VATIS Update Food Processing . May-Jun 2011

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Food Processing May-Jun 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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Philippines taps fortified rice to fight malnutrition

In the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has included in its priority list the development of rice fortified with zinc and vitamin A as part of efforts to address malnutrition. DOST Secretary Mr. Mario Montejo said that the fortified rice would be in addition to the protein-rich food technology developed by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

Mr. Montejo said that one aspect of the hunger problem is the lack of essential micronutrients – iron, vitamin A and zinc – in food, which the DOST would be able to help solve this issue. He said the Department is currently concentrating on zinc and vitamin A fortification since the effort for iron fortification has already been completed. With assistance from a Japanese scientist, experts at FNRI developed a process to fortify rice with iron that is tasteless and colourless, making it acceptable to consumers. The iron gets entrenched in the rice and does not strip off easily when the rice is washed before cooking.

Record growth in the Sri Lankan spice industry

The Sri Lankan spice industry recorded a 65 per cent growth in 2010 compared with the corresponding period in 2009. Sri Lanka exported spices worth around US$175.95 million in 2010, which is an increase of 65.56 per cent growth compared over 2009, said Mr. Christopher Fernando, Chairman of Spice and Allied Product Producers’ Association. The spice industry has been witnessing significant growth rate in the international sector, mainly due to the change in the lifestyle patterns of global consumers. Spices and derivatives are booming because these products are used in a number of industries, beverages, food processing, pharmaceuticals and hygiene products. While Europe remains the main market for spices and culinary herbs, Canada is fast emerging as a leading player in the international spices and herbs sector.

Adding value to rice through greater innovation

The National Innovation Agency (NIA), Thailand, has been promoting the use of innovation and technology in developing rice into a variety of products to sell at a higher value. Its objective is to encourage sales of the grain in grams, not by the tonne or in bulk. An NIA study has found strong potential in global markets for innovative rice businesses in Thailand, notably those using substances found in rice as ingredients in the manufacture of cosmetics, food supplements and medicines. The Agency has also provided financial support to private firms and the research divisions of many organizations for projects such as quick-boiled rice, germinated brown rice and baby food powder made from rice. It has contributed 10 million baht (US$335,000) of the 257 million baht (US$8.6 million) invested in supporting these projects since its establishment in 2003.

In 2007, NIA joined with the Thai Rice Foundation to promote greater innovation within the industry. Together they inaugurated the Rice Innovation Award, scheduled to run for five years through 2011, with 1.5 million baht (US$50,000) from NIA to market innovative rice products commercially. According to Ms. Asaya Siriaoutan, Manager of NIA’s Innovation Culture Promotion Department, the number of contestants in the project has gone up each year, with more and more innovative projects. “The trend of rice-based products that have a special function is on the rise including skin and healthcare treatments, thanks to the valuable properties of rice,” she said. Award-winning innovations have included rice bran oil as an ingredient in products such as shortening and cereal cream as well as using it as a substitute for butter and coconut milk. Rice bran oil is lower in saturated fats and cholesterol and therefore suitable for health-conscious consumers.

China to promote food safety knowledge among public

China will enhance its public education efforts in the coming five years to promote scientific food safety knowledge, says the country’s food safety authority. Workers in the food production industry must be trained before taking a job, according to the executive office of the Food Safety Commission under the State Council (the Cabinet), in a five-year programme (2011-2015) for the nation’s food safety education work. Employers and main employees are asked to receive concentrated training, no less than 40 hours/year, on laws, regulations, scientific knowledge and professional ethics concerning food safety, according to the programme. Every regulator in charge of food safety monitoring work is also required to receive professional training for a similar duration. The programme also calls for establishing a long-term mechanism to strengthen public education efforts, with joint participation by government, enterprises, institutes, experts, consumers and the media. By 2015, more than 80 per cent of the public should be aware of basic food safety knowledge, and the rate for the primary and high school students should be up to 85 per cent or more. To achieve this goal, the authorities are to carry out more educational activities in communities, villages and schools, and improve information release system.

India to look into medicinal and nutritional qualities of Bt brinjal

An Indian government committee has decided to examine Bt brinjal (eggplant or aubergine) for its medicinal and nutritional qualities while moving a step ahead on allowing commercial release of India’s first genetically modified (GM) food crop. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), India’s biotechnology regulatory agency, has decided that the Hyderabad-based National Institute for Nutrition will conduct the study with the help of the Ministry of Health, and its findings will be important for reaching a final decision. The Ministry’s Department of Ayurvedic, Unani and Medicinal Plant Board had expressed concern regarding the likely impact of GM brinjal on traditional Indian medicines, where brinjal is used for treating neurological and musculo-skeletal disorders. Purple brinjal is a source of vitamins A and C as well as minerals, and white brinjal is said to be good for diabetic patients. The Ministry of Health officials are expected to undertake a “compositional comparative analysis” of both traditional brinjal and Bt brinjal to ascertain any alteration.

Viet Nam’s seafood export turnover soars 28 per cent

Viet Nam’s seafood export turnover soared 28 per cent as the country’s seafood industry continued to make an outstanding growth in the first four months of 2011, with the export turnover rising to US$1.6 billion. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) expects that the Pacific white shrimp and prawn would remain Viet Nam’s strategic exports in the coming years, with an average turnover of US$2 billion per year. Other seafood exports include tra fish, which ranked second behind prawn with a turnover of nearly US$1.5 billion. Surveys from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show Viet Nam to be one of the world’s top 20 seafood exporters.

