VATIS Update Food Processing . Nov-Dec 2006

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Food Processing Nov-Dec 2007

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 initiatives to combat diet-related diseases

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised governments around the world to phase out partially hydrogenated oils if trans fat labelling alone does not spur significant reductions in their usage. This measure is part of a WHO strategy to combat diet-related diseases. The recommendation was put forth in a proposed action plan for the Codex Alimentarius Commission, WHOs food standards rule-making body. Codex, funded jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization and WHO, develops model regulatory policies for over 150 countries in the world. The plan also calls for a series of food labelling reforms, including restrictions on trans fat-free claims on foods that are high in saturated fat; consistent rules for health claims in food advertising and labelling; and the requirement for food labels to reveal the percentage of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and added sugar when marketing claims are made about those ingredients.


Processed potatoes in demand

A report by Rabobank India Finance has unveiled that the consumption of processed potatoes in India is expected to grow rapidly on the back of rising income levels and speedy growth of the food service sector. While the majority of potatoes are eaten fresh, the processed potato segment in India is slowly gaining popularity, especially in urban areas. The processed potatoes goodies include French fries, crisps and other value-added forms such as fresh chilled, peeled ready-to-fry and microwave-ready potatoes.

With the emergence of contract farming and the development of cold storages, Rabobank predicts an increase in investment in processed potatoes. Moreover, multinationals venturing into the food service sector could boost the processed potatoes industry. For example, specific varieties have been developed by Frito-Lay India, which it uses in its contract farming model for sourcing high-quality potatoes. Also, fast-food joints like McDonalds are relying on imports of processed potatoes from the United States and the European Union, and India should move forward to tap this market, the report added. A report by the Indian agricultural ministry states that in 2005-06, the nations potato production was estimated at around 24.65 million tonnes, up 2.1 per cent over the previous year. Of this, less than 0.5 per cent is processed in the organized sector, the report added.


Preservative market revenues to reach US$56.5 million

A report from Frost and Sullivan has revealed that the Indian market catering to the food and personal care industries is expected to reach the US$56.5 million mark in 2012. Most food and personal care products are susceptible to decay by oxidation and micro-organisms over time. As such, antioxidants and antimicrobials are employed to extend the shelf-life of these products, thereby ensuring the quality of goods that reach the consumer. Preservative manufacturers need to adopt a two-pronged strategy, depending on the targeted end of the market. While in the unorganized sector the challenge is to create awareness regarding the role and usage of these products, corporate buyers seek other benefits like new molecules with better safety profiles, products that perform multiple functions or possess a wider spectrum of antimicrobial activity.


Food machinery sector in China

Chinas food processing and packaging machinery sector has made significant strides. According to a report prepared by Beijing-based market research firm Research in China, advances in this sector is narrowing the technological gap that had existed between domestic and international products. In addition, sales almost doubled between 2001 and 2005. This trend is being driven by a double-digit increase in food industry sales each year some estimates place it at around 25 per cent annually.

While there were over 6,800 companies involved in food and packing machine production by the end of 2005, only 20 achieve commendable annual sales. However, exports are increasing. In 2005, exports of food and packing machinery reached US$607 million, a 31.4 per cent increase compared with 2001. The report goes on to predict that food machinery exports will keep increasing by 12 per cent to reach US$1.27 billion by 2010.


Foodborne diseases pose threat to food safety in China

In China, researchers at the Food Safety Institute (FSI) of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention report that foodborne diseases seriously undermine food safety measures more than chemical pollutants. Official data indicate that an average of about 300 million people in the nation would contract foodborne diseases annually. Meat products tainted with Salmonella typhimurium bacterium has the highest morbidity; Vibrio parahaemolyticus, often contained in rotten aquatic products, is the second biggest pathogenic bacterium. Mr. Liu Xiumei, a research fellow with FSI, said that foodborne diseases often emerge at group dinners, especially at canteens for students or employees, fast food outlets and restaurants. Triggers include material contamination, food deterioration, improper storage and bad processing.


Emerging market for functional food ingredients

Viet Nam, one of the fastest-growing economies in South-East Asia, is proving to be one of the most attractive markets for producers of vitamins and minerals. Mr. Tom Bruynel, responsible for new business development at DSM Nutritional Products, expressed that Viet Nam has been our star market for the last five years, adding that there is a very good uptake of new ideas. DSM, the worlds biggest vitamin maker, counts Viet Nam as its fourth biggest market in nutraceuticals after Japan, Indonesia and China. It is supplying vitamins and higher-end nutraceutical products to Viet Nam. Also, DSMs Lafti range of probiotics has seen strong demand in products for digestive health and those designed to tackle diarrhoea. Mr. Barry Doesberg of Purac agrees that Viet Nam is set to become increasingly important for its mineral sales. A Vietnamese firm has successfully added lycopene, a nutrient shown to be beneficial for the heart, to the filling in layered cakes.


Boom time for Thai food export industry

The National Food Institute (NFI), Thailand, predicts that the nations food exports will significantly increase next year as a result of improvements in product quality, as well as flourishing economies in its main export markets. Export earnings from food is estimated to grow by 10.3 per cent, stated Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, the Deputy Executive Director of the institute.

The volume of food exports in 2007 is expected to reach 25.82 million tonnes, up 9.8 per cent from this years target of 23.52 million tonnes. Mr. Supasorn expressed that the economic recovery of Thailands major markets, including Japan and Europe, would lead to higher export earnings. In addition, natural disasters in some of Thailands main competitors like China, Taiwan and Viet Nam is pushing up the prices of Thai agricultural products.


