VATIS Update Food Processing . May-Jun 2010

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Food Processing May-Jun 2010

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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WHO explores boosted calcium and magnesium fortification

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended magnesium and calcium fortification of water supplies and foodstuff after reviewing science and research in the area. In a recently released book, WHO said well-documented deficiencies in the minerals could be linked with heart disease, bone disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension and other ailments and backed fortification in principle.

In a chapter on cardiovascular health and magnesium, the WHO stated: “Not removing magnesium from drinking water, or in certain situations increasing the magnesium intake from water, may be beneficial, especially for populations with an insufficient dietary intake of the mineral.” It said fortification had become a political issue and wondered, “How strong does the epidemiological and other evidence need to be before society acts to reduce a potential public health threat rather than await further evidence that such a threat is real? Such a decision is a political rather than a purely public health issue.”

WHO said that because calcium and magnesium content varied so widely in bottled waters, labelling should be improved. This idea also translated to municipal water supplies. “All suppliers of water, whether through a piped distribution system or packaged/bottled waters, should make available to the consumer information on the mineral content of their water in order to enable development of guidance to vulnerable sub-groups,” the publication said.

India to triple size of food processing sector

The Government of India recently revealed that it aims to triple the size of the food processing sector within the next decade, which will increase employment opportunities in the industry. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Parliament, the Food Processing Industries Minister, Mr. Subodh Kant Sahai, said: “The Ministry has adopted the Vision 2015, which aims to triple the size of the food sector in 10 year’s time by increasing the level of processing of perishables from 6 per cent to 20 per cent, value addition from 20 per cent to 35 per cent and share in global trade from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent.”

The Minister stated that the food processing sector employed about 13 million people directly and around 35 million people indirectly, adding that implementation of the Vision 2015 would create more jobs.

China approves fish-based food ingredients

China has formally announced that both Omega-3 fish oil and fish oil powder are approved as “Novel Food Ingredients” for all food and beverage categories and for all ages – children through to seniors – according to Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited (ONC), a supplier of Omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) food and dietary supplement ingredients. This is seen as an acknowledgement on the part of the Chinese government that long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary “good” fats that deliver a wide array of health benefits that are most likely missing in the typical Chinese consumer’s diet.

According to an ONC release, it is anticipated the Chinese market will quickly follow the lead of both North America and Europe, where Omega-3 fortified food and beverage new product launches are showing excellent growth. The Chinese market already has some good knowledge of the health benefits of DHA, one of the Omega-3’s, as it is included in many of the Chinese infant formulas to aid in brain and eye development. DHA from fish oil already had regulatory coverage in China as a nutritional fortifier allowed to be added to infant formula and children’s foods.

Malaysian instant noodles market to see steady growth

The instant noodles market in Malaysia will see steady growth of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent this year, driven by growing demand. The market value currently is estimated at M$800-900 million (US$250-280 million). Over the past eight years, the industry growth was higher than the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), said the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA) Governor for Malaysia, Mr. Izham Mohamed. “The growth is based on increasing demand and the shift from fresh noodles to instant noodles,” he added.

Mr. Izham, who is also Executive Director of the Food Business Unit of Nestle Products Sdn. Bhd., said that local instant noodles manufacturers must be competitive, efficient and dynamic to face the stiff competition from regional industry players. The increase in imports that has followed the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the China-ASEAN FTA agreements will help the market grow and, on the other hand, create competition for local instant noodles manufacturers. Another challenge faced by the manufacturers is the rising cost of raw materials like wheat and palm oil, Mr. Izham said, adding that efficiency and innovation are key to ensure that the additional costs are not passed on to consumers. He suggested that the local manufacturers emulate the technology in Japan and the Republic of Korea, countries that are very advanced in terms of the noodles concept.

Philippines could become South East Asia’s food safety hub

The Philippines is tipped to become a food safety hub in South East Asia with the US$2-US$5 million Traceability Centre for Agro-Industrial Exports (TRACE) being established in the country by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The Philippine Trace, or P Trace, will be the South East Asian counterpart of the Egyptian Trace, or E Trace, which was earlier established by UNIDO and has already become the food safety centre in the African-Mediterranean area. P Trace is projected to be completed within three years.

“There is a growing interest in food traceability, and this has an impact on all exporters of food products from the Philippines to Europe. If you don’t have a traceability system, you can’t export to Europe,” said Mr. Gerardo Patacconi, Quantity Standards and Conformity Head of UNIDO’s Trade Capacity Building Branch. Food traceability involves the use of food safety certification like the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), halal certification, and related technologies.

P Trace, which is part of UNIDO’s Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), will have its food safety experts trained in E Trace. “The idea is to establish food safety competency in each crop. Each crop will have its own system to manage the supply chain,” said Mr. Patacconi. P Trace could make the Philippines a centre for training other potential food safety experts in the region.

Boom time for Viet Nam’s dried seafood exports

The year 2010 could continue to be a successful year for the dried seafood industry after a major export boom in 2009, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). The General Department of Customs (GDC) statistics reveal that Viet Nam exported 43,000 tonnes of dried seafood in 2009, reaping US$160 million, an increase of 31.2 per cent in quantity and 9.9 per cent more in value compared with 2008. In the first three months of this year, Viet Nam exported 6,258 tonnes of dried seafood worth US$24.2 million, according to GDC. In March alone, the exports were 3,232 tonnes of products valued at US$.8 million, an increase of 45.4 per cent in quantity and 3.5 per cent in quality in comparison with the same period of 2009.

Viet Nam’s dried seafood products have seen very satisfactory growth rates year after year in more than 50 countries worldwide. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had been the main export market for Viet Nam’s dried seafood products. However, in 2009 the Republic of Korea, surpassing ASEAN, became the biggest import market, consuming approximately 12,000 tonnes of Viet Nam’s dried seafood – an increase of a significant 147.3 per cent from 2008.

Despite the great potentials, traditionally Viet Nam has not paid adequate attention to pushing up the export of dried seafood. Vietnamese export products in general have some weak points. One of the problems is the poor labelling and packaging. Also, Vietnamese exporters have not been aware of the importance of marketing and they do not have long-term strategies to prosper in export markets.

Republic of Korea to form global grain company

To better protect the country from fallout from global price hikes, the Republic of Korea aims to set up a global grain purchasing and distribution company. According to Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corp. (KAFT), the state-run agriculture trading corporation, the plan calls for the new grain handling company to set up an international distribution network in the next 10 years.

This would allow purchase of products directly from farmers in foreign countries and distribute the wheat, corn and beans around the world, KAFT said. The company can also invest directly in foreign farms or control stakes in agricultural operations, it said. At present, the Republic of Korea is overly dependent on international traders such as Cargill, ADM, Louis Dreyfus and Bunge that control the global grain market. The country often paid more for grain purchased through such companies than it would have if they bought products on the open market, according to a report by the Korea Rural Economic Institute.

KAFT officials said the new company can be set up initially with 200 billion won (US$172 million) in capital, which should allow it to purchase grain elevators or silos near areas of production and at harbours, and allow it to engage in trading activities at the Chicago Board of Trade. The grain purchased can be shipped to the country, sold to overseas buyers and food processing companies, or traded on the futures market to generate additional profits.

Thai move to put more data on food bar codes

Thailand’s Agriculture Ministry – in collaboration with IBM, IBM’s business partner FXA Group and CAT Telecom – has initiated a pilot project to adopt software that monitors the food supply chain. Farmers and retailers should be able to obtain 5-10 per cent more revenue as a result of greater consumer confidence resulting from the initiative, the Ministry officials said.

The project invited 600 farmers and other food producers such as fishermen to use the food-tracing software from IBM to enable participants in the food supply chain to access information on production and handling. The ministry invested about US$278,000 million to set up the Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS) for tracing food from the farm. EPCIS lets consumers know the farm of origin, the date of harvest, the temperature during shipping and other factors – all from the bar code on the product. Mr. Niwat Sutemechaikul, Secretary-General of the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards, said the Ministry would work closely with IBM to help about 600 food producers and exporters of livestock, fishery and fresh fruits and vegetables to use the software on their products. He said the Ministry targeted having 70 per cent of the country’s 500,000 farms to use the system within three years.


FAO helps Viet Nam boost food hygiene management

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is helping Viet Nam implement several activities related to food quality, hygiene and safety. Speaking at a seminar on “Communication Work: 2010 Action Month for Food Quality, Hygiene and Safety” held in Hanoi this April, FAO Chief Representative in Viet Nam Mr. Andrew W. Speedy said that the project will help Viet Nam build a qualified staff of food inspectors trained in the standards and methods of food inspection, serving as a core for implementing the national-level inspection plans.

According to Viet Nam’s Department of Food Hygiene and Safety (DFHS), at present, the country does not yet have professional food hygiene and safety inspectors, and the work is conducted by 230 health officers. The results of examinations by authorized agencies on vegetable hygiene and safety show that the fruits and vegetables exceeding the permitted limits for pesticide residue account for 5-15.5 per cent and 11.6-13 per cent respectively. Food hygiene and safety efforts have not reached the expected results, partly because of limited investment. In the 2004-2008 period, the average investment in this field was only a paltry 780 dong (about US$0.04) per head per year.


New Indian law prescribes life term for food adulteration

India’s new anti-adulteration law makes adulteration of food an offence punishable with life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 100,000 (US$2,100), Health and Family Welfare Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad stated in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Parliament. He said the Food Safety and Standards Act passed by the Parliament in 2006 will come into force within 3-4 months. The Act integrates multiplicity of provisions under various food related laws. It will, among other things, regulate food safety standards and uniform licensing in the country. Of the 101 sections in the Act, 43 have been notified so far and the rest will be notified shortly. The delay, he said, was mainly because several subjects were not under the Health Ministry and had to be brought under a common ambit.

China issues rules to tighten supervision of food additives

China’s Ministry of Health has issued new regulations, setting stringent requirements on the use and the approval of food additives. “Regulations of New Food Additives”, published on its website, set six new restrictions on the use of food additives.

The new regulations, which took effect on 22 April 2010, forbid the use of food additives to mislead consumers about the content and quality of food or to fake food content. Using food additives to disguise decaying and bad quality food is also forbidden. Food producers are now required to use the minimum amount of necessary food additives, and are not allowed to use those that would reduce the nutritional value of food.

The Ministry of Health would approve new food additives, only if they are proved to be necessary in food production and safe for humans in tests organized by the Ministry, the new regulations stipulate. The Ministry must conduct reassessments of the safety of its approved food additives if their necessity and safety are questioned by new research results.

Dietary supplements to come under India’s Food Safety Act

India will bring dietary supplements, which are at present not in the purview of any food law, under the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act 2006. The law will be implemented by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) through state governments, municipalities and panchayats, according to FSSAI Chairman Mr. P.I. Suvtharan.

Mr. Suvtharan said that nutraceuticals, which also include functional foods, would be covered under the Act. Dietary supplements for losing or gaining weight, and health improvements have flooded the Rs 45 billion (US$960 million) nutraceutical market in the country. Until recently, these items were imported. But now, some local dairies have started making nutraceutical products.

Formulations under Ayurveda, India’s traditional medicinal system, also will be brought under the Act, and standards will be developed to make it safe for domestic and international markets.

