Rapid economic growth and increased agricultural productivity over the past two decades have seen the number of undernourished people drop by almost half. Many developing countries that used to suffer from famine and hunger can now meet the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable. Central and East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have all made huge progress in eradicating extreme hunger.

These are all huge achievements in line with the targets set out by the first Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, extreme hunger and malnutrition remain a huge barrier to development in many countries. 795 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2014, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and loss of biodiversity. Over 90 million children under the age of five are dangerously underweight. And one person in every four still goes hungry in Africa.

With rapid population growth in the Arab region —crossing the threshold of 400 million in 2016— a predominantly harsh arid environment, and many protracted conflicts, food insecurity has become a major challenge for many Arab countries.

Despite an increase in the average Food Production Index from 82.6 in 2000 to 118.8 in 2013, several Arab countries continue to face serious problems in agriculture production, due to limited economic resources, low technology levels, limited crop patterns and environmental limitations. In the United Arab Emirates and Syria, the Food Production Index reached 68.2 and 82.4 in 2013, respectively.

The SDGs aim to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. This involves promoting sustainable agricultural practices: supporting small scale farmers and allowing equal access to land, technology and markets. It also requires international cooperation to ensure investment in infrastructure and technology to improve agricultural productivity. Together with the other goals set out here, we can end hunger by 2030.

In Lebanon, sufficient and good food is available, but it is not always accessible for everyone. Therefore, people in Lebanon who struggle to make ends meet tend to consume food products that have low nutritional value.

Southern Lebanon’s economy has been weakened by debt, a lack of investment, and ongoing conflicts that have prevented a resurgence of the agricultural sector. Action Against Hunger been present in Lebanon since 2006, in response to the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel that resulted in 1,200 lives lost, $900 million in infrastructure damage, and heavy losses in the agricultural sector.

BAU is working in alignment with the Lebanese government to fight hunger in all its shapes through its programs, services, funds and awareness lectures.

Beirut Arab University Wins the Third Place in “Innovations in Food Control”

Beirut Arab University won the third place in the “Innovations in Food Control” Competition organized by the Ministry of Economy and Trade. The competition was held among universities in Lebanon at the Chamber of Trade, Industry and Agriculture in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The official ceremony which was held on the occasion of the “World Consumer Rights Day”, was attended by the Minister of Economy and Trade, Mr. Alain Hakeem, and Deputy Director General for Economy, and Director of Consumers’ Protection, Mr. Fouad Fleifel.

The project aimed at activating the cooperation between the Higher Education and Applied Education Sectors, in other words the public sector and the productive organizations. This is achieved through a comprehensive project based on a practical innovative method, which aims at improving the food quality and safety for the consumer.

Groups of students from relevant majors participated in the competition representing Agricultural Sciences, Nutrition and Food Technology at different universities, namely the American University for Technology, Beirut Arab University, USEK, Global University, Lebanese-German University, LAU, LIU, Manar University in Tripoli and Haigazian University

The BAU team consisted of students from the Nutrition Department at the Faculty of Health Sciences Rawan Kaoush, Mouda Atrash, and Sawsan El Samerai. They presented a study entitled “Reporting Food Poisoning” via mobile-phone applications under the supervision of Dr. Adel Amara, the Safety and Control Food Supervision Dept.

This application helps consumers to report cases of food poisoning to the Food Control Authorities by easily entering personal data and information on the food item, the time of consumption, the symptoms and the food institution name and address. When the Food Control Authority receives the information, it can be saved to review, monitor and verity cases and hence take the adequate procedures.

"Using New Technologies in Food Fraud Detection"

Dean, Dr. Moustafa Mourad participated in the ceremony of "World Day of Consumer Rights" that was held by the Ministry of Economy and Trade, and under the patronage of the Prime Minister Mr. Tamam Salam where prizes were distributed for winners in the inter-universities competition entitled "Using New Technologies in Food Fraud Detection" in which the Nutrition Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, Beirut Arab University participated in by a project called "Food Fraud Detection in Commercial Lebanese Brands of Pomegranate Molasses". The project was prepared by the Nutrition & Dietetics students Jouhayna Al Minnawi, Lara Al Ghoul and Raysa El Zein and under the supervision of Dr. Nada El Darra, Assistant Professor of Food Safety & Technology - Faculty of Health Sciences - Beirut Arab University. The project is considered a preliminary study that targets the authenticity of Pomegranate Molasses present in the Lebanese market.Results detected food fraud at substitution and mislabeling levels. Lara El Ghoul was awarded Best Presenter all over the competition.

15th International Conference on Food Processing and Technology

Dr. Nada EL DARRA, assistant professor at the Nutrition & Dietetics Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, was a speaker at the 15th International Conference on Food Processing and Technology, October 27-29, 2016, which was held in Rome, Italy. During the first day of the Conference, Dr. EL DARRA presented her work entitled “β‑Cyclodextrin-Assisted Extraction of Polyphenols from peach pomace”. On the second day of the Conference, Dr. EL DARRA delivered an oral presentation entitled “Food Fraud detection in commercial Pomegranate Molasses syrups by spectroscopic and HPLC methods”. The main objective of this conference was to bring together academics, students as well as researchers under one roof for an open discussion regarding the food emerging techniques and its effective implications for the benefit of human kind.

