Research outputs

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Main research question/goal
This project aims to introduce and to explore the potential of three dimensional CT-scanning (X-ray computed tomography) for innovative food research.

The aims of this project are: 1. the development of novel X-ray CT instruments for inspecting food structure of porous foods, 2. the development of novel tomographic methods for improved quantification of structural parameters, 3. an improved understanding of process-structure-property relationships, 4. a method for the design and the development of new processes and products, and 5. the development of affordable online food inspection equipment. In each of these domains we strive for breakthroughs leading to innovations for the Flemish food industry. The microstructure of food (organization and structure of food components) influences quality, stability and reliability of food products. The microstructure itself is not stable during the production process: existing porous structures are destroyed and new ones are created. A good knowledge of the micro structure, how it changes during processing and its relation with quality can offer producers an economic benefit.   

Research approach
The research team consists of food technologists as well of experts in X-ray physics and image analysis. Each of the project goals consists of a program of work packages. We focus on three important food categories: dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and bakery products. ILVO is responsible for the dairy products, including ice cream, mousses, whipped cream, toppings, UHT milk, butter, yogurt and cheese. For the first four products distribution and size of the air bubbles are of interest. They influence stability and whipping properties such as overrun. In UHT milk shelf life is influenced by sedimentation of proteins and in yogurt separation of whey proteins. In butter, distribution of the water droplets will influence microbiological stability. Eye formation is an important quality parameter for cheese; size and distribution can be visualized and measured in a non-destructive way.


This project anticipates important social, ecological and economic challenges in the food sector as demand grows for safer and healthier food. For this reason, internal textural defects are unacceptable. CT-scanning, routinely used in medicine, offers the possibility to visualize and quantify the internal three dimensional structure of food products in a non-destructive way. The technical and economic feasibility of visualizing changes in microstructure during processing and storage would be an important breakthrough. Until now usually two dimensional light or confocal microscopy or electron microscopy are used, requiring complex, time consuming and expensive sample prep. Those techniques are therefore used only for research, not for quality control during production. This research offers new perspectives for important innovations with respect to sensor technology, ICT and quality control in the food industry.
Effective start/end date1/01/1431/12/16

ID: 4162491