Thanks to the discoveries made by researchers working in north-eastern Jordan, we know that the world’s oldest bread, a flat bread, was baked by hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago. This predates the advent of agriculture by 4,000 years, and we know that bread production might have very well encouraged these people to cultivate cereals.
Flatbread has been a staple traditional food product from the Mediterranean area, with variants of it from Italy (focaccia, torta, pizza, piadina, pane carasau), Malta (ftira), Freece (Lagana, Pita, perek), Croatia (Lepinja), Jordan) shrak, taboon, abud, ka’ak, zaatar), and Egypt (Baladi).
A new project called FLAT-BREAD-MINE (FMB) aims at establishing a mine (or source) of information to develop healthier and safe flat bread while optimising the flat-bread formula to flat-bread adapted to each consumer so they’re able to obtain nutritionally-enriched, gluten free, and sustainable foods.
The project, which received over €2 million in funding, is the result of an application for a PRIMA call, more specifically in the Agrofood Value Chain category.
It is bringing together 18 partners, 9 of which are research institutes and universities across Europe and the rest being industry stakeholders from France, Spain, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, Croatia, Egypt and Portugal.
The University of Malta is a partner in this project through the participation of Prof. Vasilis Valdramidis, Associate Professor at the Department of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, and Prof. Luciano Mule’ Stagno, the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy.
Two Research Support Officers will be joining their respective teams to evaluate and ultimately minimise the biological and chemical risks derived from the raw materials and processing parameters used for the production and storage conditions applied on flat breads. The teams will also be entrusted with the evaluation of the environmental and economic impacts for the sustainable production of flat-breads.
Asked whether the customization of the flatbread formula through this project meant catering for people with food intolerances and allergies, Prof. Valdramidis told Newspoint that “part of the project activities will indeed be to produce gluten-free legume-based sourdough which can address such issues.