BAU Signed an MoU Regarding Food Safety with the Ministry of Industry

BAU President Professor Amr Galal El-Adawi, together with the Minister of Industry H.E. Wael Abou Faour as well as eight Lebanese university presidents and representatives of presidents, signed an MoU that aims to "involve university students, after their training, in periodic inspection of industrial institutions as related to the application of basic food safety standards by collecting data that covers all stages of production, starting with raw materials to the final product, to ensure that the requirements for the safety of food production are met before being put on the market. The owners of the institutions shall get the "Stamp of Quality" from the ministry, granting industrial enterprises more credibility and helping them market and promote their products.”

The event was attended by Minister of Education and Higher Education Akram Chehayeb, Director General of the Ministry of Industry Dany Geadeon, representatives of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists and Syndicate of Lebanese Food Industries, university presidents and representatives of presidents, in addition to Beirut Arab University, Lebanese University, American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University, Holly Spirit University, Saint Joseph University, Notre Dame University – Louaize and University of Balamand.

NGO’s Field Opportunity for University students

As part of its efforts to reinforce international cooperation and community service, the Faculty of Science - Department of Biological Sciences at BAU hosted a seminar by the International organization Action Against Hunger (AAH) on:

“NGO’s Field as New Opportunity for University Students”, on May 2nd, 2019 at Debbieh Campus.

The Seminar aimed to introduce BAU students to the NGO’s field with an internationally accredited humanitarian charity, qualified as a “top-rated hunger organization”and to explore cooperation potential. The seminar targeted Science and Engineering students along with Faculty members and staff.

It started with a welcoming note from Dr. Ghada Khawaja, Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Science, introducing AAH organization, highlighting its important support to displaced Syrians, and hosting Lebanese vulnerable communities in Bekaa and South of Lebanon. Ms. Beatriz Navarro, the Country Director of AAH, gave a quick briefing on the establishment of AAH and its worldwide programs aiming at eradicating poverty and hunger and highlighted AAH Lebanon mission’s strategy. Afterwards, members of AAH team; Mrs. Justine Cherrier, the coordinator of Livelihood & food security projects, Mr. Edgar Barata, the coordinator of WASH projects, Mrs. Elise Jabagi, the deputy manager of WASH program, presented several talks explaining the nutrition and livelihood, WASH and solid waste management projects of AAH in the country. Mrs. Khouloud Mahdi, the manager of WASH program, shared as well, her experience as a biochemist working in the sector.

In the discussion panel, the attendees simplified how students with scientific background could join the NGO’s working in WASH program, particularly, in solid waste management and the possibility of an internship in this field and job opportunities

This activity was organized within the framework of agreement between Beirut Arab University and AAH for deepening the contribution of university students to serve the community and participate in national issues, and expanding its network of relations with international organizations in Lebanon.

About Action Against Hunger:

Action Against Hunger has been established since 1979 in France to combat hunger, disease and disasters that endanger the lives of many. The organization started its work in Lebanon in August 2006 after the Israeli war on Lebanon. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the organization has been providing food to support the Syrian refugees in the Bekaa and the South and providing drinking water, sewage and solid waste services to Lebanese host communities. In addition to the launch of the program "Waad" in cooperation with ACTED and INTERSOS in Lebanon and Jordan within the framework of the “MADAD”, program of the European Union.

Food Technology and Processing

Food processing losses and waste are becoming increasingly alarming worldwide. They take place at different stages of the food supply chain. Valorisation of food waste sources is therefore becoming of a prime interest owing to environmental and economic values. Different extraction techniques can be used for polyphenols recovery of the food by-products.The most common applicable technique of extracting phenolic compounds from plant materials remains the solid/liquid extraction. However, the massive use of organic solvents represents a significant cost for industry and is not recommended due to their negative impact on human health. The exploration of new Green and GRAS (Generally Recognized as safe) techniques is becoming crucial to enhance polyphenols extraction.Recently, many important investments are put into technology and in the application of different procedures that are intended to weaken the cell walls and enhance the extraction of phenolic compounds. The application of novel electrotechnologies such as pulsed electric field, ultrasound and microwave-assisted extraction might be alternative, environmentally friendly and energy-saving techniques to valorise the contents of by-products.

Our main research projects consist of elucidating the role of different emerging techniques in extracting bioactive compounds, mainly polyphenols. Our team, at the department of nutrition, investigates different extraction techniques (Ultrasound, microwave assisted extraction, pulsed electric field, thermal treatment and infrared) for their effects on recycling the polyphenols of fruit pomace. The comparison of the efficiencies of polyphenols extraction using β-cyclodextrin, aqueous and organic solvents for fruit pomace is also studied. The assessment of the biological properties (antiradical, antimicrobial and cytotoxicity) of the polyphenols extracted is performed as well.

Future research projects will focus on investigating new technologies for spices and herbs sterilization and developing a viable decontamination system suitable for adoption in the Lebanese spices industry. Other projects will apply new assays for the detection of antibiotics residues in cow's milk and some traditional Lebanese dairy products. Screening of frequently occurring mycotoxins in some Lebanese spices will be also studied.