Food Science

From Wiki -
Revision as of 03:33, 18 September 2020 by Azboy1910 (talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

Food Science is a Division B event for the 2020 and 2021 seasons that focuses on fermentation and pickles. The competition includes a test portion on the chemistry of food, with a focus on pickles and fermentation, and a lab portion where competitors must use a pre-constructed salinometer to measure the salinity content of a sample. Food Science was originally a trial event in states including Texas and North Carolina. When it was run in Texas as a Trial, it differed from many other states.

The event was named Calorimeter as a Division C event in 1988.

The Event

The event (2017-2018) consisted of a written test and a lab portion where students must use a homemade calorimeter. The competition often required competitors to run chemical detection tests such as Benedict's test or a Biuret test. The event (2019-2020) is focused on fermentation and pickling. It consists of a lab portion, where you can have anywhere from 1 to all of the following labs: using a student-made salinometer to find the salt content (0-10%) of an unknown solution, find the pH of a pickle, and find the water content of a pickle. To be allowed to participate, you must bring:

  • ANSI Z87 goggles (eye protection #4)
  • Lab coats or lab aprons that reach the knees. If aprons are used, then sleeves must reach the wrists.
  • Closed-toe shoes (no sandals)
  • Pants or skirts that cover the legs to the ankles (leggings don't count)
  • 1 page (front and back) per competitor, containing notes in any form from any source
  • Plastic bags,cups, and spoons
  • Graduated cylinders and beakers
  • pH paper
  • A homemade salinometer

Types of Fermented Foods

There are many types of fermented foods. Below are some of examples of types of fermented foods.

  • Beer is made from cereal grains (brewed) through alcoholic fermentation.
  • Bread is made from flour through alcoholic fermentation.
  • Cheese is made from milk through alcoholic fermentation.
  • Chocolate is made from cocoa beans through alcohol and acetic fermentation.
  • Kefir is made from a mixture of kefir grains and milk through lactic acid fermentation.
  • Kimichi is made from Korean cabbage through lactic acid fermentation.
  • Kombucha is made from tea through alcoholic fermentation.
  • Sauerkraut is made from cabbage through lactic acid fermentation.
  • Yogurt is made from milk through lactic acid fermentation.

Types of Cellular Respiration

Aerobic Respiration

Aerobic means "involving oxygen." Therefore, it can be concluded that aerobic respiration is a process involving oxygen, consisting of three metabolic processes to create ATP from glucose. In order, these processes are glycolysis, the Krebs cycle (also known as the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) or the citric acid cycle), and the electron transport chain + chemiosmosis, also known as oxidative phosphorylation.

Aerobic respiration occurs in the mitochondria of eukaryotic cells (our own human cells!). Its final electron acceptor is oxygen and produces water and carbon dioxide as byproducts. Theoretically, 36-38 ATP is produced in this process, a lot more than in anaerobic respiration, the reason that this process is the preferred pathway when oxygen is available.

It is represented by the following chemical equation.


Glycolysis is a metabolic pathway of both aerobic and anaerobic respiration. There are multiple types of glycolysis, but the Embden–Meyerhof–Parnas (EMP) pathway is the one most focused on in Food Science. It can occur in conditions with or without oxygen and occurs in the cytosol of living cells.

Its purpose is to extract energy from glucose by converting it into pyruvate, a three-carbon molecule. Technically, this process produces 4 ATP, but because two are needed for the preparatory phase, one of the two phases of this process, only 2 net ATP are produced. During this process, [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math] is also reduced (gains electrons) and converted into NADH. [math]\mathrm{Mg^{2+}}[/math] is used as a cofactor in steps involving glucose and substrate-level phosphorylation, but [math]\mathrm{Mn^{2+}}[/math] can also be used.

This metabolic pathway can be represented by the following chemical equation.

This process can be separated into ten steps. Each step is described below.

Phase I

Step 1: Glucose is converted into glucose 6-phosphate through the addition of a phosphate group taken from ATP and is catalyzed by the enzyme hexokinase. To keep the glucose concentration from getting too high and leaving the transport, 1 molecule of ATP is utilized for this step and converted into ADP. This step is also known as the phosphorylation of glucose.

Step 2: Glucose 6-phosphate can then be converted into fructose 6-phosphate, an isomer of glucose-6-phosphate through the rearrangement of its atoms. The enzyme phosphoglucose isomerase is used and required to carry this reaction out. This reaction is also reversible under the condition that there is a high concentration of fructose 6-phosphate, which is often not the case, so therefore most of the time this reaction is in the forward direction.

Step 3: The end product of step 2, fructose 6-phosphate is converted into fructose 1, 6-biphosphate, also known as the phosphorylation of fructose 6-phosphate. Once again, a phosphate group used from an ATP molecule is added to fructose 6-phosphate in order to make this reaction occur, converting ATP to ADP also once again. The enzyme used to catalyze this reaction is phosphofructokinase, an enzyme which is limited where ADP concentrations are low, and vice versa.

Step 4: Fructose 1, 6-biphosphate further continues in this pathway and is split into two isomers, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, an aldose, and dihydroxyacetone phosphate, a ketose. The enzyme fructose diphosphate aldolase is used for this step.

Step 5: After step 4, only dihydroxyacetone phosphate continues on to step 5, which is then converted into the same molecule as the other molecule product of step 4, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, catalyzed by the enzyme triosephosphate isomerase, and thus concluding the first phase of glycolysis.

Phase II

Step 6: Unlike ATP, where something was taken away from it, [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math] is converted to two molecules of NADH through the addition of electrons, which used from glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, converting glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate to producing 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate after the addition of another phosphate group included, but not from an ATP molecule. This reaction is catalyzed by the enzyme glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase. However, NADH must be oxidized and converted back into [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math] again and again in order for glycolysis to continue, which can be done in conditions with oxygen. Fermentation can be used as a pathway to do so if oxygen is not available. The end product of this pathway is NADH though, and not [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math].

Step 7: A high-energy phosphate group is transferred from 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate to ADP, catalyzed by the enzyme phosphoglycerate kinase and forming 3-phosphoglycerate and ATP, respectively. This process of a transfer of a phosphate group to ADP from another molecule is also known as substrate-level phosphorylation, which also occurs in the last step.

Step 8: This reaction is catalyzed by the enzyme phosphoglycerate mutase. It occurs during the movement of the phosphate group in 3-phosphoglycerate from the third carbon atom to the second carbon atom, forming 2-phosphoglycerate, which is an isomer of 3-phosphoglycerate.

Step 9: 2-phosphoglycerate is dehydrated in this second to the last step, losing two moles of water in the process and is converted into phosphoenolpyruvate. The enzyme enolase (aka phosphopyruvate hydratase) helps by catalyzing this reaction.

Step 10: Once again, as stated in step 7, a phosphate group is transferred from phosphoenolpyruvate (aka PEP) to an ADP molecule, forming another ATP molecule and converting PEP to pyruvate, marking the last step of glycolysis. The enzyme pyruvate kinase is used to catalyze this reaction and is required for cellular respiration to continue on.


Since we're talking about aerobic cellular respiration here, pyruvate is first converted to Acetyl-CoA and then continues on with the Krebs cycle and the rest of the cellular respiration. If a cell fails to reach the aftermath of glycolysis, it will die. However, in anaerobic cellular respiration, fermentation can be used as an alternate pathway since there isn't any oxygen involved in the process of anaerobic respiration.

Before the Krebs Cycle - Pyruvate to Acetyl-CoA

Before continuing on with carrying out cellular respiration, as stated in the aftermath section of glycolysis, pyruvate must be first converted to Acetyl-CoA. This happens in a three-step process where pyruvate is broken down in order to do as said above.

These steps are shown and explained as follows.

Step 1: A pyruvate molecule with a hydroxyethyl group with two carbon atoms after the removal of a carboxyl group, where one molecule of [math]\mathrm{CO_2}[/math] is released into the medium surrounding it. This hydroxyethyl group binds to the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase. Since two pyruvate molecules are produced from glycolysis, this step occurs twice.

Step 2: This hydroxyethyl group can then be oxidized to an acetyl group through the removal of electrons that are given to a [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math] molecule and reduces it to NADH. These high-energy electrons in NADH are used to produce more ATP later on.

Step 3: A coenzyme A is transferred to the acetyl group, forming acetyl-CoA, where it is now finally ready to continue on in the Krebs cycle and the rest of cellular respiration.

Krebs Cycle

The Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle (and TCA cycle), is a metabolic pathway that makes up the second part of aerobic cellular respiration, after glycolysis. However, unlike glycolysis, the Krebs cycle can only occur in conditions with oxygen, the reason that it cannot be part of anaerobic respiration. The cycle occurs in the mitochondria matrix of eukaryotic cells.

The steps that make up this pathway are explained and shown below.

The cycle can also be represented by a chemical equation, just like glycolysis, see below. Failed to parse (syntax error): {\displaystyle \ce{Acetyl-CoA + 3NAD^+ + Q + GDP + Pi + 2H2O → CoA-SH + 3NADH + 3H^+ + QH2 + GTP + 2CO2 }}

Step 1: This step is a condensation reaction where a four-carbon oxaloacetate molecule is combined with the two-carbon acetyl group from the acetyl-CoA produced in an earlier process, and a sulfhydryl group (-SH) is bounded with the remaining CoA, which diffuses away and becomes acetyl-CoA after binding with another acetyl group. This reaction is irreversible due to this process being highly exergonic. The rate of this process is directly proportional to the amount of ATP available. The enzyme catalyzing this reaction is citrate synthase.

Step 2: Citrate in this step loses and gains an [math]\mathrm{H_2O}[/math] molecule, and is, as a result, converted to isocitrate, an isomer of citrate. The enzyme catalyzing this reaction is aconitase.

Step 3: α-ketoglutarate, a five-carbon molecule, also known as alpha-ketoglutarate is then formed through oxidation of the product of the previous step, isocitrate. Isocitrate loses two electrons here, and these electrons are handed over to [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math], converting it into NADH and also forming a [math]\mathrm{CO_2}[/math] molecule as part of the process. Through negative feedback from both NADH and ATP plus a positive effect of ADP, this step is regulated. The enzyme catalyzing this reaction is isocitrate dehydrogenase.

Step 4: Alpha-ketoglutarate is then oxidized to form a succinyl group, and the reactions are once given to an [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math] molecule, and converting it into NADH, thus marking the second NADH molecule formed as a product of the citric acid cycle. This succinyl group is combined with CoA, forming an unstable molecule, succinyl CoA. The enzyme catalyzing this reaction is α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase. This step is very similar and often compared to the third step.

Step 5: The CoA in succinyl CoA is substituted for a single phosphate group and converted to succinate, where a single high-energy bond is formed, and depending on the type of cell, forms GTP from GDP or ATP from ADP through substrate-level phosphorylation. The enzyme used to catalyze this reaction is the succinyl-CoA synthetase.

Step 6: Succinate is dehydrated to form fumarate, where two hydrogen atoms are released and transferred to FAD, where its electrons reduce it to [math]\mathrm{FADH_2}[/math]. The [math]\mathrm{FADH_2}[/math] molecule is attached to these electrons and therefore becomes an electron carrier in the ETC, along with NADH. [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math] however cannot be converted to NADH because there isn't enough energy in these electrons. The enzyme catalyzing this reaction is succinate dehydrogenase.

Step 7: Water is now added to fumarate in this step, where it forms malate through hydrolysis, another four-carbon molecule like fumarate. The enzyme catalyzing this reaction is fumarase.

