Food and Health Network Making Science work for the Food Industry Institute of Food Research

Barriers Cluster


how to monitor chewing
We have techniques to monitor consumer response (in this case chewing) that can be linked to phenomena such as flavour release and the breakdown of food

This Cluster has moved from events to research projects, with submissions to BBSRC Responsive Mode and Defra LINK.

In this Cluster we examined opportunities for development of barrier, encapsulation and targeted-release technology for foods and related products.

The starting point was a generic approach, applicable to species as diverse as water, oxygen, flavour molecules, nutrients, pre- and probiotics. Target functionalities include barriers to water and oxygen migration, preservation of biologically active species and release in response to local conditions, for example, flavour release in the mouth or nutrient release in the small intestine.


Combining the market knowledge and technical capabilities of the Industrial Cluster members with the skills base at IFR should lead to identification of both specific problems/opportunities and innovative solutions. Successful developments could lead to:

carrot tissue
Carrot tissue before (top) and after (bottom) partial digestion showing little absorption of the orange beta-carotene. Samples collected from ileostomy show that plant tissue itself can be a barrier to absorption
  • Limitation of moisture migration in prepared foods
  • Improved delivery of probiotics
  • Protection of labile ingredients during food processing (e.g. Vitamin C)
  • Targeted delivery of flavours

IFR Skill Base Underlying the Cluster

Rheological and Mechanical Properties of Food Materials

Techniques and expertise are available on proteins, polysaccharides and interfacial systems, which are important to the fabrication of barriers, their strength and textural properties.


Structure from molecular to macroscopic can be characterised using optical, electron and scanning probe microscopies.

Molecular Dynamics

Small molecule mobility, particularly water and flavour molecules, can be characterised using classical, NMR and MS-based techniques and predictive models have been developed.

In-vitro Release Characteristics

piece of quiche
Moisture and other components in complex foods can migrate during storage
A Model of digestion in the stomach and small intestine has been developed and validated for lipid-soluble nutrients using human studies. The model is being developed to extend it to other dietary components.

Advanced Analytical Techniques

LC/MS and MS/MS-based techniques and stable-isotope methodologies are available.


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