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

Food Structure & Nutrition Cluster

Aimhandling samples

To use a food materials science approach to enable the design and formulation of acceptable and healthy food choices that are necessary for reducing diet-related diseases.


Improving the nutritional quality of widely consumed foods is one way of addressing the increasing incidence of chronic diet-related disease. However, to be commercially viable, this needs to be achieved without compromising palatability or safety.

Core research projects at IFR are elucidating how food structures disassemble in the gastro-intestinal tract and deliver macro- and micro-nutrients. Combining these research skills with the practical experience of industrial stakeholders, we will develop practical and viable approaches to deliver nutritionally beneficial, acceptable foods. Target areas will be developed in consultation with members and may include:

  • Targeted release of micronutrient /nutraceuticals
  • Controlling digestibility of protein, carbohydrates and fat
  • Acceptability of functional ingredients
  • Delivery of healthier / balanced nutritional profiles

Who Attends?

This Cluster is of specific benefit to all food companies seeking to improve the nutritional characteristics of their products; and to nutritionists, dieticians and food technologists seeking to expand their knowledge of this rapidly developing area of food research.

IFR Skill Base Underlying the Cluster

IFR has an established track record and an international reputation in nutrition and food materials research. We have multidisciplinary research programmes investigating how food structure influences nutritional quality which encompasses expertise in:

  • Food materials science including biopolymers, proteins and colloids
  • State of the art biophysical techniques for probing food structures
  • Mineral, vitamin, phytochemical and macronutrient nutrition
  • Human studies - design, implementation and ethics
  • The IFR Model Gut to develop cost effective approaches to studying food breakdown and nutrient release
  • Bioavailability - in vitro and in vivo systems and modelling expertise
  • Health indicators of chronic diet-related diseases
  • Consumer science and barriers to healthy food choice decisions

Cluster Activities

  • Regular workshops to consult and inform industry of progress and issues involving the nutritional impact of food structure
  • Development of collaborative approaches to develop novel strategies to design acceptable, healthier foods



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