VATIS Update Food Processing . Jul-Aug 2011

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Food Processing Jul-Aug 2011

ISSN: 0971-5649

VATIS Update Food Processing is published 4 times a year to keep the readers up to date of most of the relevant and latest technological developments and events in the field of Food Processing. The Update is tailored to policy-makers, industries and technology transfer intermediaries.

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India’s government working on paddy policy

India’s Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Food Processing Industries are working on a comprehensive policy to improve the processing of paddy (rice in husk) in the eastern Indian states. The need for such a policy is being felt, as increasing paddy production in the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and (eastern) Uttar Pradesh is the cornerstone of the programme to usher in the second ‘green revolution’ in the country. Improving the milling process also is integral to the success of the programme.

Rs 4 billion were allocated in the central budget of 2011-12 for the programme to bring green revolution in eastern India. The objective behind the policy to improve paddy processing in eastern India is to bring it at par with the efficiency levels seen among paddy milling units in northern India, officials said. In the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, wastage of paddy at the milling stage is almost 10-15 per cent less than that in eastern India, mostly due to advanced milling units.

Officials said the Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT), Tamil Nadu, which has an expertise in paddy processing technologies, might also be roped in to prepare the blue-print of such a policy. The policy could also aim at creating awareness among farmers of eastern India as to what is the ideal time for bringing in paddy for milling and others facets like the ideal moisture content in them to get maximum results.

China to monitor disposal of unsafe food

Law enforcement officials in China will witness the destruction of food that fails to meet safety standards or is past its sell-by date, under a plan intended to keep potentially harmful products off the market. The proposal put forward by a top supervisory agency follows complaints by experts that some companies have repackaged unsafe food and put it back on the shelf. It is proposed that at least two officials with district-level industrial and commercial bureaus be on hand to supervise and record the destruction of such foods by incineration, burial as landfill or blending into organic fertilizer.

Industry experts have welcomed the proposal, saying that mandatory destruction under government supervision would keep bad food off the market. “Enterprises have a recall system, and they are not supposed to resell faulty products, but the crux is oversight of these products,” said Mr. Dong Jinshi, a food safety expert and Executive Vice-President of International Food Packaging Association. Mr. Wang Dingmian, Chairman of the Guangzhou Dairy Association, agreed with Mr. Dong that customers could be reassured if faulty food products were destroyed under the eyes of law enforcement officials.

Sri Lanka’s cinnamon branded for value addition

In a move to better position its largest exported spice, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) has branded the country’s cinnamon as ‘Pure Ceylon Cinnamon’. SLEDB holds ownership of the trademark – the second National Brand for agriculture products since Pure Ceylon Tea. “Branding of Pure Ceylon Cinnamon and promoting it as a global brand in target markets is very important to highlight the main characteristics of Ceylon cinnamon and differentiate cinnamon from cassia to gain the competitive advantage,” said Mr. Janaka Ratnayake, Chairman and Chief Executive of SLEDB.

Sri Lanka is the largest producer of true cinnamon in the world, accounting for about 70 per cent of global production and holding more than 85 per cent per cent of the world market share. About 31,000 hectares of land are currently being used for cinnamon cultivation by around 260,000 families. Mr. Ratnayake said that currently there are plans in place to expand land used for cinnamon cultivation by 50 per cent within the coming three years.

At present, cinnamon, which could be harvested twice a year, is harvested only once and just around 20 per cent of the harvested cinnamon is converted into value added forms. The biggest problem facing the cinnamon industry according to Mr. Ratnayake is a shortage of cinnamon peelers, which is a form of skilled labour. “The issue is that it is difficult to attract labourers because they have no recognition. We need to create value for the human capital. This means things like sufficient wages,” he said. Wages currently form 35 per cent of production costs in the sector.

Philippine coconut oil exports nearly halved

The Philippine exports of coconut oil this July fell 46.6 per cent from a year earlier on tight copra supply, but the volume of shipments in the month sharply exceeded combined exports in the two previous months, preliminary industry data show. Shipments totalled 77,738 tonnes, from 145,564 tonnes in July last year, reports the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP). Copra output this year has slowed dramatically following last year’s El Niño drought phenomenon.

The Southeast Asian country, the world’s largest supplier of coconut oil, shipped a total of 506,567 tonnes from January to July, down 42 per cent from a year ago. Coconut oil generated export earnings of US$147.04 million in July, up 7.1 per cent from a year earlier, as higher prices made up for the decline in shipment volumes. UCAP has forecast coconut oil exports at 900,000 tonnes this year, almost a third lower than last year’s shipment of 1.32 million tonnes.

Global halal market opens to Bangladesh

Food manufacturers in Bangladesh are preparing to capture a slice of the US$660 billion global market for halal (permissible by Islamic dietary laws and regulations) products, following the approval of Islamic Foundation Bangladesh (IFB) as a certifying body by the Department of Islamic Development (DID) of Malaysia. The approval will automatically add IFB to the list of bodies worldwide allowed to grant halal certification to food products.

At least six Bangladeshi food manufacturers are reported to have approached IFB for certification of their food products as halal. IFB will review these applications over the next six months. They will be seeking to catch up with Dhaka-based Bengal Meat Processing, at present the country’s only exporter of halal meat, having already been accorded halal certification by Malaysian DID.

Processing of fruits in India to reach 20 per cent by 2015

The Indian government has adopted a ‘Vision 2015’ document, which envisages enhancing the level of processing of perishable commodities like fruits and vegetables to 20 per cent, enhancing value addition to 35 per cent and raising the country’s share in global food trade to 3 per cent by the year 2015. The document suggests a strategy to ensure faster growth of the food processing sector, Mr. Charan Das Mahant, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, stated in the upper house of the Parliament.

India is the second largest producer of fruits after China in the world, with 71.5 million tonnes production in 2009-2010. However, a major part of this gets wasted. At present, only about 2.2 per cent of the fruits and vegetables produced in the country gets value-addition through processing. The main reasons for low level of processing have been fragmented supply chain and lack of adequate processing infrastructure along the value chain, the Minister explained.

