Food chemistry research at UCPH FOOD

The research in food chemistry at the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH FOOD) aims to obtain detailed mechanistic knowledge of the chemical reactions that occur in food during processing and storage.

Picture of different foods and scientific devices

Processing of foods are often required in order to obtain long shelf life for increased export to feed the world with a growing population and to reduce food waste by better utilisation of valuable components in food raw materials. Thermal processing of foods (e.g. pasteurization, dehydration) is widely used to postpone microbiological decay and prolong shelf life, but can create a range of chemical and physical modifications of food components, which influence texture, flavour and functionality, and induce potential concomitant effects on nutritional value and human health. Non-thermal processing technologies can be used as minimal preservation methods, and will affect the food components differently than heat processing. Moreover, these technologies can be utilized to positively modulate the structure and functionality of biomolecules. The research in food chemistry conducted at Department of Food Science contributes to achieve detailed mechanistic knowledge about the chemical reactions occurring in foods during processing and storage.

Strategic research fields






Proteins are highly susceptible to chemical modifications during processing and storage, e.g. by oxidation, Maillard reactions (i.e. protein glycation), and by reactions with phenolic compounds. Proteins are key nutrients and it is critically important that the proteins in our diet are of high nutritional quality and are not damaged during processing and storage. Our research vision is to enhance food quality by understanding complex chemical interactions between food components in sustainable food production, and to implement this knowledge in rational and healthy food design. The Food Proteins Group focuses on cross-disciplinary research in food science and utilizes advanced analytical chemistry and biochemistry techniques to understand and improve shelf-life stability, sensory quality (taste) and health effects of foods. We address the fundamental challenge of understanding chemical interactions between food components during production and storage, and implement this knowledge in rational, sustainable and healthy food design. Of special interest is the inhibition and control of protein modifications, which cause deterioration of food quality and induce risk of inflammatory and immunogenic responses. This includes protein modifications induced by processing conditions such as thermal treatments and light exposure and the presence of oxidants (i.e protein oxidation), reducing sugars (Maillard reactions/protein glycation), polyphenols, and enzymes (endogenous and exogenous). We investigate how these modifications influence taste, color, molecular functionality, accumulation of damaged materials, and decrease in nutritional value. We aim to enhance food quality by developing strategies to control these chemical reactions during production and storage without inducing negative effects on human health. Two research approaches are explored:

  1. Development of new gentle biotechnologies to reduce or avoid those modifications of proteins that are responsible for food quality deterioration and improve protein functionality.

  2. Understanding chemical mechanisms for protein modifications that allows for specific and tailored solutions to prevent or control protein modifications.

The group’s shared affiliation between KU-SCIENCE and KU-SUND secures close interactions with cross-disciplinary expert scientists in the fields of food and biomedical sciences and facilitates activities related to understanding of how food quality impacts general health and disease progression in humans.

Contact: Professor Marianne Nissen Lund


























































The research project: SEEDFOOD

Most of the rapeseed grown in Europe is used for industrial oil production and animal feed. The SEEDFOOD project aims to change this by creating new fundamental knowledge, so the proteins instead can be applied in new food types for human consumption. Read more about SEEDFOOD.