The Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA) has formally initiated its activity in 2002 after the reorganization of the research institutes network of the Italian National Research Council (CNR). It derived from the merging of the following research Institutes, namely:
- Institute of toxins and mycotoxins from plant parasites - Bari;
- Institute of Industrial Horticulture - Bari;
- Institute of agri-food biotechnology - Lecce;
- Institute of fruit ripening and storage physiology - Sassari;
- Research centre on farm animal feeding - Turin;
- Research centre on milk technology, bromatology and microbiology - Milan.
The main objective of ISPA is to perform researches aimed to the improvement of food quality and safety by the use of production and preservation technologies characterized by more environmentally friendly technologies. The mission of ISPA is in agreement with the frameworks of national and European research policy, and is realized by a multidisciplinary approach based on the effort of a variety of expertises (agriculture, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, biology, veterinary) available within the merging CNR research institutes.
The institutional research programme of the new Institute is focused on the following thematic areas:
- production of food with improved organoleptic and nutritive characteristics;
- development of innovative processes to obtain products of agro-industrial interest;
- identification of risk factors in food safety and achievement of safe foods and feeds through monitoring and decontamination of toxic components.
Seat of Bari
The seat of Bari includes the main administrative bureau and the scientific personnel of the Institute of toxins and mycotoxins from plant parasites (ITEM) and Institute of industrial horticulture (ISOI). ITEM, constituted in 1980, originated from the CNR Centre of toxins and systemic plant parasites that operated since 1970 in the Department of biology plant pathology of the University of Bari. ISOI, constituted in 1992, originated from the Centre of industrial horticulture that operated since 1972 in the Department of Agronomy of the same University. Some of the researches in horticolture are carried out at the "Experimental farm La Noria".
Bari seat has 2 research directors, 6 senior researchers, 27 researchers, 12 technicians and 4 administrative collaborators. Furthermore, there are several PhD students and temporary employees, as well as some voluntary collaborators and undergraduated students. Researches performed in Bari are mainly focused on: the improvement of food quality and food safety; the study of microorganisms of agro-industrial interest and their bioactive metabolites; the sustainable production of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables; and the nutritional factors and processing suitability of fruits and vegetables.
Major thematic areas are: agri-food mycology, fungal genetics and mycological collection; microbial bioproducts for a low environmental impact agriculture; mycotoxins, analytical methods and food safety; microbiology of Mediterranean typical food products; sustainable production of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables; nutritional value and processing tendency of fruit and vegetable products.
Section of Torino
The Section of Torino, derived from the Research Centre on animal feed production (CSAAPZ), has two Units, one located at the Department of Animal Production, Epidemiology and Ecologia of the Faculty of the Veterinary Medicine in Grugliasco (Torino), and the other, named "Laboratory of Proteomic Study", operating inside the Bioindusty Park of Colleretto Giacosa (Torino). The Personnel of the Section includes 1 Research Leader, 1 Senior Researcher, 4 Researchers, 4 Technicians and 1 Administrative collborator. There are also many students (both graduated and undergraduated), fellowship holders, temporary employees). The Section carries out researches concerning animal metabolism, nutritional characteristics of the derived foodstuffs, and on food quality and safety.
Section of Sassari
The Section of Sassari (formerly Institute of fruit ripening and storage physiology who started its activity in 1979) has 24 permanent staffs divided in two units, located in Sassari and Oristano, the second being an agronomic unit. The research activity is addressed in aquiring knowledge on the postharvest domain: physiology, phytopathology and biochemistry of fruits, innovative storage and processing protocols for vegetable commodities. Generally speaking, the research work is focused on the basic aspects concerning the postharvest life of vegetable and on the influence of different tecnologies on the final quality of these commodities. In the field of postharvest techniques, plastic films for the packaging in controlled atmosphere and treatements without synthetic fungicides are tested. In this aim, the purpose is to give to the consumer commodities with no toxic residues by the means of products general recognized as safe. Finally, protocols are developed to preserve the organoleptic, nutritional and salutistic properties of minimally processed food, with particular reference to local fruit cultivars.
Section of Milano
The Section of Milano derives from the Research Centre on Milk Technology, Bromatology and Microbioly (CSL) operating at the Department of Science and Food Technology and Microbiology, Section of Agricultural Industry, of the Agricultural Faculty of the University of Milano. The Section, which counts 1 Senior Researcher and 2 Researchers, plus some temporary collaborators, carries out researches on: biochemical and microbiological composition of milk and dairy products from cow and other species; research on ripening and prevention of defects in cheeses of national interest; definition of biochemical and microbiological standards for the genuineness, quality and typicality of fermented products; evaluation of the lipid fraction and flavour of cheese and forage and development of improved techniques for fermented foods. The main researches are devoted to the study and the development of traditional fermented products, with particular interest to the defence and conservation of the microbial biodiversity present in the handicraft productions of the mountain areas of the Lombardy Region.
Section of Lecce
The ISPA Lecce Unit, is located within the Lecce University Campus. The Unit has 12 Researchers, 3 Technicians 2 administrative personnel and hosts young scientists such as Post Doc or PhD students as well as undergraduate students. The Unit shares collaborative projects with national and international public research Institutions, Universities and private companies. Molecular biology, Cell biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Microscopy labs are located in the Unit. The research activity is mainly aimed at the valorisation of agro-food products by the improvement of their quality and nutritional value. Main research projects deal with: the investigation and molecular engineering of plant metabolic pathways; the biotechnological production and exploitation of enzymes and plant bioactive compounds and, the biotechnological characterization of microbial germplasm for wine industry.