Thailand’s food exports poised to surge

The value of Thailand’s food exports is expected to reach 1 trillion baht (US$32.49 billion) within the next two years, thanks to continued high global demand, said the Federation of Thai Industries’ Food Processing Industry Club (FPIC) and the National Food Institute (NFI). Explaining the forecast, Mr. Visit Limprana, Chairman of FPIC, said exports of all food products grew more than 10 per cent per year in volume terms, as worldwide demand increased, while product value was also higher than in the past. NFI Director Mr. Petch Chinabutr said Thailand’s food exports in the first half of the year were about 478 billion baht (US $15.53 billion). The institute expects a further 422 billion baht (US$13.71 billion) in the second half. As a result, exports this year could reach 900 billion baht (US$29.24 billion), representing 12 per cent growth over 2010.

Food exports in the second quarter of 2011 were 255.56 billion baht (US$8.30 billion), with rice experiencing the highest year-on-year growth at 54 per cent for overseas sales of 54.85 billion baht (US$1.78 billion). Sugar exports in the quarter rose by 56 per cent to 43.12 billion baht (US $1.40 billion). Export growth for both rice and sugar is attributed to the government’s policy of allowing higher export quotas, Mr. Petch said.

Philippine agricultural output goes up five per cent

Agricultural output in the Philippines increased by 5.5 per cent, mainly due to increases in rice, corn and sugarcane production. Rice yielded 7.58 million metric tonnes (MMT) and corn notched 3.31 MMT to increase the cereals sub-sector’s growth to 11.1 per cent. The gross value of agricultural output amounted to 706.4 billion pesos (US$16.2 billion) at current prices, about 16 per cent higher than last year’s level. Among major crops, sugarcane grew by 75.6 per cent. The crops sub-sector grossed 411.8 billion pesos (US$9.5 billion) at current prices, 31.1 per cent more than last year.

The livestock and poultry sub-sectors, which grew by 0.85 per cent and 3.6 per cent, respectively, also added modestly to the gain of the first half of 2011. Fisheries dipped by 2.9 per cent, as commercial and municipal fish catch slid during the semester. Livestock, which accounted for 15.3 per cent of total agricultural production, registered a 0.85 per cent rise in output this year. Pig output went up by 1 per cent. Gross value was put at 103.1 billion pesos (US$2.4 billion) at current prices, 1.6 per cent lower than last year. The poultry sub-sector that grew by 3.6 per cent grossed 77.8 billion pesos (US$1.8 billion). Production of chicken grew by 3.8 per cent, while chicken eggs increased by 3.5 per cent. The sub-sector contributed 13.4 per cent to total agricultural production.


China issues new food safety management rules

China’s food safety watchdog has issued new regulations for food safety management in restaurants, snack bars, and company and school cafeterias, with special requirements for waste food treatment and food additives. According to Mr. Chen Xu, an official of the State Food and Drug Administration, catering service workers are required to examine their health conditions each working morning, and mechanisms for waste food treatment and food safety incident prevention are to be established to control risks. Moreover, additives used in seasonings and beverages must be reported to food safety supervisors and published in dining halls or on menus, Mr. Chen said.

Viet Nam tightens control on agro-product imports

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Viet Nam has tightened control on agro-products and imported foodstuffs from 1 July 2011 with the enforcement of a new Law on Food Safety and Hygiene. The Ministry emphasized that importers of fruits, vegetables and animal feed must state clearly the origin of these commodities, without which their imports into the country will not be allowed.

MARD says that farmers in some countries use pesticides and chemicals to “polish” agricultural products to make them more appealing and in such cases, the chemical contents exceed permitted limits. Inspectors will therefore check not just the origin of fruits, vegetables and foodstuffs but also their chemical contents, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Hong, Chief, Department of Plant Protection, said. In cases of serious violations, importers will be forced to return the goods back to the country of origin or face confiscation, he added.

Viet Nam currently lacks laboratory facilities and personnel to conduct tests and check harbours and border crossings, according to Mr. Nguyen Nhu Tiep, Head of the Department of National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance. Most samples have to be sent back to centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which takes at least four days. The inspectors in the 60 quality checking stations at border crossings, harbours and airports check foodstuffs randomly. Tests are carried out only if the inspectors suspect the foodstuffs are adulterated.

Sri Lanka implements new food packaging laws

Under the amended Food Act No. 26, 1980 of Sri Lanka, the import, transport, storage, packaging, distributing and selling of food products in packaging that may reduce the food’s organoleptic characteristics, quality and nutrition level and cause health problems to the human body is no longer allowed from 1 July 2011. In addition, food cannot be packaged with non-edible items such as toys, coins, etc., and food packaging (such as bags, bottles and other containers) cannot be reused. The law also states that recycled plastic should not be used to produce food packaging. All packaged food must carry the words or symbols that indicate “for consumption”, and labels on all pre-cooked or instant food items should not touch the product. Furthermore, from 1 August 2011, food importers must ensure that imports reach Sri Lanka prior to the expiration of a minimum of 60 per cent of the time before the expiry date.

GFSI furthers food safety harmonization efforts

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a France-based not-for-profit collaboration between some of the world’s leading food safety experts, has reissued the GFSI Guidance Document Sixth Edition to incorporate key elements that shall be in place for the recognition of food safety requirements for both “Production of Food Packaging” and “Animal Conversion”. The Version 6.1 of the document will allow for food safety management schemes that cover these two scopes to come forward for benchmarking and formal recognition from GFSI. In January 2011, when Version 6 was published, several new scopes were identified to provide a seamless and harmonized approach for food safety management from feed to fork.

The two Technical Working Groups convened in February 2011 have made rapid progress to define and develop the key elements for the scopes of recognition in relation to Production of Food Packaging (GFSI Guidance Document Scope M) and Animal Conversion (GFSI Guidance Document Scope C), as well as to review requirements related to auditor competency. A four-week global stakeholder consultation was launched in June 2011, providing the Working Groups with additional feedback before issuing their final documents. Food safety schemes can now apply for recognition against these scopes as well as the other existing scopes defined in the GFSI Guidance Document.

