VATIS Update Food Processing . Jan-Feb 2011

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Food Processing Jan-Feb 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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Reducing the marketing of unhealthy foods to children

The World Health Organization (WHO) data show that 43 million pre-school children worldwide are obese or overweight. Scientific reviews have also shown that a significant portion of television advertising that children are exposed to promotes “non-core” food products that are low in nutritional value. WHO is urging countries to take action to reduce the exposure of such marketing to children by implementing a set of internationally endorsed measures.

In May 2010, WHO Member States had endorsed a new set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. The recommendations called for national and international action to reduce the exposure of children to marketing messages that promote foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt, and to reduce the use of powerful techniques, such as television, to market these foods to children. “Implementing these recommendations should be part of broad efforts to prevent unhealthy diets – a key risk factor for several non-communicable diseases,” says Dr. Ala Alwan, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health. Such an action by countries will strengthen their ability to foster and encourage healthy dietary choices for children and promote the maintenance of a healthy weight, he adds.

China establishes nation-wide food safety centres

Food safety monitoring centres have been set up across China in 31 provinces, 218 prefectures and 312 counties, according to a government statement. The statement from the National Food Safety Work Office under the State Council said safety tests on agricultural products had been expanded to 128 medium-sized and large cities.

China has been revising food safety regulations, cracked down on violations of food safety laws and regulations, and issuing new standards to ease nationwide concerns over food safety. The statement said 165 sets of food safety standards were issued after revision last year and 15 sets, including one on food additives, would be issued in 2011. So far, 101 varieties of agricultural products have undergone tests in 5,130 qualified safety test institutions.

Sri Lanka to minimize dependency on wheat flour

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka, in association with several key stakeholders and two State Banks, has launched a loan scheme to facilitate entrepreneurs to set up rice flour factories with state-of-the-art milling technology and thus minimize the dependency on wheat flour. The “Viskam Loan Scheme” has been established to promote rice-based industries in the country with a view to utilize the excess rice to produce value-added agro-based products, such as confectionary and bakery items including bread.

Under the Viskam Loan Scheme, the Central Bank has granted refinance loans to two State Banks to set up two such factories using latest milling technology to produce rice flour that contains particles with less than 120 microns in size, which is ideal for production of confectionary and bakery products. The first rice flour company under this programme commenced operations recently at Veyangoda, in the Gampaha District. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka expects to promote 25 more such units across the country in the near future. As estimated by the Department of Agriculture, paddy production in the country will increase substantially once paddy fields in the northern and eastern provinces are cultivated fully. The excess rice production needs to be converted into other value-added products to maintain market stability with a remunerative price for the farmers in the regions.

Warning issued on use of nitrates, nitrites in food

In the Philippines, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) has underscored the need to observe moderation in the application of nitrates and nitrites in food processing, saying too much of either could expose a person to the risk of acquiring serious illnesses, such as methemoglobinemia, colon cancer and type 1 diabetes. FNRI made the move after conducting its 6th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) where it indicated that 10 nitrite- and nitrate-treated meat products rank among the top 20 processed meats consumed by Filipinos.

NNS was aimed at determining the contents of nitrites in the commonly consumed processed meats and the potential nitrite exposure risks from processed meats available in local markets. Nitrite contents of sample canned and plastic-packaged processed meats like hotdog, corned beef, luncheon meats, tocino, longganisa, chorizo, Vienna sausage and beef loaf were determined and compared against the Bureau of Foods and Drugs (BFAD) Guidelines on Food Additives (2006). Results indicated that nitrite contents of all the test samples were within the BFAD maximum levels.

The 6th NNS compared processed meat daily intakes against the acceptable daily intake of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), just as it indicated potential exposure risks from processed nitrites. FNRI Director Mr. Mario Capanzana said a review of nitrite maximum levels in processed meat should be undertaken considering the serious illnesses it could cause to an individual. According to WHO/FAO, acceptable daily intake (ADI) of nitrite is 0.07 mg/kg body weight.

Vitamin A-fortified oil campaign launched in Indonesia

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has launched a “major multi-sector partnership” to provide vitamin A-fortified vegetable oil to 80 per cent of Indonesia’s 230 million inhabitants. GAIN includes the Indonesian Nutrition Foundation for Food Fortification Development (KFI), vegetable oil producers and the Vice Ministers for Agriculture, Industry, Trade and Education and the Vice Minister of the National Planning Agency.