Investment in the food processing industry

The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI), India, has launched a scheme to extend financial assistance, in the nature of grants, to entrepreneurs willing to set up food processing units. Under the Scheme for technology upgradation/establishment/modernization of food processing industries, the rate of grant-in-aid in general areas in all the states and Union Territories is 25 per cent of the plant and machinery, and technical civil works (subject to a maximum of about US$110,000). In different areas, including Sikkim and other north-eastern states, 33.3 per cent of the plant and machinery, and technical civil works will be provided as grant-in-aid (maximum of about US$165,000).

The government has formulated and implemented schemes for infrastructure creation, R&D activities, laboratory infrastructure and HRD activities, besides other promotional measures. In 2004-05, 100 per cent deduction of profit for five years and 25 per cent of profits for an additional five years, in case of new agro-processing industries, was allowed under the Income Tax Act. Fruit and vegetable products are already exempted from the payment of excise duty.



Speedy assessment of shelf-life

Foss has developed a new testing system that is reported to be quicker and more effective than currently used methods for estimating the shelf-life of pasteurized milk. At the Mississippi State University (MSU), the United States, researchers found that the microbiological system, named MicroFoss, provides a good indication of the shelf-life of pasteurized milk within 38 hours.

According to Mr. Charles White, a researcher at MSUs Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion, MicroFoss can be used with preliminary incubation to assess fluid milk shelf-life by estimating microbial population and potential spoilage issues posed by psychrotrophic, gram-negative bacteria. It was also found that MicroFoss is superior to the Moseley test, which requires at least 8-9 days to provide results, with a better correlation to sensory evaluation. MicroFoss allows for such measurements as Total Viable Count (TVC) of Coliform, E. coli, Enterobacteriaceae and yeast, in both raw materials and finished products.


Detecting undesirable substances with MIPs

MIP Technologies, Sweden, offers a new solution for detecting undesirable contaminants or banned substances through the application of an efficient extraction tool (material). The firms Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) are a class of polymer-based molecular recognition elements engineered to bind to one or a group of target compounds with high affinity and selectivity. By screening a product with the MIP material, poisonous and off-tasting substances can be detected and removed. The advantages with the MIP material are many. Extractions are fast, selective and even very low quantities of substances can be detected. The extract gets clean and free from contaminants. Another advantage is that polymers are very stable in terms of heating and variations in pH. Therefore the choice of solvent is flexible, according to Dr. Christine Widstrand, Vice President of sales and marketing at MIP Technologies.


New metal detection solution

A United Kingdom-based manufacturer has set up the countrys most advanced metal detection solution for large product sizes. The new system installed by Rea Valley Speciality Foods is part of the R-series profile metal detectors from Mettler Toledo Safeline. Dedicated to producing meats of the very highest quality, Rea Valley a speciality producer of the finest grade tongue products for both the delicatessen counter and pre-pack market maintains a product inspection routine that far exceeds any existing industry standard.

Prior to building the full-sized solution, Mettler Toledo first supplied a trial unit to Rea Valley for exhaustive testing procedures. Delighted with the levels of sensitivity and detection provided, Rea Valley then commissioned Mettler Toledo to build a full-size conveyorized product handling, detection and rejection solution based around the proven technology offered by Mettler Toledos Profile system.


Low-cost food safety techniques developed

Researchers at Purdue University, the United States, have devised new food safety technologies for detecting and eliminating pathogens. Mr. Arun Bhunias team developed a method that makes use of laser technology to detect and identify many types of bacteria. It is about three times faster and costs about one-tenth that of current technologies. The process works by shining a laser beam though a petri dish containing bacterial colonies. A computer program determines the type of bacteria by analysing how light is refracted as each has a unique scatter pattern.

The other innovation uses chlorine dioxide gas to kill pathogens found on produce, fresh fruits and vegetables developed by a team headed by Prof. Richard Linton. Researchers are currently working on an industrial tunnel system to apply the gas to produce. Additionally, the team is looking into the use of the gas for sterilizing processing equipment.


New test for pomegranate

RSSLs functional foods laboratory has developed a reliable assay, based on ellagic acid, to determine the pomegranate concentration in a food product and provide data in support of labelling claims. Pomegranate is rapidly assuming the status of the new super fruit owing to its high polyphenolic content. Pomegranate juice is a rich source of antioxidants, and an increasing number of food producers are approaching RSSL LinTech for help in incorporating it into their products. However, an important part of this process is to ensure that the added pomegranate is still present at the end of shelf-life.

Ellagic acid is not thought to be the most significant of the polyphenols responsible for pomegranates antioxidant capacity, but can be used as a marker for the juice. It is also present in cranberries, raspberries and strawberries. As such, the new test could also be used for evaluating the presence of these berries in a food product.


Texture analysis for standardizing products

A texture analyser developed by Food Technology, the United States, could enable manufacturers to standardize their mixes for pre-formed products. TMS-Pro2 has been tested by manufacturers of fish cake with the aim of increasing the quality of their finished product. By testing for optimum texture features, manufacturers can lower defects, raise production and obtain an optimum processing composition. TMS-Pro2 uses a probe to analyse characteristics such as firmness, smoothness, ripeness, brittleness and grittiness. The portable analyser charts texture graphs using computer-integrated software. A digital display shows core characteristics such as hardness, work input and adhesiveness, allowing for stand-alone operation. Intelligent load cells cover a wide range, with a maximum frame capacity of 500 kg. Master and operator modes can be accessed with password protection. Simple and advanced testing routines can be written by the user by pulling down menus and filling in dialogue boxes. For in-depth analysis, users can zoom into the graphs and highlight points of interest.



