X-ray computerized microtomography and confocal Raman microscopy as complementary techniques to conventional imaging tools for the microstructural characterization of Cheddar cheese
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CitationAntonio Lourenco, Stephan Handschuh, Mark Fenelon, Laura G. Gómez-Mascaraque, X-ray computerized microtomography and confocal Raman microscopy as complementary techniques to conventional imaging tools for the microstructural characterization of Cheddar cheese, Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 105, Issue 12, 2022, Pages 9387-9403 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2022-22048.
AbstractThis study explored the use of X-ray computerized microtomography (micro-CT) and confocal Raman microscopy to provide complementary information to well-established techniques, such as confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), for the microstructural characterization of cheese. To evaluate the potential of these techniques, 5 commercial Cheddar cheese samples, 3 with different ripening times and 2 with different fat contents, were analyzed. Confocal laser scanning microscopy was particularly useful to describe differences in fat and protein distribution, especially between the 2 samples with different fat contents. The quantitative data obtained through image analysis correlated well with the nutritional information provided in the product labels. Conversely, micro-CT was more advantageous for studying the size and spatial distribution of microcrystals present within the cheese matrix. Two types of microcrystals were identified that differed in size, shape, and X-ray attenuation. The smallest, with a diameter of approximately 10 to 20 μm, were more abundant in the samples and presented a more uniform roundish shape and higher X-ray attenuation. Larger and more heterogeneous crystals with diameters reaching 50 μm were also observed in scarcer numbers and showed lower X-ray attenuation. Confocal Raman microscopy was useful not only for identifying the distribution of all these components but also allowed comparing the presence of micronutrients such as carotenoids in the cheeses and provided compositional information on the crystals detected. Small and large crystals were identified as calcium phosphate and calcium lactate, respectively. Overall, using micro-CT, confocal Raman microscopy, and CLSM in combination generated novel and complementary information for the microstructural and nutritional characterization of Cheddar cheese. These techniques can be used to provide valuable knowledge when studying the effect of milk composition, processing, and maturation on the cheese quality attributes.
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