Food, Health and Nutrition research

Foods should be safe, optimized for health benefits and enjoyable to prepare and eat. A number of these criteria are conflicting as a food that is totally stable and safe often will not breakdown and deliver sensory responses and flavours when consumed. Thus foods are formulated to be in kinetically trapped states. These products deliver the sensory requirements but are inherently unstable and a challenge to the scientists and engineers involved in new developments and production.

The design of food processes and microstructures is a major research activity in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Birmingham. Within this theme we carry out research to provide underpinning support to the food industry and to drive research forward in the new areas that are demanded by consumers and policy makers e.g. healthy foods that are convenient, safe and still fit into a normal diet or are even seen as indulgent (healthy indulgent) and the design of food processes with zero waste and thus lower environmental impact.

The group at Birmingham is the largest of its type in any UK academic engineering department (currently consisting of 4 members of staff, 4 post doctoral research fellows and 30 PhD and Engineering Doctoral students).

Theme Research Areas

Research Examples


Confocal micrograph of an ice cream showing phase separation of the biopolymers in the matrix phase(image width 160 microns, green is the milk protein and red is the polysaccharide)


Confocal micrograph (image width 80 microns)of low fat mayonnaise showing oil droplets (green) and swollen starch phase (red).

Staff involved in this theme

Academic Research Keywords
Professor Serafim Bakalis  
Professor Mostafa Barigou Foams, emulsions, suspensions, rheology, mixing, computational fluid dynamics
Dr Tom Mills Food formulation, function and performance.
Professor Peter Fryer  
Professor Ian Norton  
Dr Philip Robbins System Modelling, heat and mass transfer, fouling and cleaning
Professor Mark Simmons Safe processing of complex liquid foods
Ms Madeleine Smith  Food safety management, microbial contamination and control, virulence mechanisms, microbial genetics.