VATIS Update Food Processing . Jan-Feb 2007

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Food Processing Jan-Feb 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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Funds to boost edible oils sector in Myanmar

Myanmars edible oil sector is set to expand, with an increase in both productivity and quality. This forecast is based on a three-year, US$12.3 million loan from the OPEC Fund for International Development along with technical assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Myanmar government will add a further US$2 million. This project seeks to raise oilseed production and improve oil processing technologies, thereby enhancing rural incomes and food security in a country where about 75 per cent of the people lives in rural areas and depends primarily on agriculture for its livelihood.

The average annual production of vegetable oils in Myanmar, mainly groundnut and sesame oils, is estimated at about 500,000 t. The country also imports an average of 160,000 t/y of palm oil. The new project will focus largely on four oil seeds sesame, groundnut, sunflower and soya bean and oil palm. It will boost oil crop production by expanding the availability of improved seeds and genetic material to oil crop farmers. Also, higher crop productivity is expected through the adoption of improved farming systems, by encouraging participatory farm extension approaches such as the establishment of demonstration fields and the organization of farmers field schools. The project will also cover the construction of two new oil solvent extraction plants and the upgrading of existing oil processing facilities to improve yields. This is anticipated to enable greater amounts of refined edible oils to be available from the local market, thus reducing the need for imports.

In addition to these activities, the project will establish national edible oils standards and institutional capacity for edible oil quality control.


CSF to launch policy analysis on food processing sector

In Pakistan, the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) is launching a policy analysis on competitive aspects of the food processing sector in the country. For the study, the CSF will work with all the key stakeholders dealing with this sector, including government agencies, private sector representatives, and educational and research institutions. The CSF a joint initiative of the Ministry of Finance, the government of Pakistan and the United States Agency for International Development is based on international best practices. It has been tailored to the current economic environment in Pakistan to strengthen and make the private sector more competitive, and to improve the policy framework needed for innovation-based competitiveness.

The study will take into account the entire industry structure and the value chain, including the supply of raw material, its intermediate processing, the core industry itself and the market environment (both domestic and external) along with other essential inputs. The study will identify the potential of the industry for growth through a benchmarking exercise, examine the obstacles and problems that the industry is facing and recommend to the government to remove such obstacles to make this sector nationally and internationally competitive. It will examine the structure of key sub-sectors, including a value chain analysis of primary post-harvest processing through secondary to tertiary processing, comparative costs of production in the value chain, import parity pricing and technical and innovation aspects of individual sub-sectors, including factors affecting adoption of technology. A fundamental aspect of this approach is to understand the basic advantages (or disadvantages) with which the specific industry is endowed.

On the marketing side, the study will look into eco-labelling, packaging, design, distribution and market access.


Seafood exports to Europe reach US$200 million

Pakistans exports of fish and shrimp to European countries increased from US$154 million in 2005 to US$200 million in 2006. This was stated by Dr. Mohammed Nawaz Baluch, Managing Director of Karachi Fish Harbour Authority. Moreover, the European Union has lifted the ban it had imposed on seafood imports from Pakistan. Fish and shrimp are also exported to the United States, China, Sri Lanka, etc.


Billions earmarked for the food processing industry

In India, the central government has envisaged an investment of about US$11.16 billion for the food processing industry during the 11th five-year plan. The investments will be made in a strategic manner by the government, financial entities and private companies. The governments share in the overall investment is expected to be around 10 per cent while the remaining will be contributed by banks and financial institutions, and private companies, in the ratio 5:4. Facilitating links with supply chain systems, testing services, etc. will be emphasised.

Some of the initiatives taken by the government include establishing a National Meat Board for promoting meat processing. The board will employ policies that will further take care of R&D as well as tackle issues such as quality assurance and hygiene. As per the 11th five-year plan, about 100 laboratories will be set up for testing processed food. Other such laboratories will also be brought into action to enable the industry to overcome barriers plaguing exports in the processed food sector. According to a recent report by RNCOS, Process Food Market: Asia-Pacific (2006-2007), the industry needs the governments assistance to upgrade the quality of service. About 500 new institutions are needed for training, standardization and accreditation. Governmental efforts to boost this sector will go a long way in introducing key changes. Projects and investments schemes are in tune with the needs of the industry.


Food safety concerns raise surveillance measures

Chinas first law on farm products safety has helped increase existing surveillance measures. According to the Deputy Agriculture Minister Mr. Niu Dui, there is need to strengthen routine surveillance and spot check of farm products, publicize results timely to the public, as well as boost awareness regarding the safety of farm products among growers, processors and traders. China has already set up a nationwide network of farm products quality inspection agencies, including 12 at the national, 311 at the ministerial and 1,780 at the provincial, municipal and county levels. The government plans to take five years to make such a network more competent and efficient, Mr. Dui expressed.


Malaysia: a leading cocoa processor by 2010

Malaysia will become one of the worlds leading cocoa processors by 2010, when its total grinding capacity is projected to reach 360,000 t. Mr. Peter Chin Fah Kui, Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities, stated that the increase in capacity will be achieved through the expansion of grinding facilities of existing grinders as well as raising processing efficiency. Manufacturers would have to equip their factories with modern machinery and technology that have the capability to produce high-quality cocoa products.

Mr. Chin expressed that Malaysia has the capacity to churn out the desired quantity and quality of cocoa products. In 2005, the 258,647 t grinding capacity contributed 7.6 per cent of the total world grindings, making Malaysia the fourth largest cocoa processor in the world and the largest in Asia. In 2006, the nations total grinding capacity was expected to reach 270,000 t. With consumers becoming increasingly concerned over health issues and countries implementing regulations on food hygiene and safety, cocoa manufacturers need to work closely with the Malaysian Cocoa Board on quality control, Mr. Chin stated. Cocoa manufacturers have to apply good manufacturing practices in meeting the international standards and requirements on food safety.


