The Department of Nutrition and Food Science of the University of Barcelona include several research groups working in different areas. Only the resaerch group Food Lipids, Nutrition and Health has been working for more than twenty years on the characterization of the lipid fraction in foods from animal and vegetal origin, and on the study of markers of the food lipid quality. These “quality markers” are mainly related to the origin, and to productive and technological factors, taking into account the repercussions on the nutritive value, rancidity, sensory quality, oxidative stability, isomerization, etc.
One part of our lipid research is focused on the study of mechanisms involved, and the interaction between lipids and other food components (protein, iron and other microelements, natural antioxidants, etc). Thus, oxidation and lipid stability of fats as foods and feed ingredients is also one of the main areas of research. The research studies of this group are leading to the improvement of nutritional value, the optimization of process conditions, and the improvement of the sensory properties and shelf-life. The study, improvement and proposal of the corresponding analytical methods for lipid control take always part of the aims of this research team. The main efforts at this moment are focused on the study of feed fats and their relationships with the quality and safety of meat and other foods from animal origin. A first subject is related to the enrichment of meat in lipid nutrients, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and tocopherols. A second subject, that the group developed on the frame of a collaborative European project, was the characterization of fat materials for feed uses. The group has got the opportunity to exchange knowledge and to integrate research objectives with another research groups working in several aspects of fat technology, animal health and food safety derived from the presence of persistent pollutants. The specific research topics developed by the Food Lipids, Nutrition and Health group were: Modification of polyunsaturated fatty acids in foods and repercussions on nutritive value, oxidative stability and sensory quality; Fatty acid isomers as markers of quality and origin of food lipids; Cholesterol and sterol oxidation products, their presence in foods and biological effects; Optimization of frying processes and assessment of the analytical methods for the quality control in fats and fried products; Quality and stability of organic pork products; Characterization and valorization of fat co- and by-products for feed uses: safety, control and standardization.