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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J501670/1
Title: Reduced-Salt Emulsion Technologies (Re-SET)
Principal Investigator: Norton, Professor IT
Other Investigators:
Spyropoulos, Dr F
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 18 June 2012 Ends: 17 December 2014 Value (£): 251,155
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complex fluids & soft solids Rheology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Food and Drink
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Increased salt intake has been linked to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and stroke [1], with both illnesses placing a

huge burden on health services and lowering life quality. The British Heart Foundation estimated that UK health care costs

for both CVD and stokes to be >£17bn (2006). Low salt foods and snacks can help ease this strain, however consumers

still expect a pleasurable eating experience. This requires formulation of food products of "invisibly" reduced salt, similar in

taste and "convenience" to their full-salt counterparts. Reducing the size of salt crystals (<25 microns) added to food has

been attempted but unfortunately provides an unwanted saltiness "burst". Reduced-salt healthy foods and snacks based on

shell technologies could overcome this as these shell-stabilised emulsion constructs can be used to modulate salt release

and thus salt perception/"saltiness" [2].

Nonetheless uses of such structuring technologies in dry (semi-dry) foods are absent due to serious processing and

stability issues; (a) Processing issues: due to the fragile nature of shell interfaces, such structures are difficult to process.

Further innovation is required to be able to apply these delicate structures onto the food surface. (b) Stability issues:

emulsions containing salt are subject to large osmotic pressure and chemical potential differences which tend to destabilise

these structures. Adding these salt-containing emulsions into/onto dry foods accelerates the destabilisation process.

Evidence from research at the University of Birmingham suggests that stable osmotic separation with triglyceride shells is

possible [2] and these shells can be constructed to melt at different temperatures and rates, thus giving potential to

modulate salt perception at much lower salt concentrations. This project will deliver both the formulation design rules and

processing routes in order to manufacture shell-stabilised water-in-oil emulsions for the development of salt-reduced

healthy snack foods. The proposed project programme is carefully designed to quickly recognise potential shell-stabilised

emulsion "technologies" for use in prototype manufacture, to scale-up the processes to produce these and finally to

sensorially evaluate the manufactured prototypes and establish whether they can deliver acceptable salt-reduced snack

food products.

The project team provides a unique and synergistic offering which will catalyse different thinking, approaches and pave

the way for innovation, through understanding of surface chemistries, advances in process and formulation engineering,

measurement and characterisation. The proposed research program involves the University of Birmingham (UoB) and

PepsiCo. The technology developed and understanding gained from this collaboration will enable many new applications

and foods to reach the market, with IPR from this project also expected to be commercially innovative.

[1] Strazzullo et al. BMJ 2009; 339:b4567;

[2] Frasch-Melnik et al., 2010. J Food Eng. 98: 437.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk