Food & Nutrition Division

Head Food and Nutrition Division: Dr. Maazullah Khan, DCE

Vision of Food and Nutrition Division R&D Objectives of Food and Nutrition Division
Introduction to R&D of Food and Nutrition Division Group of Food and Nutrition Division

Funded Projects (Completed/Ongoing) in Food and Nutrition Division

Vision of Food and Nutrition Division

To conduct R&D for minimizing the post-harvest losses, value addition, Food Safety and Security, providing services and HRD of communities for self-sustainability

Overall Research and Development Objectives of Food and Nutrition Division        

Development and transfer of technologies/services for nutritive, value added and environmentally safe food/product to end users

Specific Objectives

  • Mitigating Post-harvest losses through value addition & processing
  • Irradiation services to the local gemstones traders for value addition of locally produced gemstone
  • Popularization of mushroom cultivation technology as cottage industry and Ganoderma medicinal mushroom cultivation optimization on available low-cost substrate
  • Biopesticide formulation and application
  • Development of Bio-preservatives and probiotic Foods
  • On-spot qualitative analysis of added fortificants in different food products such as oil/ghee, wheat flour and edible-salt
Introduction to Research and Development of Food and Nutrition Division

Food Engineering and Irradiation group of Food and Nutrition Division focuses on application of engineering principles and concepts to the handling, storage, processing, packaging, and distribution of food and related products. Food Safety through the use of nuclear techniques is the other important aspect of this group, using Co-60 gamma irradiator and adopting the advanced irradiation technologies to achieve UN SDG 02 zero hunger. Controlled amount of ionizing irradiation doses are applied to food and food products to kill the microorganism that causes food spoilage. Various doses were optimized for different desired applications including preservation, shelf life extension and sterilization of food products. Current research activities include: i) Hybrid Solar Dryer (Design, Process Optimization and Demonstration), ii) Shelf life extension of Meal Ready to Eat, iii) Disinfestation of Dates, iv) Sprout inhibition in bulb food, v) Adaptation of Innovating radiation processing technologies vi) Disinfestation and decontamination of dry fruits and, vii) Rapid Test Kit for Adulterants in Spices.

Food and Environmental Safety Group, of Food and Nutrition Division is focusing on mushroom cultivation optimization, popularization, field-based efficiency testing of biopesticide (plant extracts) against yellow rust of wheat. This group is also working on the on the development of probiotic and bio-preserved foods. Moreover, extending analytical services for the enhancement of food safety across the country. With the collaboration of Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) and Directorate of Science and Technology (DOST) Govt of KP, FND-NIFA has popularized mushroom cultivation technology in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), upper Punjab and Baluchistan, Pakistan. Moreover, this division has successfully cultivated Ganoderma medicinal mushroom for the first time among public R&D organizations in Pakistan. NIFA Ganoderma mushroom has phytochemically analyzed and confirmed/quantified for biologically active constituents (Triterpenoids, polyphenols, minerals and vitamins). Efficacy of botanical extracts (Melia azedarach (Bakain), Azadirachta indica (Neem) and Withania coagulans (Paneer doda) were tested for the management of yellow rust disease in Wheat. Theses extracts in emulsified form has the potential for formulation and its possible commercialization. Classical method of food preservations is either using different chemicals that are health hazardous or by applying extensive thermal processing techniques that deteriorated the quality of food. Similarly, application of radiation for food preservation has also consumer acceptance issues. Bio-preservation is an emerging food preservation method that has full potential to replace the existing traditional preservation techniques. In the Bio-preservative method, bacteriocins (secondary metabolites) are produced under stress conditions by different microorganisms like lactic acid bacteria and help to eliminate harmful microorganisms from food products. At FND-NIFA, Food and Environment Safety group started work on this aspect under the umbrella of ALP project recently. It is hopeful that by adopting these techniques our local industries can overcome the problem of food borne toxicity especially related with over use of hazardous chemicals to inhibit the growth of microorganisms which are responsible for food spoilage.

Food Nutrition section (FN) has carried out work in multiple aspects of Human Nutrition, including food fortification especially fortification of wheat flour with Iron and carried out various studies on stability and acceptability of iron components in humans in previous collaborations with Nutrition International (NI), formerly the Micronutrient Initiative (MI) such as “Iron fortification of roller milled wheat flour in Pakistan”. Owing to the competence available in its labs, the analytical work for the production feasibility phase of the project was also undertaken and subsequently, during the implementation phase, our labs acted as reference lab for analysis of the fortified wheat flour samples collected from flourmills all over the country. As an output of our R&D work, NIFA Iron Spot Test Kit for qualitative analysis of fortified iron in wheat flour samples was developed which is the evidence of our commitment and due diligence.  The Kit is now being extensively used by various Public and Private sector stakeholders including GAIN, NI, World Food Program (WFP), regulatory authorities and more than 170 flour mills around the country. FN has been actively interacting with the relevant stakeholders for dissemination of knowledge and technology about wheat flour fortification. FN has also successfully completed a project entitled “Fortification of Vanaspati ghee with Red Palm Oil as natural source of Vitamin A” in collaboration with Malaysian Palm Oil Board and developed Vitamin-A Spot Test Kit for qualitative analysis of fortified Vitamin-A in Oils and ghee samples. Another much appreciated project on “Iodine stability study in different climatic conditions and different packaging materials” was carried out by FN around the country by storing iodine at four PAEC centers in Karachi, Nawabshah, Faisalabad and Swat having different climatic conditions and geographic regions, as a result of this nationwide study a Rapid Test Kit for Testing Salts Fortified with Potassium Iodate was developed whic
h is being widely used by a large number of public and private sector stakeholders. FN has functioned as resource lab for country wide survey of iodized salt for iodine contents conducted by MI, and recognized as “Reference Lab” in the region for analysis of iodized salt samples for USI/IDD Program funded by MI. Along with food fortification program, state of the art labs of FN has been established with the help of IAEA to carry out analytical work on Vitamin A analysis.

