Simply put, food science matters because food matters. How can we keep food fresh and nutritious for thousands of miles? How can we make sure food tastes the way it’s supposed to? How can we make good ingredients even better? These are the kinds of questions scientists ask to keep our world going.
Sound food science and safe food ingredients developed by expert food chemists and food biologists have been making healthy, nutritious foods available to people everywhere for decades. Without food science, thousands and thousands of the products you find in an everyday grocery store simply would not exist.
Food science allows your bread to be both crunchy and fluffy, your yogurt to stay creamy and intact, and your pudding to be low-fat without sacrificing that indulgent texture. Without it, a majority of the foods that look so delicious would appear discolored and bland. Your almond milks and ice creams would separate. And the nutrients in your infant formula or protein drink wouldn’t be uniformly delivered in each sip. Only food science can address these challenges. Stirring and shaking your food when you eat isn’t a practical way to deliver a food experience.
An emulsifier is a protein or phospholipid that lets oils and fats mix with their counterpart – water. Emulsifiers, like lecithin derived from soybeans, affect the structure and texture of foods and keep them looking, feeling and tasting like they’re supposed to. When an emulsifier is added to a food that contains both an oil and water, the emulsifier’s hydrophilic (water-loving) side bonds with water and the hydrophobic (oil-loving) end bonds with the oil to form a smooth, homogenous (uniform) substance.
Without an emulsifier, the oils/fats and water in foods like mayonnaise, ice cream, chocolate, margarine and some salad dressings would separate and leave you with a product that is unappealing and useless. Separated ingredients spoil much more quickly.
Much like emulsifiers, texturizers and stabilizers provide foods with stability, texture and consistency. Carrageenan stabilizes the emulsions once formed. It also contributes to the texturizing and stabilization of foods and beverages. Texturizers like microcrystalline cellulose, an ingredient derived from wood pulp, are used to improve texture and stability in food, which help them maintain their structure while providing a creamy feeling in the mouth.