The Physical Aspects with Respect to Water and Non-Enzymatic Browning

  • Theodore P. Labuza
  • Rita M. Warren
  • Henry C. Warmbier
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 86)


Non-enzymatic browning is one of the major problems that occurs during the processing and storage of dehydrated and semi-moist foods. One type of browning is the Maillard reaction between reducing sugars and proteins or free amines. This leads to a darkening of color, protein insolubility with subsequent possible nutrition loss and a bitter off-flavor. The reaction has been extensively researched since the early 1940’s. From a storage standpoint, browning rate increases as water activity (aw) increases up to a maximum where reactant dilution causes a subsequent decrease in rate. Use of liquid humectants in high moisture foods increase phase volume and viscosity, thereby lowering the aw of the rate maximum. These humectants thus act as inhibitors at high aw. Sorbitol also decreases the rate by a viscosity effect. Kinetic studies at normal storage conditions show browning to occur by a zero order reaction although the sugar and amine initial reaction occurs by first order. Studies with Tetrahymena show that the initial Schiff’s base and reaction products may be partially biologically available although chemical assays show up to 50% loss of protein value. For dehydrated foods the zero order kinetics can be used to predict shelf life under a variable time-temperature-humidity condition.


Water Activity Physical Aspect Maillard Reaction Brown Pigment Lysine Content 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore P. Labuza
    • 1
  • Rita M. Warren
    • 1
  • Henry C. Warmbier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food Science and NutritionUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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