Emulsifier doubles shelf-life

Danish ingredients manufacturer Palsgaard is offering a new cake emulsifier with a minimum shelf-life of 24 months. In collaboration with its R&D facility, Nexus, Palsgaard has created the most stable instant cake emulsifier on the market. While generic emulsifiers typically confer bakery products a shelf-life of 6-12 months, the shelf-life of Emulpals 300 has been extended to two years. This emulsifier does not contain trans fats, making it particularly attractive to bakers competing in the growing health-conscious market. The product is said to help eliminate fatty acids from cake recipes, as the harmful fats can now be replaced by the emulsifier and vegetable oils.

Emulsifiers are used by food makers to lower the surface tension between two immiscible phases at their interface such as two liquids, a liquid and a gas, or a liquid and a solid allowing them to mix. Palsgaard emulsifiers are designed for the aerated cake sector, with specific emphasis on sponge cakes, swiss rolls, pound cakes and snack cakes.


Enzyme lowers costs and increases shelf-life

Ingredients giant Danisco has launched a baking enzyme that is reported to reduce costs on the production line while raising the shelf-life of bakery products. Grindamyl Powerfresh enzyme improves the structure of bakery products, making them less liable to shed crumbs and break apart. Crumbs in the production process can be a major headache for bakers eager to save costs by cutting down on waste. The new enzyme can be used to obtain bread with improved texture and durability, with the added bonus of an extended shelf-life.


New textured soy protein

Cargill, an international provider of agricultural, food and risk management products and services, has launched a new soy protein. ProSante XCL is a textured soy protein that has a structure close to that of whole muscle meat.

The proteins appearance, bite and chewing properties make it an ideal replacement for meat in a wide variety of products, including fresh, canned and instant soups or noodle preparations, stews, wok dishes and spring rolls. Problems with the bite profile of previous soy proteins have meant that such products have mainly been used as meat extenders or as ingredients in vegetarian meals. However, the breakthrough structure of ProSante XCL provides manufacturers with a genuine alternative to meat.


Garlic component ensures a healthy cardiovascular system

A new garlic product developed by Nutra Products Inc. (NPI), the United States, can effectively deliver a key bioactive ingredient of garlic to the human body. According to a study, the proprietary Garli-Eze delivers allicin to the body in amounts equal to that of fresh high-allicin garlic macerate.

Allicin, a very short-lived bioactive in garlic, requires elegant and sophisticated methods to measure its appearance. It is believed that a high level of allicin delivered directly to the gastrointestinal tract is the key to help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. NPIs all-natural proprietary process is designed to eliminate the degradation of alliinase, which occurs when high-potency garlic mixes with stomach acid.


New protein cuts fat in chocolate

Gelita, Germany, offers a special protein, produced through an enzymatic process, to partially replace the fat in chocolate. The new Instant Gel Schoko ingredient can replace up to 25 per cent of fat without affecting the products sensory and physical characteristics. Gelita won the silver medal for the Most innovative Food Ingredient at the recent FI South America trade show in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Instant Gel Schoko was developed specifically for the South American market by Gelita experts in Cotia, Brazil. The protein has been designed to partly replace the cocoa butter in milk chocolate. A company statement states that Instant Gel Schoko is able to replace cocoa butter by up to 39 per cent, resulting in 25 per cent lower overall fat content in the chocolate. Furthermore, saturated fat is reduced by 28 per cent, cholesterol by 15 per cent and calories by 8 per cent while the protein content is increased by 75 per cent. In addition to all these benefits, the original chocolate properties like colour, crystallization and melting point of the cocoa butter are unaltered. Moreover, recipe modifications can be integrated into the regular existing production process very easily.


Encapsulating fish oil

The use of fish oil, a good source of nutritious omega-3 fats, has been limited as a food ingredient owing to its smell, flavour and chemical instability. New technology developed by scientists at Food Science Australia and Clover Corp. may change this scenario. MicroMAXTM technology encloses microscopic droplets of fish oil in robust films, thereby masking the fishy flavour while extending the shelf-life of omega-3 fats. MicroMAX features unparalleled encapsulation efficiency, oil loading ability (50 per cent loading) and stability. Commercial products created using the microencapsulation technology include infant formula, drinking yoghurt, pasteurized orange juice and crumbed fish fillets.


New emulsifier for bakers

Cognis offers a new emulsifier that allows baked goods to both look and taste good. Lametop S80 has been developed as a solution that delivers better performance, even within the restrictive FCC specifications. A normal indicator of the quality of a diacetyl tartrate ester of monoglyceride (DATEM) is its tartaric acid content: the higher it is, the better. However, tartaric acid content has been limited to a maximum of 17 to 20 per cent by the North American FCC specification.

Lametop S80 is a DATEM said to contain more baking active components than other DATEMs with the same tartaric acid content. This enables manufacturers to comply with FCC guidelines. Cognis reports that its manufacturing technology brings the expensive tartaric acid precisely to the point at which optimum effectiveness is achieved. The product can be used in all yeast-raised baked goods such as bread, rolls and croissants.