China’s standard for mixed food additives

China’s first national standard for mixed food additives – National Food Safety Standard: General Rules on Mixed Food Additives (General Rules) published in July 2011 by the Ministry of Health – will take effect from 5 September 2011. The General Rules set some basic requirements for mixed food additives: they shall not be harmful to human health; they shall be in line with the new Standards for Uses of Food Additives issued in April 2011; and they shall not show any chemical reaction in use or produce any new chemical compound, while the amount used shall be kept as low as possible. Mixed food additives processors shall establish a management system for mixed food additives’ production and clearly stipulate the content and detection methods of every food additive. The maximum quantity of lead or arsenic shall not exceed 2.0 mg/kg, and no pathogenic micro-organism is to be detected in end products.

Labels of mixed food additives shall cover the name, specification and content of the product and contact information of manufacturer, production license number, etc. The names of all food additives in the mixed food additives shall be labelled, and the mixed food additives for retail sales shall be labelled with the content of every single food additive besides its name. Imported mixed food additives shall have labels with all information written in Chinese.


Rapid on-site diagnostics system for EHEC

In view of the continuing topicality of infections by enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), Analytik Jena AG of Germany has developed a fast on-site diagnostics system, designed as a pre-screening test to identify the specific molecules of all EHEC strains, such as the highly pathogenic EHEC O104:H4 strain. Rapid Amplification Hybridization (RAH) technology – the innovative procedure that forms the basis of the new test – combines amplification of the target nucleic acid with a specific hybridization reaction. The reactions occur in a reaction vessel and the simple visual result identification takes place on a test strip, without expensive equipment. The test can be carried out on site, thanks to the MobiLab developed by Analytik Jena AG. MobiLab makes it possible to carry out all molecular diagnostics steps (nucleic acid isolation, target amplification and target detection) in field conditions. Analytik Jena is working on additional rapid tests to specify highly pathogenic EHEC strains.

New lab-on-chip for food testing

Veredus Laboratories, Singapore, has expanded into the food-testing market with the launch of a new panel product to detect between 10 and 12 food-borne pathogens simultaneously. VereFoodborne is based on the company’s polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and microarray platform and runs on VereID lab-on-chip platform, which includes a temperature control system, optical reader, chip bar code reader and software. The company will market the new chip to surveillance laboratories and food manufacturers.

According to Veredus, VereFoodborne can detect and differentiate food-borne pathogens including different strains of Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter. The panel also includes the Shiga toxin-producing strain of E. coli. Veredus hopes to have the test certified by the Association of Analytical Communities Research Institute (AOAC) as a performance-tested method, said Mr. Daniel Floerke, Director of Sales and Marketing. AOAC performance-tested method status assures user that a test has undergone an independent third-party review and meets all its performance claims.

According to Mr. Floerke, a number of firms have developed chip-based, food-testing assays, but VereFoodborne is faster than existing methods of food testing, which are largely based on culture, as recommended in the Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, while BAM methods can take up to three days, VereFoodborne is completed in just two hours. “We extract the nucleic acid, we screen it on the panel and get results,” Mr. Floerke said. A standard 1 in × 3 in VereChip contains enough space to host up to 500 individual probes.

Spotting Salmonella with a high-sensitivity test

bioMérieux, a multinational biotechnology company headquartered in France, has announced the launch of VIDAS® UP Salmonella (SPT), an innovative food safety testing method that utilizes recombinant bacteriophage (phage) proteins to offer best-in-class specificity and sensitivity for the targeted detection of Salmonella bacteria in food and environmental samples. The technology complements the company’s VIDAS E. coli O157 (including H7) phage technology for the detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7. Licensed exclusively to bioMérieux, the recombinant phage technology was developed by the German biotech company Hyglos GmbH.

The new VIDAS SPT assay is able to detect low levels of contamination by Salmonella and is one of the most rapid and easy-to-use diagnostic tools available for the screening of Salmonella in both standard and large-size food samples. The technology provides an extremely simple, one-step sample preparation, which reduces laboratory hands-on time and delivers results in as little as 19 hours as compared with reference methods that require up to three days. “Because phages are extremely host-specific, they can offer unrivalled specificity and sensitivity for targeted capture, detection and differentiation of bacteria from a given sample,” explained Dr. Lawrence Goodridge, an associate professor of food microbiology at Colorado State University in the United States.

Reducing allergens in groundnut with ultraviolet light

At the University of Florida, the United States, a researcher has developed a new technique to make groundnut (peanut) safer for people allergic to it. Dr. Weihua Yang, an assistant professor of food science, used pulsed ultraviolet light (PUV) to reduce the allergenic potential of groundnut by up to 90 per cent. By releasing pulsed bursts of light containing multiple wavelengths, PUV changes groundnut allergens so that human antibodies can’t recognize them and cause the release of histamines, which cause allergy symptoms such as itching, rashes and wheezing.

“We believe the allergen can be controlled at the processing stage, before the product even goes to the shelf,” Dr. Yang said. Using PUV, Dr. Yang, a member of Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, reduced the allergenic potential of three of the most allergenic proteins in groundnut. The reduction of one of the proteins – Ara h2, the most potent of the three – marked the first time this reduction has ever been achieved with PUV. Dr. Yang confirmed the allergy reduction using a biochemical test and by exposing the proteins to serum samples from patients with groundnut allergies to see if an allergic reaction occurred. Allergens were reduced in extracts and butter made from groundnut. Preliminary, unpublished results also demonstrate that PUV can significantly reduce the allergenic potential of whole groundnut.

New method to detect drugs in several milk types

A Spanish-Moroccan research team has developed a novel method that makes it possible to simultaneously detect pharmaceutical products in cow’s, goat’s and human milk. The method developed by researchers at the universities of Jaén and Córdoba in Spain and the Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Morocco can detect simultaneously 20 kinds of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antiseptics, lipid regulators, beta-blockers and hormones in various kinds of milks.

