Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Looking inside food microstructures

Date:
January 24, 2014
Source:
youris.com
Summary:
Applying imaging techniques to food structure is helping scientists devise ways of improving the quality of processed food.

Food's microstructure can explain many of its characteristics: sponginess, crispness, crunchiness, even color. Understanding such microstructure and how it changes during food processing is essential to produce high-quality food.
Credit: Els Herremans, KU Leuven

Food's microstructure can explain many of its characteristics -- be it cake's sponginess, bread's crispness, cracker's crunchiness or fruits' inner gas and water transport system and even color. Understanding such microstructure and how it changes during food processing is essential to produce high-quality food. To do so, an EU-funded project, called InsideFood and completed in May 2013, aimed at dramatically improving food microstructure measurement.

The project focused specifically on understanding the spatial distribution of food components, their texture and how to detect foreign material in food. To do so, the researchers developed novel instruments and software for inspecting food microstructure designed to be implemented in food processing plants. Scientists relied on food model systems, such as multiphase gels and foams. They also included information on actual foods such as cereal products or fresh and dried fruits.

Sugar and gluten-free products were the focus of special attention. This is because the Polish project partner, bread and cereal products manufacturer Chaber, based in Belsk Duży, wanted to commercialise them. "Texture largely depends on microstructure. Sugar and gluten are very important in the texture of bakery products," says project coordinator Bart Nicolai, professor biosystems engineering at the KU Leuven in Belgium. "The challenge is to create new sugar and gluten-free foods with the same texture," he adds.

The project scope is wider than just focusing on such applications. "The techniques we investigated are particularly suited to microporous foods that have a spongy structure, containing lots of air. [What was] new in our approach was the use of scanners and optical techniques already in use in biomedical research -for example to detect tumors- to investigate foods, "Nicolai tells CommNet, "We also applied large measuring equipment from fundamental physics research to explore common foods. On a global scale, we are setting a trend in 3D-visualisation of food microstructures."

The scientists used information from their observation to build mathematical models that describe how microstructures change under the influence of process situations. "Our final technical target is to design and optimise a food product [by computer]. A later step can be the production of foods by 3D-printing," Nicolai adds.

Experts welcome this approach, albeit with some nuances. "In my opinion the project teams has executed high-quality work," comments Marcel Paques, principal scientist at the Innovation Centre of dairy product company FrieslandCampina, in Wageningen, the Netherlands. "However, the work could also increase in value for the users in the food industry if the basic approach [were to] start from consumers and producers' needs," he adds.

In particular, Paques believes that the project's starting angle used was too analytical. Starting from the perspective of fulfilling consumer needs would have created a second drive, in the form of innovative products. Specifically, it would be preferable to select "favourably properties… that apply to a large product group and show generic aspects in multiple products, to support businesses with a large economic impact," he concludes.

Nevertheless, this project has brought significant progress to the field. "Although the relationship between microstructure and product functionality has been studied for many years by various research groups, new imaging techniques developed through this project will complement existing microscopy-based approaches," says Mark Auty, senior research officer at the food chemistry and technology department at the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Cork, Ireland.

And this is only the beginning. "This research could represent an exciting step forward in applying new techniques for non-destructive analysis of food products in their bulk state," Auty tells CommNet. "When we started, knowledge about 3D-visualisation of food microstructure was hardly existing," concludes Bart Nicolai, adding: "Mathematical models describing important physical processes were hardly available. We did a lot to fill this gap."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by youris.com. The original article was written by Koen Mortelmans. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

youris.com. "Looking inside food microstructures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140124082700.htm>.
youris.com. (2014, January 24). Looking inside food microstructures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140124082700.htm
youris.com. "Looking inside food microstructures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140124082700.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins