Lab Cat

12 Jun 2006

Food Chemistry

Filed under: Chemistry, Food, Food Science or Molecular Gastronomy, Science — Cat @ 2:13 pm

Scienceblogs, which is run by The Seed Media Group, grew last week. In fact it doubled in size and now has 42 blogs on various topics. Which great, more power to science bloggers I say. But where are the chemistry bloggers?

There is Useful Chemistry and The Disgruntled Chemist. Does any one know of any others? As for food chemists blogging! I seem to be the only one. Some of the food bloggers use chemistry but they aren’t chemists who study food. This is when I realise that I haven’t promoted the chemistry side of what I do and while I’ve discussed food science and food chemistry issues, I have yet to do an introduction to food chemistry.

This is about to be rectified!

So what is food chemistry?

Obviously, I hope, it is the application of chemistry to food. Food chemistry includes not only food analysis to find out what is in the food, but also about how and why food changes during processing and storage, how different ingredients interact, how changes in pH and chemical make-up can be used to preserve food and prevent micro-organisms from growing or in the case of bread, cheese, beer or wine encourage the right organisims to grow. Food chemistry is how we know that we can take tasteless raw materials (flour, water, yeast) and convert them into edible and desirable food (bread). Food chemists consider the reactions that take place to form colors and flavors both desirable and undesirable. They are also concerned about the reactions that cause the loss of nutrients; some of these reactions are the same!

Food chemists study how raw materials change after harvesting; what changes take place to convert animals to meat, why do fruit and vegetables continue to ripen after being picked. To quote from ACS

Food chemistry is the study of the chemistry of foods, their deterioration, and the principles underlying the improvement of foods for the consuming public. It is the application of chemistry to the development, processing, packaging, preservation, storage, and distribution of foods and beverages for the purposes of obtaining a safe, economical, and aesthetically pleasing supply of food for people worldwide.


Food chemists develop and improve foods and beverages; analyze methods of cooking, canning, freezing, and packaging; and study the effect of processing on their appearance, taste, aroma, freshness, and vitamin content of the food. They also test samples to make sure foods and beverages meet food laws and experiment with new foods, additives, and preservatives. Food chemistry encompasses activities from agricultural raw materials to consumer end-use products.

One of the most important aspects of food chemistry, in my opinion, is understanding what is necessary to improve or maintain food quality. This include safety, flavor, appearance, texture and nutritional quality.

I study the physical changes that occur during both processing and storage. I am particularly interested in browning reactions that occur during baking, frying, roasting, toasting etc. I actually study this reaction in simple model systems as in a whole food there are too many reactions taking place simultaneously. My long-term (even life-time) goal is to develop a computer model based on a mathematical model of the chemical changes so that we/food processers can predict what the color/flavor/texture would be given known ingredients and processing conditions. At the moment I haven’t even got this for my simple model system!



  1. […] Food Chemistry – Introduction to the chemistry of food. I have an earlier post on what I think Food Chemistry is all about: here […]

    Pingback by The Scientific Method « Lab Cat — 31 Aug 2006 @ 2:09 pm

    • Rare to find a sense of humour….thats hot. Now i want some real info regarding olive oil, well spiced oil and it molecular change and preservative capabilities. Can you help? Sense of taste required.

      Comment by Stephen van Blommestein — 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:32 pm

      • You need to find some one who is specialist in oil stability. Try contacting the AOCS.

        Comment by Cat — 6 Oct 2009 @ 9:47 am

  2. i am ten years old and i am studing micro-organisims

    Comment by aya — 15 Sep 2006 @ 10:01 am

  3. hi
    i do research in food chemistry

    Comment by avan — 2 Jul 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  4. hi i am a BS Food Technology Graduate,and I am doing some research in Food Chemistry to broaden my knowledge.

    Comment by Bianca — 25 Jul 2007 @ 10:16 pm

  5. Hello Lab Cat,
    Are you still out there? I trying to locate a food chemist to help me develop a new food product.
    I am not a company, yet. I live in Florida with my two cats and my lab is my kitchen. (The cook is not responsible for fur in the food.) If you are interested, please reply.

