Food Chemistry

Module summary

Module code: FOOD1018
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Richard Fuchs


Pre and co requisites



The quality and safety of foods is to a large extent determined by its chemical composition. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, organic acids, vitamins and alcohols play important roles in food preservation, animal nutrition and food safety. A basic understanding of the nature of these 'building blocks' is essential for food technologists, nutritionists, food chemists and food microbiologists. With this knowledge, strategies for the control of microbial growth in foods, including HACCP, can be more effectively developed. The course will introduce the student to the principle constituents of foods and food commodities and their role in food preservation and spoilage. Students will also develop laboratory skills for the identification and quantification of key chemical components in foods and food commodities using traditional and modern techniques.
This course aims:
• To reflect on the significance of the principle chemical components of food and food commodities;
• To assess and interpret the inter-relationships between chemical constituents with food safety, preservation and spoilage;
• To develop the laboratory skills required for the chemical analysis of foods.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 reflect on the significance, inter-relationships and functions of the main chemical components of foods;
2 critically assess the importance of key food components to food safety, food quality, nutritional content and shelf life;
3 provide explanations on the results obtained from qualitative and quantitative analyses of foods;
4 provide explanations for the strategies used for the preservation and safe production of foods.

Indicative content

• Introduction to the major chemical components of foods including: proteins/enzymes, carbohydrates, lipids, organic acids and alcohols, vitamins and trace elements;
• Role of specific chemical components in the preservation and spoilage of foods and the intrinsic factors of foods affecting microbial growth;
• The detection of undesirable compounds in foods including biogenic amines and biotoxins, e.g. mycotoxins and bacterial toxins;
• The role of organic acids and alcohols in the preservation and nutritional improvement of foods;
• The laboratory analysis of foods for their main chemical constituents including proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates, acids and alcohols by modern and traditional techniques.

Teaching and learning activity

• Lectures on the theoretical component covering the basic subject matter, including study materials;
• Practicals and demonstrations of food analysis;
• Practical demonstrations of instrumental techniques;
• In-depth studies of pre-selected food commodities or food products.

Learning Time (1 credit = 10 hours)

Contact Hours lectures 24
practical sessions 23
tutorials 4
Private Study 63
Assignments: course work and other forms of assessment coursework 30
laboratory work 6


Laboratory Notebook - 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
A laboratory notebook will be kept for all of the practical sessions in which students will record results and show their calculations. Word length - no limit. Learning outcomes 1, 2 & 4.

Practical Report - 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
A full practical report will be prepared for one of the practical sessions. Learning outcomes 1 - 4.

Students are not required to pass all components in order to pass the course.

Formative Assessments (0% weighting):

Quiz - An online quiz addressing topics discussed during the course.
Short practical report - Students will prepare a short report on one of the practical sessions.