Virtual Tour of Food Science Labs and Pilot Plant Facilities

Virtual Tour of the Food Science Department Teaching & Research Laboratories & Pilot Plants

The laboratories are equipped to conduct chemical, engineering, processing, sensory, and microbiological teaching exercises and research.  
Pilot plant facilities are used to teach principles of unit operations and food processing: cereals science, beer brewing, chocolate line, cheese and ice cream technology, and product development. 

Food Science Building Facilities

The teaching laboratory is a multi-functional laboratory used to host a number of undergraduate food science laboratory courses. The laboratory has a floorspace of 127.7 m2 and bench space of 34.5 m2 with a maximum capacity of 24 students. 

The lab has a demonstration bench at the front of the class and two benches each accommodating 2 groups of students in the middle of the floor space. Each bench shares a sink/washing up area. The lab is equipped with a fume hood, solvent storage cabinets and dry chemical storage cabinets. There is a whiteboard with integrated smart board capability and projector on one wall. A double sized laboratory refrigerator is available for cool storage of temperature sensitive samples as well as an explosion proof refrigerator/freezer for highly volatile substances. Lab equipment includes commercial type microwaves, a drying oven, an incubator, light microscopes, pH meters, water baths and spectrophotometers. Domestic food processors, sous-vide machines and assorted food preparation implements are also present. The lab also retains a full complement of typical glassware and implements (beakers, Erlenmeyer flasks, filters etc).

Teaching lab with FOOD*3030 students

Teaching laboratory with a selection of students from the FOOD*3030 food chemistry course. Bench spaces and smart board can be seen.   

Students in FOOD*3030 conducting experiments

Teaching laboratory with students from the FOOD*3030 food chemistry course - students investigating methods to slow oxidative browning in avocados. Students used a variety of physical and chemical applications to form this investigation. The key learning concept is to provide an example of enzymatic browning and have students investigate food applications to slow the occurrence of this reaction. Other examples include simple sugars and reactivity with Benedict’s solution, Maillard reaction in French Onion soup with differing pH buffers and inhibition of the Maillard reaction with sodium bisulfite.

The Cereals Laboratory baking facility has a floorspace of 125.2 m2 and bench space of 15.5 m2. The grain processing lab has a floorspace of 37.3 m2 and bench space of 8.9 m2. The laboratory is utilized by undergraduate students in the cereals course (a restricted elective), and by students in the senior product development courses as appropriate depending on their product-specific project.

This facility is fully equipped for small-scale baking tests (100g flour) covering 2 pin mixers, 2 laminating machines, a dough molder, 2 fermentation cabinets (controlled temperature and humidity) and 2 rotary baking ovens (1 with the option of steam injection). Mixing/kneading machines complete the list of bakery equipment used in lab sessions. In addition, commonly used flour and dough analysis instruments, such as rapid viscoanalyzer, glutopeak, farinograph, mixograph, falling number, iscoamylograph and texture analyzer equipment, are set-up. The pilot baking facility also has a dedicated grain processing space that contains oat and rice dehulling machines, sieving equipment, a Brabender Quadrumate mill, a cereal debranning machine and a small-scale cereal grinder.  There are two rooms in the baking facility.    

Bake Lab - student labs

The lab sessions of the cereal course are designed to bring the course material in action and teach students general techniques used in the industry to assess flour and dough characteristics and quality. In this picture, students are running the glutopeak tester to study gluten aggregation behavior. Other instrumental activities include a mixograph to study dough development characteristics and dough stability upon prolonged mixing. Students are trained and then write an SOP based on this training. Each student within a team is trained for a specific technique (Rapid viscoanalyzer, farinograph, falling number and solvent retention capacity testing).   

View of Bake Lab

An overview of the lab showing both pilot-scale dough forming equipment and ovens, stainless steel work space, and instrumental equipment around the perimeter. 

The department has two teaching labs dedicated to development of foods and sensory testing of the foods. The first space is a food formulation lab. The Formulation lab has a floorspace of 123.7 m2 and bench space of 28.6 m2. It can accommodate 36 students. This space has been equipped with restaurant grade equipment and contains all the tools necessary for formulating foods including balances, plates, bowls, mixing utensils, thermometers, pH meters. Students also have access to convection ovens, induction burners, fridges and freezers. The lab also has an area with tables where students can conduct bench top tastings of foods that they have formulated. 

The second space is a sensory evaluation lab with a teaching room and metabolic kitchen. This space is housed in the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit. The lab has a teaching area, a metabolic kitchen, booth serving area and a testing area with 8 sensory booths. 

The booths have a networked computer system running Compusense sensory evaluation software. For each lab in the sensory evaluation course, students are provided with a general introduction to the lab in the teaching room. They then move to the metabolic kitchen to prepare their samples and conduct their sensory testing in the booth area. A maximum of 16 students at a time can work in the metabolic kitchen.

