Micro-level food innovations

Maud Langton is a professor at the Department of Molecular Sciences at SLU in Uppsala. The microscope is her work tool and the challenge – to find new foods. This will be achieved through new knowledge about the significance of microstructures for new foods and important partnerships with entrepreneurs and industry.

Working with food innovations is more relevant than ever. Maud Langton’s work is about food innovations at the micro-level. Curiosity is her driving force and what led her to change course, leave the more explored area of physics and work in the less explored area of food.

The protein shift requires new foods

– Food is infinitely exciting. There are so many combinations and variations. We are facing a protein shift that involves a shift towards more vegetarian foods and less meat. We’re not going to stop eating meat. I don’t think so, but we need to eat a more mixed diet. Our research is about using microscopy to learn more about how different food microstructures look and their importance for the texture and structure of a food or biomaterial, says Maud Langton, professor at the Department of Molecular Sciences; Food structures and properties in Uppsala.

Microstructures are the key to taste and texture

With increased knowledge of the importance of microstructures for taste and texture, the hope is to find new foods. For Maud and her team, it is about, among other things, trying to control the various properties and create new foods. Among other things, it is about finding the right texture. It must also be possible to store the food and it is also important that the entire raw ingredient is utilised with as little waste in the entire production as possible.

But what kind of new foods are these and what are the new protein-rich ingredients you hope for?

– We work widely. Both in building completely new materials and seeing how, for example, beans that are currently used as animal feed can be developed so they can also be used as human food. We also look at biomaterials and other high-quality materials that can be developed into new foods. The method of extracting protein from different protein sources that we work with is similar but the optimisation part looks different. It’s an endlessly exciting job. The scientist in me is inspired!

The development work benefits from strong collaborations

For Maud, it goes without saying that as a researcher you contribute basic knowledge, seek collaborations with entrepreneurs and other researchers, and participate in joint projects with industry.

– Our development work benefits from strong collaborations. It is important to take the research further and contribute to making it useful in society. We have several ongoing collaborations with industry where we can contribute with knowledge of how new raw materials can be used in a new way. As researchers, we can also contribute up-to-date underlying research that provides the facts needed to achieve results faster.

New contacts and ideas at Campus Ultuna

For Maud there are also several interesting partners close by within Campus Ultuna.

– Yes that’s true. We are currently working with Green Innovation Park (GIP). We would like to come back and tell you more about this collaboration at a later date, but this collaboration with GIP has clearly given us new contacts and exciting new ideas, says Maud Langton.

Several projects that Maud has worked on have also seen their development work benefit from collaboration with SLU Holding. The company Tebrito is just one example of this. The basis for the company is a publication on mealworms as a source of protein and how it can be extracted and used in food.

Finally – two tips from Maud Langton when it comes to food

– I don’t want to give any advice as to what food is served at tables, but whatever you choose to come up with, my tip is to think a little like Grandma always did. Think about how much food you are cooking and plan how to take care of everything.

Read more about Maud Langton and her exciting research.

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