Food Quality, Processing and Safety

 

Trude Johansen is preparing the FPLC column for protein characterization in fish protein hydrolysates. Photo: Caroline D. Høyen

 

Our lab works with food quality, focusing mainly on fish products, but also meat, milk, seaweed for use in food and feed, and more. Our main work is related to lipid and protein chemistry in marine raw materials and on mechanisms for changes taking place during processing and storage.

From a chemical viewpoint food is highly complex, and our understanding of it is far from complete. To be able to improve the end product we work to increase the knowledge of the food raw materials, both the composition and the properties. We also study the chemical processes behind new and traditional processing and storage methods. How can the different processes be manipulated to make the end product as healthy and stable as possible? Can the raw materials be utilized in a better way to reduce the amount of waste?

The industry seeks to increase the amount of healthy fatty acids in their products. How does changes in feed, handling and storage change the quality and amount of the healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids? We slow the oxidation by changing storage conditions before and after processing, or parameters in the cooking process. Work on antioxidants and lipid stability helps us understand these processes better.

What happens when we reduce the salt amount? A lower salt content is healthier, but it also changes the end product, both the taste, preservation and texture. We work with how the salt content changes protein solubility, enzyme activity (proteolytic enzymes) and how this in turn influence texture, water holding capacity and shelf life.

The number of people in the world increase rapidly and it is a challenge to provide enough food – high quality protein and lipids. Norway is one of the world’s largest exporters of seafood. However, a large of proportion of the catch is not utilized or only used for low value products (not for human consumption). Our lab is a partner in several projects looking for ways to extract valuable components from this raw material and how to incorporate this in products for human consumption while keeping the high quality throughout the process.

The Food Science research group has merged with the Food Technology group at Kalvskinnet