“We used this methodology to analyse 20 samples of cow’s milk (fresh, whole, semi-skimmed, skimmed and powdered), goat’s milk (whole and semi-skimmed) and breast milk from human volunteers, and we found that the drug content differs according to the type of milk,” Mr. Evaristo Ballesteros, a researcher at the University of Jaén and the study’s leader, said. The highest number of pharmaceuticals – particularly the anti-inflammatories niflumic acid, mefenamic acid and ketoprofen, and the hormone 17-beta-estradiol – was found in whole cow’s milk. Niflumic acid was also found in goat’s milk, along with flunixin. Human milk analysed also contained anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen and naproxen), as well as the antiseptic triclosan and some hormones, such as 17-alfa-ethinyl estradiol, 17-beta-estradiol and estrone.

The researchers agree that the results of the study cannot be extrapolated to all kinds of milk in general due to the small number of samples analysed, but they say it does confirm the validity of the method. The technique uses a “system of continuous extraction of substances in solid phase” and classifies them using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. “The validation results clearly show that this method is the most sensitive and one of the most selective described to date in the scientific literature,” claims Mr. Ballesteros. The method is also very precise, with short run times (around 30 min).


Natural flavour enhancer

LycoRed, Israel, has introduced LycoRed SANTE – a patented and natural tomato concentrate designed to successfully enhance taste and flavour in place of artificial flavour components or flavour enhancers. LycoRed’s food scientists have succeeded in separating out and concentrating all the taste enhancing components that exist naturally in the tomato, liberating a natural flavour enhancer suitable for a wide range of applications. In many cases, LycoRed SANTE can be used to enhance flavour and thereby reduce the amount of salt added to a product.

“The good news is that, in some cases, you can save up to 10-20 per cent of product cost just by replacing expensive ingredients, while at the same time reducing sodium and enable a clean label,” explains Mr. Ehud Zach, Food Applications Manager at LycoRed. LycoRed SANTE is reportedly a healthy, natural solution for the industry with umami and kokumi flavour characteristics. SANTE can also be cost-saving because of it enables a reduction in traditional formulary ingredients, spices, artificial flavours or tomato paste. The ingredient is heat-resistant, stable at almost all pHs and is suitable for ambient, frozen, baked, cooked and fried products. It is available in liquid form or as a free-flowing powder, which can be mixed directly into dough or food mixes, applied as a seasoning, dusted on or even applied with a brush.

Fully cooked food-aid product

Scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed a fully cooked food-aid product called Instant Corn Soy Blend that supplements meals, particularly for young children. The work was led by food technologist Mr. Charles Onwulata at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Dairy Processing and Products Research Unit at the agency’s Eastern Regional Research Centre (ERRC).

Mr. Onwulata worked with a team of USDA scientists, programme managers, policy administrators and international aid agencies for more than a decade while developing the new emergency aid meal. He developed the new food product using the same type of machines that are used to make fully cooked puffed snacks and cereals. The extrusion technology used to make Instant Corn Soy Blend cooks food completely in a short time under high heat and high pressure. The crunchy, fully cooked product exits the extruder through an opening at the end of the machine in under two minutes. The resulting product is then crushed and milled to form the ration. The ARS technology significantly enhances the uniform distribution of added vitamins and minerals in a supplemental food ration that can be used for overseas delivery for mass feeding of young children and others.

Fat-replacing starch ingredient

The newly launched starch Creamiz from Tate & Lyle, the global ingredients and food solutions provider based in the United Kingdom, has won the 2011 Ringier Technology Innovation Award for best food & beverage ingredient. Creamiz was first introduced as a part of Tate & Lyle’s Optimize platform, aiming to balance recipe costs by replacing fat, without changing the texture. It is also used in Tate & Lyle’s Create platform adding a unique smoothness and richness to a product’s mouth feel without adding additional fat. Creamiz uses unique starch modification technology to make it a leading contender for fat substitution in a wide range of food products. The ingredient will not affect the creaminess of products it is used in, but instead will complement and enhance their existing texture, creating a rich and full bodied flavour, the company says.

“When using Creamiz, a low-fat product can have the texture of the full fat version, and a full-fat product can have the indulgent mouthfeel of a premium product, at low cost in use,” said Mr. Sebastian Lemke, Senior Product Manager of Tate & Lyle Asia Pacific. The company’s consumer research has shown that consumers are not willing to compromise on taste and texture in healthy foods. The research has also shown that ‘creaminess’ is a key driver in consumer’s preference for dairy products. Creamiz adds value to customers by directly addressing these market needs. It can be used on standard food manufacturing lines, and does not require any specific equipment to be added. It is suitable for use in wide range of products including yogurts, dairy desserts and ice-cream.

Safe and sustainable vanillin technology

Rhodia Group, based in France, has introduced its industry-leading food-safe and sustainable technology for manufacturing Rhovanil Extra Pure vanillin and Rhodiarome Extra Pure ethyl vanillin. This unique fully integrated process avoids the usage of unauthorized products such as toluene, features the lowest level of liquid effluents and ensures a very high consistency in purity of 99.97 per cent. Rhovanil Extra Pure vanillin and Rhodiarome Extra Pure ethyl vanillin, are both food-safe products meant for use in bakery, chocolate, confectionery, beverages and other dairy product applications. They are also kosher-certified and meet halal requirements.

Rhodia’s production facilities in the United States and France recently converted several steps of the manufacturing process to the use of food grade bio-ethanol as a solvent. This worldwide conversion is part of the environmentally responsible guaiacol, ex-catechol, route utilized at those facilities. To secure the highest safety standards, Rhodia is pursuing certification of its food safety management system under the stringent FSSC 22000 international standard. Both of Rhodia’s manufacturing plants have been certified under ISO 9001 and comply with the requirements of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and the American Institute of Baking.

