Adding flavorings to high protein foods/beverages will lead to interactions generally reducing overall product acceptance and also the shelf life of the product. Therefore, it is pertinent to understand the protein-flavor interactions to formulate consumer acceptable products. It is generally accepted that the interactions are multifaceted. There has been a lot of research over four decades studying the non-covalent interactions like hydrophobic, hydrophilic interactions between flavor compounds and various proteins but very little work has been done on covalent bonding. This research aims to determine the covalent bonds that are formed between the side chains of food proteins, plant and dairy based, and aroma compounds. The initial approach is to isolate pure peptides that vary in amino acid composition. The reactions is expected to be quite broad considering the diversity of flavorings and the numerous functional groups (side chains) inherent to protein structure. The product that is expected to form is via the Schiff base formation or Michael addition between proteins (e.g. primarily with free amine groups) and flavorings containing carbonyl groups. These reactions will be studied along with the numerous reactions that can occur with the sulfur, acid and alcohol protein side chains. The extent and rate of these chemical reactions will be monitored by MALDI-TOF MS. Then the study hopes to understand the interactions of different flavor molecules under different conditions as the type and rate of interaction vary with functional groups present, protein structure, amino acid composition of the protein, pH, water activity, storage temperature and food composition.
Vaidhyanathan is currently pursuing his doctorate in Food Science and Technology under Dr. Gary Reineccius at the University of Minnesota. His research topic is “Protein and its interaction with flavors”. His another project is on encapsulation of orange oil by spray drying in different carrier systems to find the optimum conditions at which the flavor will be maximum preserved.