Sensory and Structure
Erik van der Linden
Theme Director Sensory and Structure
Phone: +31 317 485417
TiFN has worked for many years in top-level research to understand functionality of ingredients in food structures (at macro, meso and micro level) and the effect thereof on consumption. Exiting are the new challenges that arise from the expected shift in raw material processing. In the sustainability shift that will take place, producers will expect more functionality from raw materials: what can we enhance, maintain and use in an optimal way. Also, other food sources (such as plant proteins instead of animal proteins) or other ways of processing (for example, using less water, less energy, or fewer processing steps) will arise. Using less water or energy implies different properties of the materials put into products. Fewer processing steps may include fewer purification steps, implying the use of more complex mixtures as an ingredient. For example, we may have a mixture of proteins together with fibres, instead of only proteins. Together with more sustainable production methods we have to safeguard product quality, i.e. taste, smell, texture, safety, and nutritional value.
In order to be able to systematically integrate product quality and sustainability considerations, Sensory and Structure develops a better understanding of the different material transitions that occur from production to consumption and digestion. The theme also works on a better understanding of the interactions between material and its surrounding (food versus machine, mouth, and gastro-intestinal tract). In particular with regard to sustainably processed ingredients we need to be able to address more complex, i.e. less purified, mixtures.
Understanding material transitions requires information from molecular to macroscopic scale. In bridging these scales the structure of the food plays an important role. This structure is a reflection of the history of the food, i.e. its processing, storage, transport, chewing, swallowing and digestion.The principal parameters in the understanding are the specifics of the ingredients with their relative concentrations, and the internal and externally applied stresses.
- Dispersed fat and polysaccharides systems
- Dynamics of texture and taste perception
- Foam stability (formation and stability of interfaces in complex foods)
- Predictive models for long-term liking of foods
- Relevant time and length scales for mechanical behaviour in protein-based systems
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