The programme will address the stunted growth that affects 40 per cent of Indonesian children. It is estimated 20 per cent of Indonesian school children are deficient in vitamin A and the grant will allow the oil industry to buy the needed vitamins and minerals. “This project works with the leading Indonesian certified vegetable oil producers. Seventy-five per cent of the programme is financed by the industry for a total of 11.7 million euros over next five years.” GAIN will commit 2.55 million euros to “support oil refineries with the necessary equipment and training to produce fortified unbranded vegetable oil.”

New food safety management system on the anvil

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the statutory agency for food safety and quality in the country, has decided to touch rural villages and small towns through its new Food Safety Management System. Mr. V.N. Gaur, CEO of FSSAI, said: “In a country like India, it is very difficult to achieve food safety through inspectors or inspection method,” as there are only about two inspectors per district. FSSAI has hence decided to work on a total Food Safety Management System across the nation, said Mr. Gaur. The Authority has finalized rules and regulations for transition to the new integrated food law, which brings together a multitude of food laws currently prevalent in the country. Under the new Food Safety Management System, FSSAI will offer uncomplicated regulations to the industry and it will be the food processors’ responsibility to audit the unit/production house and preserve the records for scrutiny. FSSAI also seeks to accredit budding food technologists so that they can not only audit the unit but also guide them to improve standards and quality of the produce. FSSAI will appoint accredited “food auditors” to help food processors sustain product quality, and also update them about the national and international law requirements. It is also looking to regulate food claims, and “would seek scientific evidence on product claims,” Mr. Gaur said.

Thai SMEs need to add value for success of global projects

Thailand’s bid to become the “Kitchen of the World” can be achieved only if the food industry’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) invest in innovation to create value-added products, says Mr. Visit Limprana, Chairman of the Food Processing Industry Club of Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). The Club has 226 members, 70-80 per cent of them SMEs. The club’s first step will be to set up a website to post food research by universities nationwide so that FTI members can access this information.

Mr. Visit said too much focus has been put on marketing and the top tier of the sector. He proposes setting up a “food valley” similar to the one in the Netherlands that is a centre of food innovation and research. The Netherlands’ food valley will sign a memorandum of understanding with FTI mid-2011 for an exchange of knowledge to help Thai food producers. “The private sector must be able to do for themselves rather than wait for the government to think for them. If this project is successful, it will pave the way for Thailand to become the food kitchen of the world,” said Mr. Visit.”

Low-cost baby food first salvo in anti-malnutrition drive

A Philippine government campaign launched by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) will initiate a programme to produce and promote affordable complementary baby food. Science and Technology Secretary Mr. Mario Montejo said he aims to implement a massive anti-malnutrition campaign over the long-term, starting with the proper channelling of low-cost baby food developed by DoST, in coordination with other government agencies.

DoST will introduce the complementary baby food beginning March 2011 in Leyte, Iloilo, Antique and Mindoro Occidental provinces, identified by the recent National Nutrition Survey as priority areas. The number of Filipino children to be targeted could reach 500,000. DoST, through the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), is working with local government units in other provinces for the distribution of packets of its complementary foods such as rice-mongo instant blend, rice-soy instant blends, and rice-mongo-sesame blend. Field tests showed these foods developed by DoST-FNRI showed significant weight improvement among children.


China’s quality watchdog increases milk safety scrutiny

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has ordered its local branches to increase scrutiny on fresh milk due to public concerns. AQSIQ said in a statement posted on its website that it had maintained close attention to the quality of dairy products and increased food safety checks following the melamine scandal in 2008. It had put melamine and leather hydrolysed protein on the list of banned additives and must-checks in fresh milk since 2009. The administration will further boost daily safety supervision of fresh milk, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture stated that the quality and safety of fresh milk on the Chinese market was “generally safe” and that no leather hydrolysed protein or other prohibited materials had been detected in its recent tests.

Viet Nam to apply new standards to fisheries soon

Viet Nam will apply new standards of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to all processes of fishery development in the country in the first quarter of 2011, an official said. “The Code of Conduct for Responsible Aquaculture (COC) will apply. The new standards will step by step replace all standards that have been applicable in Viet Nam,” according to Mr. Nguyen Tu Cuong, Director of the Centre for Fishery Consulting and Service under the Viet Nam General Directorate of Fisheries.

