Challenges in computational modelling of food breakdown and flavour release
A dynamic, three dimensional (3D) computational model that predicts the breakdown of food and the release of tastants and aromas could enhance the understanding of how food is perceived during consumption. This model could also shorten the development process of new foods because many virtual foods could be assessed, and discarded if unsuitable, before any physical prototyping is required. The construction and testing of a complete 3D model of mastication presents many challenges including an accurate representation of: the anatomical movements of the oral cavity (including the teeth, tongue, cheeks and palates), the breakdown behaviour of the food, the interactions between comminuted food and saliva as the bolus is formed, the release and transport of taste and aromas and how these physical and chemical processes are perceived by a person. These challenges are discussed in reference to previous experimental and simulation work and using results of new applications of a coupled biomechanical-smoothed particle hydrodynamics (B-SPH) model. The B-SPH model is demonstrated to simulate several complicated aspects of mastication including: (1) the sensitivity of particle size to changes in the movements of the jaw and tongue; (2) large strain behaviour of food due to softening by heating; (3) interactions between solid and liquid food components; (3) the release of tastants into the saliva; and (4) the transport of tastants to the taste buds. These applications show the possibilities of a model to viably simulate mastication, but highlight the many modelling and experimental challenges that remain.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Food Structures, Digestion and Health International Conference