Understanding Chemical Reactions During Food Processing

Posted: Nov 10, 2020

Most constituents of foodstuffs, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and trace elements, are desired or at least harmless. Given that the desired properties of most foodstuffs are only obtained after cooking, baking, roasting or other processing steps, the majority of our food is processed in such a manner prior to consumption. Complex chemical reactions occur during these processes; some of these can lead to the formation of desired colouring or aroma components, while others can generate hazardous substances like acrylamide.

Due to the enormous complexity of food processing, the elucidation of such chemical reactions in food often takes several years of research, or else it is not addressed at all.

A special laboratory kitchen – the radiokitchen – at Fraunhofer IME now allows the performance of complex and realistic food processing procedures using radiolabelled substances. Key areas of interest include the following:

  • Restaurant and domestic cooking
  • Fruit processing/beverage technology
  • Cereal crop processing/milling/baking technology
  • Meat processing technology.

Radioactive nuclides – in this case, the nuclide carbon-14 (14C) – can be used to label compounds of interest so that their fate can be determined and quantified with appropriate analytics. It serves as a highly specific parameter that can be easily traced through complex processing steps, and can be used to distinguish molecules of interest from countless other molecules. The fate of labelled substances, be it degradation, reaction with other ingredients, or a whole reaction cascade, can then be understood.

By Bernd Goeckener, Mark Bücking
Source and complete article by: newfoodmagazine.com

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