Seafood exports up 12 per cent

Last year, Viet Nam earned nearly US$2.5 billion from seafood exports over a 10-month period. This accounts for over 89 per cent of the years targeted figure, registering a year-on-year increase of 12.09 per cent. In October alone, the country exported seafood products worth US$195 million. The Ministry of Fisheries promoted exports of seafood through various activities strengthening the management of seafood hygiene and safety requirements, expanding the export market and strictly preventing impurities in seafood materials.


Record palm oil exports

In October 2006, Malaysias palm oil exports hit a new high as strong demand from Europe and the United States more than made up for slower sales to traditional markets like India and China. The exports, up 9.1 per cent to 1.43 million tonnes in September 2006, lowered the countrys palm oil inventory level from an all-time high of 1.8 million tonnes in September to 1.59 million tonnes in October 2006, a reduction by 11.4 per cent.

Malaysia and Indonesia account for some 85 per cent of the world crude palm oil production. In 2005, Malaysia produced about 15 million tonnes of palm oil while Indonesia churned out about 13.3 million. Analysts had predicted that Indonesia would overtake Malaysia in 2006 or 2007 as the worlds top palm oil producer, with new trees coming into peak oil producing age. Supported by demand from new markets in Europe and the United States, demand for palm oil worldwide was on the rise and reached a record high during October 2006. Compulsory labelling of trans-fatty acid in food products in the United States has prompted large food processors to use palm oil as a substitute because it is free of trans-fatty acids.

Exports of palm oil to Europe is also on the increase, as companies there import palm oil for biodiesel to mitigate the inadequate domestic feedstocks of rapeseed oil.


Food packaging sector in China evolving

Chinas food packaging market is set to attract more foreign participants as the demand for rigid containers increases, a plastics specialist has predicted. A wider offering of rigid packaging will allow manufacturers to adopt fresh packaging solutions to help their brands grow and protect margins in the competitive food industry.

China is the worlds biggest producer of plastic film made from bi-oriented polypropylene. After significant investment in new capacity over the past five years, the nation now produces about 1.4 million tonnes of film, double that produced and consumed in Europe. However, as the retail sector develops alongside rapid urbanization, the food industry would require more sophisticated packaging, including rigid containers for trays. Foods such as yoghurts and bakery items have long been packaged in rigid trays by European manufacturers, but with both segments new to Chinas food industry, the rigid packaging is only beginning to see demand. About 1 million tonnes of rigid packaging was consumed by China last year, not yet at the level of Europe (1.4 million). However, given the growth rate of food retailing, the market is expected to far surpass European demand.

According to Mr. John Nash, an analyst at the United Kingdom-based firm AMI and author of a new report on Chinas polypropylene market, a growth rate of 16-17 per cent, compared with 3 per cent in Europe, is expected to attract foreign players.


Pakistan sees a rise in palm oil imports

Sri Lanka promotes consumption of rice flour
In Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Agrarian Services and Farmer Community Development, together with the private sector, has planned to open 15 outlets for rice flour-based products within Colombo city and its suburbs to popularize the consumption of rice flour. Three such outlets were opened by a private company two at Nugegoda and one in Colombo. The Maviki Sustainable Eco-friendly Agriculture Project is assisting the ministry in this programme, which aims to increase the nations rice flour consumption by 30 per cent.



Pressure processing improves milk quality

Researchers at the Oregon State University, the United States, have developed a high-pressure processing technique that helps retain the fresh taste of food, kills bacteria and extends food shelf-life. The high-hydrostatic pressure processing (HPP) technique developed by Dr. Michael Qian and his team does not introduce any off-flavours in milk. Although commercial processing of milk typically uses high-temperature-short-time pasteurization, the product shelf-life is only 20 days at refrigeration temperatures. The other commonly uses ultra-high-temperature (UHT) pasteurization allows milk to stay fresh at room temperature for six months, but leaves a cooked flavour behind. The new process gives milk a shelf-life of at least 45 days when refrigerated.

HPP can destroy micro-organisms by high hydrostatic pressure without heat. This technology has slowly been gaining commercial acceptance in the manufacture of food products with fresh flavour that are not possible with other preservation technologies. Milk processed at about 85,000 psi pressure for 5 minutes at temperatures lower than used in commercial pasteurization, ensures the minimal production of chemical compounds that are responsible for the cooked flavour. The team also stated that HPP has been known to change some properties of the foods. HPP can reduce the size of casein micelles in milk at pressures above 230 MPa, resulting in a fall in whiteness and turbidity and an increase in the viscosity of milk. Also, high pressure can affect crystallization properties of milk fat. The crystallization behaviour of milk fat can be altered because the high pressure will shift the phase transition temperature.

There are other new technologies being developed to process milk without compromising its flavour. For example, non-thermal processing methods have been studied to achieve microbial safety and minimize off-flavour formation. Microfiltration using cross-flow membrane separation has shown promising results in eliminating bacteria from milk and increasing shelf-life without the development of off-flavours. However, high levels of milk fat could foul the membrane and place some restrictions on the use of microfiltration as an alternative technique for milk processing.


Decontamination process reduces chemical usage

The multinational packaging company Sidel is offering a decontamination process that helps lower the amount of chemicals needed for sterilization while increasing the shelf-life of packaged chilled products. The new Predis system is based on hydrogen peroxide vapour. It requires 40 times less chemicals than traditional sterilization units employed by the industry. The system achieves a 3-log reduction in contamination levels on pre-formed packaging. This means that only three out of every 3,000 germs will survive the process. The first Predis system was installed at Lura, a dairy company based in Croatia. The system has been packaging 100 ml bottles of flavoured probiotic milk at a rate of 14,400 bottles an hour.