Pesticide limit for wheat

The government of India has prescribed the maximum limit of pesticides content for wheat imported under the Open General License or for the public distribution system. In its final notification to amend provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) rules for wheat, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has identified the pesticides that could fall under the Maximum Residues Limits (MRLs) category. According to the notification, it has been proposed that the food grains shall be practically free from Argemone mexicana and Kesari in any form. For wheat, it is proposed that the requirements of Deoxynivalenol (DON) shall not be more than 2,000 g/kg. The amendments will remain in force till 31 March 2007.


No antibiotics in milk

China is preparing to launch a new national standard on raw milk to prevent dairy products containing antibiotic residues from reaching the market place. The standard, which was drawn up by the Ministry of Agriculture, is now awaiting approval from the Standardization Administration of China. It will make the testing of antibiotics and flavacol M1 in raw milk compulsory for dairy processors.

Antibiotics are widely used by dairy farmers to treat infections in their dairy herds. However, there is no regulation in place to restrict their usage. Residues of these drugs can reach a cows milk and therefore, the human food chain. A survey conducted by Chinas food safety authority AQSIQ in the first half of this year showed that around 50 per cent of milk products on the market had residues of antibiotics. This can be dangerous for people who are allergic to specific antibiotics. Also, frequent exposure to low-level antibiotics can cause micro-organisms to become resistant to them, through mutation, so that they are ineffective when needed to fight a human infection. Though it is not known when the new standard will come into force, or how strictly it will be enforced, AQSIQ is expected to carry out spot checks on milk suppliers, with fines imposed on defaulters.


Hong Kong food preservative laws under review

According to Prof. Kwan Hoi-shan, the Chairman of Hong Kongs Expert Committee on Food Safety, the law on preservatives in food will be updated to meet international standards and a consultation will be launched at the end of this year. Speaking after the committees first meeting, Prof. Kwan said members learned about the work of the Centre for Food Safety, and they supported the centres risk assessment and management approach in handling food safety issues.

Noting that the Preservatives in Food Regulations are under review, Prof. Kwan said it is necessary to bring the law in line with international standards and offer the food trade clearer guidelines. Dr. Mak Sin-ping, Controller of the Centre for Food Safety, stated that the proposed revisions endorsed by the committee would be tabled before lawmakers for discussion by this year-end or early next year. Apart from updating the legislation on preservatives in food, Prof. Kwan said that other food safety laws would also be scrutinized, the criteria reviewed and priorities formed in the coming months.


Circular to enforce ban on poisonous pig-feed additive

Chinas Ministry of Agriculture has issued an urgent circular to local government departments ordering them to clamp down on an illegal additive used in pig feed. The notice was issued soon after 300 people in Shanghai suffered acute food poisoning after eating pork tainted with traces of the additive, which is used to produce leaner meat. The victims were hospitalized with symptoms of dizziness, quickened pulse rates and muscle cramps after they ate pork, pig liver and other pig organs. The additive has been banned for years but is still being used illegally in some regions, the ministry said in the circular, asking local watchdogs to enhance supervision to ensure food safety and protect peoples health. The licenses of enterprises producing food products containing the banned medicine should be cancelled, and inspections carried out in key areas, the Ministry said.


Infant formula standards slated for revision

Chinas food authorities are revising standards on infant formula in light of the latest research into infant nutrition. Experts have expressed their concerns regarding the high levels of protein found in milk powder for infants. Recent studies indicate that excess protein, causing rapid growth during infant years, can increase the risk of heart diseases and diabetes later in life. The average protein content in breast milk is about 1.1 per cent, but in infant milk formula the percentage is around 1.8 per cent, much higher than needed, says Mr. Wang Dingmian, Deputy Chairman of the Guangdong Dairy Industry Association and one of the experts asked to assist with the revision.

Chinas infant nutrition market is booming, as parents with growing incomes spend increasing amounts on their only child. China is expected to catch up with Japan as the second largest market after America for baby powdered milk. Data from national health surveys on school children showed that the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children aged 7-18 years increased 28 times and obesity increased four times from 1985 to 2000, particularly in boys.



Serine aids food preservation

Flavourence Corp., Japan, has won a patent in the United States for its process of preserving food, which involves the addition of serine, especially L-serine, a neutral, genetically coded amino acid. The breakthrough is a convenient process of preserving food for a long term by adding serine to food, in particular by performing a heat treatment after the addition. Since serine is a kind of amino acid, it does not deteriorate the quality of the food itself and can safely preserve food. Additionally, it was found that the addition of serine to food with low-temperature heating shows bacteriostasis to gram-negative/positive bacilli generally contained in the food.


Meat preservation sans CO

Researchers at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, report to have been able to keep packaged meat pink and fresh for weeks. A remarkable feature of this achievement is that the preservation process does not make use of carbon monoxide (CO), which is being opposed by critics the world over. The team added an extract of rosemary, a popular herb, to the polypropylene film used to package freshly cut meat in supermarket displays, thereby creating an active packaging. Rosemary has a time-honoured reputation as an antioxidant and food preservative.

This packaging goes beyond passively sealing food away from the environment and plays an active role in keeping food fresh. The rosemary-enhanced plastic film kept beef steaks looking pink and fresh for 14 days under conditions found in supermarkets. That represents an increase in average display life of two days, or about 17 per cent, compared to meat packaged in a traditional modified atmosphere mixture of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.


Antimicrobial compounds and protective cultures

In Switzerland, researchers at the Laboratory of Food Biotechnology (LFB), of the Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, are investigating several bacterial systems for their antimicrobial activities and their potential as protective cultures. Recently, a novel protective co-culture was developed at LFB, consisting of Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei SM20 and Propionibacterium jensenii SM11, and was successfully used in yoghurt and sour milk products to inhibit yeast and mould contaminants.

