Novel starch-based emulsifiers to improve the long-term stability of oil/water-based foods

February 07, 2018

The food industry currently faces the challenge to produce foods that are not only nutritious, but also have longer shelf life, good structure and high stability. This article discusses an innovation that produces emulsifiers that act as a functional food ingredient that could benefit food industry.

Starch is the most common carbohydrate in human food intake. It is abundant, cheap, naturally occurring and easily found among our staple foods. Wide applications can be found in industries such as textile, pharmaceuticals, paper making, bioplastic and many more. This study investigated the potential of starch in food processing where it can act as stabilizer or emulsifier to improve the quality of food products.

Stability is the condition when ingredients do not separate individually this prevents collapsed structures. This is especially important for oil/water-based products such as mayonnaise, vinaigrette, margarine etc. No one likes it when mayonnaise has a layer of oil on top of it or when salad dressing separates into the individual components of oil, water and herbs. Oil and water do not mix in naturally that is why an emulsifier is needed.

This research work generated starch-based emulsifiers from micro and nanoparticles that are attributed to long term stability in food emulsion systems, thus improving food structure and shelf life. These starch-based emulsifiers were developed by investigating different techniques including the process of hydrolysis, cold gelatinization, dissolution-precipitation, sedimentation, encapsulation and applying hydrophobic element. Resulting in starch-based emulsifiers that bind the interface of emulsions effectively. These emulsifiers also successfully stabilized ‘Pickering’ emulsions, a system well-known for its superior stability.

Different types of starches such as quinoa, oat, barley, potato and maize were evaluated on the important characteristics of size, shape and structure. By understanding starch characteristics, functions, properties and its potential as stabilizer, this innovative technology could allow the use of starch as a natural ingredient that could possibly replace synthetic and chemically processed stabilizers in the future.

This research was conducted at the Department of Food Technology at Lund University. The full research dissertation can be viewed online here. If you would like more information or would like to discuss this research further please contact Hisfazilah Saari

Each year EFFoST and Cargill present the student of the year award to six students and also give them the opportunity to showcase their research. In this article Hisfazilah Saari who won the 2nd prize for the PhD student of the year discusses her research. Hisfazilah has just recently completed her PhD studies at Lund University, Sweden and is currently looking for a new challenge to start her career in the food industry.


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