Antonio Lozano Doctor in Microbiology: “Today’s society demands new designs of formats that adapt to its needs, where food and packaging must be an indivisible couple. Food is a primary need and, therefore, the consumption of this type of goods does not decrease, rather it is modified “
We spoke with Antonio Lozano, Doctor in Microbiology to learn about the relevance of food safety research and his role as Director at Asmecruz.
This Galician Cooperative is a pioneer in R & D & I and is currently capable of diagnosing marine pathogens and biotoxins in mussels, thus avoiding health alerts or the recall of products from the market.
Thanks to the strong commitment to innovation and research, Ecoplas and Asmecruz have participated in a project together with the Zoe Pack firm to evaluate the microbiological and sensory quality of mussels packed in modified atmosphere.
1- AS AN EXPERT IN MICROBIOLOGY, WE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER. IN WHICH AREA OF KNOWLEDGE DOES IT DEVELOP MOST NATURALLY? WHAT ARE THE MAIN OBJECTIVES OF YOUR WORK?
My training as a microbiologist has covered different areas, from the human clinic to the environmental area. I did my doctoral thesis studying the ecology, genetics and clinical importance of the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus (typical of tropical environments) in coastal areas of Galicia. This bacterium causes gastroenteritis in humans after consuming raw or undercooked bivalve molluscs and has reached Europe as a result of climate change. The study allowed to know the abundance and genetic profile (virulence genes) of isolated strains of bivalve molluscs cultivated in the Galician estuaries. Since then I have specialized in Food Safety, specifically in the sanitary control of bivalve molluscs destined for direct human consumption, detecting regulated and emerging pathogenic microorganisms in Europe (virulence genes and antibiotic resistance) using molecular techniques (chain reaction of the real-time polymerase, RT-PCR), and also in marine biotoxins. The results of these studies have been published in international scientific journals.
2- ASMECRUZ IS VERY AWARE WITH FOOD SAFETY. WHAT DID MEAN TO ASMECRUZ TO HAVE A LABORATORY WITH THE MOST ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY?
ASMECRUZ has always been a pioneer in R + D + I in the sector.
Since 2011, the board of directors has opted for the creation of its own laboratory for microbiology and environmental toxicology that would guarantee the quality of the product before putting it on the market. The laboratory is located on the premises of the Mollusk Treatment Plant in the municipality of Bueu, it has state-of-the-art technology such as real-time thermal cyclers, liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry, HPLC with fluorescence detector, among others.
As Director, together with an efficient team of technicians, we have developed work procedures that allow us to diagnose marine pathogens and biotoxins in approximately one hour (after the sample arrives at the laboratory), an advantage over conventional techniques used by other laboratories that can take up to a week to produce results.
The trend analysis, as well as the map of the incidence of biotoxins and pathogens in the different cultivation areas of the estuaries allows us to plan the mussel harvest in advance, thus avoiding health alerts or withdrawal of the product from the market.
3- WITHIN SMART NETS, IN THE ECONET RANGE, WE FIND MESHES WITH ANTI COVID PROPERTIES THAT MINIMIZE THE RISK OF VIRUS TRANSMISSION BY 99% IN CONTACT WITH SURFACES. DO YOU THINK THAT AFTER THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, THE DEMAND FOR MATERIALS THAT PROVIDE GREATER FOOD SAFETY IN THEIR PACKAGES HAS GROWED?
Obviously, the Covid-19 pandemic produced a global setback in the food sector during 2020.
Today’s society demands new designs of formats that adapt to its needs, where food and packaging must be an indivisible couple. Food is a primary need and, therefore, the consumption of this type of goods does not decrease, rather it is modified. That is why at this time of change the food market has to bet on new products that cover and adapt to current needs. Today’s society, with new consumer habits, requires new designs that adapt to its needs. The rhythm of life reduces the frequency with which purchases are made, a reason that requires packaging that preserves the product for a longer period of time, guaranteeing food safety at all times.
4- THANKS TO THE COMMITMENT TO INNOVATION, SMART NETS CHANGES THE CONCEPT OF MESH AS PACKAGING, SINCE ON THE ONE SIDE IT CONNECTS WITH THE SENSITIVITY OF CONSUMERS TO CONCERNS SUCH AS FOOD SAFETY, THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY OR COVID-19 MISFEEDING THE TOOLS WHAT INDUSTRY 4.0 AND INNOVATION OFFERS US. HAS INVESTMENT IN FOOD PACKAGING GROWED? HOW DO YOU PERCEIVE IT ACCORDING TO YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Cooperation between entities is one of the ways followed by companies to optimize their products or processes; that is to say, to carry out its R & D & i activities. The formation of a consortium with universities, research organizations and other companies, whose mission is to jointly execute an R&D project and, in many cases, exploit its results in a concerted manner is of vital importance.
These R & D & i consortia have been gaining relevance in recent decades, fueled by public aid programs that encourage their creation. Ecoplas Barbanza is an example in research / innovation related to food packaging. As a young and dynamic company, since its creation it has been concerned with responding quickly to the needs of its customers.
In this sense, the ASMECRUZ Laboratory and Ecoplas participated in a project together with the ZOE-pack firm to evaluate the microbiological and sensory quality of mussels packed in a modified atmosphere. This study showed that increasing the shelf life of fresh mussels from 3 to 8 days was possible, while maintaining its organoleptic and microbiological properties at all times.
Other bets such as the development of new containers with antimicrobial and antifungal activity for seafood and vegetable meshes, and / or the manufacture of biodegradable polymers make Ecoplas a leading company in the packaging market.