The oxidation of food lipids has been profusely studied for decades whereas oxidized proteins have remained in the background. Nowadays, protein oxidation is a hot topic of increasing interest amongst food researchers because of the relevant and scientifically sound results derived from recent studies, including a previous EU-project (EIF Marie Curie; Pox-MUSCLE). Our studies in model systems contributed to understand the susceptibility of food proteins, and particularly, myofibrillar proteins to oxidation, the precise mechanisms and pathways involved in protein oxidation and the interaction with oxidizing lipids. We originally identified particular protein oxidation products derived from the oxidation of food proteins and investigated the interactions of myofibrillar proteins with plant phenolics. Nevertheless, the fate of oxidizing proteins and amino acids during food processing and storage is still poorly understood. Advanced methodologies are required to deepen the knowledge of protein oxidation and fulfil the upcoming challenges. In collaboration with the University of Helsinki, we developed novel and advanced methods for assessing oxidation of food proteins (Fluorescence spectroscopy and LC-MS). The purpose of the present project is to apply the skills and knowledge gained during the last 2 years to study protein oxidation in real meat products. Study the influence of processing and storage on oxidation events and the effect of protein oxidation in nutritional and technological aspects of muscle foods of interest for the meat industry will be the main concerns of this project. The development of efficient antioxidant strategies and particularly, the use of natural antioxidants (plant phenolics) will be also addressed. By funding this proposal, the EU-commission will support the reintegration of the candidate as an experienced researcher for the development of highly innovative studies that will strengthen the excellence of the EU research networks.
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