Sensory properties, such as texture play a major role in food product quality. Food structure is especially important in baking, in dairy and products. The significance of textural properties has further increased with the trend towards low-fat, low calorie and low additive content products. Traditionally, food structure has been improved by using food ingredients such as emulgators or thickeners (e.g. monoglycerides, gelatine or carbohydrate-based polymers). Especially the use of gelatine is currently regarded negatively by the consumers and attempts to create food processing technologies without the need for it are currently searched. By the use of the enzymes, it will be possible to transform inherently available food components into functional ingredients during food processing and manufacturing. The enzymatic cross-linking can occur via proteins or certain carbohydrates either directly or indirectly. The type of cross-link depends on the type of enzyme used and different covalent linkages may be generated with different enzymes.
Today, despite of the huge potential, only transglutaminases are being used for food structure engineering. There is clearly a need to develop new enzyme-based methods and in-depth understanding of the correlation between cross-linking reactions and food structural and sensory properties. There is also need for novel types of enzyme activities, which would be functional in food processing conditions. Efficient production of these novel cross-linking enzymes in large quantities is also a prerequisite for industrial application development.
Previous research has shown that European consumers are sceptical with regard to the use of GMOs in food production and that this also applies to the use of enzymes which are produced using GMOs, even though no GMO material is present in the final food product. However, the way in which these sceptical attitudes enter the formation of intentions to buy products produced using enzymes produced in different ways, and especially the possible trade-off of a negative attitude towards to the production method with additional sensory benefits, is presently not well-understood, even though preliminary research indicates that such trade-offs play a major role for consumer acceptance of novel food products.
The generic objective of the project is to develop novel enzymatic technologies for structure engineering of foods. The developed enzymatic tools can be exploited in dairy, meat and baking applications for production of novel types of products. The objective is also to assess consumer acceptance of the use of these differently produced enzymatic structure engineering tools in food processing. Scientifically, the challenging objective is to discover novel cross-linking enzymes and to generate knowledge on enzymatic reaction mechanisms on molecular level. In addition, correlation between these molecular changes and macromolecular rheological and functional properties will be generated. The technological objective is to assess the practical applicability of the novel cross-linking enzymes in dairy, bakery and meat processing.
- Development of new enzyme-based cross-linking enzymes and different routes (GMO, non-GMO and plant) for their production;
- Elucidation of reaction mechanisms for cross-linking enzymes;
- Development of improved sensory properties to food by combining novel enzyme technologies to high level food processing science;
- Practical evaluation of the potential of new enzyme-based systems in process applications;
- Evaluation of consumers' attitudes to the novel enzymatic technologies.