Two international awards to an Italian chemist


An Italian chemist-friend Salvatore Parisi-receives two awards at AOAC(Association of Official Analytical Chemists) International. Organization formed in 1884 as the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists. (1) In a short interview, a great boost to researchers in Italy.

Salvatore Parisi, 23 years of award-winning research

Salvatore Parisi is awarded AOAC Expert Review Panel of The Year 2019, as a member of the Expert Review Panel for SPIFAN MCPD Methods. At the plenary assembly of AOAC International 2019, in Denver, Colorado, USA, on 9.10.19. Ed is appointed as a member of the AOAC Official Methods Board (OMB), a body concerned with official methods of analysis at AOAC International. Well-deserved recognition of a research effort that began in 1996, as Salvatore explains.

What research brought a chemist like Salvatore Parisi closer to the food industry?

The research I have carried out in just over two decades, nationally and internationally, is numerous…over 210 publications and 28 books (!). I have worked on the chemistry of industrial intermediates for plastics, printing inks, coatings for industrial use, and various other topics. All the way to the somewhat more difficult mare magnum of food chemistry and technology. With special attention to aspects involving hygiene and food safety, so also consumer health. It is precisely in this field that I have achieved results that have led to lectures in the international arena and recognition in the USA.

Chemical research applied to MOCAs

In the now distant days when we met you had also conducted pioneering studies on MOCAs, had you not?

One of the achievements I am most proud of, looking back, was actually the recognition by the scientific community of a ‘law,’ the first ‘principle of food degradation,’ which I had described in 2002. (2) The safety of MOCAs (materials and articles intended to come into contact with food) is an ongoing issue, as evidenced by the European Commission’s recent recommendation. And it is an area of research where Chemistry plays a leading role, precisely to safeguard food safety throughout the shelf-life of foods. (3)

Another case I dealt with early on was the analysis of the risks associated with the so-called set off (backprinting effect) of inks, in laminated food containers. A risk that then unfortunately emerged with the crisis related to the contamination of infant formula with Isopropyl thioxanthone, ITX. (4)

The backpress effect, where unchecked, can lead to ‘grotesque’ results even on metal boxes. To the point that processing-by contact transfer of the inks, from the outer to the inner lithographed side-can result in the so-called ghosting effect. Namely, the appearance of printed images inside the container following heat treatment. (4)

Biochemistry for health

From safety protection to health promotion through food, You have also dealt with phenolic compounds.

In fact, I had the honor of coordinating a recent publication, of which we offered summaries right on GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). It was an exciting job sharing the values of different categories of foods and phytocomplexes for consumer health.

The 9 scientific studies selected in the collection offer useful insights into healthy nutrition. Of interest in medicine, with good memory of the teaching of Hippocrates, but also in food research and development. It is increasingly evident that prevention is the high road to follow, even in the design of new foods. The inherent virtues of some natural ingredients should never be overlooked; instead, they should be used to their best advantage with care to ensure their bioavailability.

Italy’s commitment to the world

And now, what challenges lie ahead for Professor Salvatore Parisi? And what advice for young researchers?

Study, study, study. The success of the awards is not a laurel to sit on, but an additional incentive to engage in research. Which for me as for many others, I want to emphasize, is fun as well as work. Science is fun, first of all! All the more so when one has the opportunity to contribute to projects that can provide useful results for collective health, a satisfaction that is truly priceless.

To the ‘new recruits’ goes the invitation, from a passionate researcher, to embark on a road certainly full of challenges such as research on foods, their supply chains and contiguous fields. Both in Chemistry and other areas, because few areas are as inclusive as food. There will certainly be no shortage of satisfaction, as well as diversification. Between studies, patents, application software, interactions with food law and other areas, in the planet of food & beverage there is just no risk of getting bored.

One last question of interest to many, do you belong to the category of ‘brain drain’?

I have the joy of still residing in Palermo with my family. Publishing commitments, work with AOAC in the U.S. and conferences with Al Balqa Applied University at which I teach cause me to spend 2-3 months a year abroad, in the U.S., Germany and Jordan mainly. But thanks to IT, I am able to work most of the year in Sicily and interact online with the rest of the world, including giving university lectures.

Congratulations to Salvatore, and thank you!

Dario Dongo


(1) ILM (2019). Analytical Science Leaders Honored at AOAC Annual Meeting. Inside Laboratory Management (ILM), AOAC International, September/October 2019, pp 50-51 and 55

(2) Parisi S (2002). The fundamentals of food expiration date calculation: principles and applications. Ind. Aliment. 41(417):905-919

(3) Volpe MG, Di Stasio M, Paolucci M (2015). Polymers for food shelf-life extension. In: Cirillo G, Spizzirri UG, Iemma F (eds) Functional polymers in food science: from technology to biology, vol 1: food packaging. Scrivener Publishing, Beverly

(4) Parisi S (2004). Alterations in thermally processed metal packaging. Gulotta Publisher, Palermo.

Turin Chamber of Commerce (2008). Packaging and packaging? Play it safe. Turin Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture

Chiappa F (2011) QsA, June 2011, 11-15, at