The initial development, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and a Swiss dairy company, involved the isolation of close to 200 Propionibacteria and 1,400 Lactobacilli from different origins (fermented foods such as sauerkraut, sourdough and olives as well as raw milk and silage), which were screened for antimicrobial activities against yeasts and moulds originating from spoiled yoghurt containing fresh fruits. Typing was performed using advanced molecular biology tools sequencing analysis of 16S rDNA, species and other phylogenetic group-specific PCR assays, randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis and pulsed field gel electrophoresis. Many bacterial cocktails or combinations with the highest antimicrobial activity were prepared and are being further studied for their potential as food preservatives. After optimizing the conditions of the technology, one particular mixture of protective cultures was launched on the world market in 2005 for its high antifungal activity in fermented milk products. The commercialized protective culture is now being studied for other applications of food preservation.

The project has now advanced to production and purification strategies (solid phase extraction and semi-preparative RP-HPLC) as well as analytical methods (GC- and LC-MS) aimed at identifying the inhibitory substances of the producing strains. The antimicrobial compounds 2-pyrrolidone-5-carboxylic (PCA) acid 3-phenyllactate (PLA), hydroxyphenyllactate (OH-PLA) and ethyl-L-lactate (ELA) were detected in low quantities in addition to lactate, acetate and propionate, showing the complex but efficient mechanisms of inhibition of such protective cultures. Finally, immobilized cell technology is being used to enhance the production of inhibitory metabolites, which are detected only when the bacteria are grown on solid media. Also, storage models are being developed for foods.

Contact: Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Laboratory of Food Biotechnology, Schmelzbergstrasse 7, ETH Zentrum LFV C, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland.


New yoghurt process extends shelf-life

Fonterra, a dairy group based in New Zealand, has developed new technology that can increase the shelf-life of yoghurt to up to 90 days. The natural process extends the shelf-life of yoghurts by destroying spoilage yeast and mould, while selectively preserving live and active cultures, including probiotic bacteria.

The process retains the fresh characteristics of the product without compromising flavour, colour or nutritional characteristics, Fonterra stated. This technology is a better alternative for manufacturers who currently make heat-treated long-life yoghurt as it allows for the retention of live and active cultures, thereby providing a basis to claim the nutritional benefits of real yoghurt. A company press release states that It is a natural process that uses no additives or preservatives, and can be used on a variety of cultured foods and beverages.

Further, the technology does not require significant disruption to existing manufacturing processes and the existing formulation and packaging can be used in most cases. Also, yoghurt produced using the Fonterra process complies with the Codex international standard of identity regarding minimal levels of live and active cultures, allowing it to be labelled and sold as fresh yoghurt.

Fonterra is licensing the technology to food and beverage manufacturers around the world. The company has obtained, or is in the process of obtaining, four patents in over 30 countries for its new technology, including one for the selective inactivation of spoilage organisms and pathogens in cultured foods.


Method for making a food preservative

Researchers in the United States army have developed a method for making a food preservative. The patented method comprises steps to remove the outer skins of taro corms, cutting the corms into pieces, grinding the pieces of corm to produce ground taro, drying the ground taro, diluting the ground taro with water, cooking the taro and water, inoculating the cooked taro and water with a selected bacteriocin-producing bacterium and permitting the taro to ferment, to provide the food preservative.


Handling delicate foods

Linde, Germany, is offering a new crust freezer designed to handle delicate foodstuffs like fish and other seafoods, mushrooms, etc. The new Cryoline MC utilizes the low temperature of liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide to freeze food rapidly and carefully. The freezer uses a stream of liquid nitrogen that flows over a stainless steel rim to perform the crust freezing process. The taste, freshness and quality of frozen foods depend on how quickly they are cooled down right after harvesting or production. Rapid cooling is especially important for delicate foods like seafood.

According to Linde, the freezers design serves to keep products moving along the production line and improves the individually quick-frozen (IQF) process. A connected tunnel freezer, the Cryoline MT, allows the cold gas generated by liquid nitrogen to flow with the product once it leaves the crust-freezing area. As the two process machines are connected, none of the cold is lost, saving on energy. By using the crust freezing process, the surfaces of products like shrimps, berries or mushrooms are hardened first to avoid deformation and sticking. The products are then passed through the Cryoline MT tunnel freezer to further freeze and stabilize them. A touch-screen control panel helps access data recorded by the machine, providing traceability information.



Clean and cost-effective separation technology

In the Netherlands, researchers at the Wageningen University and Research Centre have developed a clean process to isolate valuable or undesired components from solids, such as components for food products. Compared with conventional methods, the new process is continuous, easily controlled and allows for higher extraction yields.
Many odours and flavours are extracted from plant tissues by dissolving them in organic solvents, such as hexane and alcohols. After subsequent evaporation of the solvent, the target components remain as pure product. In the new process, which was developed under the framework of an European Union project called C-REX, supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) is used as the solvent. Though some industries employ compressed CO2 to remove, for example, caffeine out of coffee or to extract flavours from hops for the production of beer, the Dutch researchers are the first to make this a continuous process.

The process can also be applied for the purification of materials such as plastics and also as a new production route for foams in the plastic and the food industry.