Onion waste contains healthful compounds

Onion waste – including the dry brown skin, the outer layers, roots and stalks – are rich in compounds that are known to be beneficial for human health, according to new research. Researchers at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, and Cranston University, the United States, said the brown skin and external layers are rich in fibre and flavonoids, while the discarded bulbs contain sulphurous compounds and fructans. “The results show that it would be useful to separate the different parts of onions produced during the industrial process. This would enable them to be used as a source of functional compounds to be added to other foodstuffs,” the researchers said.

The researchers conducted a series of laboratory experiments to identify the substances and possible uses of each part of the onion. According to them, the brown skin could be used as a functional ingredient high in dietary fibre (principally the non-soluble type) and phenolic compounds, such as quercetin and other flavonoids (plant metabolites with medicinal properties). The two outer fleshy layers of the onion also contain fibre and flavonoids. They also suggested using the internal parts and whole onions that are thrown away as a source of fructans and sulphurous compounds.

Coriander oil can tackle food poisoning

Coriander oil, produced from the seeds of the coriander plant (Coriandrum sativum), has been shown to be toxic to a broad range of harmful bacteria. Its use in foods and in clinical agents could prevent food-borne illnesses and even treat antibiotic-resistant infections, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Beira Interior in Portugal tested coriander oil against 12 bacterial strains, such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Bacillus cereus and meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Of the tested strains, all showed reduced growth, and most were killed by solutions containing 1.6 per cent coriander oil or less.

Coriander oil is one of the 20 most-used essential oils in the world, and is already used as a food additive. The new study not only shows that coriander oil has an antibacterial effect, but also provides an explanation for how it works, which was not previously understood. “The results indicate that coriander oil damages the membrane surrounding the bacterial cell. This disrupts the barrier between the cell and its environment and inhibits essential processes including respiration, which ultimately leads to death of the bacterial cell,” explained Dr. Fernanda Domingues who led the current study.


New methods to spot potential food spoilers

Micro-organisms such as bacteria, yeasts and moulds can cause food spoilage and deterioration during food production, and can cause major problems for the food industry as well as consumers. In Norway, researchers have developed new methods to identify potential sources of contamination. The participants in a study carried out by the research institute Nofima Mat and packaging company Elopak have developed a more effective method of identifying infection sources that is faster and more economical to use.

Using a spectrometer, the researchers are able to detect undesirable micro-organisms in finished products and trace them back to the various steps in the production process. Scientists have long used Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy as a method of chemical analysis, and for the last two decades for identifying bacteria as well. The method can also detect microbes in air, fluids and many other substances. “But no one had so far used the method for identifying food contaminants,” says Mr. Henri-Pierre Suso, a researcher at Elopak and leader of the current study.

Researchers at Nofima Mat have taken spectral readings of various microbes collected from a wide variety of foods, including juice and milk, and developed a database. Each microbe has its own unique spectral profile, which functions much like a fingerprint and was used for identification purposes. When an unknown microbe is found, a spectral reading of it is taken and its profile is compared with those already in the database, explains Mr. Suso. He is convinced that the new method is the most cost-effective solution.

Environment-friendly process extends probiotics storage

Normally, probiotic bacteria are mostly freeze-dried before they are used in high concentrations in foods. However, the freeze-drying kills some probiotics, and the process is also very energy-consuming. The probiotics is first frozen and then heat is introduced into the sample to convert the ice directly into steam, which removes water from the bacterial culture. Scientists from Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), Germany, decided to avoid this “detour” and find a drying process that is gentler and more environmentally friendly. They have now developed a particularly gentle method that is energy- and cost-efficient. It also makes probiotics less perishable and allows the use of thus far unutilized probiotics.

The TUM researchers applied low temperature vacuum drying (LTVD), a process that runs under mild conditions. The product remains in a liquid state since in a vacuum, the evaporation takes place at low temperatures. This method requires 40 per cent less energy than freeze-drying. Using three probiotic bacterial strains, Dr. Petra Först’s team at the TUM Chair of Food Process Engineering and Dairy Technology first determined the optimal LTVD conditions and then compared the results with conventional freeze-drying.

The results were unexpected: LTVD partially resulted in a higher survival rate than conventional drying. For instance, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, the yoghurt strain that barely survives freeze-drying, showed a ten times higher yield following LTVD. The new process will allow new probiotic candidates that are too fragile for conventional manufacturing processes to be used in the food industry. It also increases storage stability. However, the probiotics that handle freeze-drying very well performed poorly in LTVD. Thus, the optimal drying process depends on the bacterial strain.

Dr. Jürgen Behr and his team at the TUM Chair of Technical Microbiology looked for differences between bacterial strains that might explain the disparate behaviour during drying. The secret could be traced back to the bacterial cell membranes that guard the bacteria from environmental influences. The researchers demonstrated that in probiotics this adaptable “shield” has a different fatty acid composition for every bacterial strain. They can now even control this composition by adjusting the cultivation conditions before the drying process. In an experiment they successfully increased the survival rate of a bacterial strain by about 50 per cent, just by optimizing growth conditions.

A natural antimicrobial for cottage cheese

Danisco USA Inc., the United States, has introduced MicroGARD 430, a natural antimicrobial that can be used in the processing of cottage cheese filled above 7°C and up to 13°C, improving the texture and mouthfeel of traditional cottage cheese and saving cottage cheese producers both time and energy. Until now, producers could only use potassium sorbate, a chemical preservative, in cottage cheese operations filled above 7°C. MicroGARD 430 provides a natural alternative that addresses the consumers’ demand for improved cottage cheese flavour and dairy processors’ demand for processing flexibility. MicroGARD 430, approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), curtails the growth of a wide array of harmful and spoilage bacteria, as well as various yeasts and moulds. It consists of cultured, non-recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), grade-A, non-fat dry milk powder.