Sensory booths  

A photo of students completing a sensory test in the booths of the sensory evaluation lab. All booths are equipped with both red and white light. Booths have a pass-through hatch to slide samples from the serving area to participants sitting in the booths. During their lab, students are provided the opportunity to work with the Compusense data collection system to collect data as shown on the photo.            

Formulations Lab

A wide angle photo of the formulation lab. Students are formulating a hot chili sauce using chili peppers from the University of Guelph organic farm. The students are wearing protective goggles (only worn when working with capsaicinoinds) to protect their eyes from the compounds released during cutting of the peppers. Personal protective gear (lab coats and hair nets) are always worn in this lab during food formulation and the lab coats cannot be worn in other non-food grade labs. 

The teaching laboratory is a multiple functional facility where food microbiology, industrial microbiology, food chemistry and food analysis are performed. The laboratory has a capacity for 24 students. The students have an area to stow away their belongings and provide access to lab coats, along with gloves and safety goggles. This lab has a floorspace of 127.7 m2 and bench space of 34.5 m2.   The food microbiology laboratories only use CL 1 microbes with no pathogen work being performed. All the equipment to undertake basic microbiological techniques are provided that includes autoclave facilities, microscope, incubators, refrigerators, orbital incubator, water bath, media preparation and supply storage. Additional equipment available to the class includes whiteboard, spectrophotometers, titer plate reader and a 3M Microbial Detection system. Although the majority of the labs are undertaken in the teaching laboratory, the students also undertake a sanitation verification exercise by performing ATP measurements along with microbiological swab testing in the meat processing facility across from the Food Science building. A further exercise is performed on food safety culture and is undertaken in the training kitchen of the Wellington, Guelph and Dufferin Public Health Unit located adjacent to the University.  

Food microbiology undergraduate lab

Teaching laboratory with a selection of students from the Food*3230 food microbiology course. The photograph shows a Teaching Assistant demonstrating to the students how to prepare swab samples taken from the meat processing laboratory. Within the depicted laboratory the students also perform physiological confirmation testing of bacterial isolates along with Gram staining.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Food Safety Training Kitchen

A food safety culture exercise within the food safety training classroom at the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit.   In this photograph a group of students prepare a meal as they would do within a commercial kitchen. The remainder of the class take notes on the number of food safety violations and comment on why the food handlers decide to take one course of action versus another. At the end of the class a debrief is performed to cover food safety handling practices along with establishing a positive food safety culture.     

The Department of Food Science Addition has 3 pilot plant facilities, ranging in size from 150m2 to 390 m2.

Processing equipment within these facilities include:

  1. an HTST pasteurization system integrated with a homogenizer and milk separator;
  2. cheese making equipment and ripening rooms;
  3. continuous and batch ice cream freezers;
  4. several types of driers including a spray drier;
  5. a Microthermix (a versatile continuous thermal processor);
  6. a retort;
  7. membrane processing equipment;
  8. a small scale chocolate line;
  9. beer fermentation tanks; and
  10. various packaging equipment and process tanks.

Students studying in FOOD*3160 and FOOD*3170 use the lab for activities including investigating rates of heat transfer in solid materials and examining the kinetics of chemical reactions at various temperatures with the aim of producing predictive mathematical models based on experimental observations. During the Food Processing courses, students also develop mathematical models for the kinetics of the dehydration of various fruits and vegetables, as well as looking at the rehydration of  previously dried materials. Unit operations such as freezing, drying, and thermal processing are all demonstrated. Students in the Product Development courses have access to the range of equipment available in all pilot plants that would be specific to their project needs.

Large Pilot Plant An Overview of our large processing area, used by undergraduate students in our two 3rd year food processing courses for most general activities. The facility can be set up as required depending on the activity. Several different-sized stainless steel tables are utilized alongside the equipment when in operation, to provide activity space. Good manufacturing practices are adhered to: students must be dressed appropriately in clean pilot-plant lab coats, hair and beard nets, appropriate footwear, jewelry removed, etc. 

Pilot Plant 3

An overview of our dairy processing pilot plant. In this photo, two students are operating a batch ice cream freezer. We are set up for processing at small to mid-scale of: milk, cream, fluid beverages, ice cream, most types of cheeses and spray-drying. The facility is used by undergraduate students for specific activities in our two 3rd year food processing courses, in our two 4th year food product development courses (as required, project-specific), and in our 4th year dairy processing course (a restricted elective).

The Animal Biosciences Department and the Food Science Department utilize the Meat Science Laboratory in teaching and research activities as well as industry workshops on meat products and processing.  The Meat Science Laboratory has processing equipment, an industrial smokehouse, freezers, kitchen and a spice room, and chill cooler.  

The Canadian Research Instutitue for Food Safety (CRIFS) fosters links among students, researchers, the food industry, consumer groups and regulatory agencies to bolster the Canadian agri-food sector through public health protection, enhancement of trade and increased awareness of food safety.  CRIFS is a Biosafety Level 2 facility with faculty from multiple disciplines who teach, train, and conduct food safety research.