Mr. Cuong said the new standards are built on the fishery farming procedures dictated by FAO to ensure four key standards regarding food safety, environment, epidemics and social environment. Currently, seven different international organizations in Viet Nam are issuing safety certificates for seafood products in the country, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and GlobalGap. To avoid overlapping of standards when the new set of standard is applied, the General Directorate of Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would integrate optimum criteria from standards of these organizations into the new set. Mr. Cuong added that while standard certificates from international organizations are issued at a cost of US$5,000 to US$10,000, the new standard is free. “If the new standards apply, the country’s fisheries sector in the future will not face problems like the recent red-listing of Tra fish by WWF,” he said.

Fiji approves coconut product standards

Fiji’s Cabinet has endorsed the new National Coconut Product Standards. According to the Information Ministry, the Cabinet based its decision on a submission by Primary Industries Minister Mr. Joketani Cokanasiga, which was presented by Col. Samuela Saumatua, the Local Government Minister. The standards are expected to protect and develop Fiji’s infant coconut diversification industry, and benchmark against various standards in the marketplace so as to be more responsive to the needs of consumers and producers.

“It is also expected to improve the quality and reputation of local products and to ensure there is uniformity in product quality, define our local coconut products with reference to standards, and meet the challenges of globalization in trading of products, services and technology,” a statement from the Ministry said. The standards, which comply with those recommended Asia Pacific Coconut Community (APCC), will ensure that the coconut food-based products are produced within the guidelines of Codex and the Fiji Food Safety Regulation 2009. The statement said a two-year time frame would be given to stakeholders to comply with the standards, which would be enforced by the Agriculture Ministry.

Philippines moves to finalize national halal standards

The Philippine government hopes to finalize unified standards for halal products by April 2011, in time for presentation in an international conference scheduled for that month, said the Department of Agriculture in a recent statement. Both government and industries had long cited this as a requirement for penetrating the global halal market, which is estimated to be worth some US$2.3 trillion.

Local halal products have been certified by groups like the Ulama Conference of the Philippines. But Republic Act No. 9997, or the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Act of 2009, sought to introduce a national system by forming this agency to accredit halal-certifying bodies. Still, these standards and certifying procedures have to be harmonized with what is enforced in major Muslim countries if Philippine halal exports are to gain a foothold in these markets.

The statement quoted Agriculture Secretary Mr. Proceso J. Alcala as saying that nationwide consultations are now under way to finalize three draft standards: the Halal Agriculture and Fishery Products, the Code of Halal Slaughtering Practices for Poultry, and the Code of Halal Slaughtering Practices for Large Ruminants. Besides prescribing specific procedures for each food group, the standards will also “address issues on genetically modified organisms,” the statement added.

China underlines obligations of caterers

China’s food watchdog recently issued a set of regulations specifying the responsibilities of caterers providing food at large events. According to these regulations released by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), designated caterers should set up a special group for food safety management during mass activities and map out emergency plans in case of accidents. Furthermore, caterers need to submit food menus to supervision departments for approval and immediately report any suspect food poisoning cases to activity sponsors. The document stresses that all the food ingredients must be purchased and managed strictly in accordance with the regulations. Meanwhile, sponsors of the activities should cooperate with caterers in making emergency plans, managing food and reporting any accident to supervision departments as soon as possible.


Major milestone for microwave sterilization technology

A game-changing microwave sterilization technique, which preserves food quality while extending shelf life, is a step nearer commercialization after gaining a second approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization (MATS) is said to deliver higher nutrient retention values and allow for the drastic reduction of artificial ingredients or heavy loadings of extenders required to carry traditional products through conventional sterilization systems.

The technology was developed over a 13-year period by Professor Juming Tang from Washington State University, the United States, in collaboration with a host of food companies and the United States Army. It is targeted at pre-packaged, low-acid foods. The researcher said the technology also has huge potential to be developed as a pasteurization tool for such items as frozen products. MATS technology won FDA approval in December 2010 for preserving ‘non-homogeneous’ foods – specifically salmon fillets in sauce, following an earlier nod for its use for ‘homogeneous materials’ (in that case, mashed potatoes).