A bio-preservative against food-borne bacteria

Researchers at University of Minnesota (UM), the United States, have discovered and patented a naturally occurring lantibiotic (a peptide produced by a harmless bacteria) that could be added to food to kill harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Listeria. The newly discovered lantibiotic is the first natural preservative found to kill typically the harmful Gram-negative bacteria. “Of the natural preservatives, it has a broader umbrella of bugs that it can protect against,” said Prof. Dan O’Sullivan, at UM College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

The lantibiotic could be used to prevent harmful bacteria in meats, processed cheeses, egg, dairy products, canned foods, seafood, salad dressing, fermented beverages and many other foods. It is also easy to digest, non-toxic, hypoallergic and difficult for harmful bacteria to develop resistance against. Prof. O’Sullivan chanced upon the lantibiotic while researching the genome of bacteria. He then collaborated with Mr. Ju-Hoon Lee, a UM graduate student, to continue the research. The UM Office for Technology Commercialization is seeking to license the technology. Contact: Mr. John Merritt, Director, Communications, Office of the VP for Research, University of Minnesota, 101 Pleasant Street, Minneapolis, MN 55455, United States of America. Tel: +1 (612) 624 2609; Fax: +1 (612) 626 7431; E-mail:

Bran may improve shelf-life of bakery products

Bran may extend the shelf-life of bakery products and improve their taste profile, according to a new study conducted at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. In the study, the researchers compared cakes made using bran modified with endoxylanase enzyme and cakes made with unmodified bran. The results showed that after seven days of storage, cakes made with enzyme-modified bran had up to 50-60 per cent less staling than cakes formulated with normal bran. Both rice bran and oat bran were used at 0 ppm, 70 ppm and 700 ppm levels. When the cakes were tasted by a panel of volunteers, the cakes made using the enzyme-modified bran scored higher in both the fresh and stored state, compared with the cakes made with untreated bran.

Rapid food chilling technology

NanoICE Inc., the United States, has developed a technology to quickly chill foods. The ‘Molecular Ice Technology’ uses ice particles dispensed in liquid form to chill foods, while using 70 per cent less energy and 90 per cent less refrigerant than other chilling methods, NanoICE said. The new slurry-like “nanoice” can cool food up to 20 times faster than other methods. Chilling food faster – be it seafood, poultry, or fruits and vegetables – can cut down on bacteria, lipid oxidation and other effects that harm food on its way to market. The nanoice cubes are smaller than a micron, which lets much more surface area touch the food it is cooling, producing a faster heat transfer. It also takes a liquid form that initiates cooling immediately, unlike conventional ice, which must melt to do its work. It is also softer than solid ice and doesn’t bruise fragile foods like seafood during shipment, NanoICE’s CEO Mr. Craig Rominger says.


A functional beverage with high protein content

Ms. Laura T. Rodriguez Furlán and co-researchers at Universidad Nacional de San Luis, Argentina, have developed a beverage formulation containing high-quality proteins, inulin, stevia and vitamin C. The protein source was bovine plasma, which was concentrated and demineralized by combined membrane methodologies of microfiltration, ultrafiltration and discontinuous diafiltration. The use of inulin as protective agent to prevent protein concentrate denaturation during freeze-drying was assayed. Inulin is a versatile food ingredient with health benefits. The powder obtained showed improved sensory characteristic and high solubility. Stevia – a low-carbohydrate sugar alternative – was added for sweetness. The formulation could be used as protein supplement with functional properties or for special dietary use.

Non-thermal pulsed electric field technology for milk

Iris Research and Development, an advanced engineering and research provider in Spain, is coordinating a “Smartmilk” consortium backed by the European Commission and joined by engineering, consulting and dairy firms. The Smartmilk project, officially launched in October 2010, seeks to better preserve the taste and nutrition of milk while retaining the safety and shelf-life of pasteurized milk. The effort follows prior successful research into non-thermal pulsed electric field (PEF) technology, which processes milk at a significantly lower temperature while delivering a safe product that preserves the integrity of milk fat and proteins, enzymatic activity and all other desirable attributes. The Smartmilk project seeks to deliver those results along with evidence that shelf-life can match that of conventionally pasteurized milk.

A PEF processing system has three basic components: a high-voltage power supply, a pulse modulator to switch the voltage on and off very rapidly, and a treatment chamber where pulses are applied to the product flowing through pipes and the electrodes. In PEF milk pasteurization, milk flows through narrowly spaced electrodes and is subjected to quick pulses to break open the cell walls of vegetative bacteria, mould and yeast. Process parameters such as electrode spacing, voltage and pulse modulation vary with application. A large, commercial fluid milk application, for instance, might require a treatment chamber diameter (and electrode spacing) of 1.5 cm. The larger the span, the higher the voltage required to maintain the desired electric field. Most food applications are in the 30-35 kV/cm range. The pulse duration is of a few microseconds.

PEF does not kill spores because they do not have an active cell wall PEF can work on. However, PEF can be used in conjunction with other technologies. The Smartmilk project is taking a cue from earlier research at University College Dublin, Ireland, where researchers used PEF with manothermosonication (MTS), which combines heat, ultrasound and pressure, but less of heat than conventional pasteurization requires. That research reduced inactivation of Lactobacillus innocua on a par with conventional pasteurization. The combination of PEF and MTS may be an effective treatment for spores – something the Smartmilk project will test, among other things.

Sparkling probiotic drink

KeVita Inc., the United States, has introduced KeVita organic probiotic drinks, which combines organic ingredients – such as fruits, coconut water, teas and organic plant extracts – with probiotics. KeVita uses four strains of active probiotics, including those originating from kefir-derived culture, a traditional source of beneficial digestive flora in the North Caucasus region. KeVita is available in nine flavours – coconut, mango-coconut, lemon-ginger, strawberry-acai, pomegranate-coconut, pomegranate, living greens and green tea – of which five flavours are certified organic and the remaining four are made with organic ingredients. Kevita is claimed to deliver more active cultures than yogurt. KeVita is free from dairy, lactose, gluten and soy. Contact: KeVita Inc., Consumer Services, 6043 Olivas Park Drive, Ste. C, Ventura, CA 93003, United States of America. E-mail:


Butterfly pack: a flexible packaging innovation

Ampac – a leading provider of retail, food and medical packaging based in the United States – has introduced the Butterfly Pack™ – a unique unit-dose packaging format. The Butterfly Pack was developed for single-handed dispensing using a sachet format. It is manufactured from two high barrier films – a flexible top web and a semi-rigid forming web. To dispense, the pack is picked up by using one hand. By squeezing the opposite edges towards each other, the Butterfly Pack folds and “snaps” open providing an engineered and controlled release of the contents.

