Soft Condensed Matter: A Perspective on the Physics of Food States and Stability

Ted P. Labuza, Theodore J. Labuza, Katherine M. Labuza, Peter S. Labuza

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Several foods are complex examples of soft condensed matter (SCM) that can undergo phase transition from an amorphous glass to an amorphous rubber state and vice versa. The concept of SCM in terms of the state diagram is presented for an understanding of physical state changes in foods. Transformation of a food matrix from its glassy to rubbery state enables gravity - induced collapse, fl ow, and possible recrystallization of a food component producing drastic changes in food textural property and affecting its quality as perceived by consumers. Discussion is focused on cotton candy, hard - ball candy, and crisp snacks in terms of the effect of water content and temperature on their state behavior. The sensory crispness paradigm of hard cookies and crisp snacks can be predicted from changes in SCM states from brittle material into truly soft SCM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWater Properties in Food, Health, Pharmaceutical and Biological Systems
Subtitle of host publicationISOPOW 10
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780813812731
StatePublished - May 14 2010


  • Cotton candy - carbohydrate confection
  • Food matrix transformation - gravity-induced collapse, flow, recrystallization
  • Glass transition theory - understanding textural properties of food systems
  • Shelf-life studies of foods - elevated temperatures
  • Soft condensed matter
  • Soft condensed matter (SCM) - transition from amorphous glass to rubber state
  • glass transition point - temperature at given moisture content


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