EXPLORING NEW POSSIBILITIES
Luuk Zegers studied Food Technology at VHL University of Applied Sciences. His grad-year work placement was at Vaessen-Schoemaker B.V., a company that develops and produces functional ingredients for bakeries and meat products businesses.
‘A classic example of a functional ingredient is a thickening agent. Half of this product consists of sugar and the other half is starch. It’s a simple example and anybody who has a mixer can make it, which is why it is important to stand out as a company. You can either stand out by being very cheap or by offering more quality than your competitors.’
‘Another important aspect is the “interactive factor” – how do various components interact? We all know that starch thickens water, or that by whipping air into cream (what’s in a name?) you can make whipped cream. But there are very few people who know how that works and how you can influence these processes.’
A juicy piece of meat
‘The project I worked on involved improving the water retention capacity of meat. People who eat meat want their meat to be tender and juicy. When you cook meat it quickly becomes leathery and dry. The question I had to ask myself was: how do I keep the water inside the meat? For instance, you can inject some water into the meat.’
‘This research has been done before, but there are always new possibilities to explore. During the research project you have to deal with chemistry, physics, ethics, law, economy, marketing and food safety. As a student (and also on the job) you learn to understand all these aspects and put them into practice.’