MARD expects that the seafood export turnover in 2011 will increase 10 per cent year on year, to US$5.5 billion. The Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers said the goal could be achieved as the seafood industry has many advantages this year, such as strong dollar and the rising consumption of aquatic foods all over the world. Despite the competition worldwide getting fiercer, experts predict Viet Nam’s seafood exporters can overtake foreign competitors owing to the country’s stable material supply. Viet Nam is the supplier of more than 95 per cent of tra fish on the global market, with an annual output of 1.5 million tonnes, according to the Viet Nam Economic Times. The World Wildlife Fund last year had blacklisted Viet Nam’s tra fish in a consumer guide published in several European Union countries. Although the organization later removed the fish from its “red list”, consumption of Vietnamese tra fish in Europe has been negatively affected. Meanwhile, the United States’ Department of Commerce has cut anti-dumping taxes on tra fish imported from some Vietnamese companies to zero per cent, compared with the earlier proposed tax rate of 130 per cent.

Philippine coconut oil exports suffers steep fall in April

The Philippines, the world’s biggest supplier of coconut oil, shipped a total 101,189 tonnes of coconut oil in April 2011 compared with 130,402 tonnes in April last year. Exports of coconut oil in April fell 22.4 per cent from a year earlier as copra supply remained tight due to bad weather but the value of shipments nearly doubled on higher prices, according to preliminary industry data. Total shipments in the January-April period shrank by 23.1 per cent to 373,220 tonnes, the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP) reported. UCAP Executive Director, Mr. Yvonne Agustin, said the decline was expected after the dry weather last year induced by the El Niño phenomenon hit copra production.

Coconut oil exports in April generated revenue of US$205.87 million, nearly double the year-ago earnings of US$106.39 million, as prices more than doubled. UCAP has forecast coconut oil exports at 900,000 tonnes this year, almost a third lower than last year’s shipments of 1.32 million tonnes. Coconut oil exports generated total revenue of US$563.23 million in the first four months of the year, up 55 per cent from 2010.
Source: http://www.

Thailand looks to nanotech for herbal diet drinks

As a major food producer and exporter, new food industry technologies are an essential part of Thailand’s proactive government policy. Nanotechnology has found a new application in herbal drinks developed by a subsidiary of the Thai fruit juice producer Tipco Foods. The firm is now using nanotechnology to develop herbal beverage ‘shots’ that have export potential. Beverage “shots” with botanical extracts currently under development by Tipco Biotech consist of substances extracted from four plants: curcuma, mangosteen, chilli and roselle. They are in ‘shots’ because the focus is on having a large concentration of herbs to maximize their benefits.

The 13.94 million baht (US$0.46 million) project is the first nanofood venture to be supported by the government’s National Innovation Agency (NIA), which has contributed to the development of pilot machinery for the production of nanoparticles. The company will export the shots to Southeast Asia to exploit the 600 million strong consumer market as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community takes shape in 2015.


China bans several food additives to bolster food safety

Chinese authorities have banned several types of food additives as part of new national regulations on food safety. The new regulations also stipulate that all additives should be marked clearly on food product labels. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued four national food safety regulations concerning food additives, food product labels, honey products and the limit of mycotoxins (metabolites of fungi that can adversely affect animal and human health) in food. The use of benzoyl peroxide, calcium peroxide and methanol as food additives has been banned under the new regulations, as these additives are no longer necessary for the production of food, according to Mr. Chen Rui, an MOH food safety official. The new regulations prohibit the use of food additives that conceal quality defects and cover the usage of 2,314 types of food additives, processing aids, gum bases and food flavourings.

India mulls changes to food safety rules

If initiatives being taken by the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are a yardstick, the country is about to witness dramatic changes in food norms, impacting the industry significantly. Formulation of procedures for recall of unsafe or hazardous food, mandatory compliance with good agricultural practices (GAP) for big retailers, labelling changes for packaged food items, organic food certification, setting water quality standards and verification of claims by food supplement companies are among the key reforms being planned by the sector regulator and the government. The draft food recall rules state the objective of the procedure as “guiding food business operators on how to carry out a food recall through an efficient, rapid identification, as well as removal of unsafe food and food that violate the Act and Rules & Regulations…”. Informing consumers about the food hazard, establishing a written recall plan, and having a follow-up action plan are also part of the draft.

The Authority is also set to look at GAP as an effective way of assuring food safety, as “a major part of all food products originate from agriculture,” stated Mr. P.I. Suvrathan, FSSAI Chairman. FSSAI will now start putting GAP-certification as a mandatory condition for large retail companies in India. The Authority will also examine what food can be called organic and what is near-organic. Another priority area is new guidelines on labelling and manufacturers’ claims on food products and health supplements. If a food product or supplement manufacturer claims something, it will have to establish it. FSSAI has developed the first part of the regulation and the new norms should be in place by the end of 2011.

China formulates rules on recall of unfit food

China has revised national regulations that set out when and how tainted food should be recalled from the shelves. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine posted details about the new rules on its website. The draft updates regulations introduced in 2007 and makes it clear that food producers are not allowed to reuse food that has been recalled to create other food products after decontamination. However, food recalled because of defective labels or instructions can be put back on the shelves once the problem has been fixed – but only after customers have been informed.

The draft regulation urges food companies to report the progress of food recalls to local quality supervision authorities within three days of unsafe food products being identified and recalled. The food companies should also inform manufacturers, sellers and consumers upon discovering unsafe products. The revision calls for the administration’s local bureaus to document food recalls and establish files on the companies involved. Companies that are responsible for the production of unsafe food may face fines of up to 30,000 yuan (US$4,600) for failing to respond in a timely and appropriate way, the revision says.


Faster testing method for shellfish toxins

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has developed a new paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) testing method capable of detecting which toxins are present in mussels, clams, oysters and scallops, and at what concentration. This will provide an important early warning for potential toxic outbreaks. The new test uses a method called liquid chromatographic post-column oxidation (LC PCOX) to separate fluid samples at the molecular level, thus allowing individual toxic compounds to be identified and measured. This test replaces the traditional mouse bioassay (MBA) method used since the 1950s.