Groups of Food and Nutrition Division
1. Food Engineering and Irradiation  
2. Food and Environmental Safety  
3. Food and Nutrition  
Funded Projects Undertaken of Food and Nutrition Division


Title of Project

Donor Agency


Technological and economical feasibility of radiation preservation of potatoes



Commercial trials on radiation preservation of onions under tropical conditions



Radiation preservation of dried fruits



Food Irradiation process control and acceptance



Standardization of detection method for irradiated dried fruits and tree nuts



Nutritional and physiological evaluation of Red Palm Oil (Carotino)

PORIM Malaysia


Radiation treatment of minimally processed fruits and vegetables for ensuring hygienic quality



Radiation as SPS Treatment



Fortification of Vanaspati Ghee in Pakistan with red palm oil as a natural source of Vitamin A.

MPOB Malaysia


Iron fortification of roller milled wheat flour in Pakistan

MI Canada


Application of Irradiation for Improving Food Safety,
Security and Trade (RAS/5/042)



Radiation decontamination of commercial poultry feed



Coordinated between NIFA and NIH
 “Estimation of goitrogenous substances in foods and their relationship with the prevalence of goiter”



Coordinated research project between NIFA and NIH
A) Nutritional enhancement of cereals and grain legumes through sprouting and its utilization as food. B) Amylose contents of different food commodities; influence of household processing on the amylase contents of these foods.



Harmonization of Radiation Protection (RAS/9/029)



Development of processing method for pectin as value added product from citrus peel waste



Novel applications of food irradiation technology for improving socio-economic development (RAS/5/046)



Screening and development of low phytate bread wheat mutants in Pakistan



Better utilization of food for health and productive life in agriculture sector (Coordinated project with NWFP Agric. Univ. Peshawar)



Fortification and physicochemical evaluation of canola & sunflower oil with sea buckthorn oil .



Mushroom cultivation and popularization as cottage industry in NWFP



Design and fabrication of a laboratory size screw extruder for conservation of agro-based materials into value added food and feed products



Coordinated between NIFA and NIH
 “Estimation of goitrogenous substances in foods and their relationship with the prevalence of goiter”



Coordinated research project between NIFA and NIH
A) Nutritional enhancement of cereals and grain legumes through sprouting and its utilization as food. B) Amylose contents of different food commodities; influence of household processing on the amylase contents of these foods.



Preventing osteoporosis and promoting bone mass in Asian Populations using a food based approach (RAS/6/041).



Development of irradiated foods for immuno-compromised patients and other target groups



Development and validation of technologies for pesticide residue management in fruit and vegetables produce (PSF/NSLP (203)



Pilot scale development of bio-pesticides and other environmental friendly techniques for the promotion of Green Growth Technologies Dost.



HRD developed through transfer of technology “to arrange training courses for “mushroom cultivation” in various zones of KPK DoST.



Storage stability of iodine in iodized salt collected from geo-climatical zones of Pakistan, MI, Pakistan

MI, Pakistan


Development of market life enhancement technology of persimmon and its dissemination to growers. ALP



  1. Development of nutria-food products
  2. Fortification of commonly consumed edible oil in non-conventional oil



Design and fabrication of single screw extruder for conversion of agro-based materials into value added food & feed products



Development of innovative Nutraceutical products from herbal ingredients



Adaptation of Electron Beam Irradiation to Treat MREs and Fruits & Vegetables in Pakistan



Commercialization of existing technology of mushroom and popularization of Oyster and Milky mushrooms as cottage industry for economic uplift of landless communities of KPK, Baluchistan & upper Punjab



Production of indigenous food bio-preservatives from the micro flora isolated from  the fermented dairy products



Development of Low Cost Zero-Energy Cooling Chambers for Field Heat Removal and Storage of Fruits and Vegetables and its Transfer to Small Farmers (AE-033)



Strengthening National Capabilities to Mitigate Vitamin A Deficiency in the Pakistani Vulnerable Population Using Stable Isotope Techniques



Development of Rapid Test Kit (RTK) for Qualitative Determination of Peroxide Value (POV) in Oil/Fats



Adaptation of Low Energy Machine Generated Radiation Sources for Surface Decontamination and Disinfestation of Food in Pakistan



Development of hybrid indirect type solar dryer for drying of fruits and vegetables (AE-001)



PAK 5053: Strengthening and Enhancing National Capabilities for the Development of Climate Smart Crops, Improvement in Animal Productivity and Management of Soil, Water, and Nutrient Resources Using Nuclear and Related Techniques:


nuclear institute for food and agriculture peshawar, pakistan