Contact: Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 6700 HB, Wageningen, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 (317) 477 477; Fax: +31 (317) 484 884



Improved cooking robot

Researchers at Fanxing Science and Technology Co. Ltd. have developed Chinas first cooking robot by translating standardized human cooking actions into machine language.

The AIC-AI cooking robot can prepare Sichuan, Shandong and Canton cuisines as well as thousands of Chinese dishes. It is capable of frying, baking, boiling and steaming, and can perform other special Chinese cooking actions. At a demonstration, the robot cooked a dish of beautifully flavoured, attractive-looking shrimp in five minutes. According to Mr. Cai Hegao, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the robot could help standardize Chinese fast food.


New dough machine

Fritsch, Germany, has recently introduced a new version of its dough sheeting system Rollfix, which accommodates thicker dough sheets and speeds up process times. Designed primarily for industrial bakers using dough sheets up to a width of 650 mm, Rollfix 600 has two separate rolling speeds. The baking machinery maker has increased the roller gap on the equipment to 45 mm for thicker dough sheets and added a quick belt release for easier maintenance and cleaning. Also, the roller adjustment results in reduced processing times, with sheeting speed increased to 56 m/min. In addition, a slewable flour duster eliminates the need for bakers to manually lift and adjust the mechanism. The Rollfix is capable of handling difficult, unstable doughs like filo and shortcrusts, making it more suitable for luxury baked products. The machine can use and retain large amounts of information, such as recipes, via a USB port that can be removed and transported. It is programmed by means of an LCD touch screen display.


Greener chocolate

Researchers at Leeds University in the United Kingdom have adapted and modified a process originally invented for the chemical industry to enable greener production of chocolates. One of the final stages of making chocolate is conching, which involves the mixture being simultaneously heated and mixed to make it smooth and mellow. This process may take around 4-6 h for standard chocolate and as much as 72 h to produce the highest grades. However, the new process can lower this time to a matter of minutes, and that too using lesser energy.

The approach involves the liquid chocolate being poured on to the centre of a fast-spinning heated disc. Forces generated by the disc draws the liquid towards the edge, creating a thin layer of chocolate that releases unwanted flavours. It not only dramatically speeds up the conching process but the machinery is also much smaller than the equipment currently used, which can be the size of an industrial cement mixer. The team anticipates that the new process will have a similar dramatic impact on the production of a wide range of foodstuffs like mayonnaise-based sauces and food flavourings.


Machine speeds up dough making process

Konigs dough laminating and sheeting machine helps speed up dough processing by cutting down on shearing that occurs when a normal cylindrical roller is used. The new system from the Austria-based company is designed around a multi-roller satellite head called TwinSat, which uses two satellite multi-roller heads arranged one above the other. The dough is not rolled down but pressed to size by a high-speed, tamping movement, thereby reducing the shearing strain to a minimum. The nearly stress-free dough sheets can now be processed further without any dough resting.

Konigs system works by eliminating the different speeds in the dough layers. Konig achieves this by gearing the head and rolling speed with the relative movement of the dough. Smaller planet-rollers turn at a different speed in a direction opposite to the rotating roller. The speed of the planet-rollers and satellites can be individually adjusted to achieve the required dough consistency and production speed. The planet-rollers are also driven independently to avoid the dough slipping while its thickness is being reduced. Within the sheeting system the dough is eased forward over the whole section, keeping the displacement of its structures to a minimum.


Filling machine combines accuracy with speed

Sidel, which is part of the Tetra Laval group, offers a new filling machine for carbonated beverages that combines accuracy with speed and a potential to save on energy. The Combi Eurotronica FM-C integrates Sidels blowing technology with the volumetric flow meter filling technology developed by Simonazzi, which is also a part of the Tetra Laval group. The design departments from both firms devised the new Combi machine, which utilizes SBO Universal blowing technology and volumetric flow meter filling technology to achieve output rates up to 61,200 bottles/h. Each flow meter in the system has its own printed circuit board that controls the filling valve opening and closing, and remains in constant communication, through infrared technology, with the machines central controller.

According to Sidel, this results in precision filling, quick and continuous data transmission as well as speed in carrying out setpoints sent to the filling valves. Also, the machine allows manufacturers to make lighter plastic bottles through a new petaloid base design. Pressure during the pre-form blowing process in the mould has also been reduced to 28 bars, which decreases energy consumption. Sidel has also designed the filling part of the Combi Eurotronica FM-C with the Combi enclosure, now separate from the machine frame, thereby improving accessibility and maintenance.


Mushroom machine

In Canada, a space-age food dehydrator developed by researchers at the University of BC is being set up in a warehouse. Ms. Lynda Dixon of the Haida Gwaii Local Food Co-op has big plans for local mushrooms using the vacuum microwave dehydrator. The hi-tech procedure agitates the mushrooms water molecules in vacuum, causing them to evaporate from the inside out. This results in a dried mushroom that maintains its shape and can be easily reconstituted. Ms. Dixon stated that the results are delicious and far superior to regular dried mushrooms. A team at Royal Roads University is helping with the marketing plans for the product. Successful results could pave the way for other products like berries, seaweed and even basil.



DNA traceability technique to add value to meat

Latest developments in DNA traceability will help New Zealand sell its top quality meat to discerning international consumers at a considerable premium, AgResearch reports.

