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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: DT/E011233/1
Title: Controlling rheology and flow of food emulsions
Principal Investigator: Poon, Professor W
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 April 2007 Ends: 31 March 2009 Value (£): 233,926
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complex fluids & soft solids
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Food and Drink
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Sensory perception of fat in food emulsions is a complex combination of physical, chemical and psychological stimuli. It is also a critical factor influencing our dietary fat intake. However the development of reduced fat foods is challenging because of the complexity of the sensory perception of fat content. To date, emulfied fat in foods is replaced by gums, thickenes and other mimetics designed to emulate the texture and mouthfeel of fat droplets. However, these strategies have met with limited success because they cannot reproduce the chemical stimulus of fat on our sensory receptors. Therefore we need new strategies that utilise the properties of the emulsion droplets themselves. In previous work with sensory evaluation panels, we found that we could increase the perceived content of fat in an emulsion by using proteins instead of emulsifiers to stabilise the surface of oil droplets. Proteins can form an extremely strong skin on the surface of oil droplets. This may make the droplets less deformable and enhance their sensory impact. Recently we showed that we can increase the viscosity of emulsions in a similar way by using proteins that form a strong skin. However the mechanisms responible for this are not known. This project will develop new ways to produce lower fat emulsion based food products based on this phenomenon. However we need to understand the effect in more detail to be able to use this approach effectively. Therefore to achieve this we are combing the skills from leading groups at Unilever, the Institute of Food Research and the University of Edinburgh. IFR will develop emulsions with controlled composition of molecules on the surface of the droplets. These surface will have different and well defined properties. The behaviour of these droplets in emulsions will be studied at Edinburgh by using optical trapping techniques to measure the forces between droplets. Specialist techniques at Unilever that measure the viscosity of thin films, which simulates the effect of the tongue, will determine how much effect the surfaces of droplets can have. They will also perform sensory experiments on real food formulations, and begin to develop ways to reduce the fat in some foods using these results.
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