Abertay student wins prestigious food science award
An Abertay University student has won the prestigious postgraduate award in the Institute of Food Science & Technology’s Young Scientist Competition.
Konstantina Tsikrika, who is studying for her PhD at Abertay, was selected for the award after presenting on her research into the use of ultrasound on horseradish peroxidase.
The Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) is an independent qualifying body for food professionals based in the UK and was established to apply principles of food science for the benefit, safety and health of the public.
Konstantina’s research fits perfectly with the aims of the Institution, as peroxidase is an enzyme found in fresh fruit and vegetables that is associated with food quality degradation.
The idea that Konstantina presented at the competition was that, if the enzyme can be deactivated using ultrasound, it will make it possible to increase the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables whilst maintaining flavour and quality.
The judges she had to impress were: Ruth Birt, Regulatory Solutions Ltd and Chair of IFSTs Scottish Branch (Head Judge); Archie Gibson, Agrico Ltd and Chair, Scottish Food and Drink Federation; Helen Pratt, Interface Food & Drink.
Konstantina was marked on rationale (i.e. the need for the research); methodology; results and interpretation; application to the food and drink sector; and presentation skills. She scored high marks for all of these, and the judges felt she was the clear winner.
Dr Jon Wilkin, Senior Food Technologist and Lecturer in Abertay University’s Division of Food & Drink, congratulated Konstantina on her award:
“We’re delighted Konstantina won this award for her research into the potential benefits of ultrasound technology to the food manufacturing industry. We are also pleased that this IFST Scotland award recognises the good work that is being done by one of our students which has a practical benefit to the food industry.”
Konstantina herself explains more about her research:
“Ultrasound is an emerging technology and has become of interest to the food industry, since it can be used as an alternative to conventional thermal processes – for example blanching, pasteurization and sterilisation – which have been used traditionally in order to preserve food.
“Their disadvantage is that they use quite high temperatures and as a result they can alter and destroy certain nutrients and bioactive compounds present in food. Considering this disadvantage, and the high demand there is for products to be as fresh as possible, emerging technologies like ultrasound are starting to play an important role in the food industry.
“Here at Abertay, we’ve been using ultrasound to see if it can deactivate peroxidase at lower temperatures than those used in thermal pasteurisation. Horseradish peroxidase is the most common commercial example of this enzyme, so that’s why we’ve been using it in our experiments.
“In the future we want to study the effect of ultrasound on peroxidase in real foods such as fruit and vegetable juices, and to determine how it affects their sensory characteristics – their taste and texture – as well as the content of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and vitamin C.
“I'm very happy to have won this competition. It is a great satisfaction to know that our work is being appreciated particularly by such a distinguished panel of judges!”
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