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Scientific Areas

Meat Products

The Area deals with meat products whose industrial preservation is obtained by heat treatments (cooked meats) or by drying and fermentation (cured meats).
In addition to the main traditional activities relating the Italian meat products technology and quality, there are topics such as safety, nutritional aspects, new products development, packaging, shelf-life and environmental sustainability.
The research activity, carried out in collaboration with sector companies, producers’ associations and consortia, universities and research institutes, aims to provide companies with support for quality and safety standards improvement and scientific bases for the meat supply chain development, including raw material processing suitability, processing evaluation, pre-portioned and packaged finished products studies.
The technicians also carry out consultancy activities for organizations, associations and companies.


Head: Roberta Virgili

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Barbieri Germana

Technology of meat products and technological properties of proteins. Nutritional and quality indicators. Regulations for the classification of meat products
0521 795271

Bergamaschi Monica

Traditional and innovative processing. Characterization of meat products. Colour development and stability, control of oxydation and nitrosation phenomena
0521 795234

Chimienti Vito

Analytical service and support to institutional activity
0521 795226

Loffi Cecilia

Pinna Anna

Innovative processing, analytical and sensory properties of products
0521 795270

Polidori Valeria

Reverberi Monica

0521 795226

Saccani Giovanna

Production technology of cured meats. Nutritional characteristics and functional properties of traditional and “clean label” cured meats
0521 795254

Schivazappa Cristina

Control of production process and analytical and sensory properties of meat products. Reduction of salt content
0521 795252

Simoncini Nicoletta

Detection of quality and safety objective parameters in meat products. Study of product innovative and shelf life parameters
0521 795246

Areas of activity

The following activities are carried out for internal, public and private research projects.


Quality of meat for fresh consumption and processing

Formulation of cold cuts

Technology and safety

Nutritional aspects



This research activity concerns the production, characterisation and improvement of cold cuts according to the “measurable” quality concept along the supply chain (raw materials, semi-finished and finished products). The finished product quality is also pursued by combining ad hoc technological actions by the use of suitable microorganisms. Analytical measurements are integrated by sensory analysis performed by a specifically trained panel. Sensory analysis is performed for research projects, private companies and external institutions.

Quality of meat for fresh consumption and processing

The goal is to control the meat quality for fresh consumption and industrial processing. The studies, aiming at improving meat sensory and functional characteristics, including zootechnical and nutritional aspects and typing of raw materials by DNA analysis.

Formulation of cold cuts

Reduction of some additives (such as nitrates and nitrites) and ingredients (for instance, sodium chloride) with possible positive impact on consumer health. Traceability and certification of ingredients using molecular techniques.

Technology and safety

Prevention of chemical and microbiological hazards through the study of cause-effect relationships between processing and formation of dangerous substances. Optimization of processes and defects prevention, assistance and expertise in protocols adjustment as well as in new manufacturing processes development.

Nutritional aspects

Interventions aim to improve cold cuts nutritional properties, taking into account the raw material and processing effect. This strand of activity also refers to the new rules on nutritional labeling and nutritional requirements resulting from the EC Regulations 1924/2006, Directive 2008/100/EC, EU Regulation 116/2010.


Packaged meats shelf life studies (pre-portioned and pre-sliced). The pre-sliced cold cuts segment is monitored by studies on the relationship among packaged product quality, slicing and storage conditions, packaging materials and raw material characteristics (color and aroma stability, sliceability) and packing materials by using either traditional or plastic biodegradable films from renewable sources.

Conserve Animali Prosciutto Cotto
Conserve Animali Laboratorio


Are there any analytical indicators that make it possible to classify meat productions...

Are there any analytical indicators that make it possible to classify meat productions either as meat preparations or as meat-based products?


The classification of meat productions as preparations and products, according to current legislation, is based only on visual criteria, which are related to the maintenance or to the loss of the characteristics of the fibrous structure of the fresh meat muscle. In particular, meat-based products must have a cutting surface that makes it possible to ascertain the fresh meat characteristics loss. On the basis of these definitions, objective analytical parameters have not yet been identified and the histological analysis of the muscle tissue for the determination of the percentage of structured/unstructured fibres is the only analysis capable of providing a classification of the two types of production.

Does the addition of permitted additives for the products convert a meat preparation...

Does the addition of permitted additives for the products convert a meat preparation into a meat-based product?


The current legislation for the use of additives in foodstuffs Reg 1333/2008 and subsequent amendments is more restrictive for meat preparations than for products; in the case of preparation, due to the reduced shelf-life, the use of preserving agents is not allowed.

If a meat production has undergone technological treatments (drying, acidification, etc.) that have not led to the complete loss of the muscular structure, according to the legislation it is classified as meat production. In this case the use of additives not envisaged for meat preparations (for example, preserving agents etc.) is not allowed. In fact, a meat production cannot be classified as a product only because of the use of additives permitted for meat-based products.

What are nitroso compounds (NOCs)?

The N-nitroso compounds (NOCS) are all the substances in which there is a bond between specific functional groups (eg amino acids, amines, thiol groups, carbon-carbon double bonds, etc.) and nitric oxide (NO). The nitroso compounds are molecules potentially dangerous for health as they help-develop inflammatory processes in the intestinal tissue. They can be of endogenous origin, as they are produced in the human body following the release of nitric oxide by enzymatic conversion of some amino acids, and of exogenous origin, as they can be formed under certain conditions in foods such as cured meats.

Is it possible to limit the formation of nitroso compounds in cold cuts?

The formation of nitroso compounds in meat products depends on the combination of various factors, such as the presence of haem iron, the addition of nitrite, the oxidative stress and the processing methods. Currently it is possible to produce cold cuts based on consumer health requirements by improving the profile of meat raw materials, using new ingredients to replace conventional preserving agents (or in combination with small quantities) and modifying some production processes.

Are there any analytical techniques to quantify nitroso...

Are there any analytical techniques to quantify nitroso compounds in cured meats?


The quantification of nitroso compounds in cured meats is possible thanks to a new analytical technique that exploits the principle of chemiluminescence specific for the analysis of nitric oxide (NO). The sample is introduced into a reaction chamber in which a reagent solution is present. The nitric oxide released is conveyed by a stream of nitrogen into the instrument for analysis and quantified by means of a calibration curve.

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