China to restate standard on crude soy oil imports

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine will re-emphasise quality standards for crude soy oil imports, effectively limiting imports, trade sources said. It will tighten checks on solvent residue levels in imports of crude soy oil consignments, ensuring all imported cargoes have a maximum residue level of 100 parts per million, they said.

“None of the imports currently meet this standard,” one soy oil trader pointed out. China imports crude soy oil mainly from Argentina and Brazil, with residue levels at 2-3 times the required limit. Traders said the standard, in place since 2004 though loosely applied in recent years, will restrict soy oil imports but may benefit the domestic crushing industry and sellers of competing edible oils such as palm oil, as well as importers of soybeans, most of which come from the United States.


Test makes light work of contaminant detection

Researchers in the United States have developed a quick and simple test that detects melamine contamination of food. The test provides reliable results in 15 minutes and could be developed into a simple kit to detect melamine in food and feed products in developing countries, they said.

The researchers detected contaminated milk with the new method. First they removed casein, a protein that can interfere with melamine detection, from the milk. They then added gold nanoparticles, which react with melamine and change the colour of the solution from red to blue if it is contaminated. “Our method enables sensitive detection of melamine directly from milk within minutes,” said Na Li, Director of the Integrated Nano-Bio Systems Laboratory at the University of Miami, the United States, and lead author of the study. The technique uses readily available low-cost reagents and equipment, he added, avoiding more expensive methods such as chromatography and mass spectroscopy, and could be carried out by laypeople.

Test for differentiating chicken and pork

The halal or kosher food industry has received a boost from team of researchers at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) that discovered a method of differentiating pork from chicken in food products by using a sugar mixture called ribose. Through the method, which uses the Maillard reaction approach, the two meats will change into different colours in less than two hours as a result of their reaction to the sugar compound.

Prof. Azhar Mat Esa, USM Head of Research and Dean of USM’s School of Graduate Studies and Research, said the test was simple and could be done at home with the right equipment. “All you need to do is to take a piece of meat and mix it with the sugar compound and then heat the meat to a certain temperature for the colour change,” he said. He said that using a spectrophotometer would indicate whether the colour achieved is that of chicken or pork. Prof. Azhar said the new discovery, which would be filed for patent application, would also be useful to differentiate gelatin derived from cows and that derived from pigs.

Metal and contaminant separation systems

S+S Separation and Sorting Technology GmbH, Germany, has introduced sophisticated metal and contaminant separators especially for the meat-processing industry. S+S provides special systems for the various processing stages and critical control points (CCPs) in the meat-processing industry – such as the inspection of raw meat, sausage meat or packed products. Contaminant and metal separators guarantee compliance with International Food Standard (IFS). The mechanical design of S+S systems meets the stringent hygienic demands of the food industry.

The UNICON metal detection system inspects fresh meat or frozen meat blocks transported in containers for unwanted metal contaminations such as meat hooks, butcher tools and particles from broken blades. A contaminated container that passes the metal detector is sorted out. The VARICON metal detection system is primarily used for the final metal check in the outgoing goods sector after packing, during weighing or labelling. The LIQUISCAN VF+ metal separator is designed for the inspection of sausage meat or similar paste materials. When the metal separator detects a metal contamination, the conveying process is stopped, or a pneumatic valve automatically separates the contaminated sausage meat from the filling process into a collecting container.

All S+S metal detectors and separators come with the GENIUS+ control unit, which processes and evaluates the data of the detection coil by way of digital signal processing in a multi-stage evaluation process. The unit features a high basic sensitivity for detection accuracy. Data logging and archiving complies with IFS and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) requirements.

New biomarker for raw milk quality detection

The findings of researchers, led by Dr. Chen-Yu Zhang and Dr. Ke Zen at Nanjing University School of Life Sciences in China, could lead to a totally new standard for milk quality control and possibly to new milk products with specific usage in the future. The research group found that cow milk contains large amount of microRNAs (miRNAs), and that the unique expression profile of milk-specific miRNAs can serve as a novel indicator and possible new standard for the quality control of raw milk and milk-related commercial products, such as fluid milk and powdered formula milk. Through systematic analysis of miRNA in milk via Solexa sequencing and real time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), they found that miRNA profiling was different at various stage of lactation.

Compared with the previous finding by the same group that serum miRNAs serve as non-invasive fingerprint for cancer or other disease, the current study shows that cow milk contains milk-specific miRNAs and their concentrations are generally higher than those in serum. Seven milk-enriched miRNAs selected showed that their levels are proportionately correlated to the content of raw milk. “Compared with traditional indicator for milk, milk miRNA-based biomarker provides more accurate tool for milk quality control because this biomarker contains multiple miRNAs, and these miRNAs actually reflect the various properties of milk,” said Dr. Zhang.

New methods to detect, measure potato phytonutrients

Potatoes come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and this diversity also applies to its phytonutrients, chemical compounds occurring naturally in plants, scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are discovering. Led by geneticists Dr. Roy Navarre and Dr. Chuck Brown at the ARS Vegetable and Forage Crop Research Unit, they have devised new analytical procedures for rapidly detecting and measuring phytonutrient concentrations in the tubers. The researchers profiled the phytonutrient contents of several hundred lines of wild and cultivated potato. For example, their analysis of phytonutrients known as phenolics showed concentrations that ranged from 100 mg to more than 1,500 mg per 100 g dry weight of potatoes.

One type of phenolic, called chlorogenic acid, is being evaluated for its potential to lower blood pressure. Also of interest are potatoes with high antioxidant activity, which is credited with helping neutralize cell-damaging molecules in the body called free radicals. Some potatoes boast antioxidant levels that rival vegetables such as spinach, Dr. Navarre reports.

