Measuring the impact of reformulation on texture
Reformulation, for example to reduce sugar, can lead to in a change in texture of a product.
Food texture is an important sensory attribute as it affects the way food tastes and how it feels in the mouth. Developing or reformulating products typically requires production and evaluation of many process and recipe variations to identify those that have the required structure and texture.
Textural properties can be determined by sensory and instrumental methods. Both approaches are important and work best when used together.
Sensory evaluations are important measurements, particularly when developing new products where specific sensory parameters form a key element of the product quality. Sensory analysis uses human senses to objectively analyse food - taste, flavour, odour and texture. It can be used to check product quality and troubleshoot.
Instrumental methods used to determine texture must correlate closely with sensory evaluation for them to be appropriate. Textural properties are measured with instrumental texture analysers that can compress or stretch food materials. This is done by applying controlled forces to the product and recording the response in the form of force, deformation and time.
We have recently invested in COMSOL, a finite element modelling (FEM) tool, capable of modelling a wide variety of physical processes. A new MFR project looking at modelling of food structure mechanics will use this technology to develop a capability to design products with the required texture by modelling the effects of differences in structure and understand how process conditions can be used to create the required structure for a range of product types.