Food processing losses and waste are becoming increasingly alarming worldwide. They take place at different stages of the food supply chain. Valorisation of food waste sources is therefore becoming of a prime interest owing to environmental and economic values. Different extraction techniques can be used for polyphenols recovery of the food by-products.The most common applicable technique of extracting phenolic compounds from plant materials remains the solid/liquid extraction. However, the massive use of organic solvents represents a significant cost for industry and is not recommended due to their negative impact on human health. The exploration of new Green and GRAS (Generally Recognized as safe) techniques is becoming crucial to enhance polyphenols extraction.Recently, many important investments are put into technology and in the application of different procedures that are intended to weaken the cell walls and enhance the extraction of phenolic compounds. The application of novel electrotechnologies such as pulsed electric field, ultrasound and microwave-assisted extraction might be alternative, environmentally friendly and energy-saving techniques to valorise the contents of by-products.
Our main research projects consist of elucidating the role of different emerging techniques in extracting bioactive compounds, mainly polyphenols. Our team, at the department of nutrition, investigates different extraction techniques (Ultrasound, microwave assisted extraction, pulsed electric field, thermal treatment and infrared) for their effects on recycling the polyphenols of fruit pomace. The comparison of the efficiencies of polyphenols extraction using β-cyclodextrin, aqueous and organic solvents for fruit pomace is also studied. The assessment of the biological properties (antiradical, antimicrobial and cytotoxicity) of the polyphenols extracted is performed as well.
Future research projects will focus on investigating new technologies for spices and herbs sterilization and developing a viable decontamination system suitable for adoption in the Lebanese spices industry. Other projects will apply new assays for the detection of antibiotics residues in cow's milk and some traditional Lebanese dairy products. Screening of frequently occurring mycotoxins in some Lebanese spices will be also studied.