“This new method allows us to analyse PSP toxin levels more precisely so we can detect low levels of toxins before they become dangerous. It also reduces testing costs by more than 50 per cent,” said Mr. Jeff van de Riet, Senior Research Coordinator with CFIA’s Dartmouth Laboratory. The test was developed and validated by CFIA’s Dartmouth Laboratory, in partnership with the National Research Council Canada’s Institute of Marine Bioscience. It has received approval from the Association of Official Analytical Communities (AOAC) International, the globally recognized body for standardization of analytical methods and laboratory activities.

Test kit for casein in highly processed foods

Reading Scientific Services Limited (RSSL), the United Kingdom, has launched a new Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test kit for casein in highly processed foods. Where this new test kit differs from the standard ELISA kits used for detecting milk allergens is that it involves a step to deliberately denature the proteins as part of the extraction process prior to analysis. The antibodies in this kit have been raised to detect these denatured proteins. The remainder of ELISA test kits on the market cannot detect these denatured proteins because their antibodies have been raised to intact proteins. RSSL has validated the test kit to detect the milk protein casein in highly processed foods.

The test kit was developed in Japan, and RSSL worked closely with the manufacturer to undertake an extensive validation programme to include the test kit in the flexible scope of accreditation of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). The detection limit for the test is 2.5 mg/kg milk protein (2 mg/kg casein protein). Contact: Reading Scientific Services Ltd., Reading Science Centre, Whiteknights Campus, Pepper Lane, Reading RG6 6LA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (118) 9184 000; Fax: +44 (118) 9868 932; E-mail: enquiries

New technique improves sensitivity of pathogen detection

A new procedure devised at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can improve polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods of detecting plant pathogens. PCR-based tests are prized tools for diagnosing plant diseases that can cause yield losses. But a minimum number of pathogen cells are required for the test to obtain a “genetic fingerprint” conclusively identifying a culprit pathogen. Otherwise, the pathogen’s genetic material cannot be probed and multiplied in amounts necessary for detection, says plant pathologist Dr. Norm Schaad, formerly with USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

To tackle the problem, Dr. Schaad and colleagues devised a preliminary step called Bio-PCR that uses growth-promoting agar or liquid media to increase the number of a target organism’s cells in a sample prior to amplification of genetic material. In 4-72 hours, depending on the pathogen, the cells make thousands of new copies, enabling detection by direct PCR. Besides increasing the sensitivity by 100- to 1,000-fold over conventional PCR methods, the enrichment technique stops substances called inhibitors from interfering with the action of a key enzyme, Taq polymerase. Bio-PCR works best with fast-growing bacteria such as Ralstonia solanacearum (which causes bacterial wilt of potato and tomato) and Acidovorax avenae (which causes bacterial fruit blotch of watermelon). However, Bio-PCR also improves detection of some slow-growing pathogens such as Xylella fastidiosa (responsible for Pierce’s disease of grapes and leaf scorch of shade trees). In studies with X. fastidiosa, Bio-PCR detected the bacterium in 90 per cent of infected grape samples compared with 13 per cent using conventional PCR methods.

Tackling Salmonella in pork supply chain

The BIOTRACER (Improved bio-traceability of unintended micro-organisms and their substances in food and feed chains) project, under the “Food Quality and Safety” thematic area of European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), has developed a tool for modelling and predicting the growth of Salmonella in the pork chain supply. Leading the development was the BIOTRACER’s United Kingdom partner, the Institute of Food Research. Working together with Greek and Italian experts, the group created a model demonstrating how each step in the production process affects Salmonella growth.

The growth and survival of Salmonella is contingent on various factors including pH conditions, water activity and temperature, which change during the pork processing stages. The research team explains that information on Salmonella growth in diverse conditions was generated by many researchers and compiled in different databases. Combase, developed by the Institute of Food Research jointly with with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Safety Centre in Australia, is such an open-access repository for quantitative microbiological data. The BIOTRACER partners found in the Combase database more than 700 records that describe Salmonella growth specifically for the pork supply chain. They also combined various models to generate estimates on Salmonella concentrations at various stages of the pork supply chain, taking into account pH conditions, water activity and temperature changes. A number of products were then used to validate the estimates.

A unique feature of the models is that users can enter their own conditions and get an estimate of the Salmonella concentrations at various process stages. With this information, users fuel their understanding of what steps are needed in the supply chain of pork and contribute to the improved control of Salmonella and safe food production, project partners explained. Contact: Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7UA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1603) 255000; Fax: +44 (1603) 507723; E-mail:; Website:

Detecting nut allergens in complex matrices

LGC, the United Kingdom’s national institute for chemical and bioanalytical measurements, has developed a method for the detection of allergens in complex food matrices. This new method has been successfully demonstrated by LGC for the quantification of protein allergens in wine. Wine offers a relatively challenging model system and lysozyme, an egg protein, is potentially present due to the use of egg white as a fining agent. The research surrounding the development of this new allergen-detection and measurement method complements activities at LGC that use DNA to detect allergenic nuts within food products.

