In the age of global food distribution, the preservation of healthy ingredients over a longer period of time is one of the major goals in the modern food industry. There are lots of factors influencing the taste, colour and texture of a product such as processing, storage time and conditions, harvest and growth variability, additives and the quality of the raw materials used. Unexpected untimely deterioration can be caused by radical chain reactions inside the product—mainly peroxidation processes directly influencing the shelf life and the sensorial properties of the preparation. Knowledge of the kind of radical reaction happening in a food preparation under given conditions, independent from its composition, may help to overcome rancidity issues and extend shelf life. The careful selection of raw materials then is one major issue for the final quality of the product.
Free radical reactions can be determined directly inside different biological or chemical media as well as in food preparations by Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) Spectroscopy without interference from the chemical and physical properties of the sample. In food and food supplements, it is therefore possible to analyse both raw materials and finished products. On one hand there are ESR-based methods able to determine the antioxidative capacity and reactivity of the sample, which could be a natural or synthetic ingredient, a bioactive, or a food composition. The influence of harvesting, processing or storage parameters can be determined and easily compared to optimise the food regarding its content in antioxidative activity. On the other hand, inducible free radical reactions can be determined in a qualitative and quantitative way, directly in the food or food components. The methods presented here enable the determination of the antioxidative power (AP) of a food preparation or component. The choice of the appropriate raw materials, their processing, and storing can be optimised to obtain a product with a high level of antioxidative performance. The radical potential (RP) of the food preparation or component can be determined, and rancidity reactions, peroxide reactions, and Maillard reactions can be traced. Strategies aimed to protect the food from peroxidation can be easily verified, without the need to wait out for the end of the shelf life or to rely on sensorial observations only. Examples of both methodologies and applications will be seen in the milk, oil, meat, and bakery industry.
Both parameters (AP and RP value) together can lead to a predictive information, allowing the selection of the right raw materials, adding or excluding additives, adapting processing or storage conditions and getting to know the silent reactions of your product to obtain healthier food with an extended shelf life. With the experience of many years in the field of radical research, we can rely on a large database of antioxidants, natural extracts, raw materials, actives and final products. Our expertise as well as the predictability of the methods allow us to optimise production processes and to anticipate possible interaction of ingredients
Dr Jung will be speaking on the Vitafoods Europe 2018 Education Programme on outlining the antioxidant potential of food and food ingredients. To view the full programme and register to attend, click here.