The technology immerses packaged food in pressurized hot water while simultaneously heating it with microwaves at a frequency of 915 MHz – a frequency that penetrates food more deeply than the 2450 MHz used in home microwave ovens. This combination eliminates food pathogens and spoilage micro-organisms in about 5-8 minutes and produces safe foods with much higher quality than conventionally processed ready-to-eat products, according to the researchers.

A novel test kit to detect multiple pathogens

Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), a prime lab under India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), has developed a test kit for simultaneous detection of four different groups of pathogens. The test kit detects entire Escherichia coli group, Salmonella genus, Shigella genus and Proteus vulgaris/mirabilis. It employs monoclonal antibody-based simple dot ELISA and a set of four biochemical tests that are reliable and simple to perform.

The test system has been developed and tested with a number of reference strains, isolates and clinical samples. The important feature of the kit is that it provides confirmatory identification of the four groups of pathogens. It is convenient to use and no lab equipment is required except for an incubator. The total duration for the test report is three hours and the test is highly economical at Rs 25 per test. There is no requirement for any skilled technician to carry out the test.

New imaging technique looks inside starch granules

Scientists in the United Kingdom have developed a method of visualizing and measuring the properties of the starch in a developing maize kernel, revealing previously unidentified properties. This could have a practical application in screening varieties for novel starch properties, or help in the selection of novel starches for industrial applications. The high-resolution method of characterizing the properties of starch granule within seeds was developed by Institute of Food Research (IFR) scientists Dr. Klaus Wellner, Dr. Mary Parker and Dr. Vic Morris, together with Dr. Dominique Georget at the University of East Anglia.

The scientists used the method to examine starch in a high-amylose maize mutant lacking an enzyme that adds branches to amylopectin molecules. The Raman microscopy technique uses the way molecules absorb and re-emit light to give information about the chemical and physical structure of the molecules. This allows the structure of individual starch granules to be measured and compared with other granules in the seed, and a number of different chemical and physical parameters to be mapped within the sample. The researchers showed that the starch granules in normal maize are all very similar to each other, while the mutant starch granules showed large differences both within and between granules in the same cell, and between different cells in the seed.

The technique shows that marked differences can occur between starch properties in neighbouring cells. The degree of heterogeneity was found to be much greater than had previously been reported for studies of isolated granules extracted from seeds. Analysis of data on spatial difference suggested that the mutation in the branching enzyme leads to defects in the way the granules self-assemble that accumulate to produce the observed heterogeneity. The scientists believe that the technique could also be used to produce three-dimensional image data sets for seeds. Using Raman microscopy in this way could have a practical application in screening varieties for novel starch properties, potentially aiding in the selection of new starches for specific industrial applications.

Alfalfa sprouts get new sanitizing treatment

Many consider sprouts as a healthy fresh vegetable. But, sprouts are one of the main foods linked to food-borne illness. Scientists at University of Georgia (UGA), the United States, have developed a method to make fresh alfalfa sprouts safer to eat by treating the seeds used to grow them. UGA food microbiologist Dr. Michael Doyle and his colleague Dr. Tong Zhao have developed a new process to soak seeds in a solution that kills pathogens.

The environment used to grow sprouts is ideal also for growing harmful bacteria like Salmonella and Escherichia coli. The new UGA treatment is safe for sprout growers to use and promotes better seed germination. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers the process components safe for use in sprouts and several foods, said Dr. Doyle, Director of the UGA Centre for Food Safety. Dr. Ron Walcott, a UGA plant pathologist in the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, is testing the new treatment on watermelon and other fruit seeds. He is also working with a national fresh-cut flower supplier to see if the treatment will kill floriculture diseases and help prolong the shelf life of fresh-cut flowers.

Listeria bacteria could make its way into packaged foods

Listeria, a food-borne pathogen, can cause brain infection, blood poisoning, abortion and even death. By comparing the deadly strains of Listeria to benign strains, scientists strive to not only identify what causes certain strains to be so dangerous but also develop ways to prevent Listeriosis, a food-borne illness caused by Listeria. Dr. Martin Wiedmann, an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science, Cornell University, the United States, has shown that Listeria originates in soil and is transmitted to animals through plant materials. Inside the bodies of mammals, it thrives because there is almost no competition for food. The pathogen can invade human cells and even relocate from one cell to another, avoiding the antibodies the human body produces.

