Milda Embuscado, Ph.D.

Material Characterization: an important component of food product development.

Food powder is one of the most popular formats of food products due to its stability, application, ease of handling and transport. To be able to formulate an acceptable and stable food powder product, a number of material properties must be known and understood.  Each raw material that is incorporated into a food powder undergoes rigorous testing especially the new ingredients that will be used in a formulation for the first time. For example, for many food powders, moisture content and water activity are critical properties and the presence of additional moisture can change and compromise product performance as well as mixing and handling behavior. Food powders such as sugar, salt, whey, flour, starch, spices and herbs and gravy mixes can all change due to uptake of moisture from a free-flowing powder to a caked, lumpy solid mass that does not flow at all. Thus, material characterization is one of the important components of food product development. Food material science embodies material properties such as particle size distribution, particle size, shape and topography, crystalline or amorphous properties, melting and glass transition, moisture content, water activity, water or oil sorption properties, densities among others in addition to chemical properties.  This presentation will discuss the pragmatic approach to food material characterization, the different factors that influence flow behavior and the impact of these changes in powder properties and their effect on processes such as mixing, filling, compression, powder application (e.g. adhesion), product acceptability and shelf life.

Milda Embuscado is currently a Distinguished Scientist at the Materials and Process Technology, Corporate R&D, McCormick & Company, Inc. in Hunt Valley Maryland.  She is an accomplished food scientist and a recognized leader in hydrocolloid and starch chemistry. She introduced structure-function relationship in ingredient technology, flavor encapsulation, and powder science and technology to better understand ingredients, products, and processes, the underlying causes of product and process failures, and how to resolve them. Embuscado is the recipient of several research awards, including the 2016 Outstanding Food Science Award from the Department of Food Science, Purdue University, for recognition of her outstanding career in the food industry.  She received her Ph.D. degree from the Department of Food Science, Purdue University in 1991.  She has published three books and more than 40 book chapters and scientific papers and was invited as a guest speaker or lecturer in several international symposia and forums. She is an active member of IFT, ACS, AACC and AOAC and has served as chairperson of the IFT Carbohydrate and Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods Divisions.  She is a recipient of several IFT Outstanding Service and Volunteer awards. She has also served as a member of various IFT committees and the Annual Meeting Scientific Program Advisory Panel, Food Chemistry Track. In 2019, Embuscado was elected an IFT Fellow.