PICKFOOD – Pickering emulsions for food applications

Kenneth Dahl Knudsen
Seniorforsker I
Geir Helgesen

Enormous food waste worldwide has huge environmental and cost efficiency impact. Chemical deterioration caused by e.g. oxidation of lipids, vitamins and other food constituents are causes of waste. Many foods are emulsions stabilized by surfactants. Apart from providing physical stability to the emulsions, the emulsifier type and the physical structure of the emulsions can affect chemical stability. Conventional surfactants have dominated emulsion science due to their ease of use, relatively low cost and control. However, their future industrial use is under threat, because of formulation foaming problems and the need to reduce volatile organic compounds and carbon footprints. The use of so-called Pickering particles for production of physically stable emulsions may be a solution to these problems and may also improve the oxidative stability of the emulsions.

While the basic principle of stabilizing emulsions with Pickering particles seems simple, stabilization of complex foods is a complicated physical problem far from trivial, and limited information is currently available for food systems. There is also a need to develop new food grade Pickering particles. The commercial applications of Pickering emulsions and foams have for a long time been scarce, but there is an increasing interest from companies to apply Pickering emulsions and foams. Hence, PICKFOOD aims to develop novel Pickering emulsions for Food Applications. The PICKFOOD project will therefore provide a framework and novel methodologies to study and develop Pickering emulsions and to evaluate their applications in safe, healthy and functional foods in collaboration with the food industry. Achieving this goal involves a combination of soft matter physics and food colloid science deepening our physical understanding of emulsion stability and processing, preparation of food-grade Pickering particles as well as characterizing them by highly advanced methods not traditionally used in food science.

The PICKFOOD consortium – where IFE is a member – consists of 12 main institutions and some industrial partners, involving in total 15 younger scientists and senior supervisors. The project assembles a multisectoral team of scientists and provides training within a combination of skills from soft matter physics and food colloid science. Technological and methodological competences to advance the field of Pickering emulsions for food production and associated characterization methods are in focus.

This project is coordinated by NTNU and has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 956248.