Sidel developed the system on its existing Combi product, the companys integrated blowing, filling and capping machine. The method works by first transferring bottles or packaging by the neck on a wheel from the in-feed to the oven entrance. Nozzles, calibrated to between 120C and 140C, apply hydrogen peroxide vapour to the preforms and the vapour condenses evenly on the smooth internal walls of the same. The preforms are then heated in the oven to 100C, which activates the hydrogen peroxide.

Bottles are blown using filtered air and transfer by the neck in a sterile atmosphere in the Combi ensures that no recontamination occurs through the filling and capping phase of the process. The combination of Combi and Predis machines allow processors to reduce bottle weight, due to the continuous by-the-neck transfer system.


Biosensor detects toxic family of veterinary drugs

The latest techniques in nanotechnology have led to a biosensor test kit capable of detecting an entire family of toxic drugs. Developed by a team of researchers led by Prof. Chris Elliott at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, the new biosensor can determine the presence of nitroimidazoles, which were once widely used in veterinary medicine to treat animal diseases. However, concerns over the safety of these drugs led to a ban on their use in animal health.

Funded by the Invest Northern Ireland Proof of Concept programme, Prof. Elliotts food-testing kit for such residues is exceptionally rapid and reliable in comparison to the complex, costly and time-consuming monitoring systems currently available. The test kit, evaluated by regulatory laboratories around the globe, is reported to be capable of detecting the compounds at the low parts per billion levels required. Xenosense Ltd., a Northern Ireland-based manufacturer of biosensor kits, is now commercializing the product.


Non-thermal food processing technologies explored

Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the United States, report that technologies such as high-pressure processing, ultraviolet (UV) light and irradiation are faster and cheaper than traditional thermal methods in eliminating microbial contamination of food products. Moreover, they are less disruptive to food quality. Led by Mr. Howard Zhang, a team at ARS Eastern Regional Research Centre (ERRC) has investigated the effectiveness of the aforesaid and various other antimicrobial methods.

High-pressure processing (HPP) treatment involves applying 80,000-130,000 psi of pressure to a sample. The team found that by applying such extreme pressures for 2-5 minutes, the majority of micro-organisms on/in a food source can be inactivated. While HPP can eliminate close to 100 per cent of vegetative micro-organisms, it is not effective at removing microbial spores. In addition, at a cost of US$0.005-US$0.010 per pound, it works out to be very expensive. The team also studied UV light and irradiation to protect food. An apple cider sample that had been inoculated with bacteria was processed using UV technology. The UV treatment compared favourably to heat pasteurization, reducing pathogen populations by over 99 per cent without changing the ciders flavour.

Irradiation exposes food to a low level of ionizing radiation to inactivate moulds, yeasts, parasites, bacteria and other micro-organisms that can lead to food spoilage and illness. Studies show that consumption of irradiated foods does not increase health risks for consumers. ERRCs research findings have enabled federal regulatory agencies to establish standards to ensure the safety and quality of irradiated products like fruit, vegetables, juice, meat and meat substitutes.


Herbal coatings help protect meat

The United States Department of Agriculture has reported the development of a natural, edible food coating that can prevent bacteria such as E. coli from infecting fresh produce. Food coatings based on apple puree containing a natural antimicrobial compound made from oregano, lemon grass or cinnamon oil effectively killed E. coli bacteria. Lead researcher Ms. Tara McHugh found that apple puree mixed with oregano oil was the most effective, killing more than 50 per cent of E. coli within 3 minutes. The apple puree coatings also contain sticky fats and sugars that allow them to stick to the surface of vegetables and fruits more effectively than the conventional water-based antimicrobial washes. Additional testing is essential to ensure that the coatings work in real-world settings.


Acrylamide-busting breakthrough for potato chips

Researchers at the University of Mersin, Turkey, report that microwaving chips before frying them can help lower acrylamide levels. A study has unveiled that microwaving potato chips prior to frying decreased acrylamide levels a potential carcinogen formed during baking, roasting and frying by up to 60 per cent. According to lead author Mr. Koray Palazoglu, Microwaving french fries before cooking takes little time and in fact, microwave pre-cooked samples appeared to have a more acceptable colour (after frying).

While food manufacturers have worked hard to reduce exposure to acrylamide from processed food, there is no single solution, states the Food and Drink Federation. However, considerable progress has already been made by the industry in reducing acrylamide levels in, for example, potato crisps (by 30-40 per cent), potato chips (by 15 per cent) and crisp-bread (by 75 per cent).


Redesigned standardizer improves milk production

A redesigned automatic milk standardizer allows processors to continually monitor fat content and eliminates the need for skilled technical support. Carlisle Process Systems (CPS) and Reda of Italy jointly to redesigned the RTM Automatic Standardizer. The new version can recalibrate the whole system by comparing the cream fat content set on the control panel to a laboratory test. Inputting the two values into the control system will allow the RTM to make this calibration, thereby eliminating the need for skilled technical support.

Reda designed the RTM flow control unit, which is fitted between the density meters and flow meters on milk and cream outlets of the separator. It constantly monitors the fat content in raw milk and the information gathered is used to calculate the flows required from the separator, to achieve the desired standardization of the milk and cream. Modulating valves regulate the cream flow into the skim phase as required. The unit continues to control and regulate flows that change immediately following modulating valve variations. The RTM calibration equation can be modified to suit external influences such as product type, fat globule distribution, cattle feed and time of year.

