Smart nano-engineering of food emulsions
An important focus in our group is the development of mesoscale-structured emulsions with new and remarkable functionality. First, emulsions may undergo physical destabilisation. Another major concern is the chemical stability of food emulsions, especially when considering oils containing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that readily oxidise, which damages the sensory and nutritional properties of the products. The development of lipid oxidation in emulsions depends, at least in part, on the properties of the oil-water interface where the reaction is initiated.
To address these issues, we work on the development of emulsions with specific and controlled mesoscale-structures, especially with respect to the oil-water interface. The underlying phenomena are investigated through multi-scale, trans-disciplinary approaches.
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Interfacial behaviour of chemically modified food proteins
Manufacturing processes often involve thermal or mechanical stress, which can damage the native structure of proteins and hence their functionality. In addition, in the presence of other reactive molecules in the food matrices (e.g., reducing sugars or oxidising unsaturated lipids), proteins can also undergo chemical modifications. However, the consequences of such chemical modifications of proteins on their emulsifying properties have not been extensively studied yet. One of our starting projects aims at investigating the effect of chemical modifications of food proteins on their behaviour at the oil-water interface. This project starts with inducing controlled level of chemical modifications in the proteins. Then the adsorption kinetics, surface activity and interfacial rheology of the films formed by native or modified proteins at the oil-water interface are studied using a drop tensiometer. Hence, we expect to relate the type and level of chemical modifications of proteins with their interfacial properties, notably their ability to form thick, viscoelastic films.