Improved tea safety and quality

In China, a study team in Anhui Agriculture University is working on tea production safety and associated quality control techniques, contracted under the national food safety and associated key technologies programme. The study team has set up a generic lab for tea quality and safety test, introduced 9 new food safety findings, worked out the criteria for testing pesticide residues and heavy metals in the soils where tea trees are grown, and developed a range of techniques able to quick test formaldehyde. The researchers also developed good practices for tea garden operations, technical regulations for using chemicals, and clean tea processing and production techniques, establishing a quality control system to monitor clean tea production and track tea origins.

The efforts have resulted in a range of much needed technologies for contamination control and automation. The technologies developed enable tea leaves to be processed in a low temperature and in closed and fully automatic environment, making the tea processing industry energy and production efficient, and ensuring high quality and clean production.


Cutting fat and calories from pastries

Delicious new cakes and frostings may someday contain less fat and fewer calories, thanks to work by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists such as Dr. Mukti Singh. She is based at the ARS National Centre for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR). In her experiments, Dr. Singh is formulating low-fat cake mixes and frostings using Fantesk – microdroplets of trans-fat-free cooking oil encapsulated in cornstarch or wheat flour. Fantesk was developed in the 1990s by NCAUR chemists Dr. George Fanta and the late Dr. Kenneth Eskins.

Dr. Singh’s experiments have shown that, when making a cake with a mix that contains Fantesk, cooking oil doesn’t have to be added. And, the mixes containing Fantesk produce low-fat cakes that have better texture and a higher volume. The lower-fat frostings that Dr. Singh and NCAUR chemical engineer Dr. Jeffrey Byars are creating with Fantesk have the smooth texture and spreadability of buttercream favourites, yet contain up to 50 per cent less fat.

Sweetener blends show prebiotic chocolate potential

Blends of low-calorie sweeteners like maltitol with polydextrose boosted gut microflora when formulated in chocolate with excellent tolerance, says a new study from the University of Reading, the United Kingdom. People fed chocolate containing blends of polydextrose and maltitol experienced increases in levels of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, as well as the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), all of which are prominent markers of prebiotic activity.

The study’s findings are important to both consumers and manufacturers, report Ms. Emma Beards, Dr. Kieran Tuohy and Prof. Glenn Gibson from the Department of Food Biosciences. “In the present study, it can be seen that at the optimal dose, the polydextrose blend could not only lower the energetic value of chocolate, but also provide prebiotic effects for the consumers,” they wrote. “What may become problematic for consumers is that over-consumption of certain prebiotics has been reported to result in unwanted intestinal side effects such as increased flatulence or intestinal bloating or pain,” the scientists explained. Not so for the sweetener blends used in this study, according to the data. The research team tested the effects of the bulk sweetener maltitol and the bulking agents, polydextrose and resistant starch, as substitutes for sucrose in chocolate.

Forty volunteers were randomly chosen to receive normal milk chocolate made with sucrose, or chocolate formulated with 22.8 g of maltitol alone, maltitol plus polydextrose, or maltitol plus resistant starch for 14 days. The dose of chocolate was doubled every two weeks over a six week period. At the end of the study, the scientists observed all three test chocolates were associated with increases in levels of Bifidobacteria in the faeces. Furthermore, the polydextrose-maltitol blend was associated with significant increases in Lactobacilli levels after six weeks. This group also experienced increases in levels of beneficial SCFA, including propionate and butyrate. The optimal dose of 34.2 g was found to beneficially impact gut microflora without producing any abdominal discomfort, while simultaneously lowering the caloric intake from the products.

Carotenoid-rich probiotics may offer double value

Carotenoid-producing bacteria with potential probiotic activity may offer a double nutritional boost for food and drink products, reports Professor Simon Cutting from Royal Holloway, University of London, the United Kingdom. Pigmented spores from strains of Bacillus – such as Bacillus indicus HU36 and Bacillus firmus GB1 – may offer food and drink formulators gastric-stable carotenoids as food ingredients, he said.

“There are about 600 types of carotenoids and most are destroyed in the stomach,” Prof. Cutting said. However, carotenoids in bacterial spores appear to be gastric stable, and ongoing studies are establishing bioavailability of the compounds in vitro and in vivo. The developments have been patented by Prof. Cutting, covering a wider range of Bacillus strains that may be used. The pigments – from yellow to orange to red – could also be used as food colourings and functional ingredients, said Prof. Cutting.

Cutting sodium from potato chips by changing shape of salt

PepsiCo, the United States-based multinational food manufacturer that owns Frito-Lay brand, is trying to shake some of the salt out of its potato chips by changing the shape of the salt crystals, so that less salt will be needed. Apparently, only about a fifth of the salt on a potato chip actually dissolves on the tongue while the rest gets swallowed. Therefore, potato chip consumers would not miss the other 80 per cent of the salt, it is reasoned. PepsiCo is confident that it can reduce up to one-quarter of the sodium in its chips using this novel technique.

Dried plum ingredients for salt reduction

In the United States, the California Dried Plum Board released a technical bulletin detailing how dried plum ingredients offer food manufacturers opportunities to reduce the amount of added salt in formulations without negatively impacting formula flavour objectives and maximizing consumer flavour expectations.

According to the bulletin, dried plums contain about 1.5-2.0 per cent naturally occurring malic acid, an organic acid shown to be an effective flavour enhancer. Malic acid is released more slowly than other organic acids and thus has a greater carry-through during the chewing process. Taste retention allows for up to a 20-25 per cent reduction in salt added to food formulations permitting other formula flavour contributors to be more perceptible.

Other characteristics of malic acid are:

  • It intensifies the impact of many flavours in foods or beverages, often reducing the amount of flavour needed;

  • It blends distinct flavours, resulting in a well-rounded flavour experience; improves aftertaste by extending the impact of some flavours;

  • It boosts savoury flavours like cheese and hot peppers in snack food coatings; and

  • It deepens and broadens the flavour profile of many products.