LGC has led a collaborative project on the development of a sensitive and accurate DNA-based screening approach for the detection of allergenic nuts in food. Although allergens are, almost without exception, proteins, DNA-based methods can be a valuable additional tool when multi-screening several allergenic foods or when seeking a confirmatory analysis to a protein-based detection technique; they do not measure the actual hazard but rather the allergenic ingredient with high specificity. The multiplex assay, tested through an inter-laboratory blind-comparison study, offers an alternative, reliable and sensitive method for detecting simultaneously many major nut allergens, including almond, brazil nut, cashew nut, hazelnut, macadamia nut, peanut, pecan, walnut and sesame seed. Contact: LGC Ltd., Queens Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LY, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 8943 7000; Fax: +44 (20) 8943 2767; E-mail:

Real-time PCR kits

Bio-Rad Laboratories, the United States, manufactures iQ-Check® polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kits for the detection of food pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria and Salmonella. The kits are based on the fast, sensitive and proven technology of real-time PCR. The iQ-Check use an optimized system of primers and probes to ensure high specificity and eliminate cross-reactions with close strains of pathogens. The test is designed as a multiplex reaction, which includes an internal inhibition control that is amplified in parallel with the target DNA for a reliable result.

Results of an iQ-Check test can be obtained in about 12 hours after enrichment in non-selective medium because of the sensitivity and specificity of PCR. An iQ-Check kit can be used for up to 94 samples. Reactions can be run on low- or high-throughput Bio-Rad instruments, depending on the laboratory’s needs. Different iQ-Check tests can also be run in parallel. The iQ-Check protocols have been validated by several certification bodies. These validation studies have shown that the kits are equivalent to or better than the various reference methods evaluated and provides results in much less time, says Bio-Rad. An iQ-Check kit includes: Lysis reagent for DNA extraction; fluorescent probes; PCR amplification mix; and positive and negative PCR controls. Contact: Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., 1000 Alfred Nobel Drive, Hercules, CA 94547, United States of America. Tel: +1 (510) 724 7000; Fax: +1 (510) 741 5815.


New technology to lock in fish oil nutrient in food

Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd., Canada, reports a breakthrough technology that would enable food companies to create nutritionally dense foods. The patented Powder-loc microencapsulation technology could revolutionize the food industry’s ability to put fish oil-based Omega-3 nutrient in a wide variety of foods without the taste or smell of fish. Omega-3 includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but only EPA and DHA are essential to good heart health and normal growth. Powder-loc uses a double shell protection system to keep the EPA and DHA locked into the microcap while keeping the smell and taste of the fish locked out of the food. Contact: Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd., 101 Research Drive, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2Y 4T6, Canada. Tel: +1 (902) 4803 200; Fax: +1 (902) 4803 199.

Micronized ingredient aids in salt reduction

SALiTe, a new ingredient made from salt and a bulking agent of the manufacturer’s choosing, has been shown to reduce salt requirement by 25 per cent to 50 per cent in topical applications, according to S.K. Patil & Associates, the United States. A patent-pending process owned by S.K. Patil & Associates produces SALiTe, a micron to sub-micron size particle ingredient. According to the company, “Regular salt is not readily soluble in saliva because of its high density and large particles size. When these particles are sprinkled on foods for immediate consumption or during further processing, they provide low-intensity, long-lasting, spotty salty taste.”

SALiTe delivers a much improved dissolution that provides a salty taste equal to that of table salt, but with a significant reduction of salt particles, resulting in a significantly less sodium intake than possible with normal salting on topical applications. SALiTe includes salt and a bulking agent such as maltodextrin or starch. Masking agents are not required since the ingredient does not include any sodium substitute such as potassium or magnesium. SALiTe may be co-blended with spices, flavours, colours, etc. Potential applications besides table salt include, fries, pretzels, chips, crackers, baked foods and popcorn.

New cheese flavours

Ballantyne Foods, Australia’s first manufacturer of cheese powders, has developed a new range of cheese powders that will boost the appeal of foods with an authentic and intense cheese flavour. The specialty range comprises organic cheese, vegetarian cheese and goat’s fetta cheese powders. The innovative processing technology of the company captures the authentic flavour of real cheese in powder form, ready to be released into a wide range of food product applications. The specialty range has many product applications for sauces, dips, bakery foods, biscuits and snack foods, cake mixes and frozen foods. Manufactured through a fully organically certified process, the organic cheese has many food applications, especially in the baby/toddler food segment. The company uses only genetically modified organism-free ingredients sourced from premium Australian dairy herds.

Herbal microbeads may boost antioxidant intakes

A joint Serbo-Croat study has found that the nature of a herbal extract affects its potential for encapsulation by alginate-chitosan microbeads, with the highest polyphenol content observed for raspberry leaf extract and the lowest for olive leaf extract. Led by Mr. Drazenka Komes from the Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, the researchers investigated the antioxidant activity of a variety of herbal extracts in alginate-chitosan microbeads. They chose to use sodium alginate and chitosan because they have been extensively studied as a drug delivery system and for the “excellent biocompatibility” between alginate and chitosan. “In order to maximize the encapsulation efficiency of polyphenolic compounds, and minimize loss of their biological activity, avoiding exposure to high temperatures and organic solvents a mild encapsulation method should be adopted with the use of food grade materials,” the researchers said. Spray drying, a common technique, is not ideal as the high temperatures employed may degrade the polyphenols in the extracts. The researchers therefore applied electrostatic extrusion technique to produce micron-size particles, which is “a desired feature from the aspect of textural and sensorial properties of food products enriched with those encapsulates”.

The herbal extracts tested included hawthorn (Crategus laevigata), leaves of raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) and olive (Olea europea L.), ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea L.), yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.) and nettle (Urtica dioica L.). Results demonstrated that the raspberry leaf encapsulating microbeads displayed the highest polyphenol content, followed by hawthorn and yarrow. The olive leaf microbeads had the lowest polyphenol content. The largest particle size was observed for the nettle extract-containing microbeads, and this was related to the high content of micronutrients, including copper, zinc and strontium. The antioxidant stability of hydrogel microcapsules deteriorated during refrigerated storage, which might be attributed to the instability of ascorbic acid. The microbeads obtained “deliver significant biological activity and antioxidant potential, which may increase the daily intake of antioxidants when implemented in a food product,” the researchers concluded.

