In our team, we strive to gather scientific knowledge that supports Food Tech (Food×Technology), with the aim of contributing to innovation in the food industry. Our primary research focus is on plant-based foods such as vegetables and fruits. We analyze the chemical and structural information inherent in these materials, providing feedback for the evolution of technology related to post-harvest processing, food processing, and cooking. Additionally, we are engaged in research aimed at enhancing the palatable functionality of alternative proteins.
Quantitative Analysis of Tissue Structure in Agricultural Foods
We target agricultural products and materials derived from them, employing imaging techniques and image analysis to comprehend the characteristics of fine structures. By obtaining changes in tissue structures during storage and processing operations as quantitative parameters, we aim to elucidate the correlation with texture and other physical properties.
Profiling of food composition changes
The components influencing the taste and functionality of food undergo changes during storage and processing, and their balance significantly impacts the overall quality. The rapid advancement of analytical instruments now allows simultaneous analysis and quantification of several hundred components. In our laboratory, we utilize such equipment to profile changes in components, enabling us to investigate optimal conditions for processing operations and other factors.
Measurement Technologies for Understanding Tissue Health
The quality and storability of agricultural products are significantly influenced by the condition of their tissues. Therefore, in the development of processing and storage technologies, as well as quality management, there is a demand for a simple method to assess tissue conditions. In our laboratory, we measure and analyze the resistance values when applying alternating current to agricultural tissues, aiming to understand the correlation with actual changes in tissue conditions.
Preference Function of Alternative Protein Foods
In order to ensure global food security, there is ongoing exploration of new protein sources and their utility assessment. In our research laboratory, we are advancing data collection related to the preference value of such novel foods and conducting evaluations based on scientific insights. For instance, in Japan, there is a growing interest in the utilization of insects as food, but considerations for the accesibility among the general consumer base are not always sufficient, leading to occasional resistance.
About alternative protein sources, developers and producers tend to emphasize nutritional value and the significance in addressing societal challenges. However, our fundamental belief is that a food product should not be recommended unless it is perceived as ‘delicious’ by a large number of people. In our laboratory, we aim to uncover the preference functions of various protein sources and explore the potential for controlling the functions through the proposal of new processing processes.
In addition, we are addressing various challenges related to Food Tech. We are actively engaged in collaborative research with companies. Please feel free to contact us.
Keywords: Agricultural products, freezing, drying, blanching, post-harvest, food processing, edible coatings, starch morphology, atomic force microscopy, impedance, X-ray μCT, edible insects, etc…