#AskLavina - March 2024

By Community Manager posted 03-28-2024 10:01


In addition to being CFIN’s Regional Innovation Director for BC and Yukon, Lavina Gully is a food scientist and product developer with almost two decades of experience helping food and beverage companies innovate. In this series, Lavina answers questions from CFIN members on everything from product development, R&D, manufacturing best practices, and co-packing – just to name a few! 

If you have questions for Lavina, you can reach out to her directly and we can answer your question in next month’s mailbag. 

This month, Lavina answers your questions about advances in texture assessment, and non-compete clauses in employment offers. 


Q: I recently read that air is the ingredient of the future and that getting texture correct is a difficult problem for many product developers. What new texture assessing and optimizing technologies are emerging that food innovators need to know about? 

A: The current industry standard for texture assessment is texture profile analysis (TPA), a double compression test to simulate bite or chew through measuring compression and decompression. This analysis gives researchers insight into primary texture characteristics like hardness, cohesiveness, springiness, and gumminess, but it does have some limitations. For instance, while TPA is good for solid/semi solid products, it is not great for variable textures. It also offers only a single point of measurement, and doesn’t capture changes in texture over time or influences like saliva. 

There are some alternate and emerging technologies that can offer additional insights into texture assessing and development. These include: 

  • Electromyographic analysis, which measures electrical signals produced by muscles during chewing process. The process involves attaching electrodes to the jaw muscles of participants. 

  • Acoustic analysis, which measures sound waves generated when food is chewed, and which can contribute to an understanding of attributes such as the “crunch factor.” This process could be useful in the development of crispy and crunchy foods. 

  • The use of facial expression cameras and software to measure texture response. 

  • Neuroscience-based protocols that measure brain activity, which researchers can then correlate with sensory attributes. This method can be used to collect data over time from various eating stages such as from bite, to chew, to swallow. 


Q: I recently scored a job offer from a great company, but the contract included a very broad non-compete clause that would prevent me from working in the food industry if I left. What are my options? 

A: To answer this question I interviewed human resources expert Steve MacIntyre, a CFIN member based in Vancouver, BC, and former chair of the BC Food & Beverage board.  

According to Steve, these sweeping types of non-compete clauses in offer letters are not uncommon, but they’re usually not enforceable. “The only way they can really be enforced is if the clause contains very specific language about technology, formulations, customers, etc. that are proprietary and/or especially unique,” he says. “If challenged, a court or magistrate will likely strike down the provision in order that the person can continue earning an income in their area of expertise, or order that the ex-employer pay a severance equal to the term of the non-compete.” 

Steve adds that a non-compete clause “can be negotiated during offer phase, but be mindful of the level of the role.” In other words, if this is an entry level position, it may be a detriment to raise concerns about the clause, as the likelihood that the company will take legal action against an entry level employee is low.