Creating novel structure: using fibrils in food products

There is an on-going interest in the development of new functional food ingredients that can be used to modify the textural properties of food products. Proteins play an important role in texturing foods, due to their capability to form various structures. Protein fibrils are an interesting type of protein aggregates, that are micrometres long, but only nanometres thick. Their presence increases the viscosity of a product, while they show shear thinning behaviour under flow conditions. When their concentration is high enough they form a transparent gel.  The mechanism of the assembly of proteins into fibrils has received considerable attention in a variety of research fields, from medical to materials science. In food technology, they are of interest because of their potential use in modifying material properties in food products, not only as thickening or gelling agent,  but also in production of microcapsules.  In order to use fibrils in products, like salad dressings, high protein foods, meat replacers and low-calorie products, it is important to investigate the physico-chemical properties and understand the behaviour of fibrils in complex food systems.

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Research topics
  • Study the interactions between fibrils and other ingredients in complex food systems.
  • Study the influence of fibrils on the microstructures of complex food systems.

Experimental techniques
  • Rheology (Rheometer,  Texture Analyzer), microstructure ( Microscope, CSLM), size distribution and mobility (Light scattering), stability (Centrifuge, Turbiscan).