Dr. Wiedmann studies Listeria’s evolution over a span of 47 million years. “It has an uncanny ability to survive very, very well. In one case, we found a strain that had survived in a processing plant for 12 years. This may be because it is in the best interest of the bacteria that their hosts are kept alive,” he said. Only two of the existing six strains of Listeria cause disease in humans: L. monocytogenes and L. ivanovii. Dr. Wiedmann believes that while all of the strains of Listeria were toxic in the past, certain strains have become less virulent, or actively poisonous, over time. Strains continue to evolve, and even among L. monocytogenes, there is a strain that lacks a gene that would make the strain potentially fatal.

Dr. Wiedmann and his colleagues used a next generation sequencing approach to better understand genome evolution as well as evolution of virulence characteristics in Listeria. The approach used is the SOLiD System, developed by Mr. Craig Cummings and his team at Life Technologies Corporation, the United States. The system is a highly accurate, massively parallel sequencing platform, which supports a wide range of applications. Dr. Wiedmann’s latest finding is a unique strain of L. monocytogenes responsible for an outbreak among dairy cattle. Life Technologies is reportedly planning to use the information Dr. Wiedmann collected to develop assays that specifically detect pathogenic Listeria strains.


Probiotic encapsulation opens formulation potential

Belgian probiotics company Vésale Pharma has applied to the European Patent Office (EPO) for a probiotic microencapsulation technology patent that can deliver probiotics into new blends such as high-dose vitamin C supplements. The alginate-based technology, called IntelCaps, completely closes the strains from the outside world so that they become resistant to the effects of heat, water and oxygen, said Mr. Johan Quintens, International Manager of Vésale Pharma.

The process was developed in collaboration with Brace, Germany, which possessed the microencapsulation technology that the two firms worked jointly to modify using the Lactobacillus rhamnosis strain. The result, said Mr. Quintens, is a technology and platform that can be applied to any probiotic strain. The secret to the technology is the “smallsphere” micro technology that employs molecules of between 0.6 and 1 micron – dimensions nearing nano levels. The probiotics are in the beadlets, which offers production savings as well as ease of handling, Mr. Quintens explained. “We think this technology opens a new world to formulators,” he said. For example, this technology makes it possible to blend probiotics with vitamin C, which is basically toxic to probiotics at higher concentrations. “The microcapsules also resist low pH levels, making it possible for them to pass through the stomach without opening and deliver the viable probiotics directly to the intestine, which is the target organ,” the company said.

Oxidative stress reduction benefits of cocoa

New research has found that polyphenol-enriched cocoa powder could be used as a functional ingredient to reduce oxidative stress in the elderly. The researchers from Biopolis SL, Parc Cientìfic Universitat de ValeÌncia, Spain, also report the use of models that prove the metabolic target of cocoa to ensure compliance with European Union health claim regulation requirements.

The researchers argue that nutritional intervention using functional foods may be an effective way to improve quality of life of elderly people. They have recently developed a cocoa powder with high flavonoid content by improving seed-processing methods. This cocoa powder has been obtained from unfermented cocoa beans without roasting and submitted to a short heat treatment to rapidly inactivate polyphenol oxidase (PPO).

However, the team aimed to determine which metabolic target this flavonoid-rich cocoa powder acts upon – its anti-oxidative capacity – and used the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the worm Caenorhabditis elegans as model organisms for the purpose. Two different cocoa powders were analysed in the study: the natural cocoa powder and a flavonoid-enriched cocoa powder, with a higher total polyphenol content (12 per cent) than the natural cocoa powder (4 per cent).

The researchers said that their findings prove that the flavonoid-enriched cocoa powder resist oxidative stress in the two in vivo models, in which hydrogen peroxide was used to induce oxidative damage. They said that the protection against oxidative stress provided by the cocoa powder is due to its high polyphenol content, as raised survival levels were observed in yeast cultures after an oxidative stress when compared with the natural cocoa powder. They found that sirtuin proteins mediate the cocoa powder’s resistance to such stress through the insulin/IGF-1 signalling pathway.