On start-up or sterilize, the modulating valves are set to predetermined theoretical set points, which are close to the process set points. This enables the unit to be ready to perform fine regulation when the milk arrives and, as it operates on flow, it makes the system react faster and thus reduce answer delays. The RTM system is supplied fully skid-mounted, which allows operators to connect the system to existing separators. Units can be supplied with new machines or retrofitted to existing centrifuges, including other manufacturers units. In 2005, Reda installed its largest RTM standardizer at Williner, Argentina, which processes 100,000 l/h.



Peanut concentrate: an alternative emulsifier

Researchers in the United States report that peanut protein concentrate (PPC) could provide the food industry with an alternative emulsifying ingredient that is cost-effective. A team at the Food and Nutrition Programme, North Carolina A&T State University, see a wide range of applications for PPC prepared from defatted peanut flour (DPF). DPF is an inexpensive, protein-rich and under-used by-product of the peanut industry. The United States Agency for International Developments Peanut Collaborative Research Support Programme funded the study.

The functional properties (protein solubility, water/oil binding capacity, emulsifying capacity, foaming capacity and viscosity) of PPC prepared by spray or vacuum drying of DPF were compared to the raw DPF and a soy protein isolate. It was observed that compared with the DPF protein content of 50 per cent, the concentrate contained over 85 per cent protein and even exceeded the solubility of the flour. According to lead author Mr. Jianmei Yu, the PPC could be employed in food formulations requiring high emulsifying capacity, but would not be suitable for applications requiring high water retention and foaming capacity.


Wine flour for taste and health

A new wine flour manufactured from grape skins is reported to allow manufacturers of baked goods, pasta and snacks to naturally fortify their products with healthy fatty acids and fibre. Manufactured from a by-product of the wine industry, the flour is marketed as containing high levels of iron and calcium, along with the heart-healthy polyphenol resveratrol. Vinifera For Life, Canada, launched the ingredient in early 2006. The wine flour has a significant effect on taste and colour, bringing a deep burgundy colour to products, and a distinct, enhanced taste but no acidic aftertaste.

The product is obtained using a patent-pending drying process, applied to the grape pomace or what is left of the fruit after it has been crushed for wine-making. Primarily made up of grape skins, together with a small amount of seeds, this by-product is dried, sifted and ground into a flour. It can then be used in low concentrations as an added ingredient in any application where flour is normally used. If the flour is ground finer, it can be incorporated into energy bars or even drinks, such as protein beverages or tea. Tests carried out by the Guelph Food Technology Centre reveal that when baked into a bread product the flour ingredient delivered 52 g of fibre per 100 g, as well as 70 per cent of the recommended daily value of calcium and 710 per cent of iron. It also delivers 4 g of omega-6 and 0.2 g of omega-3.


Dairy-based salt replacer

Fonterra, New Zealand, is offering a new dairy-based ingredient that allows manufacturers to reduce salt in their products. Made from natural ingredients, Fonterra savoury powder helps retain a balanced taste profile and enables manufacturers make a reduced sodium claim on the packaging. Sensory evaluation panels opine that the powder gives products a more wholesome and home-made taste.

Small quantities of the powder, down to 0.5 per cent in some product formulations, is enough for a wide range of foods, including dairy, meat, snack foods, soups and sauces. It is especially good at enhancing cheese, meat and vegetable flavours. Fonterra has already patented the ingredient across the European Union and New Zealand, and has applications pending in the United States and other countries.


Value addition of Chenepodium album

Scientists at the Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology (CSA), India, have developed a simple method for better utilization of Bathua (Chenepodium album L). The technique involves bleaching the Bathua foliage for 5 min followed by rinsing in water to remove up to 76 per cent of the oxalates and 59 per cent of phenolics. Techniques have also been developed to extract leaf protein from Bathua. By-product foliage from vegetable crops such as potato, cauliflower and carrot has also been successfully subjected to the fractionation process to obtain leaf protein concentrates suitable for human consumption and poultry.


New protein cuts fat in chocolate

Scientists at the Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology (CSA), India, have developed a simple method for better utilization of Bathua (Chenepodium album L). The technique involves bleaching the Bathua foliage for 5 min followed by rinsing in water to remove up to 76 per cent of the oxalates and 59 per cent of phenolics. Techniques have also been developed to extract leaf protein from Bathua. By-product foliage from vegetable crops such as potato, cauliflower and carrot has also been successfully subjected to the fractionation process to obtain leaf protein concentrates suitable for human consumption and poultry.


Modified soybean sugar as gum arabic replacer

Researchers at Fuji Oil Co. report that soybean soluble polysaccharide (SSPS) modified by a rhamnogalacturonase (RGase) enzyme could be used in flavour emulsions. SSPS is a potential replacement for gum arabic, which is widely used by the food and beverage industry. Lead author Mr. Akihiro Nakamura believes that it is possible to prepare flavour emulsions with RGase-digested SSPS that exhibit improved stability compared with SSPS or other high molecular weight emulsifiers such as gum arabic and modified starch.

The team, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Guelph, Canada, studied the emulsifying properties of enzyme-digested SSPS and compared this to standard SSPS. While the results appear to show great potential for the RGase-modified SSPS, other enzymes like polygalacturonase (PGase), galactosidase (GPase) and arabinosidase (Afase) were less positive as potential gum arabic replacers. The study looked into the emulsifying properties and characteristics of the digested fractions in oil-in-water emulsions containing between 10 and 50 per cent soy-bean oil at low pH (4.0). Droplet-size distribution and dilution stability were also investigated. It was found that the digestion with the RGase enzyme produced emulsions that were very stable when diluted. The average particle size was from 0.61 to 0.65 m in diameter, with no changes observed during the 30 days of study at all the dilutions examined.