Two food product categories where dried plums have been particularly effective in reducing added salt are baked goods and processed meat products. Dried plums perform many of the same functions as salt when added to baked goods. In meat products, dried plums have been shown to function in many of the same ways as salt, such as in water-binding, moisture retention, tenderizing, and as a preservative and flavour enhancer.

Chilli compound may help reduce weight

A compound extracted from chilli peppers may boost energy expenditure and aid weight loss, according to new findings from the University of California at Los Angeles (ULCA), the United States. While this is not the first time that researchers have linked chilli compounds with weight loss, previous reports have focused mainly on the compound capsaicin, known to give the chilli pepper its “heat”. However, new data presented at the recent Experimental Biology 2010 meeting indicates that a non-burning version of capsaicin called dihydrocapsiate (DCT) may also aid loss of weight.

A team of researchers led by UCLA’s Dr. David Heber recruited 34 men and women who were willing to consume a very low-calorie liquid meal replacement product for 28 days. The participants were then randomized to receive placebo pills or supplements containing DCT at one of two dosage levels. The study, the first to examine the potential health benefits of DCT, found that energy expenditure almost doubled in the high-dose DCT group when compared with the placebo group. Increases in fat oxidation were also observed – evidence that the body was using more fat as fuel.

Noting the limitations of their study, Prof. Heber and his team said that they only tested the effects of DCT in response to a single meal. It is not known if the results would be different in lean versus obese people.


Onion better than artificial preservatives

Some components of the onion have antioxidant and anti-microbial properties, making it possible to use it to preserve food, says a new study from Spain. “The antioxidant and anti-microbial properties of the raw onion make it a good candidate for use in food preservation,” says Dr. Jonathan Santas from the Department of Nutrition and Bromatology at the University of Barcelona. He co-authored the study with researchers from the Department of Agrifood Engineering and Biotechnology at Polytechnic University of Cataluna.

The study shows that the flavonoids of onion, in addition to having beneficial properties for health, increase the life of foods, and so “they are a natural alternative to artificial additives used in food industry”. The results confirm that the yellow variety in particular is a good source of these types of substances and there is a positive correlation between the presence of flavonoids and their antioxidant capacity.

The onion can be effective for delaying lipid oxidation in emulsions of oil and water, and it inhibits the growth of micro-organisms that alter foods, Dr. Santas says. The scientists analysed white and yellow onion varieties. They demonstrated that phenolic compounds in the onion prevent the development of bacteria associated with the deterioration of food.

Preservative and protective systems

Laboratorios Miret, S.A. of Barcelona, Spain, has secured a United States patent on certain compositions comprising cationic preservatives and anionic hydrocolloids, and methods of preparing them and their application in food microbiological protection. The invention relates to the interaction between cationic preservatives derived from the condensation of fatty acids and esterified dibasic amino acids and anionic hydrocolloids – such as pectins, xanthan gums, carrageenans, acacia gums or agars. The most preferred cationic preservative is the ethyl ester of the lauramide of arginine monohydrochloride (LAE).

Because of this interaction, some anionic hydrocolloids are able to absorb LAE and precipitate together by the enhancement of their lipophilic properties. These new solid compounds can be isolated by filtration and, surprisingly, they retain the microbiological inhibitory activity of LAE. The solid compounds contain approximately stoechiometric amounts of LAE and the anionic hydrocolloid. The preferred solid compound is LAE/xanthan gum. The solid compounds are stable and can be stored under normal conditions of temperature and humidity for long periods of time.

Biological studies carried out at different research centres under supervision of Laboratorios Miret had shown that LAE is notable for its inhibitory action on the proliferation of different microbes, such as bacteria, fungi and yeasts. LAE acts mainly over the external and cytoplasmatic membrane of the microorganisms as well as in the cytoplasmatic media, preventing their increase. Its action depends on the kind of microorganism and on the exposure time. Toxicological studies have demonstrated that LAE is totally harmless to animals and humans.

Natural antimicrobial-treated MAP extends poultry shelf-life

A combined chitosan-and-thyme treatment with modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) can extend the shelf-life of ready-to-cook poultry products, according to new research. Scientists from the University of Ioannina, Greece, found the dual application of the substances under MAP conditions curbed the growth of bacteria, inhibited lipid oxidation, and maintained the visual and sensory quality of the meat.

Using fresh chicken-pepper kebabs, the team assessed the performance of natural antimicrobials chitosan and thyme. The shelf-life of the product was evaluated under five separate conditions: a control stored in anaerobic packaging; samples stored in MAP; products treated with 1.5 per cent chitosan (vol/wt) and stored in MAP; those treated with 0.2 per cent thyme essential oil (vol/wt); and samples treated with 1.5 per cent chitosan (vol/wt) and 0.2 per cent thyme essential oil (vol/wt) and stored in MAP. In all cases, the meat was stored at 4°C for 14 days.

The group found that the treatment with combined chitosan-thyme material under MAP “significantly affected aerobic plate counts and counts of lactic acid bacteria, Pseudomonas spp., Brochothrix thermosphacta, Enterobacteriaceae, and yeasts and moulds during the entire storage period”. Lipid oxidation of the ready-to-cook product was similarly retarded in the chitosan-thyme product during storage. Red colour of the product was maintained in all the three treated samples.

Shelf life of the control was six days. MAP treated with thyme and chitosan – both separately and together – extended shelf-life using taste sensory data, reported the study. Individual treatment of poultry with the natural antimicrobials doubled the meat’s shelf life to 12 days. Product stored with the combined chitosan-thyme treatment had a shelf-life of 14 days, where “acceptable sensory characteristics” were maintained.

