VATIS Update Food Processing . Nov-Dec 2011

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Food Processing Nov-Dec 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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World’s first fund for global food safety

On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings held in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 12 November 2011, an announcement was made on the creation of an innovative public-private partnership (PPP) that has pledged US$1 million for the creation of the world’s first Global Food Safety Fund for capacity building. The proposed Fund, to be managed by the World Bank, will leverage the tripartite approach pioneered in APEC that enlists a wide range of stakeholders in training programmes designed to enhance food safety and to facilitate trade. These programmes will enable more growers, more producers, and more food safety officials to understand and use preventive controls – resulting in safer food for consumers and fewer safety incidents in food trade.

This innovative PPP has secured generous seed money from United States-based companies Mars Inc. and Waters Corp., and from United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The initial pledges announced in Honolulu meet is the threshold amount required to establish the Fund and will provide the platform for new private and public sector contributions. The Fund’s goal is to raise US$15-20 million over the coming 10 years. This PPP is built on the recognition that food supplies are global and food safety systems are under-resourced. Strengthening food safety systems is critical in order to safeguard public health, and to promote food security, global food trade and economic development.

New IFFO programme aimed at Southeast Asia

The International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization (IFFO), the United Kingdom, has announced the launch of its new improvers’ programme for fishmeal and fish oil producers. As part of the programme, facilities that would not otherwise achieve the full IFFO Global Standard for Responsible Supply (RS Standard) can progress gradually against a series of auditable milestones on responsible sourcing and food safety. The project was developed in consultation with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership is IFFO partner in the programme. Major retailers and fish feed producers, including EWOS and Sainsbury’s, funded the initial programme development. IFFO’s independent Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) established the programme framework.

“Thirty per cent of the world’s fishmeal and oil production capacity is now certified to the RS Standard, and there are more audits in the pipeline,” said IFFO Technical Director Mr. Andrew Jackson. In the Americas and Europe, production is well covered, but there are a number of factories, particularly in Southeast Asia, that cannot achieve the RS Standard, often because of the lack of fisheries management data. “This new programme is designed to encourage responsible sourcing of both wild fish and by-product raw material, as well as responsible production, food safety and traceability,” Mr. Jackson explained.

Investments in Indian food processing sector fall

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Indian food processing sector has declined 32 per cent to US$188.67 million in 2010-2011, the Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Mr. Charan Das Mahant informed the Parliament in December 2011. The sector had attracted US$278.89 million FDI in 2009-2010, the Minister said. He added that “FDI not only complements and supplements domestic investment but also brings state-of-the-art technology and best managerial practices, thereby providing better access to foreign technology to the domestic industry.”

Replying to another query in the house, the Minister said that the government had sponsored a study by Rabobank for preparing a vision document called ‘Vision 2015’ suggesting an action plan for the food processing sector. “The adopted Vision 2015 provides for enhancing value addition from 20 per cent to 35 per cent and increasing India’s share in global food trade from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent by year 2015,” Mr. Mahant informed the Parliament. An investment of Rs 1,000 billion was estimated by 2015 to achieve the targets set in the document. A tenth of this amount would come from the government, he added.

China steps up campaign on food safety awareness

A campaign that aims to boost the public’s role in safeguarding food safety and promote awareness of the issue was launched at the 9th China Food Safety Annual Conference in November 2011. The new campaign is part of a broader five-year programme (2011-2015) of food safety education announced by the State Council Food Safety Commission (SCFSC) in May. The programme aims for more than 80 per cent of the public to be aware of basic food safety by 2015, with the rate for primary and high-school students reaching up to 85 per cent or more.

Mr. Shi Xiushi, Chairperson of the Financial and Economic Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) – the country’s top legislature – called for efforts to raise companies’ sense of responsibility and consumers’ awareness in preventing and dealing with food safety crimes. Ms. Gu Xiulian, former Vice Chairperson of the NPC Standing Committee, said that ensuring safety is the top priority for the food sector, which is the country’s pillar industry with a turnover of 550 million yuan (US$97.3 million) in the first nine months of 2011.

FAO grant for starch-making equipment in the Philippines

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is extending a grant for the acquisition of extractors for the Philippines’ arrowroot industry, which has been identified as one of the tools to help alleviate poverty in the country. The grant will benefit arrowroot farmers in Quezon province, which has 220 ha land planted to arrowroot. The extractors are expected to raise efficiency and quality of producing arrowroot starch and eventually flour. The grant would be channelled through the Department of Agriculture’s Southern Tagalog Integrated Agricultural Research Centre (STIARC), the lead agency spearheading effort to raise yield of arrowroot. STIARC has been working with agencies such as the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in raising income and profitability of the arrowroot sector.

The country imports 100 per cent of its wheat requirement, which is locally milled into flour. In 2010, the country imported 2.28 million tonnes of wheat for flour. Aside from flour, arrowroot starch is also used as raw material for the manufacture of glue, sizing agent in textiles and thickener in pharmaceuticals. Locally fabricated extractors are important in the value-added processing of arrowroot tubers, enabling separation of arrowroot juice from the pulp, which is subsequently dried into starch or further processed into flour.

Moderate growth for Indonesian agribusiness sector

Indonesia’s total food and agribusiness trade will grow at a moderate annual pace of 4 per cent over the next five years due to limited agricultural land and labour, says Mr. John Baker, Rabobank International’s Managing Director for food and agribusiness research. Indonesia is currently starting to enter a plateau phase as limited expansion areas for farming, as well as limited labour on the production side, would affect production output. Indonesia’s total food and agribusiness trade was valued at US$44.5 billion in 2010, with exports and imports totalling US$31.8 billion and US$12.7 billion, respectively, resulting in a surplus of US$ 19.1 billion, according to Rabobank’s data.

