Scanning Electron and Transmission Electron Microscopies in Food Analysis

Authored by: José M. Aguilera , Pedro Bouchon

Handbook of Food Analysis Instruments

Print publication date:  September  2008
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781420045666
eBook ISBN: 9781420045673
Adobe ISBN:


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Food technology may be defined as a controlled attempt to preserve, transform, create, or destroy a structure that has been imparted by nature or processing. In order to achieve this complex goal, it is required to understand the materials (building blocks) and ingredients used in their manufacture [1]. In a first attempt, understanding is acquired through empiricism, along with visual inspection coupled with traditional physical probing. However, unaided visual inspection is only adequate when examining gross structural information; observation of fine arrangements requires microscopic assistance. This is because most structural elements that contribute to food identity and quality are below the 100 ?m range. Among them we find plant cells and cell walls, meat fibers, starch granules, protein bodies, food polymer and fat crystal networks, membranes and interfaces, crystals, oil droplets, emulsions, gas bubbles, and particles of colloidal nature. As a consequence, the relevant scale at which most important transformations occur during processing is beyond the resolution of the naked eye (e.g., ice crystal growth during freezing, starch swelling, internal cracks developed during drying, etc.). Improvements on the quality of existing foods and creation of new products to satisfy growing and demanding consumer’s needs are largely based on interventions at the microscopic level. This product-driven process engineering era, as coined by Aguilera [2], requires building the right (micro)structures and therefore, understanding the functionality of the structural elements prior to and after processing. To do so, integration of basic science, novel laboratory techniques and new approaches, such as advance microstructural analysis, are of paramount importance.

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