Module code: MHUM012

Module Overview

This module covers a variety of important components in foods that arise from the chemical and biochemical transformations which occur during the processing, storage and preparation of foods. It builds on previous knowledge in food science in terms of enhancing the understanding of the complex reactions that occur in foods. This will be done by examining the published research that has occurred in the field. The emphasis is focused on understanding how the compounds are formed, the levels present and their role in food safety and acceptability.

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

BROWN Jonathan (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Some of the module content will be co-taught with the undergraduates taking BMS3059

Indicative content includes:

Introduction and overview of the module. Presentation of some information on assessment and feedback expectations.


Pigment and volatile formation during food processing

Reactions involving sugars, ascorbate, amino acids and proteins

Heterocyclic amine formation and safety considerations


The chemistry and role of sulphite in foods including safety aspects

The chemistry and role of nitrate, nitrite and nitroso-compounds, including safety aspects


Chemical and enzymatic modification of proteins

Protein – protein interactions

Protein – polysaccharide interactions

Protein-lipid and oxidized lipid interactions


Trans fatty acids and lipid oxidation products


The nature of phenols and tannins – introduction to structures and terms

Phenols and tannins – transformations during processing – e.g. in tea and coffee

Phenols and tannins – dietary burden, absorption and metabolism

Phenols and tannins – biological effects and relevance


Free radicals, radical scavengers and antioxidants

Antioxidants in vivo and in vitro (including assessment methods and their relevance)


Bulk sugar replacers


Workshop on current topics in food Chemistry

Critical review of a current peer reviewed publication – what features to look out for in an article.


Revision tutorials

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Critical Review (3000 words) 50
Oral exam or presentation Poster presentation 50

Alternative Assessment

Rescheduled poster presentation for students who have missed the presentation.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

That they can describe, explain and understand the complex reactions that occur during the processing of foods. The assessment strategy is also designed to provide students with the opportunity to show that they understand the role that these and other compounds have in foods in terms of their safety and acceptability.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

• Critical review (3000 words) due 7th week of Semester 1. This will be on a topic taught within the first 3 weeks of Semester.

• Poster presentation (due end of week 11). This will be on a specific food product where the student will have to discuss the chemistry (chemical reactions that have taken place), functionality and impact on health.

Formative assessment:

Students will be able to prepare a draft poster presentation which will be submitted in week 8. This will allow students to receive feedback on their poster presentation in draft form.


Feedback will be given on the critical review. This will be given verbally within 2 weeks of the hand in date. More detailed and individualized feedback will be given on the marked assignment within the time allowed for marking coursework. Feedback on the posters will also be given – individually.

Module aims

  • Formation and significance of heterocyclic products during non-enzymic browning. Role in non-enzymic browning of reactants other than sugars and amino acids
  • Polymerisation and pigment formation during non-enzymic browning
  • Mutagen formation and significance during non-enzymic browning
  • The significance and origin of nitrate and nitrite and their safety
  • Reactions and significance of sulphite in food - problems and possible alternatives
  • Protein-protein, protein-polysaccharide and protein-lipid interactions
  • Chemistry and role of trans fatty acids and lipid oxidation products in foods
  • The nature of phenols and tannins in food and their transformation and a critical assessment of the evidence pertaining to their possible beneficial effects
  • The uses and limitations of bulk sugar replacers in foods.
  • Examine critically recently published information that increases our knowledge of (bio)chemical transformations which occur during food processing, storage and/ or preparation and which have a bearing on safety and acceptability.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate an understanding of the complexities of non-enzymic browning using illustrative formulae and equations, and of the role of non-enzymic browning in determining food acceptability CKP
002 Demonstrate an understanding of the reactions occurring and the factors predisposing to mutagen formation in cooked/processed food, and their dietary significance CK
003 Demonstrate an understanding of the occurrence and behaviour in foods of nitrate, nitrite and sulphite and present a balanced assessment of their risks and benefits. CKPT
004 Demonstrate an understanding of the reactions for modifying proteins and their impact on structure and function. CKP
005 Have a good understanding of the role of trans fatty acids and lipid oxidation products in foods. CKP
006 Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of protein-lipid, protein-protein, protein-polysaccharide interactions and their effects on the formation of gels, foams and emulsions, and on astringency. CKP
007 Demonstrate a knowledge of the nature and diversity of phenols and tannins in foods, their transformation during processing and technological significance, illustrated by relevant formulae and equations. CKP
008 Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the evidence pertaining to the suggested dietary benefits associated with dietary phenols and tannins. CKT
009 Demonstrate a knowledge of the uses and limitations of bulk sugar replacers in foods. CKT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

The majority of the module is taught through lectures. There are also a number of tutorials that will be embedded in the module to facilitate learning. External guest speakers are also part of the module team to provide material in their expertise.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: MHUM012

Other information


Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.