Nutritional Traceability

Place: Madrid, spain, Europe
Food consumption patterns: diet, environment, society, economy and health Food consumption patterns: diet, environment, society, economy and health
Total Budget: € 12.100,00 | Period: From October 2013 To September 2014


Hispacoop data (2012) show that in Spain are discarded 32.2kg of food per person/year. Fruits and vegetables are the food group most wasted after bread and cereal group. This waste is due to deterioration by a poor preservation, storage, an over time, or ignoring the lifespan (including the nutritional aspects) of the product.

To know the changes in nutritional value and consumer preferences in vegetables and fruits with different times and types of conservation in order to minimize food waste.

The sample was formed by 45 foods, according to information provided by the MAGRAMA (Agriculture Ministry, Food and Environment). Part of the study involved the compositional analysis of vitamin C, thiamin, Calcium, iron, zinc and folic acid but we focus on vitamin C and acid folic. Analysis it also included organoleptic analysis, based on: hedonic, ordination and triangular tests. The group of subjects consisted of 30 untrained tasters.


Spanish Nutrition Foundation - Spain

Lead applicant

Agriculture laboratory agrifood - Spain

Initiative partner

University CEU San Pablo - Spain

Initiative partner

The University CEU San Pablo is the Spanish private teaching institution which provides the greatest amounts of resources and financial aid to its students through Ayudas al Talento (Financial Aid for Excellence) and Ayudas Benéfico-Docentes al Estudio (Financial Aid for Disadvantaged Students)

Food waste: compositional and organoleptic analysis of fruits and vegetables. Guides containing recommendations and tips for better utilization of food.

We chose the group of vegetables and fruits, because they are often wasted due to spoilage by poor preservation and storage. This situation has attracted interest from MAGRAMA and our research team. We designed a strategy aiming to reduce food waste, using knowledge of the main characteristics of proper preservation and storage, along with the assessment of nutritional and organoleptic properties of food over time. 

The vegetables selected for our study were chard, onions, cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, potato, pepper, tomato and carrot. The fruits which we selected were strawberry, kiwi, apple, melon, orange, pear and banana.

The principle idea in this innovative project has been
- To know the changes in nutritional value and consumer preferences regarding vegetables and fruits with different times and types of preservation, in order to minimize food waste.

Hispacoop data (2012) show that in Spain, 32.2kg of food are discarded per person/year. Fruits and vegetables are the most wasted food group, after the bread and cereal group. This waste is due to deterioration because of poor preservation, storage, and excess time, or ignorance of the lifespan (including the nutritional aspects) of the product.

Compositional analysis:

In general we can conclude that, apart from exceptions (vitamin C and β-carotene) there are no substantial changes in micronutrient content comparing fresh and frozen products.
Modified atmosphere packaging and freezing are adequate techniques to reduce wastage of fresh produce. Both processes lengthen the shelf life of these products, conserving their nutritional values.
Heat treatment, however, clearly decreases the presence of labile micronutrients but maintains the rest.
A suitable measure in order to reduce wastage of fruits and fresh vegetables at home could y be freezing or cooking (sauces, jams, compotes, preserves, etc.) of the surplus in the preparation of the meals. These measures do not significantly reduce the nutritional value of the treated products.

Organoleptic analysis:

Taste preferences were: fresh followed by 2 days of storage. 

Our study aims to describe good practice for a better utilization of food in retail, in order to reduce short and long term food wastage. This will have positive outcomes, both on fruit and vegetable shops and on customers. Guides containing recommendations and tips for better utilization of food suggest the following points:
• Knowledge of nutritional components fruits and vegetables
• Tips for purchase
• Suggestions with regards to transport
• Storage conditions and storage of fruits and vegetables

  1. Dry
  2. • Cooling
  3. • Freezing

• Food quality
• Expiration date vs. Preferred consumption date
• Home Tips: manipulation, cooked, alternatives to make better use of fruits and vegetables

Organizations that conducted the study were:
The Arbitral Agrifood Laboratory unit, part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment where nutrition analysis were performed.
San Pablo CEU University in Madrid where sensory analysis of food was conducted, with two doctors of the department of food science. And the 30 volunteers who showed up to do the analysis that formed the panel of tasters
The Spanish Nutrition Foundation who coordinated the project. With 4 members.
All participants have a similar profile and skills, research and innovation related to food and nutrition issues. From laboratory research staff, to teachers of the department of nutrition and food science.

The main difficulty, that we have been in our project had been to choose the type of fruits and vegetables. Also it was de oranoleptic analysis, based on hedonic, ordination and triangular test.

Besides ethical and nutritional problem that a large amount of edible food waste cause each day. They raise the environmental impact in terms of the number of finite natural resources such as water, land or marine resources used for the production of these not consumed food. Also the biodegradable waste landfills, including unused food, contribute to climate change.
We should therefore not only carry out actions related to the sustainability of efficiency in production and distribution of food, but also examine patterns of food consumption in order to reduce nutrient losses and food waste.

The development and dissemination of good practices in order  to reduce losses and food waste, must be present throughout the food chain. They should facilitate the knowledge of problems and promote initiatives corrective.
This strategy will permit compliance with the established actions so as, to see the difference of the food waste between 2012 and the waste of the future.
These initiatives will help to reduce, as much as possible, losses and food wastage and promote their better use.

The main initiatives of the Project are the diffusion of a guide that retail must provide their regular clients to encourage responsible purchasing, and minimize food waste, to make better use of fruits and vegetables. Also, to promote good food conservation.
The guides give nutritional advice about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, tips on purchasing, adequate transportation, storage conditions and storage, quality differences between the preferential consumption and expiration date, and practical advice on handling and cooking.