Mission and description of core activities
The National Centre for Food Technology and Safety (CNTA) is a Spanish private non-profit Research Centre set up in 1981 as an initiative of the agrifood sector. The main aim of CNTA is to contribute to the development and innovation of the agrifood industry, offering technical support to improve their quality and competitiveness. CNTA acts as a key provider for knowledge, innovation and R&D&I services for over 500 industries (over 200 of which are members).
CNTA staff includes over 100 scientists and technologists, including Ph.D. and M.Sc in Food Engineering, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Biology, Biochemistry, Veterinary, etc. also collaborating with other technical staff. Research scientists at CNTA are actively involved in numerous national and international networks.
CNTA’s core activities are aimed at:
– Developing, managing and coordinating R&D&I projects both individually and in collaboration with industry, associations, universities, administrations, etc.
– Providing analytical services to comply with industrial quality control, food safety and specifications of packaging and bottled produce.
– Providing the agrifood sector with the technical assistance to produce safe, healthy and quality food.
Research, development and innovation at CNTA
With regard to its R&D&I activities, CNTA promotes projects addressed to the existing challenges in the Food and Health interaction. The centre carries out RTD in the areas of biotechnology (i.e. microbiology, starter cultures, production of metabolites and probiotic cultures) chemistry and food processing technologies (High Pressure, Pulsed Electric Fields, Microwaves, etc.). Other areas of expertise at CNTA include valorisation of different by-products via extraction, purification and characterisation of bioactive compounds and microencapsulation, as key technologies for the development of novel foods and ingredients.
CNTA’s research is built around three main pillars:
- Development of novel foods and ingredients (healthier or functional) by means of bioprocesses (fermentation and downstream processing), GRAS extraction technologies (e.g. Supercritical Fluid Extraction) and their delivery into food systems (micro/nanoencapsulation).
- Application of emerging food processing technologies (HPP, PEF, Microwaves, etc.) as alternative food preservation methods in order to obtain products with improved nutritional and sensory qualities. Modelling of product shelf life
- Development of biotechnological processes for the production of food and ingredients. Optimisation of fermentative processes, development of starter cultures, biotechnological production of ingredients or molecules of interest (e.g. bioactive compounds, monomers, polymers…)
More specifically the Research & Innovation lines at CNTA are:
- FOOD INGREDIENTS: obtainment of bioactive compounds and delivery in food systems by micro- nano-encapsulation
- PRODUCT & PROCESS DEVELOPMENT. NOVEL PACKAGING From formulation to industrialisation (clean label, replacement of fat, salt and sugar, sensory studies). Processing, upscaling and packaging
- NOVEL FOOD PROCESSING Mild processing technologies (HPP, PEF, RF, etc.). Process definition & equipment design
- INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY: Bio-based ingredients; biotechnological valorisation, fermentative processes, etc.
- SUSTAINABLE FOOD PRODUCTION: Resource efficiency in food processing (water, energy, nutrients), valorisation of by-products