The Science of Food

Food research has an essential role in ensuring the quality of the food we eat. 

Food research has an essential role in ensuring the quality of the food we eat. 

What gives chocolate its rich creamy texture? How can we keep the creaminess while reducing the fat content? For almost a century Leatherhead Food Research (LFR, www.leatherheadfood.com) has been analysing and answering such questions by looking at the intricate microstructures of food. By doing so, Leatherhead has supported and contributed hugely to the progression of the food and beverage industry. 

We recently paid a visit to their facility in Leatherhead, Surrey. Kathy Groves, Head of Science & Microscopy, has been using the Linkam Optical Shearing System – CSS450 – to analyse the microstructures of various foods. 

One of the more important sectors they focus on is research into helping the food and beverage industry develop healthier products. With a quarter of people in England classified as obese, there is a clear need to replace high calorie foods with lower calorie versions. But finding healthy replacements for flavoursome salt, fats and sugars is a challenge. For the public to embrace these changes, the products must have similar taste, texture and physical properties as their less healthy predecessors.

With its shearing function and temperature control, the CSS450 provides the perfect sample characterisation chamber to analyse the microstructure of new formulations. The imaging option of the system allows changes in sample structure to be visualised and comparative differences to be analysed. This gives key information on how food and drink behave when sheared, such as happens in the mouth.

Linkam products have great potential for use in food research. We demonstrated some of our other stages to Leatherhead, including the humidity system – the RH95, which can alter the relative humidity and temperature around samples, making it a great system for shelf life testing. The stages created much interest, which reinforced our belief in the need for our products within this market. 

Smiles all round as Ricky Patel demonstrates the humidity system at Leatherhead Food Research.

Smiles all round as Ricky Patel demonstrates the humidity system at Leatherhead Food Research.

We would like to thank Kathy Groves and Leatherhead Food Research for inviting us to their laboratory and providing us with essential insight into the food research market. 

By Tabassum Mujtaba