Development of new innovative functional food

Funding: CRAFT-Project the 5th EU-Framework Programme
Project Duration: 01.12.2001 - 30.11.2003
Project Manager: Andreas Borngräber
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In the European Union, a large volume of shells is recovered as a by-product from crustacean processing. Currently, this is mostly used as a low-value animal feed or considered as a waste product. European environmental regulations have a major impact concerning the reuse of by-products. Therefore, there has been a search for new applications for shrimp shells. Interestingly, these shells contain chitin, a biopolymer. A product made from chitin is chitosan, a co polymer of N-acetyl glucosamine and glucosamine, possessing interesting technical and physiological properties like:

  • Micro-biostatic activity
  • emulsifying ability
  • film-forming ability
  • ability to bind fat, proteins and polysaccharides, polyphenols and heavy metals
  • cholesterol-lowering effects
  • prebiotic properties

In the field of food and nutrition, the industry is looking for new natural ingredients that should replace the artificial food additives usually used and which partly demonstrate potential toxicological effects. Additionally, there is a considerable demand for new products demonstrating functional properties concerning health-promoting aspects. Due this fact, application of chitosan as a natural food additive would perfectly fulfil all these requirements.

Food industry is constantly looking for possibilities to replace ingredients, currently under scrutiny for potential toxicological hazards.  Also, interest in new ingredients associated with beneficial health claims has been growing among consumers and industries.  Since chitosan can be produced to possess various properties of interest in many food applications along with various health claims associated with chitosan, its potential as food ingredient has been identified.

Aims and milestones of the CHITOFOOD project financed by the European Commission were:

  • Definition of structural properties for 8…10 chitosans demonstrating different technical and functional properties
  • Feasibility of the production of standardised high quality chitosans
  • Chitosan-based foodstuffs meet the technical and sensory requirements
  • Chitosan-based foodstuffs produced at pilot plant scale
  • Scientific documentation of positive health effects
  • Chitosan-based processing for food industry

SME-Partners of the project: 

Genis ehf., Iceland (co-ordinator) (Oskarsgata 7, 580 Siglufjordur, Iceland); Meiereigenossenschaft Langenhorn e.G., Germany; Erbslöh Geisenheim Getränketechnologie GmbH & Co KG, Germany; Gierer Gewürzdesign GmbH, Germany; Fai Berti S.L., Spain; Medicamina, Latvia; Orkney Fishermen`s Society Ltd, United Kingdom

Dr. Jürgen Lucas (European Commission, Research Directorate, Food, Nutrition and Health)