Natural nano-encapsulation

Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology, Israel, report that the natural ability of casein, a milk protein, to form nano-sized micelles offers huge potential to nano-encapsulate sensitive ingredients. By using fat-soluble vitamin D2 as a model hydrophobic ingredient, the team found that the micelles can be useful as nano-vehicles for entrapment, protection and delivery of sensitive ingredients. Such nano-capsules may be included in dairy products without altering their sensory properties. The team has applied for a patent for this unique approach.
According to lead researcher Dr. Yoav Livney, the casein micelles are designed by nature to concentrate, stabilize and deliver nutrients to the newborn. The study, funded by the German-Israel Foundation, achieved non-covalent binding of the vitamin (Sigma-Aldrich) to sodium caseinate by adding the vitamin drop-wise to a sodium caseinate solution. The team used a rehydrated commercial sodium caseinate powder. The average casein micelle diameter was 147 nm, and this increased slightly to 156 nm when vitamin D2 was added. Only 27 per cent of the vitamin was incorporated into the nano-capsules. The micelles were then added to reconstituted skim milk to test stability under ultra-high-pressure homogenization. Results showed that despite a 9 per cent reduction in micelle diameter, the micelles were durable and the structure remained strong.


Natural concepts to improve food quality

In the European Union, a three-year project has developed new enzymes to improve food quality and processing in a natural way. This initiative allows for the exploitation of enzymes in improving food texture, which is often difficult to achieve in low-fat and low-calorie products. The so-called cross-linking enzymes can be used to manufacture dairy, meat and baking products to improve, for instance, texture, water-binding and stability.

Scientists of the CROSSENZ project focused on oxidative enzymes that are capable of making cross-links in food matrix. Compared with transglutaminase, they can link food biopolymers in a different way and, as a result, totally new food textures are obtained. The enzymes were obtained from edible plants and natural microbes. Efficient production systems of the enzymes using either microbial or plant systems or by extracting the enzymes from, for example, vegetable by-products have also been developed.

Contact: Prof. Johanna Buchert, VTT, Finland. Tel: +358 (20) 722 5146; Fax: +358 (20) 722 7071.



Crackdown on low standards

In light of the fact that 10 of Thailands top food exports have been losing ground in the global market, Thailands National Food Institute (NFI) plans to be more stringent about the standards of food and agricultural industries. NFI has stated that processors and manufacturers must focus more on production quality and food safety to meet international quality standards. The nations top food exports include frozen processed chicken and seafood, rice, frozen shrimp, canned fruit, sugar, rice products, frozen cuttlefish, frozen fish and frozen fruits. Thailands share of the global market for these products has gradually fallen, from 2.73 per cent (2001) to 2.25 per cent (2005).

According to NFI, of the 12,000 food manufacturers in the country, only 700 are certified to meet food quality and safety standards. To improve this scenario, NFI has prepared a strategic road map for the food industry. The strategy concentrates on encouraging food manufacturers to focus on the production of value-added goods, promoting export standards required by international markets, raising consumer awareness of Thai products and achieving sustainable development. It also requires Thai manufacturers to be certified in accordance with one of two manufacturing standards Good Manufacturing Practice or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. In addition, manufacturers are expected to introduce a traceability system for upgrading their product quality.


Food safety spurs preventative measures

In China, the Fisheries Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture is planning a nationwide inspection targetting forbidden chemicals in the fish market. According to Mr. Chen Yide, Vice-Director of the Fisheries Bureau, other efforts to ensure the safety of aquatic products include encouraging the use of better newly hatched fish and establishing an improved nationwide inspection network.

In a related development, the Ministry of Commerce is drafting new rules for food product distribution and would issue them soon. Wholesalers and retail food markets will have to sign accords with vendors defining their food quality responsibilities and markets would be encouraged to establish links with suppliers. New rules will also include more detailed trading information and a more effective system to remove tainted food from the market. Also, experts have called for an urgent update of the food safety law. Strict quality standards would also be established to regulate the safe application of fundamental production materials such as seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, additives and medicines.


Malaysia moves towards a wholesome diet

In Malaysia, the Health Ministry is spearheading a move to ensure a healthy diet for its citizens. To this end, the ministry has achieved success in extracting a commitment from the companies manufacturing soft drinks and fast food chains to honour the deadline ensuring that their products do not jeopardize the health of Malaysians. The food producers have agreed to lower the content of sugar, salt and fat in products that contain these ingredients. Next on the ministrys agenda is the hawker and restaurant fare and food sold at canteens.

According to the Health Minister Dr. Chua Soi Lek, Malaysians were consuming 250 g/d of sugar when it should be only 50 g. This had led to the number of diabetics increasing from 6 per cent of the population 20 years ago to 10 per cent at present. By 2020, it could reach 12 per cent if Malaysians do not change their diet.

It is similarly high for salt and fat. That is why we have millions suffering from diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and heart disease, said Dr. Chua, adding that a team of researchers was studying the Malaysian intake of salt. A technical committee has been formed to carry out a study to find the quantum of reduction of sugar, salt and fat in processed milk, food products and fast food. Industries that abide with the reduced amounts of sugar, salt and fat will be allowed to use the Healthy Choice logo in their products. In a parallel move, the Food Regulations 1985 will be amended to allow manufacturers who drastically reduce sugar in their products to make claims such as suitable for diabetics on their labels.