New modified starch emulsifier may extend rice bran oil use

A new modified starch may stabilize rice bran emulsions, says a new study that extends the use of rice bran oil, an ingredient being show “increasing interest” by the food industry. The joint research – by scientists from the Faculty of Agro-Industry, Kasetsart University, Thailand, and University of Massachusetts, the United States – compared the relative performance of whey protein, gum arabic and a new modified starch at forming and stabilizing emulsions of rice bran oil. The new starch, which has a higher number of octenyl succinic anhydride (OSA) groups per starch molecule than conventional modified starch, was shown to produce the most stable emulsion.

“This study showed that stable rice bran oil-in-water emulsions can be formed using biopolymer emulsifiers. These emulsions could be used to incorporate rice bran oil into a wide range of food products,” said the researchers, led by senior author Prof. David Julian McClements from the University of Massachusetts. The study showed that the newly developed OSA-modified starch (OSA-MS) can be used as an emulsifier at relatively low levels to produce small droplets that have good stability to changes in solution and environmental conditions.

Because of the relatively high levels of functional and nutraceutical components present in rice bran oil, it may behave differently in emulsions than other edible oils, the researchers said. It is therefore desirable to produce a stable rice bran oil emulsion using biopolymer emulsifiers, which could be incorporated into final products. Comparative studies showed that the new modified starch produced small droplets, and formed an emulsion that was stable to a wide range of environmental stresses.

Food ingredient fights Listeria

Health Canada has approved for sale in Canada a new anti-Listeria product, Micocin®, announced global food leader Griffith Laboratories, based in the United States. Micocin can recognize, target and inhibit the growth of Listeria in packaged products. It was developed from a strain of naturally occurring bacteria, Carnobacteria maltaromaticum, which produces a bacteriocin that is especially effective against L. monocytogenes. This technology was developed into a variety of products by CanBiocin, a Canadian company, in partnership with Griffith Laboratories.

The superfine Micocin powder is diluted in water and then precisely deposited onto foods during the packaging process, creating an environment in which Listeria cannot thrive, thus providing an effective protection for foods and ultimately, for consumers. The Micocin bacterial culture is already being used in food products and it has no effect on the flavour, texture or appearance of the products to which it is introduced. Contact: Griffith Laboratories Inc., 1 Griffith Centre, Alsip, Illinois 60803, United States of America. Tel: +1 (708) 371 0900; Fax: +1 (708) 389 4055.

Cold-set gel emulsions from whey protein concentrate

A new method of emulsification, based on a pre-heat treatment of whey protein and microfluidization techniques, has produced a cold-set gelled emulsion for use in foods, say researchers from the South China University of Technology, China. The researchers – Dr. Fu Liu and Dr. Chuan-He Tang – report that the technique could extend the application of gels to allow for the incorporation of heat sensitive food ingredients.

Compared with emulsions, emulsion gels have more potential when applied as the carriers for bioactive compounds in functional foods, because of their controlled release profiles and improved oxidative stability. The researchers noted that whey protein-stabilized emulsions can be transformed into emulsion gels, through heat treatment and acidification with glucono-delta-lactone (GDL). However, heat setting process may not be suitable for many forms of bioactive compounds, but “those obtained by cold-set techniques without heat treatment will be much more favourable,” they said.

A recently developed novel cold setting technique has been reported to produce gel-like emulsions from whey protein concentrate at ambient temperatures. The researchers produced a cold-set gel emulsion from whey protein concentrate, by thermal pre-treatment of the whey protein at 70°C for 30 minutes, followed by the microfluidization techniques. They investigated the rheological and micro-structural characteristics of the cold-set gelled emulsions.

Dr. Fu and Dr. Chuan-He found the formation of the gelled emulsions to be closely related to the high emulsifying efficiency of whey proteins, but the rheological and micro-structural properties were found to be highly dependent upon the oil fraction of the emulsion. A close relationship was seen between the rheological properties and gel network micro-structures of the gel emulsions. The scientists concluded that the cold-set gelled emulsions were stable, and may have application in food formulations, as the cold-set nature of the gel will allow bioactive compounds to be incorporated into formulations without suffering damage from a heat-setting process.