Drug nano-encapsulation system may have food applications

A method of producing nano-capsules for drug delivery may have potential to create food-grade nano-encapsulations of ingredients for the food industry. Researchers led by Dr. M. Zambrano-Zaragoza from the National Autonomous University of Mexico say that the emulsification diffusion method (EDM) is an excellent option to prepare nano-capsules from food ingredients. They explain that for food technologies, nano-capsules show an advantage over other nano-particulate systems – as they have an oil core that can stabilize important ingredients in food formulations.

The EDM process involves the formation of an oil-in-water emulsion between a partially water-miscible solvent saturated with water containing the food ingredient and the polymer or lipid in an aqueous solution saturated with a solvent containing a stabilizer. The addition of water to this emulsion causes the diffusion of the solvent into the external phase, with subsequent aggregation of the materials in nanoparticles. The new study evaluated the potential use of EDM to prepare nanoparticles from food-grade materials, focusing on the optimal to produce food-grade nano-capsules for the potential use in food formulation.

Study identifies bitter cumin as ‘great source’ of antioxidants

According to a recent study, seeds from bitter cumin herb [Centratherum anthelminticum (L.) Kuntze] are a rich source of phenolic antioxidants. Extracts of cumin seeds were found to be strong antioxidants, with powerful free radical scavenging ability. “The extracts were also strong electron donors and hence reducing agents, another marker of anti-oxidation,” state the study’s authors, led by Dr. K. Akhilender Naidu from the Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), India. In biological tests, bitter cumin inhibited the oxidation of liposomes (used as a model for cell membrane oxidation) and offered complete protection against DNA damage. According to the authors, although the use of synthetic antioxidants in foods began in the late 1940s, serious concerns over their side effects later developed, as research pointed towards the carcinogenic potential of synthetic antioxidants. “As a result there has been a general desire to replace the synthetic food additives with natural antioxidants.”

The researchers note that antioxidants are thought to ‘mop up’ excess free radicals, thus reducing oxidative stress and possibly prevent diseases. They add that many herbal plant ingredients, especially polyphenolic compounds, are considered to be antioxidants. The new research assessed the antioxidative activity of extracts of bitter cumin, used extensively in traditional medicine to treat a range of diseases, using a combination of in vitro testing models. At microgram-level concentration, phenolic extracts of the seeds have shown significant scavenging ability, and inhibited liposomes oxidation and hydroxyl radical induced damage to DNA.


Electrical processing could boost yields for juice makers

New findings from a research conducted at the University of Engineering in Izmir, Turkey, have shown that electroplasmolysis and microwave heating are far better than conventional thermal processing methods in terms of yields and quality in juice production. According to the study’s authors, electroplasmolysis increased carrot juice yield by nearly 10 per cent, while a microwave heating alternative to traditional pasteurization resulted in 100 per cent pectin methylesterase (PME) inactivation. PME activation is responsible for phase separation and cloud loss in fruit juice manufacturing.

The researchers claim that the technology can be adapted to existing juice production lines. They argue that electrical methods offer faster enzyme inactivation and elimination of micro-organisms compared with thermal processes while minimizing quality loss. Electroplasmolysis destroys cellular membranes by electric field application. It has previously been found effective in improving yield and quality of citrus fruits and tomato pulp, as well as in wine making. Microwave heating is used in the food industry for blanching, cooking, pasteurization, preheating and drying.

Removing caffeine without loss of taste or aroma

The DeCaf Co. LLC, the United States, claims to have made a scientific breakthrough that will allow coffee or tea drinkers to reduce and control the amount of caffeine within their beverages, all within a matter of seconds and without compromising the taste and quality of the drink. This offers consumers a way to enjoy tea and coffee drinks, with reduced chance of the common side effects associated with caffeine such as jitters and headaches, besides an easy choice to “self-decaffeinate” coffee or tea.

The innovation, called molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), is applied and used in tandem with the traditional coffee stirrer or cup. The stirrer or cup is coated with harmless molecular polymer beads that specifically attract caffeine molecules. As the consumer stirs the beverage, the caffeine molecules bind to the MIPs-imprinted stirring sticks or MIPs-coated sides of the cup, rapidly reducing the levels of caffeine within the drink itself. The longer the consumer leaves the stirrer in the cup, the more caffeine is removed. With just a few swirls, caffeine can be reduced to up to 70 per cent in most drinks. The patented technique was developed by Dr. Anna Leone, Chief Scientist at The DeCaf Company, and is now ready to be licensed. The MIPs approach to caffeine reduction will offer coffee connoisseurs a new higher level of convenience and enjoyment.

Coconut milk substitute

4Care Co., Thailand, offers a healthy substitute for coconut milk for use in cooking. Patients suffering from heart disease are generally advised to avoid foods made with coconut milk or cream so as to cut down on saturated fats that could exacerbate the condition. The coconut milk substitute from 4Care Co., termed “cereal cream”, offers a healthy alternative, as it is made from rice bran oil and soy protein. Blending rice bran oil with soy protein was found to produce a cream whose taste and colour was close to coconut milk. The new product has received approval from nutritionists at Bangkok Hospital. Coconut cream contains up to 95 per cent saturated fat, which raises the level of low density lipid (LDL) – or bad cholesterol levels – which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. The cereal cream contains four times less saturated fat with a proper balance of fatty acids.