International body to work on halal guidelines

Malaysias halal industry has teamed up with global testing and certification service firm Intertek to develop a set of international guidelines for the market. The United Kingdom-based Intertek and Malaysias Halal Industry Development Corp. have announced that a new centre of excellence will be constructed to accelerate the development of testing and training in halal standards.

While the halal industry is now worth millions, there are still no international standards and best practices, making it a complex area to navigate for companies trading halal goods globally. Guidelines vary from country to country and very few have domestic standards in place. The development of a set of international guidelines would mark the coming-of-age of the global industry, believes Mr. Abdalhamid Evans, Director of Research and Intelligence at KasehDia, consultants for the Malaysian government. The halal food market has never been measured, but estimates range from US$150 to US$500 billion.


Integrated food law in India

The Indian government will soon implement an integrated Food Safety and Standards law that will replace several incongruent laws governing the food processing industry. The new integrated law, which will provide a framework to address all issues, will be enforced in place of the existing 8-9 disparate laws applicable to the food processing industry. According to Mr. P. I. Suvrathan, Secretary of the Food Processing Industries, The act has been passed by parliament and we are now in the process of working out its implementation. The implementation will not be easy because there are a lot of institutions involved with conflicting interests. It is not an easy task to bring the interests of the industry, consumers and farmers into one concise, coherent note.



Meat preservatives double as antibacterial agents

In the United States, a study undertaken at the University of Illinois has revealed that solutions used by meat processors to improve shelf-life and taste can also help reduce pathogens, including E. coli 0157:H7. A team led by food scientist Dr. Susan Brewer found that certain preservative and flavour-enhancing solutions using sodium lactate or sodium diacetate were effective antibacterial agents. This find is significant as some processes of tenderizing, flavour-enhancing and preserving meat can quickly spread pathogen contamination across a production line.

The team conducted two studies. In the first study they contaminated the surface of meat with E. coli K12, an indicator organism for its dangerous relative E. coli 0157:H7, to observe the pathogens progress as meat went through a production line. In the second, they added E. coli K12 into the solution itself, testing different components and combinations. It was observed that some solutions used to extend the shelf-life of meat were also effective at killing the bacteria.


Nisin as a food preservative

In China, Microbiology Research Institute of the Science Academy of China and Zhejiang Silver-Elephant Bio-engineering Co. Ltd. offers Silver-Elephant brand nisin as a food preservative. Nisin can be used in a wide range of heat-processed foods, including fresh milk, processed cheese and other dairy products, pasteurized liquid eggs, processed meat, seafood, canned food, fruit drinks, plant protein drinks, baked products, instant food, beer and wine. It can be used in gelatin processing, cosmetics, drugs and health products. Salient features of nisin are:
  • Nisin, an inhibitory polycyclic peptide, is rapidly inactivated in the intestine by digestive enzymes after consumption;
  • Nisin possesses antimicrobial activity against a wide range of gram-positive bacteria and their spores, which cause food spoilage, and it especially inhibits heat-resistant bacilli such as B. stearothermophilus, CI. butyricum and L. monocytogenes;
  • Extensive microbiological tests have not shown any cross-resistance between nisin and medical antibacterial drugs;
  • The natural food preservative is highly efficient, safe and has no side effects; and
  • Nisin has excellent solubility and stability in food. It is not effective against gram-negative bacteria, yeast or mould.

Contact: Mr. Martin Hu, Zhejiang Silver-Elephant Bioengineering Co. Ltd., Hi-Tech Industrial Zone, Tiantai County, Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province 317200, China. Tel: +86 (576) 3938 088; Fax: +86 (576) 3938 126.


Oxygen-scavenging insert

Another outstanding feature is that one size fits all, that is, the same sized wad can be used for a headspace of 25 ml or 125 ml or larger. This is a distinct advantage when compared with other forms of absorbent devices, which must be made large to increase their capacity.

Contact: Ms. Ivon Landa, Centre dInnovacio I Desenvolupament Empresarial, 08008 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: +34 (93) 5674 887; Fax: +34 (93) 4767 214



Plums as preservative

Researchers at Texas A&M University, the United States, are looking at dried plums for preserving meat. The team has been experimenting with dried plums and plum juice in various products such as pre-cooked pork sausages, roast beef and ham to determine their response to the antioxidant. Mr. Jimmy Keeton, the projects lead researcher, stated that pre-cooked and uncured products exhibited the best results.

The team at College Station, Texas University, added dried plums to sausages and other ground products, and dried plum juice to beef roasts. Apart from its preservative features, dried plums can enhance the flavour of the food products, particularly hot dogs. Since dried plums, better known as prunes, are added in small amounts, there is no cause for concern about any laxative effects.



Affordable automation, reliability

Multivacs B400 belted chamber system is an ideal solution for those requiring automated vacuum pouch sealing, e.g. meat and cheese processors. Offering functionality at an affordable price, the B400 features Multivacs industry-leading hygienic design with vacuum ports built into the lid and retractable side skirts for easy cleaning. The height-adjustable seal bars are water-cooled and bi-active, making the system suitable for shrink bag applications. Stacked Busch vacuum pumps and a built-in Busch booster pump assure quick air evacuation.

Equipped with the companys advanced MC96 II controller, the B400 also offers special vacuum programming to suit the packaging requirements of wet products or cheeses with holes. Other features include an internal trim waste removal system with trim cart and an optional ribbed conveyor for rounded products. The B400 comes pre-wired for optional integration with downstream shrink tunnels.