Preserving food dressing composition

Unilever NV, the Netherlands, Unilever Plc, the United Kingdom, Hindustan Unilever Ltd., India, and two Unilever researchers have jointly filed for patenting a method for preserving a food dressing composition. The method includes replacement of sodium chloride (NaCl) with potassium chloride (KCl) or ammonium chloride (NH4CI) to produce a food dressing composition free of spoilage and pathogens.

The invention covers: a reduced sodium salt dressing composition that will become microbiologically unstable in about 4-6 weeks at ambient temperature due to reduced sodium; and addition of KCI and/or NH4CI to that dressing composition in order to render it microbiologically safe and stable. In other words, the NaCI is replaced with KCI, NH4CI or both in the dressing.

Preferably, the dressing composition is a mayonnaise comprising acetic acid or citric acid, and is substantially free of other preservative acids. Contact: Unilever NV, Weena 455, NL-3013 AL Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Stabilizers for protein beverages

TIC Gums, the United States, has introduced stabilizers for protein beverages, specifically pasteurized milk products, chocolate and alternative protein beverages. These Gum Guru® stabilizers are claimed to improve texture, providing thick, mouth coating sensations while also overcoming the formulation challenges of health beverages.

TIC Pretested Colloid 760 MB Powder is a unique stabilizer blend for pasteurized chocolate milk and other dairy products. It is ideal for pasteurized chocolate milk products while it can also be used to increase body and creamy texture in variegating syrup, eggnog and buttermilk. This process-stable ingredient provides excellent cocoa and flavour suspension in pasteurized products.

Dairyblend MB2, based on proprietary Dairyblend technology, was developed to stabilize chocolate dairy and milk beverages, especially those that require challenging Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) processes. Dairyblend MB2 provides slightly added viscosity while giving suspension to cocoa in UHT-processed finished beverages.

Ticaloid 875 gum system was specially developed for use in protein-fortified products, including those that are identified as 95 per cent organic. This ingredient interacts with milk and soy protein ingredients, imparting viscosity and body. It has synergistic properties with starch, also making it suitable for puddings and functional alternative protein beverages where thick and creamy characteristics are desirable.

HIPEF preserves soy beverage and its antioxidants

Thermal treatments are commonly used to extend the shelf life of beverages. However, the heat can damage their nutritional profile. Undesirable effects include irreversible losses of nutrition compounds, undesirable changes in physicochemical properties, and alteration of their antioxidant properties. A new study by scientists at the University of Lleida in Spain suggests that high-intensity pulsed electric field (HIPEF) treatment could be an effective way of preserving the vitamin C content and antioxidant capacity of drinks containing fruit juice and soy milk.

In their search to find alternative processing techniques that extend shelf life without damaging nutrients, the scientists set out to compare the effects of thermal technologies and HIPEF on a fruit juice-soy milk beverage stored at 4°C. They tracked how both processing techniques affected microbial stability, antioxidant properties, and various quality parameters.

Comparing the results obtained for HIPEF treatment (35 kV/cm, 4 µs bipolar pulses at 200 Hz for 800 or 1,400 µs) and thermal pasteurization (90°C, 60 s), the scientists concluded that HIPEF may be a good alternative treatment. HIPEF processing for 800 µs ensured microbial stability for 31 days; but, by increasing the treatment time to 1,400 µs shelf-life reached 56 days – a level in line with thermal processing.

During storage, vitamin C content and antioxidant capacity depleted with time, and but levels were higher in beverages processed by HIPEF than in thermally treated ones. Total phenolic content did not change significantly over time, but it was higher in the 1400 µs-HIPEF treated beverages than the thermally processed ones. As for enzyme activity, peroxidase and lipoxygenase in HIPEF treated beverages were inactivated by 17.5-29 per cent and 34-39 per cent, respectively, whereas thermal treatment achieved 100 per cent and 51 per cent. Colour, soluble solids, pH, and acidity values were not significantly affected by the either processing treatment.

Super Gum excels in beverage stabilization

The modified acacia gum product “Super Gum” could enhance the stability of beverages like coconut milk, says a new study. It could also reduce the effects of variable quality of unmodified acacia gum, according to scientists from the Assumption University (AU) in Bangkok, Thailand, and the Technical University of Berlin (TUB), Germany.

“Emulsions prepared with Super Gum EM2 or EM10 as combined emulsifier/stabilizer have very fine droplets and are completely stable at room temperature as well as at 30°C for at least one month,” write the researchers. Super Gum EM2 or EM10 could be an interesting alternative emulsifier and stabilizer for low-viscous emulsion drinks and cream liquors, they conclude. Led by TUB’s Dr. Ulrike Einhorn-Stoll, the researchers tested two forms of the modified acacia gum, called EM2 and EM10 as combined emulsifiers and stabilizers in coconut oil emulsions. The droplet size in the emulsions made with the modified gum was below 1 micron and found to be completely stable for at least seven weeks when stored at 30°C. EM10 version of the gum was a better emulsifier than EM2 when the concentrations were the same. “It can be concluded that the emulsion stability was mainly a result of the excellent emulsifying properties and not of an additional thickening effect of the gums,” write the researchers.

New process for extending beverage stability

Asemblon Inc., the United States, along with three inventors, has applied for patenting a method for removing metal ions from a beverage by exposing the beverage to a porous silica gel functionalized with a metal chelating agent and later removing the porous silica gel from the beverage. Various metals – such as iron, copper, manganese and magnesium – can be removed using the method to improve the shelf life of beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages.

The method comprises an anti-oxidation process that includes the chelation of transition and alkaline earth metal ions via a cross-linked chelation moiety in an extremely thin or monolayer coating that is bound to a porous solid phase through surface hydroxyl groups and a silane moiety. The solid-supported chelating compound and the solid support are then removed from the beverage prior to packaging.