The company also markets 4Care Balance, a health drink made from rice germ. “Despite its high nutritional value, rice germ is normally removed during milling process and sold cheaply in the form of bran,” says Ms. Bhiramon Chuprapawan, General Manager of 4Care. Rice germ is richer than simple whole grains in vitamins B1, B2 and E, proteins and fibre. 4Care’s rice germ beverage is now made from three types of grain – ‘Hom Mali’ rice germ, wheat germ and oats. The company plans to export 4Care Balance as a choice for consumers who are allergic to milk or soybeans. Both cereal cream and rice germ beverage have been recognized by the Thai Heart Foundation as products that do not increase the risk of atherosclerosis or cardiovascular disease.

Foamed tea beverage and process of preparation

Nestlé, the largest food and nutrition company in the world with its headquarters in Switzerland, reports the invention of a foamed tea beverage composed of a mixture of liquid and bubbles, but without any creamer, lipid or thickener agent. The beverage is generated from the combination of water, a powdered tea composition comprising a tea extract powder, and a food-grade acid. It aims to solve the problem of providing a foamed tea beverage that gives the feeling of a creamy mouthfeel without any creamer, lipid or thickener.

An important part of the beverage is the foam head that overlays the rest of the beverage that contains a mixture of liquid and bubbles. The difference between these two parts can be easily perceived because the foam head is clearer than the rest of the beverage. Usually the part made of foam represents at least 20 per cent volume of the beverage and preferably 25 per cent. This volume is measured about 30 s after preparation of the beverage by producing the beverage directly inside a measuring glass and reading the respective volumes of the whole beverage and of the foam. The foam is stable, meaning that the foam head still represents at least 20 per cent volume of the beverage more than 5 minutes after the beverage has been dispensed.


Researchers develop colourful, more nutritious Tremella

A research group at the Asia University in Taiwan, China, has unveiled new pink, purple and yellow strains of Tremella, the edible white fungus. Mr. Lin Chien-Yih, Dean, College of Health Science, and his team have developed a pesticide-free method, and determined optimal greenhouse conditions, for growing Tremella. The team has also developed a new technology for growing coloured Tremella. According to Mr. Lin, the darker the colour of the fungus, the better the antioxidant benefit. The team has signed memorandums of understanding with biotechnology firms for the commercial cultivation and for the production of a line of cosmetics and health foods based on Tremella extract. Advocates of the fungus claim it to be rich in polysaccharides and antioxidants.

Animal feed from coffee dregs

Scientists at the University of Iowa, the United States, have discovered a new bacterium that feeds on caffeine and could synthesize various drug molecules and intermediates. This bacterium might even be used to decaffeinate coffee waste for use as animal feed or a feedstock for biofuel production. According to researcher Mr. Ryan Summers, the team took a soil sample from a flowerbed outside his laboratory, cultured it and found it contained a new caffeine-eating strain of Pseudomonas putida. Although bacteria that feed on caffeine have been isolated in the past, the mechanism was a mystery. Mr. Summers isolated three enzymes from the culture that remove caffeine’s three N-methyl groups, along with the genes that encode them.

The three N-demethylase enzymes isolated from the bacterium each remove a different one of caffeine’s N-methyl groups. Mr. Summers believes that one specific methyl group that is to be replaced could be pulled off from caffeine. This would leave that nitrogen open for adding another substituent to. If the millions of tonnes of coffee waste produced every year could be decaffeinated, it might be useful as a fermentation feedstock to make ethanol as a biofuel. “The waste could also be turned into animal feed in this way,” Mr. Summers suggested.

Folate-producing bacteria could aid beverage fortification

A recent study suggests that Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris may be of use as a starter culture to increase the folate bioavailability levels in both fermented skimmed milk and in fruit juices. The researchers from the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), India, report that the use of this folate-producing bacterium as a starter culture may be as “a viable alternative in producing functional foods with increased nutritional value”. In addition, the use of natural fermentation media can be used as a replacement for synthetic fermentation media eliminating the need for purifying the folate from the culture. The overproduction of vitamin by lactic acid bacteria offers a very attractive approach to improve the nutritional composition of fermented foods, according to the researchers.

Biotech rennet: a boon for cheese producers

Dr. Susana Mercado from the National Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, has developed a microbial rennet fermented in coconut paring cake. Rennet is the enzyme that turns milk into a solid for cheese-making. It used to come only from the stomachs of ruminants like cattle, goat and water buffalo.

Dr. Mercado found that the best agent to secure good quality microbial rennet from fermentation was coconut paring cake, which permits triple microbial activity conducive to producing rennet. Microbial rennet produces higher cheese yield because its properties are similar to chymosin, which has high milk clotting activity. It retains more protein and fat in milk resulting in cheese with creamier taste or more uniform texture too.


Method for oxygen permeation analysis of food packaging

Systech Illinois, the United States, has patented a method for oxygen permeation analysis of food packaging. Systech’s PermMate, which utilizes an innovative method called Ambient Oxygen Ingress Rate (AOIR), also allows the processor to get closer to the type of material required, thus cutting costs by eliminating the issue of using a thicker film than is needed. Capable of testing numerous packages simultaneously, PermMate can also be used for oxygen head space measurement, leak detection and shelf-life determination. Contact: Systech Illinois, 17 Thame Park Business Centre, Wenman Road, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3XA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1844) 216 838; E-mail:

Ultraclean food packaging

Serac, in partnership with the Spanish company Urola specialized in PET stretch blow moulding, has designed the “Urola-Serac bloc”. This system features a direct link between the Urola linear blow-moulder URBI 4 or 6 version and the Serac H2F new ultraclean rotary weigh filler-capper with two ranges of lines: one based on 6,000 bph and the other on 9,000 bph. The typical application for this “Urola-Serac bloc” is ultraclean packaging of refrigerated products like pasteurized/extended shelf-life (ESL) milk, drinking yoghurt, probiotics, kefir, fermented milk, milk-juice drinks, and fresh juices in PET bottles, ranging in volume from 100 ml to 2 l and having one single neck finish (mostly 38 mm) for plastic screw-cap.

