The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) demonstrated its three dimensional (3D) mastication modelling in Melbourne, Australia on April 15, 2014.
The modeling is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well as how to incorporate more fiber and nutrients, and even how to create new food sensations.
CSIRO biomechanical engineer and computer modeller, Dr Simon Harrison, said the 3D dynamic virtual mouth can provide detailed insight for developing healthier foods.
He has modelled a caramel filled Easter Egg to see what happens when the virtual mouth takes a bite.
“In polite company, we can’t see inside someone’s mouth while they’re eating and, until now, it has not been possible to view how the chewing process alters food,” said Dr Harrison.
“Using a technique called smooth particle hydrodynamics, we’ve developed a virtual mouth built on real data about the physics of chewing. It predicts how a particular food breaks down and how flavor is released in the mouth.”
“It also shows the distribution and interaction of components such as salt, sugar and fat.”
“Through this technology, we can view and analyse how food at the microscopic level works in the mouth, and how it influences our taste perception.”
Creating healthier, tasty food
This new data and understanding is helping to develop foods lower in salt, sugar and fat without changing the taste.
Food materials scientist, Dr Leif Lundin, believes the benefits for the food industry could be enormous.
“This technology will give food and ingredient manufacturers the ability not only to model the breakdown of a complex food product, but also the individual components,” he said.
“It can also model the costs of making changes to a product, and then calculate the cost benefit. This will save time and money, compared to using the traditional ‘cook and look’ approach.
“Our research should also help create new taste sensations that could find their way into new products on our supermarket shelves.”