cod. 1008421

Academic year 2023/24
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Chimica degli alimenti (CHIM/10)
Discipline delle tecnologie alimentari
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
course unit

Learning objectives

Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course, student will know the main process-related contaminants, their route of formation and occurrence in food. He will have a deep knowledge of their toxicology and of the principles to determine their toxicity and the risk for consumers. He will have a critical knowledge of the different available analytical methodologies to determine their occurrence in food. He will know the different approaches for their risk management in an industrial environment. He will know the impact of the technological process on their formation and which technologies may be used to minimize or avoid their formation. He will know also, where available, Regulations and Guidelines at international level for risk management of process-related toxicants in the food chain.

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course, student will be able to evaluate the potential of formation of process-related contaminants in different food products. He will be able to apply the most suitable analytical methodologies to evaluate the occurrence of process-related contaminants in different situations and in different food products. He will be able to take decisions on the base of the available data for the best possible risk management in the food chain. He will be able to evaluate the impact of processing on formation of contaminants, and to design processes able to reduce the amount of contaminants. Finally, he will be able to adapt the analyses and the processes to be applied for the best management of process-related contaminants within the specific regulatory contest.
Making judgements
Students must be able to define which are the most relevant problems related to the possible formation of process contaminants in a food, as a function of raw materials, formulation, technological treatments of transformation and preservation, as well as to foresee which possible strategies can be implemented to mitigate the related risk.
Communication skills
Students should be able to appropriately utilize the scientific language and the specific lexicon of food chemistry, showing the ability to describe and transfer in oral and written form the acquired concepts.
Learning skills
Students will be able to increase their knowledge of food process-contaminants, by consultation of specialized texts, scientific and educational journals, also beyond the topics discussed during lessons.


Fundamentals of food chemistry, food toxicology and food technology.

Course unit content

The course presents a comprehensive update of the major toxicants that may be generated during food processing and food preparation and describes how to design and set-up mitigation procedures in a typical industrial or home cooking environment.
Part 1 considers the different processes used in the manufacture of foods, including food prepared at home, and the risk of formation of food-borne toxicants. In particular, toxicants produced by thermal treatments (i.e., acrylamide, acrolein, heterocyclic aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, etc.), fermentation (i.e., ethyl carbamate, biogenic amines, etc.), preservation procedures (i.e., N-nitrosoamines, irradiation-generated compounds, etc.), alkali and/or acid treatments (i.e., chloropropanols, D-amino acids, etc.) will be considered.
For each of these compounds, the following aspects will be addressed: (1) occurrence in food, (2) methods of analysis, (3) routes of formation, (4) mitigation options, (5) human exposure, (6) health risks, and (7) risk management. Where available, Regulations or Guidelines will be presented and discussed.
The first five aspects are critical to accomplishing a quantitative risk assessment that will indicate the likelihood of occurrence of a potentially adverse health effect and to further develop risk management approaches.
Part 2 deepens the following aspects: (1) how to manage the risk of processing contaminants by HACCP approaches, (2) the impact of innovative processing technologies, (3) nutritional aspects and risk-benefit consideration as well as (4) risk communication.

Full programme

Introduction. Main process contaminants (part I): acrylamide, acrolein, aromatic heterocyclic amines, furan, hydroxymethylfurfural, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, monochloropropanediols, advanced glycation end products by the Maillard reaction, biogenic amines, ethyl carbamate, benzene, N-nitrosamines, D -amino acids, compounds deriving from irradiation, lysinoalanine, chloropropanols. General aspects (part II): emerging technologies for the mitigation of process contaminants, HACCP applied to process contaminants, transformation processes and nutritional aspects, risk communication and risk-benefit evaluation.


Richard H. Stadler, David R. Lineback, “Process‐Induced Food Toxicants: Occurrence, Formation, Mitigation, and Health Risks”, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (New Jersey, USA, 2009); H.D. Belitz - W. Grosch – P- Schieberle, “Food Chemistry”, Springer-Verlag Ed. (Berlin, Germany, 2009); O. R. Fennema, “Food Chemistry”, CRC Press Ed. (New York, USA, 2017);
Leo M. L. Nollet eds., Hanbook of Food Analysis, Marcel Dekker (New York, USA, 2004)

Teaching methods

During lectures the general problems connected with the main process-induced food contaminants that can be formed in food upon processing will be discussed, using both ppt presentations as well as review papers for discussion and made available before the discussion of the topic to students on the university platforms.
A number of case studies will be illustrated, with a particular attention to recent outbreaks; this will allow the student to develop making judgements and communication skills.
On account of the epidemiological emergency COVID-19, lessons will be also registered for those who cannot attend (registered lessons will be uploaded on the page of the course on the university platforms).

Assessment methods and criteria

The final exam (oral) will focus on the discussion of a work, prepared by the student through a power point presentation, which analyzes the possible problems related to the formation of process contaminants in a food product (of your choice) and the related possible mitigation strategies.

Other information

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