This technology eliminates the need for having bottle chemical disinfection upstream the filler. The compact system with a small foot print uses “pulsed light” instead of chemical treatment for cap decontamination. Finally, Urola-Serac bloc is designed for ultraclean applications and corresponds to the market needs for improved hygiene of bottle packaging lines in the dairy industry and securing longer product shelf-life in cold chains.

Active microlayer technology promises increased shelf-life

A patent-pending technique developed by Extrusion Dies Industries LLC (EDI), the United States, adds a new dimension to oxygen and moisture control in food packaging, likely extending barrier properties beyond the limits of standard test procedures. Called “active microlayer” technology, the technique combines the concepts of active packaging and microlayer extrusion, yielding film and sheet in which layer multiplication is applied not only to the barrier polymer but also to active components such as oxygen absorbers or desiccants. Previous research by EDI had shown that by dividing and recombining the barrier layer to create many micro-barrier layers, it is possible to increase significantly the shelf-life of retort and hot-fill containers, stand-up pouches and vacuum skin packaging. Now EDI researchers have gone a step further to incorporate active components in layers outside the barrier core, and then subject those components to layer multiplication.

Layer multiplication technology yields a sheet or film that is not thicker and contains no more polymer than a conventional co-extrusion; yet it can have many – even a hundred or more – microlayers instead of the usual 3-11 layers. In the conventional co-extrusion process, a feedblock combines different polymers from two or more extruders into a multilayer sandwich. In layer multiplication, a special tool takes the sandwich from a feedblock and divides and recombines the layers to create multiples of the original multilayer structure. The combined protection of food by multiple barrier and active layers appears to be greater than standard tests for oxygen and moisture ingress are designed to measure, said Mr. Gary D. Oliver, Vice President of Technology at EDI.

Packaging capable of food spoilage detection

Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Research Institute for Modular Solid State Technologies in Munich have developed a special plastic film that changes colour when contacted with rotting food. The “sensor film”, which turns from yellow to blue, can be cheaply added to food packaging so that shoppers can ensure that the food is still good and avoid potential food poisoning. The film works like litmus paper: a dye in the plastic film reacts chemically with the amine molecules that emanate from decaying food. The scientists have already used the film to make first-aid bandages that indicate if a wound is infected. They are also working on T-shirts that would change colour if an athlete is becoming dehydrated and needs to drink more water. As body fluids drop, sweat becomes more acidic. Plastic polymers in the T-shirt could detect this change before dangerous dehydration sets it.

Multilayer co-extrusion film for resealable tubular bags

Multipeel™ Flow Wrap is an innovative multilayer co-extrusion film for resealable tubular bags that resulted from a joint development project between Sudpack of Germany and DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers based in the United States. Sudpack uses DuPont Surlyn® as a sealant, which is characterized by its ability to seal at very low temperatures, with very high sealing quality and very high hot tack strength. Interacting with other components of the multilayer structure, Surlyn also supports the controlled burst-peel behaviour of Sudpack’s Multipeel Flow Wrap in terms of its low initial opening force, its clean tear propagation and its maintained resealability. Typical applications include small-piece products such as nuts, sweets, snacks and cheese-cubes.

Multilayer packaging toextend product shelf-life

Paccor, a European packaging solutions provider based in Finland, has launched a new multilayer barrier packaging. Designed to block oxygen and humidity, this solution helps extend the shelf-life of products by up to 24 months, while retaining the quality. The multilayer plastic-barrier sheet is intended for packaging food products that do not require cool storage for preservation. It comes in four basic reel structures, which are intended for form/fill/seal (FFS) machines.

The polystyrene/ethylene vinyl alcohol/polyethylene (PS/EVOH/PE) co-polymer is intended for the packaging of fresh fruit, stewed fruit, cold cuts and desserts, while the polypropylene/ethylene vinyl alcohol/polypropylene (PP/EVOH/PP) form, which is microwavable and sterilizable, is meant for the packaging of baby food, pre-prepared food and pet food. The PS/PE structure is suitable for cheese, fish and for industrial applications, while the PS/EVOH/PS form is designed for packing fresh products. The sheets are available in custom-made number of layers (up to 9), layer thickness, sizes, and one or two colours (white on the inside and a colour on the outside). Contact: Paccor Finland Oy, Polarpakintie 4B, 13300 Hämeenlinna, Finland. Tel: +358 (20) 186 7000; Fax: +358 (20) 186 7351; E-mail:

Multi-barrier plastic to replace metal/glass in food packaging

A new multi-barrier plastic food packaging product from Netstal-Maschinen AG, Switzerland, could replace glass and metals. The new product developed in collaboration with partner companies – Glaroform, Switzerland, and Ilsemann, Germany – consists of a barrier foil positioned between the injected layers of plastic. This allows the product to preserve food over long periods of time, with a shelf-life that is comparable to metal tins. The use of plastic also eliminates crevice corrosion, which can occur in metal packaging – this means no “tinny taste”, claims Netstal. The packaging is safe for all filling products such as vegetables, meat, brine, sauces, oil, coffee and tea.

The packaging allows for in-mould labelling and is easy to stack, re-close and open. In terms of eco-credentials, Netstal said the use of recyclate on the outer layer of the packaging is possible. To create the multilayer function, a pre-formed barrier foil, similar to the finished container and made from metal or plastic of low permeability, is inserted into the packaging mould. After this stage, the first plastic layer is injected into the outer side of the container, followed by a second plastic layer onto the barrier foil on the inner side. Other benefits of the multilayer barrier compound are that the barrier foil is protected against damage from the outside, and that the packaged product does not come into contact with the foil.


