The importance of food structure for the development of products that meet consumer expectations in terms of being tasty, nutritious, pleasurable, and in many cases healthy, is nowadays well established. This book aims to provide an extensive and thorough review of our current understanding on food structure. It showcases how the latter can be developed through the interplay of formulation and processing elements, tailored to possess desirable performances, measured and/or characterized. In terms of content balance, it focuses on the basic principles relating to food structure development but, where necessary, progresses to greater depths of detail to also encompass more specialized technological features.
We strongly feel that the target audience for this book includes both formulators/scientists working within the food industry as well as researchers/academics primarily concerned with exploring this area from a more fundamental perspective. The book is therefore envisaged to act as a useful tool for product developers aiming to understand and address the challenges associated with current food structures and/or their performance, as well as those seeking inspiration for the creation of novel products and/or functionalities. At the same time, it will be of great assistance to early career academics with scientific interests in this area and also to their more established colleagues who, despite being already research active within the food science and engineering arena(s), wish to be kept well connected with current industrial needs and the research developments within this continuously evolving scientific field.
In order to meet its ambitious mandate, this book is structured in four discreet parts/themes. The first part focuses on the role of key components such as hydrocolloids, proteins, and oils/fats and that of fundamental colloidal microstructures (emulsions, foams) in structure development across a wide range of food categories. The interplay between processing routes and formulation elements is then further explored for confectionery and cereal food products. The use of starch and proteins to ultimately provide the aerated solid microstructure of bread serves as a good example of the journey from specific ingredients to the development of a final food structure. The second part of this book centers on the significant link between food structure and product performance/functionality. Here, specific attention is given to structure development for rheological, tribological, and mechanical performance(s), along with the role of food's microstructural design in terms of providing functionalities such as a desirable sensorial experience and the delivery of a range of species of nutritional/dietary significance. The important relationship between food performance/functionality and food structure heavily relies on our capacity to accurately, reliably, and repeatably assess such complex microstructures. This is the focal point of the third part of this book, which examines in detail the most important approaches/methods for analyzing, characterizing, and predicting food structure (and its development) across a broad spectrum of length- and timescales. In its final part, this book attempts to examine some of the specific challenges that the food industry is presently faced with and the opportunities that these challenges are creating in terms of rethinking or rebalancing conventional food structure development. While some of these challenges have been long-standing (yet still very much relevant) items of scrutiny within the industrial and academic arenas (for example, the development of healthy or healthier food structures), others have more recently emerged (or are still emerging) to encompass themes ranging from the sustainability and flexibility of food processing approaches to food structure design that addresses the dietary needs of specific population groups.
To end, we would like to acknowledge all our friends and colleagues who have contributed with passion and expertise to this book. We are grateful for their tremendous efforts and humbled by the wealth of knowledge that they have so generously trusted upon us. Needless to say, this book would not have been realized without them. Finally, we would also like to thank the editorial staff in the Royal Society of Chemistry for their great support and endless patience throughout the preparation of this book.
FS would like to dedicate this book to Jasbir, Maiya and Solon, and AL to Elena and Alê.
Ian T. Norton