Mr. Baker further said that if the land and labour constraints continued, exports would likely fall as domestic demands expanded and the domestic market absorbed more agricultural production. Rising domestic demands would drive the development of the food and agribusiness industry in the downstream sector, including noodles, bakery products and soft drinks, he said. Indonesia is Asia’s third-largest net agricultural producer after China and India, and currently home to 1,032 food and agribusiness companies in both upstream and downstream sectors. Around 53 per cent of the companies focus on the production of crops or livestock products. Agriculture absorbed 43 per cent of the country’s labour force and contributed 15 per cent to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2009.

Viet Nam’s seafood exports target US$6.5 billion in 2012

The General Department of Fisheries of Viet Nam has set a target of earning US$6.5 billion from seafood exports in 2012, up 5 per cent from 2011. The fisheries sector will also strive to attain a total seafood output of 5.37 million tonnes in 2012. In addition to traditional markets like the United States, Japan and the European Union, the sector will expand exports to markets with great potential, such as the Republic of Korea and China. It will encourage businesses to link up with farmers to form large-scale concentrated seafood areas in order to ensure material supplies throughout the year. The General Department of Fisheries will build long-term plans on trade and investment promotion activities and implementation of cooperative seafood agreements, especially with Southeast Asian and African countries.

Food authority in the offing in Nepal

The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) of Nepal is planning to upgrade its status to that of a ‘food authority’ to provide better services. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is formulating necessary laws and regulations soon to upgrade DFTQC, said Mr. Pramod Koirala, spokesperson of the department. According to Mr. Koirala, organization and management survey has shown positive indication to develop DFTQC as food authority, a statutory body for laying down scientific standards for food articles and regulating manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale as well as import of food to ensure safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

The Food Authority Act and Regulation are prerequisites and the Ministry is working on it, Mr. Koirala said, adding that all the legal measures would be completed within the current fiscal year. DFTQC is studying the legal and administrative grounds of other countries to build strong authority in the country. “We are minutely examining Indian authority, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to replicate its structure,” Mr. Koirala said.


New ISO standard makes food irradiation safer

A new International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard provides state-of-the art requirements for food irradiation, commonly used to improve quality and safety in food processing. The standard will benefit manufacturers, irradiation operators, regulators and consumers. ISO 14470:2011 “Food irradiation – Requirements for the development, validation and routine control of the process of irradiation using ionizing radiation for the treatment of food” not only provides requirements, but also guidance for meeting them.

The main objectives of ISO 14470:2011 are to:

  • Provide requirements for the irradiation of food consistent with current standards and practices;
  • Provide directions for a technical agreement between the customer and the irradiator operator; and
  • Establish a documentation system to support the controls on the food irradiation process.


China sets limits to bacteria in frozen food

In China, the Ministry of Health has released new national safety standards for quick-frozen flour and rice products, including dumplings, wontons, steamed buns, rice dumplings, rice balls and other quick-frozen foods. In response to public concerns about Staphylococcus aureus content, the new standard has revised the 2003 regulation that allowed 100 to 1,000 bacteria in cooked food and 1,000 to 10,000 in raw food. Under the new standard, food will be rejected if any S. aureus is detected. Other modifications include adjusting the content limit of Salmonella, deleting provisions about Shigella and cancelling indicators for mildew.

The new standard takes effect on 21 December 2011. Mr. Zhang Xudong, Director of the Food Safety Comprehensive Coordination and Health Supervision Bureau under the Ministry, said it was incorrect to say that only 23 per cent of China’s food safety standards comply with international standards. In fact, China is speeding up the planning and development of national food safety standards and 70 per cent of China’s food contaminant standards meet international standards.

Sri Lanka to grade food handling establishments

With the objective of ensuring food security in the country, the Health Ministry of Sri Lanka has taken steps to grade all food handling establishments under the H-800 Food Handling Establishments Inspection System, Mr. Palitha Maheepala, Health Ministry Additional Secretary, said. These establishments will be categorized as A, B, C or D and the Ministry will issue to each establishment a certificate that mentions the grade it obtained. Health Ministry’s Environmental and Occupational Health Director Mr. T.B. Ananda Jayalal said that all such certified establishments are required to display their certificates, which would guide the general public about food in that establishment. Under the Food Act No. 28 of 1980 as amended by Food (Amendment) Act, No. 20 of 1991, the Health Minister has the power to issue new regulations. According to Mr. Jayalal, 1,350 out of 10,000 food handling establishments inspected by the Health Ministry officials have obtained A grade.

Malaysia to issue guideline to control food advertisement

The Health Ministry of Malaysia will come up with a detailed guideline in 2012 to control advertising and marketing of food products in the country. Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the guideline was ready but the Ministry was having final consultations with industry stakeholders before its release. The Ministry would encourage the food industry to self-regulate before drafting regulations to govern the advertising and marketing of food products, he added.

Quoting the guideline for the advertisement and nutrition information labelling of fast food as an example, Datuk Liow said the fast food industry had followed the guideline and labelled their food accordingly since it was implemented a few years ago. With this new guideline, he hoped that the industry would practice “responsible marketing” and provide specific details for food advertisers and marketers.

The Health Ministry has also formed a technical working group with the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Food Manufacturing Group to implement the commitments made by the participating manufacturers. The manufacturers have committed to increase the production and promotion of healthy food choices, adopt an active role in multi-sectoral partnerships with the Ministry and participate in non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention and control programmes. A recent health survey by the Ministry had revealed that NCDs like hypertension and diabetes were on the rise in the country since 1996.

