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Authors: Spognardi, Sara
Advisor: Papetti, Patrizia
Keywords: QUALITA'
Issue Date: 27-Sep-2018
Publisher: Università degli studi Roma Tre
Abstract: In this study we analysed a series of instruments aimed at enhancing and protecting food products made in Italy, and not only. In order to valorise a product we must first recognize its value, that is the result of intrinsic characteristics and its ability to satisfy consumer demands. The product quality corresponds to its ability to meet explicit and implicit needs of consumers. In the past, the quality of the food product simply had to meet compliance requirements; today to be defined as a quality product, it must satisfy sanitary, organoleptic, nutritional, commodity, technological, origin, environmental and ethical requirements. Quality requirements in the food sector fall into the category of primary needs and are therefore protected, in the first instance, by Italian and international legislation. These regulatory requirements fall in the mandatory scope and their aim is to guarantee safety from the point of view of hygiene and health and in nutritional terms (hygiene package, Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011). In the regulated field, reference must be made to all Community regulations aimed at protecting the production of specific geographical areas and the production obtained with traditional techniques and/or using traditional raw materials (Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2081/92, 2082 / 02 of 14 July 1992, Council Regulation (EC) No. 510/2006, Regulation of the European Parliament (EU) No 1151/2012). Finally, there are voluntary legal references drawn up by bodies or Organizations that, with the consent of all the interested parties, define the quality standards of the food product (ISO 9000, 14000, 22000). Voluntary approaches to quality (regarding "system", "product" and "process") are complementary and synergistic; they are based on conscious and demanding choices of the operators involved, and represent instruments, that are not only preparatory to the respect of the laws, but of improvement. Unfortunately, these methods are not always sufficient enough for the enhancement and protection of products: there are gaps in regulations, monitoring and sanctions are not always effective and reassuring, and the certifications are sometimes not cofirmed by the choices of Italian consumers. The present research fits into this scenario, and the first aspect that has been considered is linked to the protection of PDO (protected designation of origin) and PGI (protected geographical indication) Italian products. The quality, connected to its origin, responds to a series of specifications and is promoted across quality brands on the product. The Italian PDO and PGI products are subject to a series of laws laid down by the regulation 1151/2012 of the European Union, which should protect them from counterfeiting, a debatable form of food fraud, that is punishable by law. Unfortunately, the same does not happen for an increasingly widespread phenomenon abroad: the Italian sounding. This expression refers to the imitation of Italian products or logos, with illicit references to the alleged “Italianness” of the product. Despite the efforts made to contain this phenomenon, Italy continues to record significant losses in turnover. Therefore, in addition to certifications of origin and controls, it is necessary introduce other methods that allow the identification of typical and unambiguous markers of quality of the product, in order to defend it on the market. In the first case study, we tested analytical and chemometric tools to discriminate PDO buffalo mozzarella from Campania (Italia), obtained with traditional and industrial processing methods. According to our results, the conjunction of FT-IR spectroscopy with chemometric analysis can provide an exceptional tool to confirm cheese quality, classify products according to their manufacturing process, monitor complex biochemical changes and contrast the counterfeiting. However, the instrumental analysis are not enough to define in a univocal and objective way the sensorial profile of a food product, but it is necessary to conduct descriptive and discriminatory tests, in which a panel of experts evaluates the intensity of specific attributes related to the various aspects of the perceivable quality of the food examined. Descriptive tests are often accompanied by hedonistic tests, aimed at assessing sensory acceptability on consumers’ behalf. On the other hand, the consumers, often victims of informative asymmetry, are not always able to distinguish similar products, or products obtained by different production processes, or do not have the necessary knowledge to identify positive attributes and defects of the food they consume every day. In Italy, many people do not know the differences between the different brands of origin, others do not know what the biological production consists of. It is therefore necessary to conduct information campaigns aimed at educating and sensitizing the consumers. In this sense, valorising a product also means making consumers aware of its intrinsic quality. In the second case study, we investigated the perception of young Italian consumers concerning three different types of olive oil: extra virgin olive oil, PDO and organic extra virgin olive oils, taking into account that olive oil is a traditional product of our peninsula (Italy is in fact the second largest producer and importer of oil in the world). We have conducted consumer science studies to see if Italian consumers can be influenced by the brand of origin or the biological label, so we conducted an information campaign to raise their awareness. Through the administration of questionnaires we found a significant difference between normal and semi-expert consumers in the recognition of the positive attributes of extra virgin olive oil. In the panel tests, normal consumers associated the term "DOP" with "better