Researchers have developed a new method of traceability for meat products. In the case of products made from more than one animal, like patties, it can indicate precisely which animals they originate from. In this method, DNA samples are collected from all of the animals contributing to each batch of meat patties. DNA extracted from each sample is profiled using microsatellites. When confirmation of the batch of origin is required, sub-samples from a test patty are dismantled into individual meat fibres. The DNA is then extracted from several of those fibres and profiled using the same microsatellites. DNA profiles from the patty samples are compared with those from all possible batches of the contributing animals. Thus, by matching some of the DNA profiles from the patty with those of a subset of the contributing animals, the batch of origin is established.


L-tyrosine obtained through fermentation

A new fermentation process developed by Kyowa Hakko, Japan, allows for the production of the amino acid L-tyrosine. L-tyrosine is used as an ingredient in dietary supplements and health foods for its purported ability to relieve symptoms of stress, as well as in enteral nutritional products such as medical foods. The majority of L-tyrosine currently available is derived from human or animal sources. Though a few non-animal sources are available, e.g. soybeans, large-scale production is not economically viable.

The recent breakthrough, which is said to be the first to produce non-animal L-Tyrosine on a commercial scale, is anticipated to spread the use of the amino acid in nutritional products of non-animal origin. The process was developed following the discovery of micro-organisms with superior characteristics for mass production of L-tyrosine.


Naturally sweet dairy products

By adding a novel genetically engineered bacterial strain, a fermentation process that is limited to converting lactose into glucose has been developed as part of the European Union-funded Nutra Cells project. This technique could remove the need to add sweeteners to dairy products, and also has implications for lactose intolerance because, by converting the lactose in the dairy to glucose, the final lactose content of the dairy is significantly reduced. Lead author Mr. Wietske Pool from the University of Groningen expressed that the resulting strain can be used for in situ production of glucose, circumventing the need to add sweeteners as additional ingredients to dairy products.

Researchers, led by Prof. Oscar Kuipers from the University of Groningen, screened numerous strains and plasmids of directly engineered Lactococcus lactis bacterium. Tests were performed on L. lactis strain NZ9000, constructed from the L. lactis strains LL108, LL302 and pORI280. L. lactis is used extensively in the dairy industry in the production of fermented milk products and has a relatively simple carbon metabolism pathway. By directly engineering this strain of L. lactis, the team was able to delete genes that coded for glucose metabolism by the bacteria. This was achieved by disrupting the main sugar transport system, the so-called sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS). One of the genes deleted has only recently been discovered, glucose-PTS EII-cel (ptcBAC), while the others are known glucokinase (glk) and EIIman/glc (ptnABCD).


Low-fat ice cream

Unilever is reported to be a step ahead in the race to please health-conscious consumers. It has developed a genetically modified protein that can serve up low-fat ice cream without altering the taste. The company has applied to the United Kingdoms Food Standards Agency to use the ice structuring protein in its edible ices. The firm has stated in its application that it had employed genetically modified bakers yeast, containing an ice structuring protein originally isolated from the blood of a fish, known as ocean pout. Both protein and yeast are removed from the formula during processing, however, thereby nothing is passed on into the end product. Ice cream in shops would simply have ice structuring protein on the label.
In a related development, the Dutch firm Unimills reports to have developed a way of decreasing saturated fat from butter-based ice cream. Also, the United States-based firm FMC Biopolymer has devised a new, cellulose-based ingredient to cut fat in ice cream down to five per cent.

Additionally, European ingredients giant Danisco is reported to have made ice cream with less than one per cent fat possible, thanks to a new ingredient blend based on its Cremodan IcePro technology.


Microbes bolster production of natural sweetener

In the United States, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist Mr. Badal Saha and collaborators have developed modified strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli through a cooperative agreement with zuChem Inc. and the Biotechnology Research and Development Corp. The genetically engineered bacteriaal strains can eat hemicellulose in corn fibre and other sources, thereby setting the stage for a new, bio-based method of making xylitol, a mint-flavoured sweetener used in chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash and other products. Xylitol produced naturally by many fruits and vegetables, and even to some degree by the human body is used as a sugar substitute as it has one-third fewer calories, imparts a cool mint flavour, fights cavity-causing bacteria and can pass through the human gut without involving insulin.

In studies at the ARS Fermentation Biotechnology Research Unit, Mr. Saha and colleagues used an approach called metabolic pathway engineering to retool the enzyme-making machinery of E. coli bacteria so that they could convert two hemicellulose sugars xylose and arabinose into xylitol. In lab-scale trials, the bacteria were kept inside special biofermentors and fed a broth of corn fibres or other hemicellulose sources. The xylitol they excreted was purified into a white, crystalline powder.



Edible packaging

A chemist at the Public University of Navarre, Spain, reports that edible coatings based on various mixes of milk serum proteins, starch and mesquite gum could be the basis for the next wave in food packaging. Mr. Javier Oses Fernandez has stated that edible coatings could help packagers meet the demand from food companies for new packaging that help prolong the shelf-life of products, while being recyclable or biodegradable. His research has unveiled that edible coatings transparent films that cover food items and act as a barrier to humidity and oxygen can be used as a host for additives in the conservation of the properties of the product or simply in order to improve its appearance. They can even help companies reduce the amount of plasticizers used in packaging foods.


Automated package inspection system

In the United States, Georgia Techs automated package inspection system is currently undergoing trials at Fieldale Farms processing plant. The research team worked with Cryovac Inc. to design the system, which takes into account the properties of packaging materials and combines them with imaging and other sensing systems.

