Indian agri-food sector, though has experienced increased production of essential food commodities. Also there are losses occurring in the chain of post-harvest operations. These deteriorative loses are the result of accelerated physiological, chemical and microbiological processes occurring in food commodities.
The Food Protectants and Infestation Control deals with R&D in the areas of post-harvest protective measures relating to pest and infestation control in stored food grains, spices and processed foods. The strength of the Food Protectants and Infestation Control lies in the multidisciplinary approach with experts in the areas of fumigation, stored product entomology, pesticide chemistry, biopesticides, microbial bioremediation and pesticide toxicology.
Protecting stored food products from storage pests forms a basis for food security and food safety. Insect resistance to conventional fumigants and insecticides has been the major threat leading to control failures. Alternative strategies are required to combat the existing resistance and thereby achieve pest free storage of food commodities.
In view of above, we focusses to develop alternate strategies to manage insect resistance against conventional fumigants, to search and investigate the efficacy of new fumigants, to study the importance of modified or controlled atmosphere treatments for residue free storage of food grains, to develop phytochemical and essential oils based bio-fumigants for infestation control and to understand the infestation tactics of insect pests to develop insect detection and control devices. The Food Protectants and Infestation Control is recognized by Insecticide Regulatory Authority of India / Central Insecticide Board for industrial services and training programs on pest management in foods.
Research in the area of food safety mainly focuses on genomic, and nutriomic approaches for identifying genetically modified foods, food pathogens, biomarkers, plant based toxicants, allergens, adulterants and nutritional labelling. Advanced multiscale modeling for understanding protein structure and functional relationships towards food applications and disease mechanisms. In addition, mandate includes developing and validating robust high end analytical methodologies (FT-IR, FT-NIR, HPLC, GC-MS, LC-MS/MS, IRMS, ICP etc) for oils and fats, milk and milk products, maximum residue limits of chemical and industrial contaminants and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) including pesticides and antibiotic residues and tolerance levels of toxic metals chiefly occurring in food chain that aids in quality assurance and in implementation of new regulations of food standards. Also research is conducted on anti-nutritional factors such as alkaloids, protease inhibitors, tannins and phytates and on permissible levels of natural toxicants such as agaric acid, hydrocyanic acid, aflatoxins and mycotoxins and biological contaminants (bacterial and fungal species) that cause diseases and shelf life studies of food products.
CFTRI has developed Smart Cart, a highly energy efficient mobile infrastructure of kitchen to produce and deliver safe and hygienic food by street food vendors. Another contribution is towards monitoring the quality and safety of food using a robust tool kit for rapid analysis of food which is being popularized widely.