Ultrasonic sealing

Bosch Packaging Technology, Germany, has introduced its extended ultrasonic sealing technology portfolio for all package styles produced with both horizontal and vertical wrapping systems. The extended ultrasonic sealing technology is designed to work with package styles for food, confectionery and pharmaceutical industries where thermosensitive products are common. Equipping machines with ultrasonic sealing capabilities allows manufacturers to use less energy than heat sealing because jaws do not need to be preheated and film is heated only in the precise sealing area, Bosch claims. Machines equipped with ultrasonic sealing also may use more cost-effective film and require thinner seams, which saves material.

High-tech scanning system for fresh produce

Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed and patented an experimental, cutting-edge optical scanning system that would use two different kinds of lighting, a sophisticated camera and other equipment to scrutinize produce-section favourites while they are still at the packinghouse. The system would provide, in a single image, evidence of certain kinds of defects (cuts, bruises, etc.) or contaminants (such as specks of fertilizer or field soil), says ARS biophysicist Ms. Moon S. Kim.

The patented, automated approach to detecting defects and contaminants on the exterior of fresh produce or other items harnesses the capabilities of a high-speed multispectral/hyperspectral line-scanner. The scanner is positioned above a conveyor belt to capture images of fast-moving items, such as an apple. Each apple is exposed simultaneously to ultraviolet (UV) light from a UV fluorescent lamp and near-infrared (NIR) light from a halogen lamp. The NIR light that bounces off the apple can be captured by a spectrograph and analysed for tell-tale patterns of defects, while the UV light beamed on the apple can disclose the whereabouts of contaminants. The system combines information from both forms of illumination into a single image with contaminant and defect results. It can, when linked to a sorting machine, signal the sorter to separate the problem apples from others. At present, the system offers, at the rate of about 3 to 4 apples per second, a 180° view of each apple’s exterior. Researchers are working to improve the process so that it will provide a 360° whole-surface view for thorough inspection.

Innovative barley malter

In the United States, a group of Oregon State University (OSU) engineering students have designed and built an innovative barley malter that allows OSU to now teach every step of brewing, from barley field and hop yard to bottling line. The 500 kg stainless steel malter, which looks a bit like a rocket motor, automates and consolidates the task of steeping, germinating and kilning barley to make barley malt. The group designed and built a machine into which raw barley can be poured and the linked computer controls set, to shovel out in about a week as much as 136 kg of fragrant, toasty barley malt.

Malted barley is the essential backbone of beer: beer recipes often call for several types of malt. The sprouted, toasted seed contains the enzymes and starches that yeast turns into sugars and alcohol. The new malter allows Prof. Pat Hayes of OSU’s Crop and Soil Science Department to easily test the malting quality of experimental varieties of barley, and it gives students in OSU’s fermentation science programme the chance for a hands-on education in the brewing process. The malter is also a good example of intramural cooperation – not always the norm in academia.

Tomato processing line

Tomatoes are usually processed for paste, and the processing line mainly includes five parts: fresh tomato receiving, pre-washing and sorting section; extracting section; concentrating section; pasteurizing or sterilizing section; and aseptic filling section. The machinery mainly comprises discharge system, hydraulic conveyor system, bucket elevators, washing and sorting system, crushing system, pre-heating system, pulping and refining system, evaporating & concentrating system, sterilizing system and aseptic filling system. Tomato paste can be further processed into ketchup, sauces and juices in can/bottle/pouch.

Shanghai Triowin Technology Company Limited, China, offers complete tomato processing lines with working capacities of 60 tons/day. The line uses forced circulation vacuum evaporator, which is designed to provide tomato paste with superior quality through:

  • Reduced holding time, particularly at higher concentrations;
  • Very low processing temperatures; and
  • Very high circulating speed to minimize thermal damage to the product during heating.

The tube-in-tube sterilizer is designed for high consistency and viscosity values. Triowin’s wide range of single and double head filling machines is designed to ensure high filling speeds under very hygienic conditions. Reliability is guaranteed by means of a fully programmable logical control system. The filling machines provide versatility by meeting various packing standards for different products. Machine with working capacities up to 2,000 tons/day are available. Contact: Shanghai Triowin Technology Company Limited, No. 289 Hengxi Road, Pujiang Industrial Zone, Pudong, Shanghai, China 201114. Tel: +86 (21) 54331233, 54331301; Fax: +86 (21) 54331011; E-mail:


Tracing pathogens in the food chain

This publication reviews important aspects of the surveillance, analysis and spread of food-borne pathogens at different stages of industrial food production and processing. Part one provides an introduction to food-borne pathogen surveillance, outbreak investigation and control. Part two concentrates on sub-typing of food-borne pathogens, and also covers method validation and quality assurance. The focus in part three is on particular techniques for the surveillance and study of pathogens, such as protein-based analysis, ribotyping and comparative genomics. Part four deals with tracing pathogens in specific food chains, such as red meat and game, dairy, fish and shellfish.

Contact: Woodhead Publishing Limited, 80 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge, CB22 3HJ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1223) 499140; Fax: +44 (1223) 832819; E-mail:

Dairy ingredients for Food

This book provides a single reference source for those working with dairy-based ingredients, offering a comprehensive and practical account of the various dairy ingredients commonly used in food processing. The introductory chapters present the chemical, physical, functional and microbiological characteristics of dairy ingredients. The book then addresses the technology associated with the manufacture of the major dairy ingredients, focusing on those parameters that affect their performance and functionality in food systems. The popular applications of dairy ingredients in the manufacture of food products are covered in some detail.

Contact: Customer Services Department, John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte. Ltd., CWT Commodity Hub, 24 Penjuru Road, #08-01, Singapore 609128. Tel: +65 6302 9838; Fax: +65 6265 1782; E-mail:


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