The chemistry of food


Jan Velíšek
Wiley
2014 | 1113pp | £60
ISBN 9781118383810
Reviewed by Michael Gordon

Everybody is very familiar with the properties of food such as its flavour, smell, colour, texture and flow properties. We also have practical experience of domestic processing of foods and the changes in properties when we mix foods together or expose them to heat during cooking.

The subject of food chemistry allows us to understand and explain these properties and reactions and allows food scientists to predict effects of changes in formulation or processing conditions on the properties of foods. It is a key component of undergraduate programmes in food science.

This book is an ambitious attempt to cover the whole of food chemistry. It includes descriptions of the structures, properties and reactions of bulk food components – namely proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and water – and a very wide range of minor components including compounds contributing to taste, colour, nutritional value or toxic effects. The properties of food dispersions are also discussed.

Much useful information is included, and the breadth of the coverage is admirable. The book is accompanied by a website that includes copies of figures, tables and formulae in powerpoint or pdf format.

This book was originally written in Czech, but regrettably the English version contains too many stilted expressions and errors of grammar or fact. The terms employed are in some cases not widely used, and preferred alternatives are available. Thus, I would prefer the terms ‘simple lipids’ and ‘complex lipids’ to ‘homolipids’ and ‘heterolipids’. Amino acids are described as ‘amino group substituted carboxylic acids’ and there are many other examples of such inelegant expression. The statement that ‘with the exception of some vitamins that humans cannot synthesise, these accessory nutrients must be obtained from foods’ is one of too many that appear to have lost their proper meaning in the translation. The language used prevents me from recommending the book as a standard text for students.

Purchase The Chemistry of Food from Amazon.co.uk


Related Content

Chemistry World podcast - January 2013

7 January 2013 Podcast | Monthly

news image

David MacMillan talks building design, John Rogers discusses nanofabrication and the team cover the latest news

Chemistry World podcast - June 2013

3 June 2013 Podcast | Monthly

news image

We discover 300 years of chemistry in Edinburgh with Eleanor Campbell, and explore the secrets of the main group elements

Most Read

UC Davis chemist sentenced to four years over explosion

19 November 2014 News and Analysis

news image

Postdoc sentenced over attempt to make explosive device and reckless disposal of hazardous waste

Spanish fly

10 October 2013 Podcast | Compounds

news image

Helen Scales looks at cantharidin, the active ingredient in this famous aphrodisiac

Most Commented

Beetle behind breath test for bank notes

17 November 2014 Research

news image

Photonic crystal inks inspired by longhorn beetle could help to fight counterfeiting

Bayer wins race to buy Merck & Co consumer care

9 May 2014 Business

news image

$14bn deal will make Aspirin inventor the number two over-the-counter healthcare company