Features and benefits of the Butterfly Pack include accurate product dosing that eliminates product overfill, controlled dispensing to avoid accidental spills, lower costs when compared with bottles and tubes, and better image quality than wrinkled and hard-to-open sachets. Machinery used for production of the Butterfly Pack is the EasySnap 3 Machine – an automatic vertical form-fill-seal machine with three lanes that forms the four-sided sealed package. The new pack can be used for all types of liquids and flowable wet products, including beverage flavourings, creamers, food additives, condiments, cleaners, shampoos, lotions, hand sanitizers, etc. Contact: Ampac, 12025 Tricon Road, Cincinnati, Ohio, OH 45246, United States of America. Tel: +1 (517) 671 1777.

Antibacterial film targets E. coli

Spanish polypropylene film company Derprosa has launched a new biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film to combat Escherichia coli in the packaging of fresh fruits, vegetables and salads. The novelty of the film is that it combines antibacterial and antifog properties, making sure that nearly all the bacteria are eliminated and improving the optical appearance of the food as it does not allow surface wetness, claims the company. In independent tests at Industrial Microbiological Services Limited, the United Kingdom, researchers noted that 99.9 per cent of bacteria on the packed product in contact with the film were eliminated. Specifically designed to kill E. coli bacteria, the patent-pending technology is marketed as DF 301 Antibacterial Co-extrudate and DF 308 Antibacterial Antifog Co-Extrudate. The standard film thickness is 30 µm, although other thicknesses are available on request, and the reel width is less than 12 mm.

‘Green’ food packaging films

Wipak Group, Germany, is offering a new range of sustainable food packaging films using Cardia BiohybridTM patented technology, which combines renewable thermoplastics with polyolefin material to reduce dependence on finite oil resources and to reduce carbon footprint. Biohybrid technology helps Wipak to offer the food and medical packaging industry a product that is environmentally responsible and meets the markets performance requirements, says Dr. Frank Glatz, Managing Director of Australia-based Cardia Bioplastics. Cardia Biohybrid resins increase the renewable content of packaging products by up to 50 per cent. These resins are colourable and printable, and can be converted on existing equipment to make typical applications such as over-wrap and shrink-wrap films, thermoformed trays, injection-moulded utensils and blow-moulded containers.

Compostable packaging films

A recent scientific study at the Zurich Food Safety Authority in Switzerland detected alarming levels of mineral oil residues transferring from recycled cardboard packaging into food. The tests also showed that the compostable NatureFlexTM packaging films from Innovia Films Ltd., the United Kingdom, provide an effective barrier against such mineral oil residues. NatureFlex complies with European standard EN 13432 for compostable packaging, offering an alternative disposal route.

Traces of mineral oil residues in food are thought to migrate from the printing inks present both on the packaging surface and in recycled newspapers used in the production of cardboard packaging. Even at room temperature, these residues can migrate and be deposited on packaged dry foods, such as pasta, rice and breakfast cereals.

The tests conducted on our NatureFlexTM films showed that when used as the inner bag or as a pouch, they provide a very good barrier against mineral oil residues. They also provide standard oxygen and moisture barrier properties needed to pack dried foods to ensure optimum product quality and maximise shelf-life, according to Mr. Paul Barker, Product Manager for NatureFlex films.

‘Green’ plastics promise optimized performance

A new range of polylactic acid (PLA) plastics has overcome a major trade-off in properties that has prevented previous PLA formulations from providing eco-friendly alternatives to polystyrene and polypropylene in packaging such as microwaveable frozen food trays, claims Teknor Apex, the United States. Terraloy BP-39070 series can be used in applications where sustainability and compostability are important. In microwavable take-away containers, Terraloy BP-39070 compounds would replace pulped fibre as well as polypropylene. As a replacement for polystyrene in lids for hot drinks, the compounds would be used with cups that are also compostable.

The enhanced PLA compounds for extrusion and thermoforming have a bio-based content level of around 90 per cent. They meet the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirement for food-contact applications. Teknor Apex also expects the new compounds to meet ASTM D-6400 specification and qualify for Biodegradable Products Institute certification for composting.

The new breakthrough involves formulating the PLA-based compounds in a way that overcomes a trade-off with standard PLA between the heat distortion temperature (HDT) and the Izod impact strength of the resulting material, said Teknor Apex. The range exhibits up to two times the HDT and more than four times the impact strength of standard PLA resins. Terraloy BP-39070 has been optimized for extrusion and thermoforming, building in greater melt strength than is available with standard PLA and providing for a faster crystallization rate. In property tests, a typical grade in the new series offers an HDT of 100°C and Izod impact strength of 69 J/m, the company reports.


An innovative machine for small-scale rice milling

Researchers from Thailand’s Kasetsart University have made an innovation – a small rice milling machine that makes substantial savings for rural communities by eliminating the cost and time involved in transporting paddy to far-away rice mills. The new rice mill can dehusk 100 kg of paddy per hour, effectively separating rice from bran and husk. The portable machine weighs only 350 kg and includes cleaning equipment, a conveyor belt system and a rice hulling appliance. A unit costs 45,000 baht (around US$1,455). As a first step, 120 machines were manufactured for the communities living far away from upcountry rice mills.