India extends food safety law to all food businesses

India’s new Food Safety and Standards Regulations 2011 mandates that food companies, from manufacturers to food ingredient suppliers, are now responsible for food safety. The new law, which has come into effect on 5 August 2011, prescribes more responsibilities for companies involved in the various stages of the food business, particularly in ensuring that foods reaching end-consumers are fit for human consumption. The law makes food safety the responsibility of companies across the businesses of manufacture, processing, packaging, storage, transportation, distribution, import and sale of food, including those in the food services, catering services and sale of food ingredients.

The Food Safety and Standards Regulations 2011 repeals all previous legislations and puts in place a unified structure for all food safety related matters in the form of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which lays science based standards for regulating the manufacture, distribution, storage, sale and import of food and food articles. The new regulations make food safety the primary concern of not just the manufacturers but also others who are involved in the food business.


Self-propelled microrockets detect dangerous bacteria

Taking a novel approach to isolating pathogenic bacteria from complex food, clinical and environmental samples, researchers have developed a nanomotor strategy that involves the movement of lectin-functionalized micro-engines. Receptor-functionalized nanoswimmers offer direct and fast target isolation from raw biological samples without preparatory and washing steps. “We have demonstrated the use of new synthetic template-prepared micro-rockets, functionalized with lectin receptors, for the efficient isolation of target bacteria from diverse real samples,” said Mr. Joseph Wang, a professor in the Department of Nano-engineering at University California San Diego (UCSD), the United States.

The motion and power of self-propelled synthetic and natural micro/nanoscale motors have been exploited recently by the UCSD team as an attractive route for transporting target biomaterials, such as cancer cells or nucleic acids but not for the capture and transport of pathogenic bacteria. Mr. Wang’s team also demonstrated, for the first time, the ability to capture and transport simultaneously the target bacteria along with carrier polymeric spheres, as well as a chemically triggered unloading (release) operation. The efficient bacterial isolation platform that the team developed relies on the attractive behaviour of their microrockets along with their functionalization with lectin receptors.

“Lectins are readily available sugar-binding proteins that offer an attractive route for recognizing carbohydrate constituents of bacterial surface, via selective binding to cell-wall mono- and oligosaccharide components,” explains Mr. Wang. For example, the lectin extracted from Canavalia ensiformis, ConA, is a mannose- and glucose-binding protein capable of recognizing specific terminal carbohydrates of Gram-negative bacteria such as the Escherichia coli surface polysaccharides. The UCSD team’s nanoscale bacteria isolation strategy utilizes the movement of ConA-functionalized micro-engines to scour, interact and isolate pathogenic bacteria from distinct complex samples. After bacteria have been captured, they then can be released in a controlled fashion by moving the microrocket through a low-pH glycine solution.

New test to monitor lactic acid bacteria in food

3M Food Safety, based in the United States, has introduced a novel test that monitors lactic acid bacteria in food and environmental samples. The Aerobic Procedure for Lactic Acid Bacteria works by integrating a combination of the 3M Petrifilm Aerobic Count Plate, a pH indicator and MRS (deMan, Rogosa and Sharpe) media. The test was created in cooperation with Kraft Foods, the United States, to monitor shelf-life and environmental samples in food products, such as raw and ready-to-eat meats. While lactic acid bacteria typically do not cause illness if ingested, they can change the colour and flavour of food products.

Rapid detection of food contamination

The common method of testing food and beverages for harmful bacteria with the use of petri plates is cumbersome and can take up to several days, which increases the chances of infected products making their way onto the market. An Israeli company, TA Count, claims to be able to reduce this waiting time from days to a mere five minutes. Based on a discovery by microbiologist Dr. Vladimir Glukhman, TA Count has found a way to determine in a matter of minutes whether or not a particular micro-organism is present.

“This is the same principle as the pregnancy test,” says the company’s CEO Mr. Isak Duenyas. “The process of identifying all the bacteria present takes a little more time, but within five minutes we can give the important answer – can this be consumed or not?” The new system still requires a microbiologist, but the company aims to enable it to work automatically without human intervention, Mr. Duenyas says. TA Count’s microbe test system currently tests only water, but the company plans eventually to expand the test’s ambit to food articles and even pharmaceuticals.

Cold plasma reduces harmful bacteria on raw chicken

The bacteria responsible for most food-borne illnesses, Campylobacter and Salmonella, are found on more than 70 per cent of chicken meat tested. Treating raw meat products to remove pathogens before they reach a consumer’s home can reduce the risk of cross contamination during food preparation. A new study by food safety researchers at Drexel University in the United States demonstrates that plasma can be an effective method for killing pathogens on uncooked poultry.

Previous studies have shown that plasma could successfully reduce pathogens on the surface of fruits and vegetables without cooking them. The value of using plasma “is that it is non-thermal, so there is no heat to cook or alter the way the food looks,” said Mr. Brian Dirks, lead author of the proof-of-concept study and a graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences. Mr. Dirks and Dr. Jennifer Quinlan, senior author of the study an assistant professor in Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, worked with co-researchers from the University’s Anthony J. Drexel Plasma Institute to test the use of plasma for poultry.

In the Drexel study, raw chicken samples contaminated with Salmonella enterica and Campylobacter jejuni were treated with plasma for varying periods of time. Plasma treatment eliminated or nearly eliminated these bacteria in low levels from skinless chicken breast and chicken skin, and significantly reduced the level of bacteria when contamination levels were high. The researchers also tested the usage of plasma to treat samples of bacteria grown on agar, and demonstrated that antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria were as much susceptible to plasma treatment as the wild-type strains. Contact: Ms. Rachel Ewing, News Officer, University Communications, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States of America. Tel: +1 (215) 8952614; E-mail:


Stabilization of emulsions may take longer

A study by researchers from Harvard University, the United States, has found that emulsions that are stabilized may take longer to reach equilibrium than previously thought. Usually manufacturers add stabilizing ingredients to create emulsions, like mayonnaise, with a reasonable shelf-life. Mr. V.N. Manoharan and colleagues explain that in traditional mayonnaise, proteins from the egg yolk stabilize the emulsion by clinging to the interface and creating a rigid physical barrier. When the product is completely mixed, it is said to have attained equilibrium.