Preferably, the chelating compound is silane linked to a hydroxylated surface such as silicon dioxide, and has a triamine tetraacetate chelating moiety. It is preferred that the porous substrate belongs to the group comprising silica gel, controlled pore glass, synthetic or natural polymer, and their combinations. Contact: Asemblon Inc., 15340 NE 92nd St., Suite B Redmond, WA 98052, United States of America.


Smart packaging to monitor food in transit

A European project is combining sensing technology with integrated radio-frequency identification (RFID) to make food packaging that gathers data on its contents and changes the way food safety is assessed. The four-year FlexSmell project, which began earlier in 2010, is creating packaging materials that can be printed with embedded sensors and RFID antennas. Such packaging will allow food packers and handlers monitor products in transit for freshness and damage.

Italian packaging firm Carton Pack and German sensor producer BoTest are partners in the 3.8 million euros initiative, and could adopt technology to print monitoring packaging materials when the project is completed. Chemical and pressure sensors will gather data on both the changing conditions within the food packaging and the impact on the packaging in transit. This information can then be transmitted to operatives via RFID.

The project combines organic and inorganic sensing technologies, and attempts to apply printed electronic processes to make a flexible packaging substrate at a cost similar to adding barcodes, says Dr. Luisa Torsi, FlexSmell Coordinator and Professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Bari, Italy. “The technology used doesn’t involve any photolithography, vacuum deposition or a cleanroom environment – we can realise the circuit using the printed approach,” she adds.

Method for producing sealable food packaging

The Benson Box Company, the United Kingdom, Mecaplastic SAS, France, and two inventors have jointly applied for patent on a food packaging and the method of producing it. The food packaging can be in the form of a sealable tray with a plastic film liner, which is applied under differential air pressure – for example, positive pressure and/or a vacuum – followed by heating of the film. The resultant tacking film sticks to the tray, just sufficiently to hold together while in use. After use, the tray and film can be separated easily. The food packaging is suitable, though not exclusively, for ready-to-eat meals and the like that can be heated in a microwave or conventional oven.

The invention is claimed to address one or more issues related to food packaging, such as: non-recyclable packaging; packaging with components that cannot be readily separated for recycling; and packaging that requires more material and/or lengthier process that adds to the cost. The production method invented comprises the following steps:

  • Providing a cardboard tray, which includes a base and side-walls that together form a recess having an inner surface;
  • Heating a plastic film to a temperature that allows it to adhere to the tray’s inner surface;
  • Deforming the plastic, either after or during said heating, in a direction away from the tray; and

  • Initially forcing, by means of gas pressure or vacuum, the heated and deformed film into contact with the inner surface of the tray to cause adherence.

In an embodiment the tray is formed from a blank and includes tabs that can be overlapped. The tabs are overlapped and preferably glued together to form the tray. The plastic film is of a thickness preferably 30-100 microns. Contact: The Benson Box Company Ltd., Interlink Way South, Bardon Hill, Coalville, Leicestershire LE67 1PE, United Kingdom.

Innovative packaging system

Shelf Life Booster (SLB™) Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) technology from Hefestus, Israel, provides extended shelf life to multiple food types, and reduces accumulation of product decomposition liquids at the bottom of packaging. The patented SLB™ MAP technology extends shelf life of perishable products, without affecting their appearance, texture and freshness. SLB is said to be a new generation of MAP, integrating energy efficiency, increased production capacity and operational simplicity. It offers high capacity of up to 15 containers per minute with a single sealing head – twice as fast as any other MAP sealer. It maintains low and accurate oxygen levels, with the standard solution not exceeding 1 per cent, which can be made to go down to 0.01 per cent upon request.

SLB technology provides a competitive advantage for extending product shelf life, doubling fresh-cut produce shelf life and dramatically increasing meat-product shelf life, says Mr. Oded Shtemer, company President & CEO. Hefestus’ advanced packaging system permits manufacturers and marketers to transport these two products over long distances without impact on product aroma or appearance. It also ensures fewer returns or discards, lower cost, reduced impact on the environment and more satisfied consumers.

New microwave food packaging

Nestec S.A., Switzerland, has applied for a United States patent on a microwavable food tray that comprises a first compartment for steaming foods, a second compartment for moderately cooking foods, and a third compartment for grilling or browning foods. Microwaveable tray would thus have different heating/shielding systems for the different food components of the microwavable meal. The individual meal components can be placed in individual compartments that will be heated/shielded in their individually controlled cooking environments using a suitable microwave cooking technology. The application also covers methods for the production of such trays.

In an embodiment, the first compartment of the microwavable tray has a cover including a valve, the second compartment at least one microwave shield, and the third compartment a microwave susceptor. All three compartments have covers made of any suitable microwave covering material. The tray can be of a material such as paper, paper board, plastics and combinations thereof. The tray could be of any suitable shape and be of a suitable size ranging between 15 cm and 30 cm. The thickness of the tray could be between 0.25 mm and 2.0 mm. The second compartment can have one or more shields that cover a portion or all of its side walls, bottom and top. The susceptor can be a metallic film with multiple slits. The three compartments can be separated from each other by “weakening zones”.


Equipment that removes bacteria from food

After four years of research, Peter Taboada S.L. of Spain has developed PETFROST, a system that uses germicidal water for washing/cleaning/sterilizing food items. The system does not use chemical additives, and is claimed to remove bacterial load up to 90 per cent. The physical quality of the perishable product is not modified in colour, flavour or smell.

PETFROST offers three types of equipment for different applications:

  • For washing fish with germicidal seawater and production of germicidal ice;

  • For washing with germicidal water of any perishable product – fish, beef, pork, poultry, fruits and vegetables; and

  • For the sterilization of the production lines, sauce injection pipes, production floor and zones of possible bacteriological contamination.