Fully dry sterilization machine

Krones AG, Germany, has launched its second ever fully dry aseptic machine for dry sterilization. The PET-Asept D Compact is an aseptic filler developed for mid-size companies manufacturing low-acid products such as milks and certain juices. Unlike traditional alternatives, the new filler requires no sterile water to operate. Instead, the bottles and the isolator are sterilized with gaseous hydrogen peroxide. Besides saving on water, installing a dry system can help improve output, said Mr. Roland Laumer, Manager of R&D at Krones. This is mainly because in a dry machine it is possible to do both internal and external bottle sterilization in one chamber and it is not necessary to turn the bottle for water rinsing.

PET-Asept D Compact offers a high output level for a compact design. The machine fits into an area of 6 m × 2 m and has an output range of 6,000 to 12,000 containers an hour. It can be installed as a stand-alone component or fitted with a stretch blow-moulding machine. There is no need to warm up the bottles before they enter the filler, as they arrive at the right temperature from the blow moulder. This ensures that the machine is economical.

Energy-saving cooking for confectionery products

Baker Perkins, the United Kingdom, has introduced an energy-saving technology that enhances the efficiency of the Baker Perkins Microfilm confectionery cooker. The new technology features reduced energy consumption by reclaiming and using process heat that would otherwise go waste. The Microfilm is a versatile cooker that is at the heart of many Baker Perkins AutoCook systems. The rapid, thin-film process is ideal for most types of sugar, low-sugar and sugar-free candies, such as those with dairy components.

The first new feature captures flash vapour released by the product between the pre- and final-cook stages and normally vented to atmosphere. The vapour is passed through a heat exchanger to heat water for use in hot water systems or process applications. The second feature uses the high-temperature condensate from the steam heating system for the Microfilm tube to generate flash steam that is used in the syrup pre-cooker. This lowers the overall steam requirement for the Microfilm cooker and reduces energy losses from the condensate as it returns to the boiler.

Compared with traditional cooking methods, the Microfilm is claimed to deliver greater product variety, superior quality and higher operational efficiency. This is achieved by applying vacuum directly onto a thin, swept film during cooking, which ensures very rapid cooking with negligible process inversion or caramelization. These features are also making these cookers to be used increasingly for low boiling for products such as caramels, toffees, chews and fudges, high-solids jellies and gums as well as hard candies and lollipops. Contact: Baker Perkins Limited, Manor Drive, Paston Parkway, Peterborough PE4 7AP, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1733) 283000; Fax: +44 (1733) 283001; E-mail:

Vacuum cooling for bakeries

Vacuum baking, or vacuum cooling, of bakery products has been around for more than 40 years, but it is only now that the technology has reached a level of maturity where it can gain wide acceptance. Mr. Patrick Duss, who heads the Swiss company Aston Foods, has helped the technology achieve a comeback a few years ago. He considers vacuum baking to be suitable for all types of bakery product with a moisture content of 5 per cent and more. The method offers numerous benefits: products stay crusty and fresh longer; have a larger baked volume; and have better flavour. Furthermore, the process is fast and energy-efficient. “Baking times can be cut by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent,” promises Mr. Duss, “and energy costs sink by 60 per cent since shock frosting and freezer logistics are no longer necessary.”

Baking products turn brown and crusts form at the end of a conventional baking process when water caught in the surface of the dough evaporates. This occurs relatively slowly and requires a great deal of heat. Fully baked bread must then cool down to moderate temperatures (or be shock-frosted) before it can be handled, which also requires time and energy. Both processes – the drying of the crust and cooling – can be expedited through vacuum baking. It is not thermal baking that takes place in the vacuum but the subsequent cooling, which is an enthalpy cooling process. The reduction in pressure causes the boiling point of the water caught in the product to sink, and because it evaporates, it removes heat from the product (vaporisation enthalpy). In practical terms, the bread is removed after baking for a shorter period in the conventional oven and immediately moved hot to the vacuum chamber where the crust can form completely (through drying only, not browning) and the bread can cool down.

Aston claims that vacuum-baked packed bread can be stored for up to four weeks without the risk of mould since the vacuum uses sterile air. In addition, bread can be sliced in four minutes after baking. Mr. Duss recommends this method for large-scale industrial bakeries and assures that capital investment would be recovered in 18 months. A batch vacuum chamber has a capacity of 6,800 bread rolls per hour, “freeing up 30 per cent of baking capacity at the same time,” Mr. Duss points out. Continuous vacuum systems with a capacity of over 44,000 items are also available. Contact: Aston Foods Ltd., Industriestrasse 13, 6343 Rotkreuz, Switzerland. Tel: +41 (58) 666 0600; E-mail:


Improving the Safety and Quality of Eggs and Egg Products

Improving the Safety and Quality of Eggs and Egg Products is a two-volume series that reviews recent research on the factors influencing egg quality and new technologies to assure egg safety. Volume 1 on Egg Chemistry, Production and Consumption reviews recent research in the areas of disease, egg quality and the development of new technologies to assure egg safety. It comprehensively covers free-range, processed and organic egg production. Part one sets the scene with information on egg production and consumption in certain countries. Part two provides essential information on egg formation and chemistry. Factors that impact egg quality – the role of poultry breeding, hen nutrition and laying environment, etc. – are the focus of part three. Part four looks at organic and free-range egg production, the impact of egg production on the environment and non-poultry eggs. A chapter on processed egg products completes the volume.

Volume 2 on Egg Safety and Nutritional Quality focuses on egg safety and nutritional quality with reference to various egg contaminants. Part one provides an overview of egg contaminants, covering microbial pathogens as well as chemical residues. Salmonella control in laying hens is the focus of part two. Chapters cover essential topics such as monitoring and control procedures in laying flocks and egg decontamination methods. Finally, part three looks at the role of eggs in nutrition and other health applications. Chapters cover dietary cholesterol, egg allergy, egg enrichment and bioactive fractions of eggs, among other topics. Both volumes are essential reference books for managers in the egg industry, food industry professionals using eggs and those with a research interest in the subject.<p>Contact: Woodhead Publishing Limited, 80 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge, CB22 3HJ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1223) 499140; Fax: +44 (1223) 832819; E-mail:</html>


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