Step 8: This last step is the reason why this pathway is considered a cycle. The product in this step, oxaloacetate can be used in step one once again after another molecule of acetyl-CoA. Now, to the last step. Malate is oxidized to form oxaloacetate and these high-energy electrons are transferred to an [math]\mathrm{NAD^+}[/math] molecule, converting it into NADH and marks the third and final NADH molecule formed as a product.

Aftermath After the citric acid cycle, the NADH and [math]\mathrm{FADH_2}[/math] molecules formed as products and continue on to the ETC, where they are used as electron carriers to generate more ATP.

Oxidative Phosphoylation

Electron Transport Chain

Anaerobic Respiration



Types of Fermentation

Alcohol Fermentation

Lactic Acid Fermentation (Heterolactic)

Lactic Acid Fermentation (Homolactic)

Food Preservation


Macromolecules are very large molecules. There are conventionally four different biopolymers: lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids. The last does not apply to Food Science; therefore, the first three should be focused on. In each of these categories of macromolecules, some subcategories exist.


Lipids have many subcategories including fats, waxes, and sterols. The main ones you need to worry about are the triglycerides: fats and oils.


Fats are a good source of energy, giving 9 kcal/g of fat.

  • The daily recommended amount of fat intake is limited to 65g. These contribute to a large amount of the obesity problem in the U.S.

Fats are most commonly found as triglycerides. Triglycerides are made up of a glycerol "backbone" with three fatty acids attached. Fatty acids are long chains of carbon molecules with an ester group on the end.

A triglyceride

The fatty acids may be saturated, unsaturated, or trans. Triglycerides can use any combination of these different fatty acids.

Saturated Fatty Acids

Saturated fatty acids are one long chain of carbon atoms meaning no double bonds and no fancy stuff. Saturated fats are generally unhealthy since they clog arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Since the carbon atoms in a saturated fatty acid are packed closely together, saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Saturated fats are generally found in animals.

Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Unsaturated fatty acids are also a long chain of carbon atoms, this time with one or more double bonds. Unsaturated fatty acids with one double bond are monounsaturated, and those with two or more double bonds are polyunsaturated. Unsaturated fats are generally healthier when not overeaten because they may help lower blood cholesterol level. Since double bonds exist, these fatty acids are much more wobbly and, therefore, are usually liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are generally found in plants such as nuts and seeds. They are also found in fish as omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids.

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in fish and plants. The name means there exists a double bond three carbon atoms from the non-ester end of the chain. Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet (lowercase omega is used). These fatty acids are "essential" because the body cannot produce them on its own, and they are vital for normal metabolism.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are not found in nature, although recent studies suggest that there may be small amounts. Trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids heated up then made so "dizzy" that it changes from cis to trans configuration.


Trans fats are unhealthy since they lower high-density lipoproteins (HDLs or "good" cholesterol) and raise low-density lipoproteins (LDLs or "bad" cholesterol). The recommended daily intake should be limited to 2g per day.


Esters are found on the end of all fatty acids.

Esters are a group of organic molecules that contain -C=O-O- as part of the molecule. More specifically, esters are only one part of the molecules in this group, but any molecule that contains an ester is classified as an "ester".

Esters are derived from carboxylic acids. When a carboxylic acid reacts with alcohol, an ester will form. For example, acetic acid will react with ethanol to make ethyl acetate.

Common esters include ethyl acetate and ethyl ethanoate.


The one sterol you'll want to know about is cholesterol. Cholesterol, like all sterols, come in this form:

Sterol.png (picture credit Wikipedia)

Cholesterol comes in high-density lipoproteins (HDLs or "good" cholesterol) and low-density lipoproteins (LDLs or "bad" cholesterol. HDLs are made by your liver, while LDLs are generally consumed. Some types of foods, such as trans fats, are thought to raise LDL levels and lower HDL ones.

If a body has too much LDL, arteries will clog and result in a heart attack. This is cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in America.