    Comment by Ken Bontempo — 24 Sep 2007 @ 1:35 pm

  6. Hi– you’re the only food chemist that I’ve found on line…sad huh? I’m trying to find a testing kitchen or food chemist in the northeast. I want to develop a new food product. Have any ideas or associates in my area? I’m in Connecticut. Thanks, Carole

    Comment by carole reichhelm — 2 Oct 2007 @ 5:50 pm

  7. My daughter is doing a Science research project on Food and Flavor Chemistry. She is in the 8th grade. Part of her assignment is to either: 1) Job-shadow someone in the industry/field; 2) Interview someone; or 3) Write a fictional story about the industry. I am not aware of any flavorists in our area and feel that a job-shadowing experience is not feasible, we hope to find someone that she could interview—by e-mail or telephone. A person-to-person interview would be best. But, we will have to settle for whatever we can.

    These would be very simple questions, such as: What is a typical day like? ; What is your education/training?; Can anyone learn to identify tastes? ; Would you recommend this career to young people? ; How many people enter your field each year? etc.

    I am sure these questions can be answered through a simple internet search, but I think the point of the assignment is to put the children in contact with a real person. Also, the conversation could lead to other interesting side points to encourage the child to do well in science. I hope that you might be able to help us. If you could refer us to someone who would be willing to help—name, e-mail, or phone number, we would be most grateful.

    Comment by Teresa — 10 Oct 2007 @ 11:19 am

  8. Teresa

    Thank you for your comment. I recommend that you contact the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) as they have a list of professional who would be happy to talk to your daughter.

    The web address for IFT is and the phone numbers are:
    312.782.8424 or Toll Free: 800.438.3663

    Carole and Ken

    You should contact your local extension agent. They will be located in the Ag School of your State University and probably in each county.

    Comment by Cat — 11 Oct 2007 @ 11:09 am

  9. Thank you, Cat!

    Comment by Teresa — 17 Oct 2007 @ 10:10 pm

  10. Hi! I am a student doing a research which somebody said belongs to food chemistry. I’m going to determine the effects of a certain chemical/substance on the amount/percentage of a vitamin/nutrient found in a fruit. (For EXAMPLE, I’ll found out the effects of a certain seaweed extract on the Sugar Content found in banana fruits of a certain variety…)

    I’d like to ask you for your professional help if you have the step-by-step methods in determining the vitamin/nutrient content in a certain fruit. I’m from Philippines so I can’t possibly reach you there. And can you recommend some institutions here in the Philippines (if you know some) which can be helpful in my study?

    Thank You very much. Your response will be greatly appreciated. =)
    (other users who want to share some things that might be helpful may e-mail me at

    Comment by Joanna Remaneses — 4 Nov 2007 @ 2:00 am


    BRAINBOX ENTERTAINMENT is seeking individuals who are passionate about the science of food for a new reality series. We’re looking for nutritionists, chefs, chemists and anyone with an extensive knowledge of food.

    We are seeking males and females who are BIG characters and
    comfortable in front of a camera. You must be smart, fun, curious, and willing to get your hands dirty. Most importantly, you MUST be knowledgeable about food and how things work. Sexy geek? Genius chef? Then we want you!

    If you fit this description, send us your tape!

    To audition:

    Send us an email introducing yourself and why you and your skill set would be great for this series. PLEASE INCLUDE A PHOTO, VIDEO CLIP, OR LINK TO VIDEO OF YOURSELF ON THE INTERNET.
    If you do not have a professional camera, you can use a web cam, video function on a digital camera, or even your cell phone! If you are the right person, we need to see you!

    Please send the above information to and include NUTRITIONIST -YOUR NAME in the subject line.

    If you must send a submission via snail mail, please send to:
    Food Series
    BrainBox Talent, LLC
    8113 Fenton Street
    Silver Spring, MD 20910

    Non Union

    Comment by Genevieve — 7 Dec 2007 @ 2:05 pm

  12. Hello,
    I’m a Senior Undergraduate about to obtain my B.S. in Biochemistry in the next few months. I would love to have a career in the food sciences. Do you have any suggestions on the best companies to interview with for a job?? Since you’ve had first-hand experience in the field, I figured you would be a good insider to ask!!

