Adding nutraceuticals to foods in order to improve nutritional value while maintaining taste and aroma remains a challenge. Nutraceuticals often display limited stability or are incompatible with the nutrient and non-nutrient components of foods and their molecular relationships. Existing approaches in the food industry have been used to overcome these barriers, but not on foods that are naturally low in moisture or are produced from higher-moisture foods through drying or dehydration processes. The EU-funded EMULSIFOOD (Emulsion design to improve nutritional and organoleptic quality of cereal based food systems) project investigated strategies and systems to help achieve this. Project partners examined encapsulation techniques for food applications. Specifically, they studied the delivery systems based on lipids or biopolymers for bioactive or functional components, and functionality for semi-solid and solid foods. Lipid-based systems or emulsions proved challenging, leading to obstacles such as the limited stability of the emulsions and difficulties surrounding encapsulation of hydrophilic molecules. As a result, focus was then placed on biopolymer-based systems. Researchers studied two different proteins and used them to encapsulate hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecules. They tested protein-based particles and demonstrated their suitability for encapsulating and retaining molecules with very different properties. Further experiments led to the design of protein particles with tailored properties and functionality. The EMULSIFOOD team also looked into the lost functionality of a food product when fat is removed from it. Lastly, some of the encapsulation strategies and systems were tested in model foods or conditions relevant to food processing. By identifying the most optimal approaches, EMULSIFOOD will pave the way for healthier and better quality food products without compromising properties such as taste and smell.
EMULSIFOOD, emulsion, cereal based food systems, encapsulation techniques