There are many people who do not put much consideration in their diet and the effects that fat has on food and on their health. Fat is characterized in many different ways, and causes different reactions depending on several factors. While fat in excess can be unhealthy, it is good to include fat in the diet for certain benefits. Fats are necessary to help the absorption of vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble. If fat is completely eradicated from a diet, not only will you lack fatty acids, but you will not experience the same benefits of these vitamins. The Instituto de la Grasa (Institute of Fats) is a scientific center based in Seville that studies in a comprehensive way subjects like this.

One of the main objectives of the Institute of Fat since it was founded in 1947 is to conduct research on oil quality and its health benefits.

In June 2017 the Institute of Fats opened its new facilities on the campus of Pablo de Olavide University. This scientific institute, attached to the Higher Council of Scientific Research (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), now has 22,000 m2 for laboratories and an annex of 3,600 m2 with numerous pilot plants.

«Our goal is to continue developing basic and applied research related to oilseeds, seeking scientific excellence to perpetuate the heritage of the great researchers who have passed through this institute,» emphasizes Carlos Sanz, director of the Institute of Fats.

70 years of history

The Institute of Fats began its activity in February 1947. In its early years the research focused on the sector of oils and fats for food use. This included products that are derived from oleaginous products, especially table olives. In the evolution from its founding principles, its mission now is also to develop research to favor quality and safe food, as well as to apply new technologies that are respectful of the environment within the lipid sector.

The new headquarters of the Institute of Fats, as well as laboratories for all its research groups, also has several pilot plants such as an experimental mill, an oil extraction and refining plant, a table olive processing plant, a protein plant and an agro-food waste treatment plant.

The oil mill that the Institute of Fats uses to manufacture oil experimentally.

The Institute of Fats has 150 workers, with 55 of them being researchers assigned to 21 research groups. Their studies range from the characterization of oils and dietary fats to the study of plant lipid metabolism. Additionally, they analyze agro-food biotechnological processes, and the impact on the health of the consumption of oils and functional ingredients.

Several research projects within the framework of various public regional, national and European programs are developed in this scientific center. One of the most outstanding is the Oleum consortium, in which the Fat Institute participates. Funded by the European Commission with €5 million, the consortium is investigating with a view to discovering new methods of analysis for the classification and detection of fraud in olive oil.

One of the working sessions of the European Oleum project, which involves the Institute of Fats.

International Congress on Anaerobic Biotechnology

From 4 to 6 October 2017, the Institute of Fats hosts the first international congress on metals in anaerobic biotechnology. It is designed to meet the challenge of better understanding the role of metals in anaerobic bioprocesses. Whether they are the digestive processes, or the industrial processes of the food, or the treatment of the floors. Fernando G. Fermoso, a scientist at the Institute of Fats, coordinates the organizing committee of this congress, IMAB17, which will be attended by experts from many countries, especially from Europe, South America and the United States.

The objectives of the Fats Institute

The mission of the Institute of Fats is to develop research that focuses on organizing and obtaining quality foods that are healthy and safe, and there are several objectives that are used to track the goal. The scientific objectives considered in the Plan of Action of the center are the following:

  • Examine the scientific and technological components related to the classification and analysis of fats and oils, with modifications and interactions of lipids during food processing.
  • Develop basic and technological research connected with table olives and olive oil to obtain more competitive and healthy products, while developing new technologies to alleviate the environmental impact of these processes.
  • Study the scientific factors related to oil plants and horticultural products in general, especially those associated with lipid metabolism and secondary plant metabolism, in order to improve quantitatively and qualitatively the production of plant foods.
  • Contribute to the evidence on the improvement and progress of health, prevention and treatment of diseases through the use of bioactive ingredients and aspects of plants and foodstuffs, through research that integrates an abundant range of disciplines related to food and nutrition.