Food Contaminants


  • Food Chemistry and Technologies


The Food Contaminants Research Group deals in particular with the development of methods for the analytical determination of contaminants in different food matrices, as well as studies on the origin of contamination and development and impact of strategies aimed at mitigating their presence. The studies concern, in particular, some contaminants of biological origin (biogenic amines, mycotoxins), process and environmental contaminants, as well as migration of contaminants from packaging materials, such as: acrylamide, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, mineral oils (MOSH and MOAH), oligomers of polyolefins (POSH), etc. In addition to collaborations with national and international research institutions and universities, collaborations with numerous food companies and associations of the food industry (such as AIDEPI and AIIPA, ASSITOL, FEDEROLIO) are also very active on the matter of contaminants. In particular, research focuses on monitoring contamination and studying critical contamination points and possible corrective actions. The Group has HPLC and UPLC systems combined with diode array detectors (DAD), fluorescence detectors (FLD), refractive index (IR) or mass spectrometer (MS) detectors, and GC systems combined with flame ionisation detectors (FID) and MS. Particular attention is paid to the development of coupled chromatographic methods, such as LC-GC, LC-LC-GC and multidimensional GC (GCxGC). In particular, the group has a solid experience (recognized at national and international level) on the analysis of mineral oils and development and use of on- and off-line LC-GC coupled techniques dedicated to this analysis. Since the development of analytical methods cannot be separated from an in-depth knowledge of the food matrix that ensures quantitative extraction yields and minimizes solvent consumption, for the preparation of the sample before analytical determination, rapid extraction techniques with low solvent consumption are used, for example: microwave assisted extraction (MAE), microwave assisted saponification (MAS), pressurized liquid extraction (PLE), solid phase microextraction (SPME), and purification by solid phase extraction (SPE). In particular, the group also has experience with the use of the MIP (molecular imprinted polymers) phases, recently applied to the analysis of patulin in fruit juices and purees. The methods developed are internally validated, published in international scientific journals, and some have been subjected to external evaluation processes (ring tests) at national and European level.

Research subjects

  • Sviluppo e validazione “in home” di metodi analitici per le diverse classi di contaminanti studiati.
  • Sviluppo ed utilizzo di tecniche innovative di preparazione del campione che mirano a limitare il consumo di solventi tossici e la manipolazione del campione e di tecniche analitiche avanzate, con particolare attenzione alle tecniche cromatografiche on-line.
  • Studi volti al miglioramento dei protocolli di purificazione del campione ed identificazione dei potenziali interferenti (es. frazione MOAH oli vegetali).
  • Studi di filiera per identificare le fonti di contaminazione.
  • Studio dei parametri che influenzano la migrazione di contaminati dagli imballaggi, studio della migrazione durante la shelf-life del prodotto, test di migrazione accelerati (con alimento o simulante), valutazione delle proprietà barriera.

ERC panels

  • LS9_6 Marine biotechnology and bioengineering
  • PE4_5 Analytical chemistry
  • LS7_9 Public health and epidemiology


  • Food contaminants; Sample preparation; Coupled chromatographic techniques (LC-GC, LC-LC-GC, GCxGC)
  • Mineral oil (MOSH, MOAH); Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); Poly alpha olefins (PAO)
  • Polyolefinic oligomeric saturated hydrocarbons (POSH); Phthalates, biogenic amines; mycotoxins
  • Acrylamide; Food contact material contaminants; Migration test


Sabrina MORET
Monica ANESE
Incaricato esterno di insegnamento
Categoria D - Area tecnica, tecnico-scientifica ed elaborazione dati
Incaricato esterno di insegnamento