quality", but also with "expensive"; on the contrary semi-experts and experts associated this term with words as "certification" and "safety". With reference to organic products, all the panelists used adjectives as "untreated" and "healthy". A few assessors were reluctant to use organic products, defining them as fraud. If there is still confusion in the field of production specifications and of organic production, on the contrary, more and more consumers are attentive to the nutritional label. The nutrition label contains information that helps consumers understand how different foods can contribute to a healthy and balanced diet. Today, consumers prefer healthy and fat-free products, and it is very important to take into account their demands, by experimenting with innovative products that are able to embrace the new food trends (e.g. the affirmation of vegan products and functional foods). The rheological, analytical and consumer science tools allow us to understand if the new products have adequate chemical-physical characteristics and embrace the expectations and needs of consumers, in comparison with other products currently on the market. In this sense, valorisation is synonymous with innovation, starting from the expressed needs of the consumers. In the third case study, we experimented with a new vegan mayonnaise, egg- and soybean- free, combining different ingredients including linseed proteins and beta glucan (functional ingredients). We obtained a good emulsion, with rheological and sensory properties quite similar to those of conventional mayonnaises. In addition to obtaining a good response among the panelists, our mayo showed a competitive nutritional profile while containing fewer ingredients than the others samples and only one allergen (mustard). Although this emulsion should be improved especially from the point of view of homogenization and sterilization, we decided to test it in making a bakery product (case study IV), and to compare it with cakes made using other types of mayonnaises (the same samples used as controls in the first study). The characteristics of the texture (firmness and springiness), and those related to the color did not show differences compared to the other samples. On the contrary, in sensory evaluations consumers declared the chocolate cake made by using our mayo the best one for its cocoa aroma, cocoa flavor, as well as for the softness and chewiness. In the future we can think of using mayonnaise for the production of gluten-free desserts and egg-free products. Protecting consumers also means ensuring that there are no allergens in foodstuff, and/or that there are no illicit nutritional/health claims that can mislead them. However, at the base of all the characteristics of a food product, there is an essential factor: food safety. Consumers always take this aspect for granted. In addition to the stringent limits imposed by the Italian food safety authority, several factors as globalization, urbanization, lifestyle changes, industrialization, intensification of agricultural and livestock production continue to increase the responsibility of producers and operators in ensuring food safety. Food safety is threatened by various kinds of risks: there are some environmental contaminants that are biomagnified along the food chain and could represent a serious danger to human health. It is important to control food along the supply chain, and to continuously conduct environmental monitoring especially to verify the safety of those products that are marketed without processing the raw material and/or sold wholesale or in local markets. For this reason, we decided to conduct studies on samples of hakes, mallow herbal preparations and vegetables (such as lettuce and radish) in order to determine the concentration of some environmental contaminants in these products and, thus, evaluate the potential health risks from their consumption. As for European hake, which is one of the most consumed species of white fish in Italy, the concentration of organic and inorganic contaminants was below international limits, as well as the Estimate Daily Intake for adults and the associated Health Risk were low (despite the non negligible mercury concentration) for chronic Italian hake consumption. Low values were also found in relation to the concentrations of some heavy metals in herbal preparations based on Malva Sylvestris. In this case, the total "Health Risk Index" value resulted much lower than 1, without risks to human health. In the last case study, alarming data were recorded only with reference to the consumption of lettuce contaminated by arsenic in the Tuscania area (Lazio, Italy). It should be borne in mind, however, that most arsenic in groundwater and soils is naturally present because of the volcanic origin of the territory. The need for in-depth and continuous monitoring to ascertain the quality of the products become increasingly apparent. Particular attention must be paid to good practices, from harvest to consumption, especially for products imported from countries where laws regarding food safety are less stringent than in Italy. In conclusion, it is necessary to support the certifications, the product specifications and the efforts made by national and international authorities, with the identification of "marker of quality" able to describe univocally and objectively a food product through instrumental and chemometric analyses. Moreover, it is absolutely necessary to carry out information campaigns to educate the consumers, so that they can make more informed choices and not be victims of fraud. Another important aspect is to take into account the needs of consumers (also with reference to new food trends), innovating but, at the same time, ensuring the only essential feature of food, that is, food safety.
Access Rights: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
Appears in Collections:T - Tesi di dottorato
Dipartimento di Economia Aziendale
Dipartimento di Economia Aziendale

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