Photonics can improve food safety of fried foods
In recent months, several warnings have been published about the potential risk of fried food for the health of millions of consumers. “Deep fried foods produce acrylamide,” said Lien Smeesters, post-doctoral researcher, B-PHOT Brussels Photonics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Acrylamide has been found to increase the risk of several types of cancer when given to lab animals (rats and mice) in their drinking water. The doses of acrylamide given in these studies have been as much as 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the levels people might be exposed to in foods. It’s not clear if these results would apply to people as well, but in general it makes sense to limit human exposure to substances that cause cancer in animals.
Acrylamide doesn’t appear to be in raw foods themselves. It’s formed when certain starchy foods, such as potato products, grain products, or coffee, are cooked at high temperatures (above about 120°C). Cooking at high temperatures causes a chemical reaction between certain sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) in the food, which forms acrylamide. Cooking methods such as frying, baking, broiling, or roasting are more likely to create acrylamide, while boiling, steaming, and microwaving appear less likely to do so. Longer cooking times and cooking at higher temperatures can increase the amount of acrylamide in foods further. Continue reading “Photonics can improve food safety of fried foods”
Light technology improving food safety – Presented by Lien Smeesters, B-PHOT Brussels Photonics – Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) at the Healthy Nutrition Conference which takes place on June 29, 2017, at Villa Flora, Venlo, The Netherlands.
Food safety and quality has become increasingly important in our society. Agriculture industries can benefit from photonics technologies to reduce the presence of contaminants in the food chain, protect personal health and limit food waste. We developed real-time, accurate and non-destructive sensing technologies that are indispensable for the detection of carcinogens in food. As an example, we illustrate the use of optical spectroscopy to monitor the acrylamide formation in potatoes, enabling the exclusion of potatoes unsuited for French fries production. Finally, we demonstrate the integration of optical sensing technologies into laser-based scanning systems, paving the way to an industrial implementation.
About Lien Smeesters
Lien Smeesters is a post-doctoral researcher at the B-PHOT Brussels Photonics Team, at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her main research is situated in the field of optical spectroscopy, and the use of optical sensing techniques for the detection of carcinogens. She is actively involved in applied-oriented research projects in collaboration with industry. Continue reading “Light technology improving food safety – Presented by Lien Smeesters, B-PHOT Brussels Photonics – VUB”
Sensor solution chips could help to prevent toxic substances entering the food chain.
Earlier this year the Food Standards Agency launched a campaign called “Go for Gold”, designed to alert consumers to the dangers of a carcinogenic substance called acrylamide. This can be formed when starchy foods such as potatoes and bread are cooked at high temperatures.
Now a new technique, developed by Lien Smeesters, a researcher in the B-PHOT Brussels Photonics Team at the University of Brussels, alongside Tomra Sorting Solutions, has been designed to spot potatoes that will go on to form high levels of acrylamide, before they are cooked.
A similar sensor can also detect other carcinogenic contaminants – mycotoxins – which can be found in food stuffs including cereals, nuts and dried fruits.
Existing chemical analysis techniques used to spot harmful substances are typically slow and destructive, meaning the product cannot be used once it has been tested. Continue reading “Sensor solution chips could help to prevent toxic substances entering the food chain”