    Comment by Jeanne — 18 Jan 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  13. Chemistry Help for College Students…

    Determine the oxidation numbers of elements in their combined or uncombined states….

    Trackback by Chemistry Help for College Students — 14 May 2008 @ 1:04 am

  14. Food Chemistry is not something I would normally read about..but you made it so interesting.

    Comment by Michelle — 20 Jul 2008 @ 12:09 am

  15. what are the importance of food chmemist in industry

    Comment by brendan — 8 Oct 2008 @ 12:41 pm

  16. Interesting article

    Comment by stamppot — 19 Oct 2008 @ 6:10 pm

  17. Hello! i enjoyed your article and I have a question for you how do i avoid sulfates in foods. I have an intolerance to the product. any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Comment by Jen — 13 Jul 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  18. Hello! Chemistry was my favorite subject in high school but we parted ways in college. Now i need food chemistry to help me with an ambitious (though yet unfunded) project.I am researching on raw materials and founding the NGO Food of the Future Practical Research and Development Institute..can you possibly join me thru the internet? Pls write (me) about the chemical attributes with individual significance (e.g. preserving quality) of honey from Philippine bees & dark molasses from sugarcane. I’ll watch out for that. Thsnk you so much!

    Comment by debbie enarle — 10 Aug 2009 @ 11:12 pm

  19. Can someone please tell me where I can send a sample of food that I would like to get exact Ingredients????

    Comment by Rusty — 3 Apr 2010 @ 6:20 pm

  20. Hi I just stumbled across you. My 8th grade daughter wants to do a science fair project to determine if microwaving food destroys the nutrients in food. Her problem is that she cannot find any test for nutrients except for vitamin C can you offer any help?
    Thank You.

    Comment by Fatimah Abdus Samad — 4 Oct 2010 @ 11:04 am

  21. hi,I would please like to have some information about how to set up a food chemistry laboratory

    Comment by pearl — 5 Oct 2010 @ 7:08 am

  22. After reading your blog, I have came and know about food chemistry.
    Food Chemistry publishes original research papers dealing with the chemistry and biochemistry of foods and raw materials covering the entire food chain from `farm to fork.’ Topics include: – Chemistry relating to major and minor components of food, their nutritional, physiological, sensory, flavour and microbiological aspects;– Bioactive .A special issue of Food Chemistry, “Advances in Potato Chemistry, Nutrition and Technology”, is in preparation, which aims to provide updated and new knowledge on the chemistry, nutrition and technology of potato and its products, and which is intended to shape the future direction of research for this important food source.

    Green Coffee Australia

    Comment by Green Coffee Australia — 16 Oct 2010 @ 4:16 am

  23. My 8th grade daughter is doing a science experiment to find out the affects of using a microwave oven on nutrients in food. The only problem is that she needs a relatively esay way to measure the vitamin content of food. All she has been able to find is a test for vitamin C. We’d be very thankful for any help.

    Comment by Fatimah Abdus Samad — 12 Nov 2010 @ 7:32 am

  24. Food chemistry is something i find so intresting

    Comment by David okechukwu — 8 Sep 2012 @ 6:45 pm

  25. […] Acids by Cat at Lab Cat Acids and Bases by Cat at Lab Cat What is Food Science? by Cat at Lab Cat Food Chemistry by Cat at Lab Cat Elements by Janet Stemwedel at Adventures in Ethics and Science Polar and […]

    Pingback by NOTES B « Tsjok's blog — 29 Sep 2012 @ 6:48 pm

  26. […] Cat at Lab Cat  Acids and Bases by Cat at Lab Cat  What is Food Science? by Cat at Lab Cat  Food Chemistry by Cat at Lab Cat  Elements by Janet Stemwedel at Adventures in Ethics and Science  Polar and […]

    Pingback by analytische scheikunde « Tsjok's blog — 16 Oct 2012 @ 3:26 pm

  27. […] Food Chemistry by Cat at Lab Cat […]

    Pingback by Basic Concepts: Physics and Astronomy, Geology, and Chemistry – Evolving Thoughts — 13 Sep 2017 @ 5:04 am

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