To study the interface between water and oil in the emulsion, Mr. Manoharan and colleagues used holography to provide a three-dimension view of microscopic polystyrene balls as they approached an interface between oil and water. The particles were gently pushed towards the interface using light from optical tweezers. The scientists thought that the particles would settle into predicted equilibrium. However, they found that none of the particles reached equilibrium instantly, with them breaching the interface quickly and then slowing down as they crossed into the oil. The scientists report that it would take from weeks to months, and possibly years, for this system to reach equilibrium. They note that if “really stirred hard”, this may get the particles to reach equilibrium faster but they state that “it is the process that matters”. Though this finding will not affect any time-tested formulations, it could be relevant for newer applications such as formulations of functional foods or engineering nano-emulsions, which depend on precise prediction of the particle’s behaviour.

Process for making biodegradable chewing gum

Chewing gum is made using synthetic rubber, softeners, sweeteners and flavourings. Synthetic rubbers are stretchy, have strong adhesive properties and are resistant to many chemicals used for cleaning. Reducing the stickiness of chewing gum requires a change in the chemical structure of its rubber base. However, the rubber base also determines commercially important features such as flavour, chewiness and shelf-life. The challenge for the food industry is to develop a non-sticky, chewy biodegradable gum with all the flavour of conventional gum. Professor Elke Arendt of University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, has developed a novel process for just that.

Prof. Arendt’s research team at the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences have developed a novel process for biodegradable chewing gum, using cereal proteins as the main ingredients. These natural proteins are modified using technologies and ingredients that increase the elasticity of the cereal proteins so that they can be used as a base material for the production of chewing gum. The original idea came from other research work of Prof. Arendt in the area of gluten-free cereal products, where the wheat needs to be replaced by other proteins with visco-elastic properties. The new technology has been patented and UCC is looking for companies to commercialize the product.

Pea-based texturizing solution

The range of textured vegetable proteins, mainly limited to the proteins obtained from wheat and soybean up to now, is being expanded. With the development of textured pea protein, two French companies – the vegetable protein texturizing experts Sotexpro and the starch manufacturer Roquette – are together opening up new innovation prospects for the meat and ready-made meals industry. Texta pois 65/70, the innovative texturizing solution being marketed by Sotexpro, is obtained by extrusion-cooking process.

On rehydration, the textured pea protein takes on a fibrous aspect and a texture comparable with that of meat. This functional characteristic is much valued in many prepared-meat applications and in ready-made and vegetarian meals, etc. Also called “meat extender”, the textured pea protein is a partial substitute for meat in burgers, meat balls, chicken nuggets, etc. For example, in a typical burger steak, the rehydrated textured pea protein in combination with beef can represent up to 30 per cent and more of the end product. Without any vegetable aftertaste, the pea protein guarantees the texture and juiciness of finished product. Pea is not a major allergen requiring labelling, and the product is free from soybean, gluten and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Milestones in magnetic protein separation

Solae LLC, with its headquarters in the United States, is leading MagPro2Life project – a four-year, 11 million euro research initiative funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union that includes researchers from Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The main aim of the project is to use smart magnetic particles to extract beneficial components in the processing of food, feed and pharmaceuticals. The company has announced the achievement of major milestones of the project, which include scale-up of a pilot-scale magnetic centrifugation process, and the granting of multiple patents (to DuPont) for both the process and equipment.

The main impact of this project is to bring healthy, high-value food to the consumer by using smart particles and the unique magnetic separation processes. That the components can be separated will also be very beneficial to the consumer. For example, in a soy or fermentation broth, it is difficult to separate small amounts of the beneficial proteins and therefore, it is a challenge to produce high purities economically. The new technology can overcome drawbacks in membrane and chromatographic separation technologies. This new magnetic particle separation process will provide cost-savings, and the specially produced particles can be used to selectively separate out the high-value component, producing higher purities and yields with high nutritional value.

“This project will lead to new specialty ingredients that no one is able to economically produce with the current technology,” said Ms. Sarah Martin, Senior Director of Applied Research at Solae. The process will allow production of specialty proteins at notably lower production costs. “It could be very flexible in separating many different protein sources, producing proteins with unique properties and health benefits,” said Mr. Torkel Rhenman, Solae CEO.

Orange food colorant from avocado seeds

A new study published by the Institute of Food Technologists, the United States, has found that crushing avocado seeds, which account for 16 per cent of the weight of the fruit, along with air generates an orange colour that may be used as natural colorant for food products. The discovery represents a potential added value for avocado growers and companies that process avocado into oil or food products, like guacamole. Further research is underway by the team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University, the United States, who conducted this study to assess the potential colorant qualities of the avocado seed extract in model foods and to the potential biological (antioxidant and anticancer) activity of the extract.

Omega-sterols patented

Enzymotec Ltd., based in Israel, was granted patent for its omega-sterols by the Australian patent office. Omega-sterols form a unique ingredient composed of naturally occurring hybrids of phytosterol and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-sterols were clinically proven to be effective for blood lipid control, and in supporting healthy levels of both blood triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol in humans.

“The patent refers to the use of omega-sterols as a functional food for diabetics and is part of five different patents that cover the various properties, composition and methods of use for this product,” says Dr. Sigalit Zchut, Director of R&D at Enzymotec. “Omega-sterols were clinically proven to be better than standard sterol-esters since they do not hinder the absorption of certain vitamins, such as Vitamin E. Additionally, there is an initial indication that omega-sterols may reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and blood pressure as-well”, Dr. Zchut adds.