Carbohydrates are, as suggested by the name, hydrates of carbon. They consist of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. The formula for a carbohydrate can be expressed as [math]C_m(H_2 O)_n[/math], where, most commonly, [math]m[/math] and [math]n[/math] are the same.

Carbohydrates include simple sugars (carbohydrates made of one or two molecules of sugar), monosaccharides (any of the class of sugars, e.g., glucose, that cannot be hydrolyzed to give a simpler sugar) and disaccharides (a sugar [i.e. carbohydrate] composed of two monosaccharides), complex sugars (carbohydrates made of three or more molecules of sugar attached together), and polysaccharides (a carbohydrate (e.g., starch, cellulose, or glycogen) whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together).

Simple Sugars

Simple sugars consist of single sugar units (monosaccharides) and disaccharides (which are made up of two monosaccharides). The names of sugars often end in the suffix -ose. Common monosaccharides include:

  • Glucose (also dextrose)
  • Fructose (also levulose)
  • Galactose
  • Mannose

Common disaccharides include:

  • Sucrose (glucose+fructose)
  • Lactose (glucose+galactose)
  • Maltose (only found as a byproduct of hydrolysis of starch; glucose+glucose)

Simple sugars are small, easy to break down, and, therefore, give energy quite soon after consumption. However, they run out quickly, leaving one tired. Think about crashing after a sugar high.

The "Sugars" on food labels consist of mono- and disaccharides. That's why you see sugar in milk; that's lactose, not added by the manufacturer.

Complex Sugars

Complex sugars are mainly polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are chains of many monosaccharides, most commonly glucose.

Polysaccharides are divided into two main groups, storage polysaccharides and structure polysaccharides.

Storage Polysaccharides

Storage polysaccharides are our main source of energy. There are two main storage polysaccharides: glycogen and starch.

  • Glycogen is the storage polysaccharide found in animals.
  • Starch is the storage polysaccharide found in plants. We, humans, consume a lot of it from foods like pasta or potatoes.

Starch comes in two forms: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose is a straight chain of glucose molecules that coils up. Amylopectin is branched. Since there are more ends to be broken down in amylopectin, it is more quickly digested.

When looking at a food label, the Dietary Fiber and Sugars don't quite add up to the Total Carbohydrate; the remainder is starch.

Structure Polysaccharides

Structure polysaccharides are polysaccharides meant to give structure. Two common structure polysaccharides are cellulose and chitin.

Cellulose is better known as (dietary) fiber. It is insoluble, which means it is indigestible by our bodies, so it cleans out our insides and comes out as feces.


Proteins are polymers of amino acids. Proteins are essential to human life because they carry out orders from the genes in cells.

Proteins can be converted to energy by the liver when there is a lack of carbohydrate or fat; therefore, they provide 4 kcal/g.

Protein Denaturation and Coagulation

Protein denaturation is the undoing of the natural structure by chemical or physical means. Denaturation doesn’t change the composition of the protein, only the structure. Protein denaturation can happen because of heat (140-180 degrees Fahrenheit/ 60-80 degrees Celsius), high acidity, air bubbles, or any combination of the three. Since denaturation changes the folds of the proteins, there are more open bonds, so they form new bonds. This creates a thickness or density. Coagulation is the process when these new bonds are formed.


Enzymes are a type of special proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. The names of enzymes often end in the suffix -ase. Examples are maltase (breaks down maltose), amylase (breaks down amylose and amylopectin), and lactase (breaks down lactose).

Some enzymes cause disease due to the fact that some people do not contain them or possess distorted, non-functional forms. The most common disease is phenylketonuria (PKU), which is a lack of functional phenylalanine hydroxylase, an enzyme. When functional, phenylalanine hydroxylase is supposed to break down phenylalanine, an amino acid found in the artificial sugar aspartame.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Amino acids consist of 10-40 atoms each, mainly carbon, hydrogen, sometimes sulfur, and at least one nitrogen in the amino group, -NH2. Proteins are formed by linking the amine nitrogen with a carbon atom on another amino acid, forming a peptide bond.

