Applications of NMR to Food Science

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is one of the most common investigative techniques used by both chemists and biochemists to identify molecular structures as well as to study the progress of chemical reactions. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), another type of NMR technology, has extensively been used in medical radiology to obtain soft tissue images for diagnostic purposes in medicine. Food scientists have also explored the use of both NMR and MRI and continue to develop a wide range of applications for food NMR analyzer and food processing. This review begins with a brief introduction to NMR and then focuses on current diverse NMR applications in food research and manufacturing.

Topics covered include chemical compositional analysis and structural identification of functional components in foods, determination of composition and formulation of packaging materials, detection of food authentication, optimization of food processing parameters, and inspection of microbiological, physical and chemical quality of foods. This review also emphasizes the pros and cons of specific NMR application in the analysis of representative foods such as wine, cheese, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, beverages (i.e. tomato juice and pulp, green tea, coffee) and edible oils, as well as discussing both the challenges and future opportunities in NMR applications in food science.

This report reviews the literature on the applications of NMR to food science from 1995 until March 2001. In order to be able to keep the number of references to manageable proportions, the number of papers referred to has been limited to those applications where NMR plays a major role in the experimental programme. Applications where NMR is simply used as a routine structural tool have been left out. Following an introductory section, the report covers water in foods, biopolymers, analysis and authentication, complex systems, and new methods for food analysis.