Varying fat distribution could lower its content in food

Varying the distribution of fat in food products can help lower their fat content, without affecting the sensory properties, according to a new study in the Netherlands conducted by Wageningen University and TI Food and Nutrition. The research team evaluated the effect of altering the distribution of fat on the perception of sensory attributes, and used a model system comprising layered agar and gelatine gels that had oil-in-water emulsion droplets.

The research team used four layers of gel with differing amounts of emulsion droplets to develop samples of homogeneous and non-homogeneous distributions of fat, and then a quantitative descriptive analysis (QDA) was done to analyse the sensory properties of the gel samples. The results revealed that non-homogeneous gel samples with large differences in fat between the layers were more spreadable and melting, and had greater intensity ratings of mouth feel and after feel on comparison with homogeneous gel samples. In addition, the sample with high-fat layers on the outside had the highest ratings for all ‘mouth feel’ and ‘after feel’ attributes. The researchers concluded that varying the distribution of fat in a gel-based food system can be used to reduce fat content in food products, without affecting the sensory properties of such foods.

Researchers halve salt content in desalted cod

Researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain have developed a technique that reduces the amount of sodium salt in already desalted cod by 50 per cent, an innovation that could help the food industry to meet the growing demand for low-sodium products. The method involves placing desalted cod in a solution containing potassium chloride. In the process, a partial exchange of sodium for potassium occurs, leading to 50 per cent less sodium cod compared with a standard desalted cod.

The final product contained enough salt, making it viable for longer storage under refrigeration, and sensory studies revealed that it also retained all the properties of flavour and texture. Researcher Mr. José Manuel Barat said that the technique offers a new product to those consumers who must, or prefer to, reduce sodium in their diet.


A sandwich that stays fresh for two years

The United States Army has developed a sandwich that can be served fresh after sitting on the shelf for a full two years. Food degrading processes require water and/or oxygen to transpire, and the United States Army figured out a way to make a sandwich that eliminates water and oxygen from the equation.

The Army’s food scientists started with ingredients such as sugar, salt and honey that contain moisture but also retain it, keeping it out of contact with other ingredients. For example, unlike fresh tomato, jelly or honey on toast doesn’t impart its moisture to the bread. Using ingredients that lock their moisture inside was key to the new process. It was more difficult to keep oxygen away from the sandwich. To do so, each sandwich was packed in an air-sealed package with an oxygen scavenger – a small packet of iron filings that pulls oxygen from the ambient air and locks it up in a layer of rust. This keeps oxygen away from bread, where it could feed a reaction resulting in mould and decay. Devoid of oxygen and water, a sandwich can last a long time – two years in this case.

Asparagus benefits from X-ray treatment

A potential solution to the short market life of vegetables such as asparagus may lie in the latest ionizing irradiation technology currently in use in commercial food operations. In the United States, Mr. Joongmin Shin from the University of Wisconsin–Stout and colleagues from Michigan State University conducted a study seeking new information about the use of X-ray technology to help extend the shelf-life of fresh asparagus. Investigating the effect of low-dose X-ray irradiation treatment, the team found that the method significantly reduced microbe populations and helped maintain sugar levels in asparagus.

For the study, fresh-cut asparagus grown in Peru was sorted, cut, washed, immersed in sanitizer solution and rinsed. The asparagus was then divided into three sets: a control group, vacuum skin-packaged (VSP) group and vacuum skin-packaged plus X-ray irradiation (I-VSP) group. Asparagus in the I-VSP group were irradiated using a low-energy X-ray food irradiator. During a 24 day period, the researchers measured headspace gas content, microbial growth, water soluble sugar content and enzyme activity in all groups of asparagus.

The research team found that X-ray irradiation treatment reduced aerobic bacteria and mould/yeast populations significantly and helped maintain glucose and fructose levels in asparagus. The study noted that more investigation is needed to evaluate any nutritional or sensory changes to asparagus before commercial feasibility of the X-ray technology can be determined. Contact: Mr. Michael W. Neff, American Society for Horticultural Science, #1018 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, United States of America. Tel: +1 (703) 836 4606; Fax: +1 (703) 836 2024; E-mail:

The natural solution to preserve freshness

The Italian company Food & Innovative Technologies has developed a process that allows the preservation fruit and vegetables for long periods in an absolutely natural way, without compromising their nutritional properties. The preservation of the product throughout the supply chain, from the pack-house to the store/shop (via transport and delivery platforms), is guaranteed without the use of chemical additives, modified atmosphere or long pasteurization processes. This process includes pre-packaging with a food film tested and sorted to avoid recontamination of products after the microbial stabilization obtained through physical treatment. The company claims that a product packed with their process is not affected by the potential lack of strict refrigeration along the supply chain.

Food & Innovative Technologies plants come in three models that allow treatment of 1, 2 or 4 pallet with floor load and available load height of 2.40 m. Timing for the process of fresh produce is under 10 minutes per cycle. All models are modular, which allows for easy increase in production capacity. Contact: Mr. Nicola Gallone, Food & Innovative Technologies srl, C.da Ponte del Cane, nc. 70044 - Polignano a Mare (BA), Italy. E-mail:; Website:

Patent on ergothioneine use in foods and beverages

Canada has granted patent on the use of ergothioneine as a preservative in foods and beverages to Total Nutraceutical Solutions Inc. (TNS), the United States. The patent claims include a process of preserving a food, beverage or medicine with L-ergothioneine (Ergo), where Ergo replaces an antioxidant composition, antimicrobial composition and/or sulphur dioxide preservatives. The use claims apply to the preservation of canned, frozen, dried or fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, fruit juices, butter, meats, pet foods, etc.