Complete and Incomplete Proteins

All amino acids are needed to live. There are 9 essential amino acids and 11 non-essential ones. The body does not make the essential ones, therefore they need to be consumed. The body makes the other 12 itself, therefore it is not essential to eat them. For a person with a normal diet, all 9 essential amino acids are normally found in most meats.

This poses a problem for vegetarians, who cannot eat proteins with all the essential amino acids. So they must eat complementary proteins, or two different food ingredients, when, eaten together, make complete protein sets that contain all the proteins that you need to eat. An example of a pair of complementary proteins is rice and beans.


An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (unmixable or unblendable). Emulsions are part of colloids. In an emulsion, one liquid (the dispersed phase) is dispersed in the other (the continuous phase). The word "emulsion" comes from the Latin word for "to milk", as milk is an emulsion of fat and water, among other components. Emulsions, being liquids, do not exhibit a static internal structure. The droplets dispersed in the liquid matrix (called the “dispersion medium”) are usually statistically distributed.


The chemical reaction between hydrogen (H2) and another compound or element, usually in the presence of a catalyst (nickel, palladium, or platinum). Reduces or saturates organic compounds. Hydrogenation typically constitutes the addition of pairs of hydrogen atoms to a molecule, generally an alkene. Catalysts are required for the reaction to be usable; non-catalytic hydrogenation takes place only at very high temperatures. Hydrogenation reduces double and triple bonds in hydrocarbons, hydrogenation of unsaturated fats produces saturated fats. Partial hydrogenation can produce trans fats.

Food Testing

At the competition, teams are expected to be prepared to perform certain experiments on the Approved List of Ingredients. Most tests will include instructions for performing the experiments, but it is good to be familiar with them beforehand.


Calorimetry is the required testing subject of Food Science. Teams need to make their own homemade calorimeters.

Making a Calorimeter

To make a calorimeter, you will need a small metal can and a large metal can. Puncture four small holes in the small can and slide two thin rods (paperclips also work) between the holes. Fill the small can with water. Place the small can inside the large can, with a space for a sample of food. To use the new calorimeter:

  1. Measure the water in the small can and record.
  2. Measure the mass of the food sample you will be using.
  3. Measure the temperature of the water and record.
  4. Using a match or a lighter, set the food on fire. Note - Do this near an open window. It will exude smoke.
  5. Quickly, put the food in the slot or cover it with the calorimeter. Note - The water temperature will rise.
  6. When the temperature of the water is done rising, then record the final temperature. You can take the food sample out; it should be done burning.
  7. Using these measurements, fill out the equation.

Calorimeter Equation

This equation is [math]Q=m \times c \times \Delta T[/math]

  • Q is total heat generated by food (calories)
  • m is mass of the water in grams (1 mL=1 gram)
  • c is the specific heat of water (1 calorie/gramxdegree Celsius)
  • ΔT is the difference in temperature between the start and the end (e.g. if T1 = 32 and T2 = 40, then ΔT = 40-32 = 8). Note that the temperature can be in either units of Celsius or Kelvin when you are taking the difference (since Kelvin is just Celsius + 273.15), as long as your specific heat is given with units of Celsius or Kelvin.
  • Substitute all of the measurements that you took before.
    • Make sure to have all of the units!
  • The units of gram from m and gram from c cancel each other out, as well as degree Celsius from c and T.
    • This leaves calories as the unit for Q.
  • Now solve the equation! At the end, divide by 100.

Note - The event uses joules/gram as the energy unit. To transfer calories to joules/gram:

  • Divide the total calories by the mass of the food from before. Then, convert the units using the conversion below.
    • 1 calorie/gram = 4.1868 joules/gram.

Molecule Detection Tests

There are certain tests used to detect macromolecules and other molecules in food. Teams may have to perform some of these at the competition. The most common tests are Benedict's, Biuret's, Iodine, and the Brown Bag test.


