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PUBLICATIONS

Peer-reviewed journals

Paper: Information on the processing of organic food: consumers’ perception
Authors: Fiorella Sinesio, Anna Saba, Elisabetta Moneta, Marina Peparaio,
Eleonora Saggia Civitelli and Flavio Paoletti
Research Centre for Food and Nutrition, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA), Rome, Italy
16 August 2023

Purpose – The study aimed to investigate consumers’ views on criteria to be claimed for organic processed foods and information to be communicated.
 

Design/methodology/approach – An online survey was carried out among 439 adults living in Italy, users of processed organic food, to gather opinions on criteria that processing of organic food should meet and on the terms that best define “careful” processing. Next, a conjoint design was applied to examine the effects of five independent factors on consumers’ ideal concept of “organic”; these were potential information on packaging, processing, additives and product quality, and the type of food product.

Three products with different processing level were selected:

  • an ultra-processed and multi-ingredient product (vegetable burger),

  • a processed product preserved by canning (peas in glass jar)

  • a minimally processed product (bagged salad).

 

Findings – The findings highlight that consumers attach more importance to the organic food carrier than the informational messages. Information on the processing and packaging follows, with messages on quality and on additives seemingly of minor importance. Three clusters of respondents were identified: those driven primarily by the type of organic food (24.6%), those placing more emphasis on product processing (21.3%), and a third larger cluster (54.1%) who expressed almost equal importance to all the factors considered. As for the processing of organic products, “eco-friendly” was the best message.
 

Originality/value – This paper offers insights into what best outlines the ideal concept of “processed organic food” as seen by organic food consumers, to be communicated to better guide their purchasing decisions.

Paper: Processors' understanding of process quality: a qualitative interview study with employees of organic dairies in Germany and Switzerland
Authors: Lisa Marie Borghoff*² , Carola Strassner² and Christian Herzig*
*Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Nutritional Sciences and Environmental Management, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Giessen (Germany)
²Department of Food · Nutrition · Facilities, FH Münster University of Applied Sciences, Münster (Germany
)
07 February 2023

Purpose: Organic food processing must include organic principles to be authentic. This qualitative study aims to understand the processors' understanding of organic food processing quality.

Findings: (1) Experts prefer minimal processing; some prefer artisanal processing, whilst others stress the advantages of mechanisation. (2) High temperature short time (HTST) pasteurisation and mechanical processing techniques are accepted; ultra-high-temperature (UHT) milk processing is partly rejected. (3) Traditional taste and valuable ingredients should be present in the final product. Natural variances are judged positively. (4) Consumers' low level of food technology literacy is challenging for communication.

Paper: Organic Juice Processing Quality from the Processors’
Perspective: A Qualitative Study
Authors: Lisa Marie Borghoff*² , Carola Strassner² and Christian Herzig*
*Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Nutritional Sciences and Environmental Management, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Giessen (Germany)
²Department of Food · Nutrition · Facilities, FH Münster University of Applied Sciences, Münster (Germany
)
13 January 2023

Organic food quality is based on processing. While the EU organic production regulation focuses on agricultural production, private standards provide more detailed information about further processing. For the development of organic processing, practitioner perspectives can provide valuable input. To get insight into practitioner perspectives, we conducted semi-structured expert interviews with nine employees of seven partly organic juice processing companies from Germany
and Austria. Interview topics were (i) quality of organic juice processing in general, (ii) assessment of specific processing techniques, (iii) product quality of organic juice and (iv) flow of information
between producer and consumer. We conducted a thematic analysis.

Paper: Preliminary Analysis of Voluntary Information on Organic
Milk Labels in Four European Union Countries
Authors: Karolina Wos*, Ewa Rembiałkowska*, Lisa Marie Borghoff**, Andrijana Horvat***, Flavio Paoletti**** and Eleonora Saggia Civitelli****
*Department of Functional and Organic Food, Warsaw University of Life Sciences (Poland)
**Department of Food Nutrition Facilities, FH Münster University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
***Department of Agrotechnology and Food Sciences, Wageningen University and Research (The Netherlands)
****CREA—Research Centre for Food and Nutrition (Italy)

16 December 2022

The concern for the environment among European consumers is growing and in the future the need for sustainable shopping is expected to increase. Through transparent on-packaging communication with consumers, organic producers have the opportunity to show attributes of organic production system and build a strong market position. The aim of the study was to analyse voluntary packaging information on organic milk from four European markets in the context of
organic food quality, i.e., Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland.

More specifically, the textual content of 106 organic milk packages was analysed and voluntary information on each package was categorized according to process- and product-related organic milk attributes. The assortment and content of voluntary packaging information varied across the four countries.

Paper: Impact of an additional grinding step before apple
cooking on environmental, nutritional and sensory
qualities of puree: a case study for organic apple
Authors: Jourdren, S.*, Bureau, S.**, Le Bourvellec, C.**, Vidal, R.*
* ITAB, Institut de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation Biologiques (France)
**INRAE, Avignon University, UMR408 Sécurité et Qualité des Produits d'origine végétale (France)
13 March 2022

Organic food processors are guided by the European Council (EC) legislation for developing their products. However, the choice of processing technology remains relatively large. To help processors choosing a technology in line with organic principles, the partners involved in the European project ProOrg have
designed an assessment framework which has been tested in real conditions on the processing of organic apples in purees at a pilot scale. The assessment concerned the addition of a grinding step before heating. The effect of grinding was then evaluated on environmental, nutritional and sensory criteria.