Ergo is an amino acid found in a few organisms, notably filamentous fungi (mushrooms), and is considered a “master antioxidant”. It is an electron donor that has been shown to neutralize free radicals and the oxidation processes that lead to cell death and the introduction of toxins to foods and beverages. The addition of Ergo can slow the rate of spoilage and extend the shelf-life of food products. TNS claims that flavour is enhanced when its fully organic, mushroom-based ErgoD2™ is used.

Extending shelf-life of fish

VFish from Vitiva, Slovenia, is a natural solution for increasing shelf-life and yield management of processed fresh fish. It contains natural, mineral-rich sea salt and Vitiva’s proprietary plant extract formulations, which provide anti-rancidity, raise product yield and support anti-microbial stability in prepared fish and fish products.

Customized VFish formulations are available for both mainstream and organic-certified products. A new line is available as a dry mix customized to various batch sizes, technological needs and processing operations. Contact: Vitiva d.d., Nova vas pri Markovcih 98, 2281 Markovci, Slovenia. Tel: +386 (2) 7888733, 7888738; Fax: +386 (2) 7888731; E-mail:; Website:


Robust degassing process for carbonated beverage

Carbonated drinks are differentiated from other drinks by their “fizziness” that comes from the dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2), which creates a “tingling” sensation in the mouth, and provides a unique taste sensation. To maintain the flavour and the other quality attributes at the appropriate consumer level of appreciation, it is necessary to perform several quality control (QC) tests such as the sugar content (brix), acidity (pH) and the total amount of acid in the drink (titratable acidity). The presence of gas bubbles in the carbonated drink interferes with most of these tests. Hence, degassing (removal of CO2) of the beverage is essential for quality control analysis.

Current methods of degassing samples can be slow and fairly imprecise. In Ireland, Somex Ltd. explored the opportunity to develop a robust and reliable degassing technique based on the principle of gas stripping: replacing a soluble gas (CO2) with another gas (air) with a much lower solubility by bubbling air into the beverage. A collaborative research project was undertaken by Ms. Carina Évora Gomes and Dr. Jorge Oliveira at the Department of Process and Chemical Engineering, University College Cork (UCC), to scientifically analyse the new degassing process.

The researchers found that degassing with an efficient system would take just 4 minutes, or even less depending on the nozzle design; this is a substantial advantage over current methods that can take 10-30 minutes. It was also shown that the new system is more efficient (faster to use) and more effective (more precise, less prone to introduce variability). Validation studies showed that very different types of carbonated beverages can be degassed very efficiently and effectively by the gas stripping technique. This collaborative study between UCC and Somex provided a very strong case for the advantage of a new process over existing alternatives and opened new avenues of development, both in terms of specific equipment design (nozzles) and of product applications (from soft drinks to beer).

Maltodextrins in nutricosmetics

Nutricosmetics – foods, beverages or supplements that contain nutrients – are said to affect the outward appearance of the body from the inside. Vitamins, minerals or super-fruit extracts are the nutrients commonly used. Super-fruits are nutritionally beneficial, contain a high amount of antioxidants as well as taste good. Butters, extracts and powders can be made from the fruits which allow easy access into personal care products.

Grain Processing Corporation, the United States, has developed an effervescing pomegranate beverage tablet formula. This formulation contains MALTRIN QD® M550 and MALTRIN QD® M580, two maltodextrins that have a neutral flavour and excellent binding characteristics. MALTRIN QD products are agglomerated so that the particle size and flowability are conducive to producing tablets with good hardness and friability characteristics. When the tablets are dissolved in water, the maltodextrins also provide excellent solution clarity. Pomegranate powder is a large part of this formula and serves as an antioxidant source. Contact: Grain Processing Corporation, 1600 Oregon Street, Muscatine, Iowa, IA 52761-1494, United State of America. Tel: +1 (563) 264 4265; Fax: +1 (563) 264 4289; E-mail:

Reduced calorie solutions that deliver superior taste

TasteWise™ from Cargill Inc., the United States, uses the company’s patent-pending technology, application capabilities and ingredients to help beverage manufacturers deliver better tasting, reduced calorie products to consumers by optimizing the texture, sweetness and flavour balance. “Based on new research, Cargill has built a deeper understanding of three key factors that affect the taste experience of beverages: sweetness, flavour and mouthfeel,” claimed Mr. Andy Del-Rosal, Team Leader of Cargill’s beverage applications scientists.

A key element of TasteWise is an innovation in multi-sensory product development that enables the delivery of superior mouthfeel in beverages with a precision previously unknown in the industry. This new approach allows accelerated product development cycles by leveraging tribology (the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion) to accurately mimic and measure what goes on inside the mouth when a beverage is consumed. Tribology can be used in the food and beverage industry to predict and shape mouthfeel with a high level of accuracy.

TasteWise reduced calorie solutions combine the “prediction” capability with Cargill’s ingredient expertise and beverage formulation capabilities to bring proprietary solutions to beverage manufacturers. When producing calorie-reduced beverages, manufacturers typically lower the sugar content of their product, a move that affects the sweetness of the beverage and impacts mouthfeel – and thus the total taste experience. To compensate for the reduction of sweetness, zero- or mid-calorie sweeteners are added and often combined with taste masking and enhancing flavours. This combination effectively addresses the loss of sweetness, but the beverage is still likely to deliver a ‘thinner’ mouthfeel and different taste. To remedy this challenge, Cargill utilizes its new texturizing components, sweeteners and flavours to balance taste and mouthfeel with unmatched precision, helping customers save time and reduce costs. The pre-screened texturizing blends (Trilisse™ blends) optimize mouthfeel in reduced calorie beverages based on specific applications. These proprietary texturizing blends also may allow beverage makers to use less sweeteners or other ingredients to achieve the same mouthfeel.