Benedict's solution is also known as Fehling's solution. It tests for reducing sugars, or a sugar with a free aldehyde. The reaction between a reducing sugar and Benedict's is between the reducing sugar's aldehyde and the copper sulfate in Benedict's.

To use Benedict's:

  1. Put a small sample of the food into a test tube.
  2. Liquefy the food by adding enough water to make it a liquid, if the food is not already a liquid.
  3. Add 5-10 drops of Benedict's Solution.
  4. Carefully heat the test tubes in a hot water bath at 40-50 degrees Celsius (104-122 degrees Fahrenheit) for five minutes.

To deduce the results:
The liquid will turn green, yellow, or brick red depending on the amount of sugar present. Green is the least sugar, yellow is more, and red is the most. If negative, it will be blue.

Note that Benedict's will only work with reducing sugars, which are sugars with free aldehydes. (An aldehyde group is of the form R-CH=O where R is something organic). Here's a rule of thumb: all monosaccharides are reducing sugars but not all reducing sugars are monosaccharides. Lactose, for example, is reducing; however, sucrose is not. Make sure to know the reducing sugars, because trick questions often arise on tests on this subject.

Remember that Benedict's needs heating to work when answering test questions about it!


Biuret's Reagent is for detecting the presence of proteins. The active agent in Biuret's is also copper sulfate. The reaction is due to the formation of complex between the cupric ions in copper sulfate and the lone pair of electrons present on the nitrogen and oxygen atoms of peptide bonds of proteins.

To use Biuret's:

  1. Put a small sample of the food into a test tube.
  2. Liquefy the food by adding enough water to make it a liquid, if the food is not already a liquid.
  3. Add 2-5 drops of Biuret's Solution.
  4. Swirl gently to mix.
  5. Let sit for five minutes.

To deduce the results:
Biuret's will turn a pink/purple in the presence of proteins. If negative, the solution will have no color.


Iodine solution, also Lugol's Iodine, is used to detect starch. It is a mix of the element iodine and potassium iodide. The reaction is the result of the formation of polyiodide chains from the reactive starch and iodine.

To use Iodine:

  1. Put a small sample of the food into a test tube.
  2. Liquefy the food by adding enough water to make it a liquid, if the food is not already a liquid.
  3. Add 2-5 drops of Iodine.
  4. Swirl gently to mix.

To deduce results:
The solution will turn dark blue, almost black, in the presence of starch. It will be brownish-yellow if negative.

Note that amylose (straight chain form of starch) will stain less than amylopectin (a branched form of starch).

Brown Bag

The brown bag is the easiest and least formal test. It tests for lipids (fats).

To perform this test, spread, rub or pour some of the food on a brown bag. Wipe away the excess, and hold the bag to the light. Foods containing more lipids will stain the bag more transparently than ones that have fewer lipids.

This test can also be done with plain paper, though the paper has to dry before it can be analyzed.


Teams may have to find the density of certain baked foods made from ingredients on the Approved List of Ingredients such as bread. To do this, you will have to first cut it into a uniform cuboid (a 3-D rectangle). Next, use a ruler to measure the height, length, and breadth (AKA width) of the object. Record these measurements. Now, weigh the object. The event supervisor must provide a scale. Use the density formula to find the density of the food. Make sure to give the answer in the units wanted. The most common units wanted is [math]\frac{g}{cm^3}[/math].

The density formula is [math]\text{Density}=\frac{\text{weight}}{\text{height}\cdot\text{length}\cdot \text{breadth}}[/math]

Competition Tips

  1. Study a lot. This event is one of the heaviest in terms of what teams need to know, therefore retention is crucial.
  2. Ask the event supervisor if tests can be unstapled and then later re-stapled. This strategy may help teams divide work to save valuable time.
  3. Get a lot of rest before the competition! Self-explanatory. Also, eat a big breakfast.
  4. Make sure to be able to recognize the structures of basic molecules very quickly (mono and disaccharides, triglycerides, etc)