Integrated sensing and imaging devices for designing, monitoring and controlling microstructure of foods

Non destructive testing and quality control of food

InsideFood has a budget of 3.8 million Euros, with almost 400,000 Euros being allocated to RECENDT.

The used analysis techniques in InsideFood include computed X-ray tomography (CT), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging (NMR), and time and space resolved spectroscopy (TRS and SRS, respectively).

At RECENDT we are working on a further development and optimization of optical coherence tomography (OCT) as a tool for microstructure analysis and quality control in food. So far, at RECENDT the OCT technique has mainly been used for the analysis and characterisation of materials, like plastics, fibre composites or multilayered foils. Through this EU-project we have the possibility to augment the field of OCT applications towards the food market and industry.

Scientific project partners are, for example, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium, project co-ordinator), the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Spain), or the Institute for Food Research (UK). Important partners from industry are, for example, the Swiss multinational Nestlé and the German company Bruker Biospin.

Why are we interested in food microstructure?

Pome fruit, like apples, are often stored for several months and the quality strongly depends on its microstructure. If the cells inside the apple are well distributed and intact, they will burst when biting into the apple, which will taste fresh and juicy. The apple´s ability to maintain its cellular structure during storage is mainly determined by the wax layer surrounding the fruit, which provides excellent protection against water loss.
OCT is used for non-destructive testing and analysis of the wax layer, the underlying cutin layer and the cellular structure.

In extruded cereals and breads it is extremely important to determine the inner pore structure and the homogeneity of coating thickness. These parameters determine the rehydration properties and therefore the crunchiness of the products. OCT acts also here as a tool for microstructure analysis.

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