Low-calorie energy drink mix

Herbalife International, based in the United States, has launched its ‘Herbal Tea Concentrate’, a uniquely formulated low-calorie energy drink mix with ingredients including orange pekoe extract, green tea extract, black tea extract, hibiscus flower powder and Malva sylvestris extract. It can be made into a drink with the addition of hot/cold water and used as a replacement for other drinks. According to the company, the drink provides the benefits of both green and black teas, as it contains a variety of polyphenols with antioxidant properties. The company has launched Herbal Tea Concentrate in “Original Natural Flavour” so that it can be savoured all day through.


Food-safe material for coatings

Ecology Coatings Inc., the United States, has devised a bio-based ultraviolet (UV) light-curable material for coatings. As the components of the material belong to the category ‘generally recognised as safe’ (GRAS), they can be used to make coatings that are safe for human consumption and can be placed in direct contact with food and food packaging. “Our GRAS coatings, which are rapidly cured, provide a barrier to air, water and grease, making them appropriate for use on food and in food packaging and wrappings. GRAS coatings that use edible dyes or flavours might function as inks or flavour additives,” commented Ecology Coatings CEO Mr. Bob Crockett.

Technology keeps the bugs off the shelves

Biopack Ltd. of Israel is working on technologies that prevent the loss of food after it has been produced. The company’s Bio[pack] packaging and storage containers (retail and industrial) keep bugs away by using naturally occurring bug repellents in fruits, vegetables, grains and spices. “We have managed to distil many of the elements in plants, grains and spices that repel certain insects, and we have thus been able to develop products that repel insects from factories and warehouses, as well as make sure they stay out of packages on supermarket shelves,” says Biopack co-founder Mr. Shlomo Navarro.

The product is based on research Mr. Navarro and colleagues conducted at the Vulcani Agricultural Research Centre in Israel. That research showed that many fruits, vegetables, grains and spices have natural bug repellents; certain insects stay away from certain plants. For example, ants are repelled by spearmint plants, and the same holds true for many other plants like coriander (repels aphids), horseradish (Colorado potato beetle), potato (Mexican bean beetle) and tomato (cabbage maggot). “These properties were known for thousands of years in many cultures around the world,” Mr. Navarro says. “Our innovation is that we know which elements to remove, and how to integrate them with other solutions – such as packaging that in and of itself repels bugs.”

Premium food service film packaged in cutter boxes

Technopac International, a company located in Canada, has added consumer food service film packaged in cutter boxes to their currently expanding product line. Ewrap™, Technopac’s unique non-polyvinyl chloride (PVC) food stretch film will be packaged with an effectively designed low-profile precision metal edge. Technopac International claims that this non-toxic (free from all harmful plasticizers) and non-PVC catering food film is 100 per cent recyclable and more economical than PVC films.

As a general practice, households store food for longer than food labels recommend. This puts consumers at risk from toxic elements that may leak from PVC film into food, if stored too long. With Ewrap™ cling film, which can be used in microwave ovens too, consumers will be better protected from the associated risks, the company claims. Contact: Mr. Stefan Gudmundsson, Chief Executive Officer, Technopac International Inc., 29 Meadowbank Road, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9B 5C6, Canada. Tel: +1 (416) 562 8227; E-mail:

Transparent wood-based packing material

Nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC), the cellulose-reinforced composite, typically binds high amounts of water and forms gels with only a few per cent dry matter content. This characteristic has been a bottleneck for industrial-scale manufacture. In most cases, fibril cellulose films are manufactured through pressurized filtering, but the gel-like nature of the material makes this route difficult. In addition, the wires and membranes used for filtering may leave a so-called “mark” on the film which has a negative impact on the evenness of the surface.

In Finland, VTT Technical Research Centre and Aalto University have developed a method for manufacturing a wood-based, plastic-like material in large scale. The new method enables industrial scale roll-to-roll production of NFC film, which is suitable for food packaging. In the method developed, NFC film is manufactured by evenly coating fibril cellulose on plastic films so that the spreading and adhesion on the surface of the plastic can be controlled. The film is dried in a controlled manner by using a range of existing techniques. Thanks to the management of spreading, adhesion and drying, the film does not shrink and is completely even.

The more NFC material is used, the more transparent the films manufactured. The film can be manufactured using devices that already exist in the industry, without the need for any major additional investment. VTT and Aalto University are applying for a patent for the production technology of NFC film. Trial runs as well as the related development work are being performed at VTT.

Pouch packaging for extended shelf-life of foods

In the United States, scientists from Lockheed Martin and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted research on the potential shelf-life of food products packaged in retort pouches (a flexible package in which prepared food is hermetically sealed for long-term unrefrigerated storage) to determine the suitability of these foods to support long-duration (three to five years) spaceflights. Their findings can be applied also to field missions, camping environments, survival situations such as when power is lost during snowstorms and hurricanes, and to developing countries where there are no cold temperature storage capabilities.

A series of 36-month-long accelerated shelf-life studies were performed on 13 representative retort pouch products. The test results showed that meat products are projected to maintain their quality the longest, between 2 to 8 years without refrigeration. Fruit and dessert products (1.5 to 5 years), dairy products (2.5 to 3.25 years) and starches, vegetable and soup products (1 to 4 years) follow. Aside from considerable losses in vitamin B and C content, nutritional value of most products was maintained throughout shelf-life.


High-pressure processing of packaged food

Since November 2011, MULTIVAC Sepp Haggenmüller GmbH & Co. KG has been offering the services of a high-pressure processing (HPP) test plant at its headquarters in Wolfertschwenden, Germany, for the high-pressure treatment of packaged food and for conducting shelf-life tests. The test plant enables different packaging concepts to be tested in conjunction with HPP, which is used to reduce harmful bacteria in food. HPP enables the shelf-life and safety of food products to be improved, without the introduction of heat or preservatives.

