH value or packaging type are entered into the software, which then calculates the potential growth of pathogenic germs and spoilage organisms as well as changes in product quality. In this way, food manufacturers can play through recipes without having to carry out complex laboratory analyses. In practice this saves time and money - and thus fosters SMEs' competitiveness.The software is based on prediction models which are being developed within the project. It uses data on bacteria growth and changes in quality parameters already available, supplemented by extensive analysis work in the project itself. The target group of the "SOPHY" project is above all the salad-processing industry, in particular producers of ready-to-eat and delicatessen salads (convenience food), as well as firms which are suppliers to the respective product sectors.
"To compile an inventory of convenience products and industrial processing methods in the salad sector, we will visit the firms directly on site, but also offer discussion groups on the topic of convenience and delicatessen salads", explains Jessica Wildner, Project Manager at ttz Bremerhaven. The discussion groups are expected to take place between March and May 2012 in the Sensory Laboratory at ttz Bremerhaven.
In annual training sessions for users, the handling of the modelling software can be tested and suggestions for improvement brought in. "SOPHY" is co-funded under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. An external team of experts from science and industry is accompanying the project and evaluating development and progress.
Source: ttz Bremerhaven