New clean-flow technology

Latest developments by Lyco Manufacturing with its Clean-Flow technology in cooker/coolers have significantly minimized the cleaning changeover on short runs to as low as 15 min and on a totally automated mode without the necessity for manual labour. Clean-flow technology utilizes Lycos rotary drum system, which provides water injection for agitation that keeps the product in uniform suspension while moving through the unit. It has a very accurately made screw similar to that used in a screw blancher, residing in a stationary wedge-wire screen that encapsulates the screw from the 3 to 9 oclock position. Water agitation injected through the screen keeps the product off the floor of the screen, where it is maintained in total suspension. Damage to fragile products is a fraction of 1 per cent, which is less than in a rotary drum. Clean-up time is reduced from hours to minutes as the screw is totally exposed for cleaning.


Pneumatics to cut cheese

New Zealand-based Ryan Manufacturing (RML) offers a novel ultrasonic machine that utilizes the latest pneumatics technology to ensure that cheese is cut accurately and at high speed. The 3350 ultrasonic cheese-cutting machine can cut 300 slabs/minute of cheese consistently within 1 per cent of weight tolerance.
RMLs patented design uses ultrasonics to help the blade to cut with high speed and accuracy. Starting with 20 kg blocks of cheese, it can cut 250 g, 500 g, 750 g and 1,000 g portions. A range of other sizes can also be selected. Motion and control systems are key to the machines operation. Pneumatic actuators power the various mechanical operations on the machine. During the machine cycle, blocks of cheese need to be rotated through 90. This mechanism is driven by a Norgren RA/8000 ISO/VDMA series, double-acting cylinder fitted with the optional piston rod locking control.

For vertical lifting and horizontal transfer operations, Norgrens M/46000 rod-less pneumatic cylinders provide a neat, compact installation. The cylinders, and all other actuators on the machine, are controlled from Norgrens V22 series valve island with multi-pole connector. The pre-assembled, pre-wired construction enables straightforward installation and a central focus, for easier set up and diagnosis. For operator safety, the 3350 also has a comprehensive, interlocked guarding system. A Norgren Excelon P74 soft start/dump valve brings the machine gently to life when it is first switched on. As an extra safeguard, the built-in manual lock-out slide overrides the normal start and dump signal to dump air immediately.


High-pressure heat exchangers

Teralba Industries, Australia, is offering Dimpleflo multitube heat exchangers that have been upgraded to substantially increase design pressures. Most models of the Dimpleflo multi-tube heat exchangers, produced on the shell and tube principle, now have a design pressure of 15 bar or 212 psi. These exchangers are claimed to be highly efficient, incorporating unique Dimpled tube to provide a highly turbulent product flow path. Applications for the heat exchangers include:
  • Heating CIP (cleaning-in-place) solutions with line pressure steam;
  • Chilling products with directly expanded or flooded refrigerants; and
  • Production of high-temperature water and sanitizing fluids.
  • Dimpleflo heat exchangers can be fabricated from a wide range of stainless steels, duplex alloys and titanium. They are used in the food, dairy, chemical, beverage, pharmaceutical and other industries.

Contact: Teralba Industries, Australia. Fax: +61 (2) 4625 4591.


Husk decorticating machine

In the Philippines, the Philippine Coconut Authority-Zamboanga Research Centre (PCA-ZRC) has developed a decorticating machine that can process coconut husk into coconut fibre and dust. The decorticator can produce 800 kg of dried fibre and 1.5 t of coir dust per day. It can be operated continuously by only two persons for 7 h/d and 240 days/y. In a study, the decorticator processed 1,920,000 pieces of coconut husks. The recovery of coir fibre was 40 per cent of the total weight of the husks and 60 per cent of that of the dust.


New fish-smoking machine

Researchers at Pangasinan State University, the Philippines, have devised a portable and hygienic fish-smoking machine suitable for small-scale producers. The new micro fish-smoking machine can produce export-quality smoked fish using agricultural wastes as fuel, e.g. bagasse, wood shavings and charcoal. Dense smoke from such fuels imparts a distinctive aroma and pleasing brown colour to smoked fish.

Developed with financial and technical support from the Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development, the machines design allows for controlling the smoke and temperature, and is easy to operate. Test results show that production efficiency is enhanced due to significant fuel reduction and smoking time. To process 50 kg of fish the machine requires 0.75 kg of mixed fuels, which is 50 per cent less compared with a conventional machine. Smoking time is also cut by 50 per cent.



Lactic acid bacteria genome proves beneficial

Prof. David Mills, a microbiologist and professor of viticulture and enology at the University of California-Davis, the United States, headed a landmark study that determined the genomic DNA sequences of nine important lactic acid bacteria. This new genomic understanding of lactic acid bacteria is crucial not only for food processing and preservation but it also provides a basic understanding of lactic acid bacteria in the gut, which could lead to important health discoveries.

Lactic acid bacteria occur naturally in the gut of people and animals, providing beneficial effects, and they are used to ferment beverages and food.

Contact: Prof. David Mills, University of California-Davis, United States of America. Tel: +1 (530) 7547 821; E-mail:; Or Ms. Ann Filmer, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of California-Davis, United States of America. Tel: +1 (530) 7546 788



Enriching wheat flour

In the United States, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and university scientists have identified a gene that can increase the protein, iron and zinc content of wheat kernels. The gene known as Gpc-B1 does that in bread and pasta wheats alike. Plant geneticist Ms. Ann E. Blechl helped prove the Gpc-B1 genes prowess in enhancing wheat flours nutritional bounty.

Using a technique called RNA interference, Ms. Blechl lowered the genes expression levels in wheat plants. Collaborators headed by Prof. Jorge Dubcovsky of the University of California-Davis found that kernels harvested from the plants with lowered Gpc-B1 levels had at least 30 per cent less protein, zinc and iron, thereby proving that Gpc-B1 controls all of these nutrients. Incorporating additional copies of the functioning gene into bread and pasta wheats would be valuable.