The system removes Gram+ (such as Listeria monocytogenes) and Gram- (like Salmonella) bacteria, and other problematic organisms such as psycrophiles and thermophiles. It can be used on board of seagoing vessels as well as in inland processing and storage facilities for germicidal washing of fish, production of germicidal ice, box washing and store chambers sterilization. Contact: Peter Taboada S.L., Millarada 68, Vilar de Infesta, Redondela, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain. Tel: +34 (986) 226 622; Fax: +34 (986) 223 570; E-mail:

Vegetable cutter for modern food industry

TranSlicer 2510 Cutter from Urschel Laboratories, the United States, uniformly slices a wide variety of food products at high production capacities. The machine accepts compressible food products up to 203 mm in diameter, or firm, round products (like cabbage) up to 171 mm in diameter.

Compared with the previous model (TranSlicer 2500), several new features are provided: an extra stop button, more sloped surfaces, redesigned electrical enclosure and bottom feed pan, and sturdy stainless steel guard locks. A 3 hp stainless steel dynamic brake motor enables smooth operation of the cutting wheel. Larger discharge chute simplifies product flow and deters product damage. TranSlicer 2510 also offers greater accessibility to easier and faster maintenance.

At the feeding end of the machine, stainless steel belt guards overlap the feed belts to promote positive product feed. Feed belt has quick belt release levers, and independently replaceable feed belt guide supports that eliminate the cost of replacing the full assembly.

Food texture analyser

Texture analysis using the TMS-Pro system from Food Technology Corporation, the United States, claims to provide precise, objective and repeatable measurements of the texture of food products. Textural parameters such as firmness, stickiness and hardness are established numerically and graphically for ease of communication and comparison to product specifications. The characteristics are determined by measuring the resistive and reactive forces of product samples during the application of controlled stresses such as compression, shearing, extrusion, puncture, bending or other deformations according to the textural properties of interest.

TMS-Pro is a fully programmable, computerized test system for use in the laboratory or factory. It is a portable system that provides high specification analysis with user-friendly operator interface. The major benefits claimed for TMS-Pro Texture System are: flexibility (capable of accepting a wide range of fixtures for testing many products); durability (built to withstand the most challenging of production environments); accuracy (measure from 0.1 g to 250 kg); and ease of use (intuitive and easy to use software). Contact: Food Technology Corporation, 45921 Maries Road, Suite 120, Sterling, Virginia 20166, United States of America. Tel: +1 (703) 444 1870; Fax: +1 (703) 444 9860; E-mail:

Robot-supported processing and packaging of seafood

Cabinplant, Denmark, has taken a completely new approach by combining food processing and packaging in a robot-supported processing and packaging system for fish and shrimps. All of the processing steps, from the separation of head and tail to removal of innards, are performed during the pick-and-place operation in which a robot transfers individual products from a feed conveyor into the package. At a single stroke, this eliminates a number of the handling steps required to link individual processing stations in traditional methods, which also take up extra time and space. The new system is an integrated process, with an uninterrupted automation sequence and setting new standards in space minimization and high throughput rate.

The compact system, which can be accessed easily from all sides, consists of a reservoir with an ascending belt, a vibrating belt, a robotics cell with continuous conveyor belt, and an image processing system throughout the conveyor belt’s infeed area. A variable number of integrated Delta 3 robots, all equipped with identical multifunction tools, can access the conveyor belt. A conveyor chain runs on both sides of the belt to deliver and remove the packages. The entire system, including the robots, is made of stainless steel to facilitate cleaning in such applications.

The filling process is weight-controlled, similar to the principle of a multi-head weigher, although based exclusively upon the data obtained from optical measurement/weight calculation. To minimize giveaway when filling the package, the robot combines products whose joint weights result in a total as close as possible to the minimum weight. Regardless of the number of robots involved, the machine can be supplemented with optional facilities such as: a check-weigher and a data printer. The machine is completely modular, not only in terms of mechanics and software, but also with regard to the electronics. Because the robots use iSH drives, expansions to the system need no additional wiring in the control cabinet. Contact: Cabinplant A/S, Roesbjergvej 9, Haarby, DK 5683, Denmark. Tel: +45 (6373) 2020; Fax: +45 (6373) 2000; E-mail:


Innovations in Food Labelling

Innovations in food labelling provides information about the principles and requirements of food labelling and reviews the latest trends in this key area. Following an introduction on the evolution of food labelling, further chapters cover the Codex Alimentarius and food labelling, international trade agreements, nutrition labelling, allergies and food labels, and environmental and social labelling, among other topics. It documents label evolution, considering standards and legal issues as well as protection of the environment and sustainable food production. The book features labels for a various markets, and addresses social issues such as association food quality with location. It also discusses the unresolved international debate on the labelling of genetically modified crops.

Contact: Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Abington Hall, Granta Park, Great Abington, Cambridge CB21 6AH, United Kingdom. Tel +44 (1223) 891358; Fax +44 (1223) 893694; E-mail:

Protective Cultures, Antimicrobial Metabolites and Bacteriophages for Food and Beverage Biopreservation

Biopreservation – the use of a product’s natural microflora and its antibacterial products for protection against pathogens and spoilage – is a method of growing interest for the safe production of high quality minimally-processed foods. This book provides an essential overview of key topics in this area. It reviews central aspects in food biopreservation, including the identification of new protective cultures and antimicrobial culture components, existing commercial fermentates and the potential of novel fermentates and bacteriophages to improve food safety. The use of protective cultures, bacteriophages and bacteriocins to control the carriage of pathogenic microbes in food animals is also discussed.

Contact: Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Abington Hall, Granta Park, Great Abington, Cambridge CB21 6AH, United Kingdom. Tel +44 (1223) 891358; Fax +44 (1223) 893694; E-mail:


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