The result is an integrated system that automatically inspects the seals of over-wrap tray packs as they exit a heat-sealing machine. Lab trials have exhibited 100 per cent success rate in identifying defects, such as film tears, in package seals with no false positives or negatives. Additionally, two patents are pending, one on the inspection system and another on the special treatment developed for the packaging material.


Multi-lane aseptic machine for packing low-acid foods

IWKA Packaging, the United States, is offering a machine for the aseptic packaging of low-acid food products. The new SAS 20/30 packages low-acid food products aseptically, increasing their shelf-life to a year without refrigeration. SAS 20/30s multi-lane system allows it to produce up to 24,000 aseptic liquid stick-packs per hour. The design also enables the packaging of different substances or flavours simultaneously on a single machine.

As such, it provides processors with flexibility to make changeovers quickly or cater to a number of variations of their brands.

The SAS 20/30 meets all international as well as local hygiene standards, including the Food and Drug Administrations Code of Federal Regulations 21. The machine can package low-acid foods, such as cheese and puddings, that have first been processed aseptically. The self-contained SAS 20/30 automatically manages its own pre-sterilization and sterilization processes, and then constantly monitors all critical parameters to ensure that an aseptic environment is maintained.


New barbecue food pack

The potential for a revolutionary, patent-pending food pack developed in the United Kingdom is now being realized with the help of a packaging machinery line from Packaging Automation. The company developed the line technology needed for FFP Packaging Solutions new pack concept. The radical FFP Qbag design utilizes a specialist variation on lidding films and foils to provide a novel barbecue food preparation pack. In addition to barbecue use, the Qbag works just as well in the oven. FFP Packaging is the nations leading flexible packaging specialist.

Two of Packaging Automations semi-automatic hand-turned rotary table PA182 heat sealing set up at the FFP Northampton factory and are running without fault 24 hours a day, six days a week. The use of the PA182s evolved from an original line concept that would have been very large and expensive. Packaging Automation used its expertise to develop a more compact line, which has helped FFP keep costs down, and make the project viable. Furthermore, the design team developed special tooling for its machines that places and heat-seals a transparent film window on the foil pack.

Contact: Packaging Automation, Parkgate Industrial Park, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 8XW, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1565) 755 000.


Packaging equipment helps meet seasonal production peaks

Two of Packaging Automations semi-automatic hand-turned rotary table PA182 heat sealing set up at the FFP Northampton factory and are running without fault 24 hours a day, six days a week. The use of the PA182s evolved from an original line concept that would have been very large and expensive. Packaging Automation used its expertise to develop a more compact line, which has helped FFP keep costs down, and make the project viable. Furthermore, the design team developed special tooling for its machines that places and heat-seals a transparent film window on the foil pack.

Contact: Packaging Automation, Parkgate Industrial Park, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 8XW, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1565) 755 000.


Automatic packing machine

Xiamen C&D Inc., China, offers an automatic packing machine that can handle bag sizes with a length of 40-220 mm and a width of 30-150 mm. This model has a production capacity of 30-80 pieces/min. Key features of the system are:
  • It can automatically finish the process of bag making, measuring, filling, cutting, seal, counting and the printing series number;
  • Adopts advanced microcomputer controller to accurately control the bag length; and
  • It has an intelligent temperature controller.
  • Contact: Ms. Chen (Department Three), Xiamen C&D Corp., 6/F, Seaside Building, 52 Lujiang Road, 361001, China. Tel: +86 (592) 2071 588; Fax: +86 (592) 2020 394



Air blast to protect aseptic filling

Serac, France, offers an isolator that uses air circulation as a barrier to protect the aseptic filling of milk and other drinks. SAS 3, the new restricted access barrier system (RABS) isolator, increases productivity by allowing up to 72 h of non-stop production without intermediate decontamination periods. Filling rates of up to 50,000 bottles/h can be achieved.

SAS 3 offers three major improvements over the standard isolator. It can cater for unidirectional flow, barrier zones and easy access, while preserving the advantages of using an isolator. Though standard isolators are hermetically sealed, the RABS isolator is not. SAS 3 is an air barrier that is produced by positive overpressure inside the enclosure that protects the sterile area. Air is continuously circulated and renewed through a vertical unidirectional speed-regulated airflow.



Brewing: New Technologies

This book summarizes the major recent technological changes in brewing and their impact on product range and quality. The first group of chapters review improvements in ingredients, including cereals, adjuncts, malt and hops, as well as ways of optimizing the use of water. The following series of chapters discuss developments in particular technologies, from fermentation and accelerated processing to filtration and stabilization processes as well as packaging. The final series of chapters analyse improvements in safety and quality control, covering such topics as modern brewery sanitation, quality assurance schemes, and control systems responsible for chemical, microbiological and sensory analysis. Written by an international team of contributors, this book will be a standard reference for R&D and Quality Assurance managers in the brewing industry.

Optimizing Sweet Taste in Foods

This guide presents key research on what determines consumer perceptions of sweet taste, the range of sweet-tasting compounds and the ways their use in foods can be optimized. A sweet taste is often a critical measure in a consumers sensory evaluation of a food product.

The first part of the book reviews factors affecting sweet taste perception while the second delves into the main types of sweet-tasting compounds like sucrose polyols, low- and reduced-calorie sweeteners. The final part discusses ways of improving the use of sweet-tasting compounds, including a range of strategies to develop new natural sweeteners, improving sweetener taste, optimizing synergies in sweetener blends, etc.

For the above publications, contact: Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Abington Hall, Abington, Cambridge CB1 6AH, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1223) 891 358; Fax: +44 (1223) 893 694



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