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Shelf life modeling

In science mathematical models are being described for use in experimental design, interpretation of experimental results, prediction of new experimental results, or scaling up from small-scale experiments to industrial-scale production plants. This modeling approach is widely used in the chemical industry since the 1960s and more and more mathematical models are proposed in the design of foods

Simplified in silico model has been based exclusively on mechanism-based equations and proved to be a useful tool for the description of bacterial behavior in the gastrointestinal tract and for the interpretation of in vivo gastrointestinal results. Several mathematical models have been derived to describe the transport and the degradation of foods in the gastrointestinal tract, to describe the fate of micronutrients and proteins in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals, to describe the dynamics of fermentation pattern in human colon.
In this research theme we aim at developing mathematical models that can be used to describe the physical and chemical phenomena occurring along the food production, home-processing and consumption chain

The advantages of such a modelling approach are easy to envisage: 1) It will help casting light on the physical and chemical mechanisms that are behind the process under study, 2) It will facilitate research trajectories towards new functional foods that would enhance the their effectiveness 3) It will reduce the number of expensive in vivo human intervention trials.

Topic 1. Processing jams with the microwave

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In recent literature several articles can be found on processing of jams with a microwave. What is the effect of this new method on the quality of the jams? Many healthy compounds degrade during processing and during conventional methods fruits are heated quite severely to make a jam. A thesis topic can be to study whether microwave-processing lead to jams with a higher content of healthy compounds.

Furthermore we would like to see what happens when processing conditions or changes in the composition are made. The temperature distribution of microwave treatment differs from cooking on a heating plate. And the composition of fruits and the addition of sugar and pectin influence the texture, shelf life and sensorial properties of the jams. A thesis topic is to study the effects of changes in processing conditions and composition on quality attributes of jams.

Finally we would like to use the knowledge of different processing methods and ingredients on the quality of jams to make mathematical models. With these models we would like to predict the effects of jam composition and processing method on texture, sensorial and nutritional properties. This knowledge can be used to optimize the jam processing method and composition to obtain a high quality product.

For more information on these topics you can contact Jenneke Heising.