Paper: Consumer Perspectives on Processing Technologies for
Organic Food
Authors: Ronja Hüppe and Katrin Zander, Section of Agricultural and Food Marketing, University of Kassel (Germany) - 27 May 2021

Over the last years, consumer demand for natural and healthy convenient food has increased, and with it the demand for organic convenience food. With convenience food, the processing
level increases, which consumers are sceptical of. This holds especially for organic consumers who prefer natural, healthy, and sustainable food products. In the literature, consumer preferences are investigated for processed conventional food, but rarely for organic products. Therefore, this study investigates consumers’ knowledge, expectations, and attitudes towards selected processing technologies for organic food. This paper shows how consumers’ benefit and risk perception
including their want for naturalness, and scepticism for new technologies shape their evaluation of (organic) food processing  technologies. Two consumer groups with different attitudes towards
processing could be identified: ’organic traditionalists’ and ‘organic pragmatics’.

Fresh-Cut Vegetables Processing: Environmental Sustainability and Food Safety Issues in a Comprehensive Perspective
Authors: Antonio Raffo and Flavio Paoletti

This review provides a comprehensive view of the main interlinked aspects related to food safety and environmental impact of processing of fresh-cut vegetables. Advantages and downsides of the mainstream disinfection strategy, based on the use of chlorine-related disinfecting agents, along with some alternative treatments close to a wide commercial application, are discussed. Limitation in the application of these strategies to processing of organic fresh-cut produce are also highlighted, examining the specific environmental and food safety problems in the organic sector. Areas where lack of available information hinders at present a clear understanding of priorities of research and action are pointed out. Innovative conceptual tools are proposed to address these multiple and interlinking issues and to overcome limitations of currently available technologies. A comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach is suggested to move toward a more safe and environmentally sustainable production of fresh-cut products.

Paper: Are They Careful Enough? Testing Consumers’ Perception of
Alternative Processing Technologies on the Quality of Organic Food
Authors: Busra Kilic, Emilia Cubero Dudinskaya, Migena Proi, Simona Naspetti  and Raffaele Zanoli, Università Politecnica delle Marche (Italy) - 24 August 2021

Given the increasing public interest in how ingredients are processed and the growing demand for organic food products, it is critical to understand consumers’ expectations about the process-related quality of organic products.The main objective of this study is to propose a working definition of “careful processing” for organic products and test its consistency through an experiment, while being used to rate different processing methods by consumers. Results show that the proposed definition allows the consumer to consistently rate alternative processing technologies. Consumers tend to score alternative processing technologies such as pulsed electric fields and microwaves as less careful, supporting the idea that organic consumers want as little man-made interference in their food products as possible. Results show that a simple but effective definition of careful processing may help consumers to distinguish more organic food products from conventional ones, no matter which communication scheme is used.

Paper: Consumer Perspectives on Processing Technologies for
Organic Food
Authors: Ronja Hüppe and Katrin Zander, Section of Agricultural and Food Marketing, University of Kassel (Germany) - Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) - 27 May 2021

Over the last years, consumer demand for natural and healthy convenient food has increased, and with it the demand for organic convenience food. With convenience food, the processing level increases, which consumers are sceptical of. This holds especially for organic consumers who prefer natural, healthy, and sustainable food products. In the literature, consumer preferences are investigated for processed conventional food, but rarely for organic products. Therefore, this study investigates consumers’ knowledge, expectations, and attitudes towards selected processing technologies for organic food. Nine focus groups with 84 organic consumers were conducted, discussing preservation technologies of organic milk and orange juice. Results showed that participants had little knowledge about processing technologies but were interested in their benefits. Organic processing technologies should include fewer processing steps, low environmental impact, while keeping the product as natural as possible. Since consumers want to know benefits but not details of processing, asking consumers for their specific preferences when developing new processing technologies remains challenging. This paper shows how consumers’ benefit and risk perception including their want for naturalness, and scepticism for new technologies shape their evaluation of (organic) food processing technologies. Two consumer groups with different attitudes towards processing could be identified: ’organic traditionalists’ and ‘organic pragmatics’.

Paper: Impact of different temperature abuse scenarios on sensory
quality and off-odour formation in ready-to-eat salad leaves
Authors: Antonio Raffo, Massimo Senatore, Elisabetta Moneta, Flavio Paoletti, Marina Peparaio & Eleonora Saggia Civitelli (International Journal of Food Science and Technology - October 2020)

Packages of ready-to-eat (RTE) wild rocket and lettuce baby leaves were subjected during 8 days of cold storage to a chronic temperature abuse (CTA) at sub-optimal storage temperature (10 °C) or to a shortterm (6 h) abuse at ambient temperature (STA) to evaluate the impact of two temperature abuse scenarios on gas composition within the packages, leaf sensory quality and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In both species, the CTA scenario had a markedly higher impact on gas composition, sensory quality and off-odour formation than the STA, and the limit of sensory acceptability was reached in the CTA scenario 4 days or more earlier than in the STA. Sulphur compounds were the main responsible for offodour perception in both leafy salads. Results from the present study may be useful in the assessment of critical points in the cold chain of RTE fresh produce and in prioritising actions towards improved coldchain management.

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