In association with its partner Uhde High Pressure Technologies GmbH, Germany, MULTIVAC has significantly extended the development of HPP technology, and it holds several patents in this area. The HPP test plant is complemented by a wide range of services that MULTIVAC provides in its Application Centre in Wolfertschwenden. Among these are an established expertise in the area of packaging materials, packaging development and food technology. MULTIVAC supports its customers in conducting shelf-life tests and advises them on designing their packaging concepts to suit HPP. MULTIVAC also provides its customers with the necessary facilities, for example, to evaluate the test results immediately on site, or to further develop the appropriate packaging concepts.

Ozonator for refrigerators

The Ozonator™ (touted as The Green Refrigerator Machine) from Ozonator LLC, the United States, is claimed to eliminate mould and decay by replicating the Earth’s natural ozone inside the refrigerator and thus reduce waste by keeping produce fresher longer. The Ozonator is powered by four D-cell batteries. When placed at the back of the top shelf in the fridge, it generates ozone for the first hour of operation, then switches to stand-by mode for almost three hours, activating every 10 minutes. It repeats the cycle until the batteries need replacement (usually four to five months).

Ozone increases the shelf-life of food by oxidizing some chemicals and neutralizing others. Heavier than air, the ozone filters all the way down to the fruit and vegetable crisper drawers. Ozonator also eliminates the odour of cooked food from the refrigerator. The compact and lightweight device costs US$29.95, and is approved by the United States Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

Pomegranate aril separator

It is cumbersome to extract the arils (the fleshy red covering that contain seeds) from each pomegranate fruit. It takes a lot of labour to do that manually, and one worker can extract only a few kilograms in one day. Juran aril separator, invented by Emeritus Professor Mr. Yoav Sarig and manufactured by Juran Technologies, Israel, is reported to make extracting pomegranate arils many times faster. An aril separator can extract 200 to 350 kg of aril in one hour, depending on the model.

A complete working unit of Juran aril separator that includes the packing systems costs about 500,000 euros. Juran’s financial forecast for the system is a minimum turnover of US$4 million and a maximum turnover of US$16 million. The estimate is based on an output of 200-350 kg of arils per hour, a 15-hour workday, 22 days per month; a work season of 4-6 months, up to year-round; a total annual production of 200 to 1,000 tonnes of arils; and an estimated average price of US$10-16 per kg of arils.

Sieving machine for food-slurry processing

The ground maize slurry called “ogi” is a major staple food and primary infant diet in many African countries. In these countries, the domestic and medium-scale processing of food slurries (maize, sorghum, soybeans and millet) have been done manually over the years with little or no technological development. These manual processes are associated with obvious constraints such as excessive length of time and tedium, coupled with inherent unhygienic conditions surrounding these processes. A machine to make the process faster and hygienic would therefore be welcome.

At the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, a study was undertaken by Mr. O.E. Simolowo and Mr. O.O. Adeniji from the Department of Mechanical Engineering for the modification and improvement of an Ogi sieving machine that was earlier designed based on suction principle. Experimental performance tests were carried out on the modified vibrating machine and the results were compared with the conventional or manual sieving process. Results showed that the newly designed vibration sieving machine was much more efficient than the manual process. It had an average filtration rate of 1.6 ×10-5 m3/s against 8.68 × 10-6 m3/s for the manual method, thereby bringing about over 82 per cent improvement over the manual sieving process. Contact: Mr. O.E. Simolowo, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. E-mail:

Machine turns food waste into water

Eco-Wiz, a Singapore start-up company, is perfecting a technology that can turn food waste into water, and has invested more than US$380,000 in research and development work to improve the functions of its decomposer machine. The decomposer – called Eco-Wiz™ – can turn sludge water into dry compost or “cleaner water” that can be used to wash floors and water plants. One tonne of food waste would produce about 1,000 litres of water.

The decomposer, which can stand alone without being connected to a drainage system or water supply, helps clients cut back on waste and save cash in the process. “Our clients have found that they are getting savings of 70 per cent on disposal fees after taking into account the purchase of the machine,” Ms. Renee Mison, owner of Eco-Wiz, said. The company has already installed decomposers at several hotels. Eco-Wiz has signed an agreement with a Thai research company to improve the microbes that are used to process food waste into water – a move that could allow the machine to perform its task faster and more efficiently.


Post-harvest Biology and Technology of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits

Tropical and subtropical fruits are particularly vulnerable to postharvest losses, and are also transported long distances for sale. Therefore maximising their quality post-harvest is essential and there have been many recent advances in this area. The four-volume Post-harvest Biology and Technology of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits covers current state-of-the-art and emerging post-harvest and processing technologies. The opening volume contains chapters on production stages and issues, whereas the other volumes contain chapters focused on particular fruits.

Volume 2 reviews the factors affecting the quality of different tropical and subtropical fruits from açai to citrus fruits. Important issues relevant to each product are discussed, including means of maintaining quality and minimizing post-harvest loss, recommended storage and transport conditions and processing methods, among other topics.

Chapters in Volume 3 of this important collection cover cocona to mango. The factors affecting the quality of different tropical and subtropical fruits, and post-harvest biology and technology are discussed. Important issues relevant to each specific product are examined, such as factors affecting post-harvest quality, quality maintenance, pests and diseases, and value-added processed products.

Volume 4 reviews the factors affecting the quality of fruits ranging from mangosteen to white sapote. Like Volume 2 and 3, this volume also discusses critical factors that affect each fruit, including means of maintaining quality and minimizing post-harvest losses, suitable storage and transport conditions, and various processing methods.

Contact: Woodhead Publishing Limited, No. 80 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge, CB22 3HJ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1223) 499140 Fax: +44 (1223) 832819; E-mail:


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