New a-amylase source for food

Scientists at the University of Agriculture, Pakistan, and the University of Waterloo, Canada, have used a novel bacterial strain to produce thermostable a-amylase for use in starch processing, brewing and sugar production. The study reveals that a newly isolated strain of Bacillus subtilis (JS-2004), cultured in waste potato starch medium, is capable of producing thermostable a-amylase that is active across a broad pH range. The team reports that the optimum pH was 8.0, while activity at pH 5.5 and 10.0 were found to be 68 and 45 per cent, respectively, that at pH 8.0. Further optimization of the process could lead to the commercialization of the B. subtilis JS-2004 strain.


Enzymatic modification to boost wheat gluten gelling

Chinese researchers report that modifying the gluten protein of wheat with transglutaminase enzymes helps improve its gelling, rheological and textural properties. This development paves the way for value-added solutions for a wide range of food products. Mr. Jin-Shui Wang and others used microbial TGase to modify wheat gluten (71.5 per cent protein). TGase was used to catalyse a protein cross-linking reaction, and gels in dispersed water were prepared. The team reports that the minimal concentration of the modified wheat gluten required to form a gel was 16 per cent, significantly less than the 22 per cent needed of the unmodified wheat gluten.

Previous studies have reported that soy protein isolates and lupin seed proteins have minimum gelation concentrations of 10 and 14 per cent, respectively. Heating of the gluten prior to enzyme modification further improves the gelling properties. Different techniques such as texture profile analysis, centrifugation and rheometry showed significant improvements of the rheological and texture properties, and water-holding capacity of TGase-induced gels, particularly, the gels of TGase-induced glutens subjected to a preheat treatment.



Complete vacuum seal

Meca Plastic, France, is offering new packaging machines that provide a complete vacuum seal for trays while remaining easy to open. The latest three machines allow processors to select features such as different capacities in terms of speed, packaging sizes and dimensions. The MecaSkin T seals the lid film on the entire tray and not just on the usual sealing areas. This provides a longer shelf-life due to the creation of total vacuum. The machine can also seal foil trays, preventing gas leaks, but allows an easy opening thanks to a special feature on the machine.

The Slice Pak produces a thick pre-formed tray with a barrier liner. Sealing is performed for sliced products with a retractable lidding film that resists steaming and provides a high barrier to oxygen. Processors can easily identify different products running on the same line by being able to use different colours of trays on the machine. The Visiopac machine uses a plate and lid in thermoformed PET. The sealing ring has an easy opening tongue for transparent packs. The packaging can be used with the modified atmosphere packaging techniques, providing longer shelf-life to food products.


Intermittent-motion horizontal bagger

WeighPack, the United States, has launched an intermittent-motion bag filling and closing machine for liquids and powders. SwiftyBagger SB-36 horizontal bagger is a versatile packaging resource for both the food and chemical industries. SB-36 is easy to use and clean, and has a fast changeover time, thus increasing production flexibility and productivity. It features a flat, colour touch-screen control panel that offers an intuitive user interface.

The SB-36 handles bag sizes from 5.5 3.5 1.25 inches up to 11 8.5 3 inches at speeds of up to 3,600 bags/h. The non-wicket bags may be flat-bottom, gusset, pillow, stand-up or zipper type. The horizontal bagger automatically moves the bag from the delivery station, positions the bag to be opened, filled, flattened and sealed before discharging it at the other end. Available options such as code dating, bag deflating, hole punching and corner or centre capping are available.

Contact: Mr. Nick Taraborelli, WeighPack, 4495 Reno Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89118, United States of America. Tel: +1 (702) 4500 808; Fax: +1 (702) 4506 101




MAP packaging for bread

Italian firm PFM has developed a new modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) system to prolong the freshness of bread. Scirocco PB is a flow pack system for high-speed MAP designed for packing bread, pasta and other fresh products. Salient features of the Scirocco machine include Super Long Dwell transferring continuous motion transversal sealing system with hermetic sealing for up to 180-200 packs/minute.

According to the company, the equipment is both efficient and user friendly with a servo-assisted operating system, brushless motors and touch screen controls. Cantilevered construction, rounded corners and easily accessible mechanisms allow for speedy maintenance and cleaning. A pocket bag system, designed in conjunction with the Scirocco, utilizes a single reel of thermosealing film to seal products on three sides and can be customized to print specific designs on the packaging.



Baked Products Science, Technology and Practice

Taking a fresh approach to information on baked products, this book looks beyond how foods from the bakery are categorized to explore the underlying themes that link the products in this commercially important area of the food industry. The book, after establishing an understanding of the key traits that unite the existing baked product groups, proceeds to discuss product development and optimization, key functional roles of the main bakery ingredients, ingredients and their influences, heat transfer and product interactions, and much more.

Brined Cheeses

This book gathers research on the range of brined cheese products available to consumers worldwide into a single volume. It offers (1) a practically oriented and user-friendly guide, (2) coverage of all major stages of manufacture, (3) commercially important information, (4) background of each variety, and (5) a review of how different varieties are used in different countries.

For the above publications, contact: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 9600, Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1865) 776 868; Fax: +44 (1865) 714 591.

Microbiological Analysis of Red Meat, Poultry and Eggs

This book presents a series of chapters, written by international experts, which discuss the key aspects of microbiological analysis like sampling methods, use of faecal indicators, current ways to food testing, detection and enumeration of pathogens and microbial identification techniques.

Contact: Woodhead Publishing Limited, Abington Hall, Abington, Cambridge, CB1 6AH, England, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1223) 891 358; Fax: +44 (1223) 893 694



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