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The National Food Imaging Centre

Tools for Studying Food Structure


The National Food Imaging Centre (NFIC) at Teagasc Moorepark was established in 2007. It was the first of its kind in Ireland to be comprised of a suite of state-of-the-art imaging tools, specifically chosen for studying food microstructure. Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Teagasc, the NFIC comprises of a suite of equipment tailored to the needs of researchers and industry alike. This includes optical, high resolution and electron microscopes with a range of accessories to advance their use in a number of applications. This imaging equipment and microstructure expertise at Moorepark compliments various other techniques in food production and food structure characterisation which are also available through Teagasc.

Researchers at the National Food Imaging Centre
Researchers at the National Food Imaging Centre

Applications for Research and Industry

The primary functions of the NFIC are to:

  • Support and expand our understanding of food structure and functional properties
  • Underpin innovation for the agri-food sector
  • Provide specialised expert analysis and consultancy for the Irish food industry

Researchers and food producers can benefit from accessing both the equipment and the expertise here in the NFIC, complimented by collaboration with our colleagues in the other departments within the Teagasc Moorepark and Ashtown Food Research Centres.

By consulting with us here at NFIC, food businesses often find:

  • Images may help in relating food structure to process conditions and product quality, therefore helping to determine best processing conditions
  • Images may complement or support data obtained by other analyses
  • Images may be used to describe progress to shareholders or for marketing purposes
  • Images may help predict shelf life or functionality i.e. in products where the structure changes over time
  • Other analyses can also be arranged or interpreted

At the NFIC customers, clients and researchers can avail of collaborative, contract and sample to sample based services, depending on requirements. New and existing customers can expect a professional and flexible service tailored to every individual case.

By combining the outputs of the NFIC instrumentation with other analytical techniques such as rheology, particle and texture profiling, food technologists have a number of powerful tools at their disposal with which to manipulate texture in novel foods or trouble-shoot stability problems in existing products. 

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Selected Publications

Videos and Webinars

Teagasc Food Innovation Gateways, September 2020: Food Formulation for the Future – for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system

The Festival of Farming and Food, Science Week 2020: “Back to the Future: The National Food Imaging Centre”

Food Industry Development Webinar Series, October 2020: The National Food Imaging Centre, Teagasc: Expertise and Tools for Studying Food Structure”

Research Insights Webinar Series, October 2020: “Macro to Micro: Food Structure, Digestion and the Microbiome”