The food research group said that it has recently formed a partnership with Binder GmbH, a producer of climatic chambers for environmental simulation, to strengthen and extend shelf-life and to offer accelerated shelf-life testing services to manufacturers.
“Manufacturers rely on good methodology to accurately estimate the shelf life of food products and ensure safety,” says Persis Subramaniam, project manger at LFI.
The ability to measure shelf life accurately is essential for all food manufacturers in order to ensure both the safety and quality of their food products. In addition to microbiological spoilage, chemical and enzymatic activity can cause lipid breakdown as well as colour, odour, flavour and texture changes to foods.
Subramaniam explained that LFI’s new constant climate chambers from Binder enable clients to conduct accelerated shelf-life tests, storing products in a controlled environment that mimics the temperature, humidity and light conditions experienced during a product’s lifecycle.
He said that LFI’s team can also help manufacturers to reformulate products to extend shelf life, troubleshoot with relation to structural breakdown of foods, as well as assessing any microstructural, texture, colour and rheology changes during storage.
The group’s sensory team, he added, can conduct sensory profiling to give clients a complete description of product quality characteristics and the way in which they change during storage.
Meanwhile, projects evaluating the spoilage patterns of foods, the use of natural antimicrobials, and the effect of processing treatments on allergen detection methods constitute a significant part of new research at LFI, says the group
LFI said the projects that constitute its Forum Research Programme for 2009 will be more substantial and longer in duration than in previous years and will reflect current and emerging issues for the food and drink industry, food safety in particular.
The research group said one of its planned studies will analyse natural antimicrobials and the role quorum sensing (cell-to-cell communication between bacteria) plays in food spoilage and preservation.
It said that levels of N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) in foods could explain the shelf life of certain products as they act as natural antimicrobials, and further quorum sensing (QS) by AHLs or furanones can be simulated or negated by certain food characteristics or ingredients.
This project, claims LFI, aims to establish the role of QS in the spoilage of different foods, measuring the levels of AHLs and furanones during storage, and simulating or negating QS by manipulating food characteristics or certain additives.