New lime-based isotonic drink

Lime fruit is one agricultural produce that go waste in large quantities due to lack of storage facilities and/or unavailability of preservation methods. In addition, lime juice extracted turns bitter in a short while due to the presence of limonin. Dr. Jaanaki Gooneratne, Head of Food Technology Section, Industrial Technology Institute, Sri Lanka, has developed a process for preparing a natural lime-based sports drink called “Isotonic Lime Blast”.

Dr. Gooneratne said that it was a challenge to introduce a simplified method for the de-bittering process to be used by the industry and the application of this fresh lime extract in the formulation of a sports drink was the second challenge. “A sports drink should quench thirst, replace sweat, and should rehydrate the body fluids quickly to provide energy to involve in sports activities,” she said. The technology she developed has been commercialized, and the sports drink is now widely marketed in Sri Lanka.

Herbal beverage powder and production process

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India, has been assigned a United States patent on a process for the preparation of a readily reconstitutable beverage concentrate powder from the herb rosemary. The process involves using a set of unit operations and approved food-grade additives, and comprises the following steps:
  • Drying the rosemary at 45-65°C for 4-6 hours; 
  • Pulverizing the dried rosemary to a particle size of 20-30 mesh; 
  • Extracting essential oil from pulverized herb using distilled water in the ratio ranging between 1:1 to 1:4 for 1-3 hours to obtain aqueous extract containing essential oils; 
  • Dividing the extract is divided in two parts; 
  • Emulsifying the first part, encapsulating the aqueous emulsion containing essential oil in concentration of 0.5 per cent, carrier of concentration of 10-20 per cent and an emulsifier of concentration about 0.4 per cent of carrier by drying; 
  • Filtering the second part of aqueous extract to obtain desired filtrate and residue; 
  • Concentrating the filtrate; 
  • Blending the concentrated filtrate with carrier of about 5 per cent; 
  • Drying the concentrated blended extracts at a temperature of about 60°C for about 6 hours; 
  • Blending the concentrated extract with encapsulated rosemary flavour (concentration of 0.47-3.70 per cent), powdered sucrose (concentration of 84.30-94.90 per cent), organic acid (concentration 0.07-1.60 per cent) and anti-caking agent (concentration 0.009-0.50 per cent); and 
  • Collecting the dried the rosemary herbal beverage powder.

The filtrate can be concentrated by evaporation or vacuum distillation. The carrier is selected from a group consisting of gum acacia and maltodextrin, while the organic acid is selected from a group consisting of citric acid, malic acid and fumaric acid. The anticaking agent is tricalcium phosphate, sodium aluminium silicate and/or silica.

Spray-dried sugarcane extract

Sugarcane juice is prone to spoilage from yeast and bacteria; within a few hours of extraction of the juice, fermentation sets in and the juice looses its natural refreshing properties. Therefore, it is very difficult to maintain the sugarcane juice in the liquid state without adding a high amount of preservatives. The only alternative to preserve fresh juice is to remove the water in the juice as quickly as possible. A research team from the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, India, has developed an efficient process for preparing sugarcane juice powder using spray-drying technique.

Sugarcane harvested at 10-14 months after planting is suitable for preparation of commercially acceptable sugarcane juice powder/granules. The cleaned and washed canes are processed in a clean closed and sterile environment to avoid microbial contamination. Juice is extracted with food-grade crushers and clarified. This is step is followed by filtration through fine stainless steel mesh to remove fibre particles. In spray drying, the temperature and spray jet are adjusted to obtain fine to coarse particle size of dried juice, which is then packed in moisture proof pouches. Additional flavouring – with extract of lemon, ginger, coffee or spices – can be carried out if desired.

The spray-dried sugarcane juice powder is devoid of chemicals such as preservatives, colorants, anti-caking agents or stabilizers. This technology is available from National Research Development Corporation. Contact: National Research Development Corporation, Regional Office, #107, 8th Main, Malleswaram, Bangalore 560 055, India. Tel: +91 (80) 23341255; Fax: +91 (80) 23347555; E-mail: Source: Direct communication

Non-nutritive sweetened beverage with coconut milk

Concentrate Manufacturing Company of Ireland has obtained a United States patent on beverage compositions sweetened with at least one non-nutritive sweetener – such as a compound from the stevia plant, including steviol glycosides (rebaudiosides such as Rebaudioside A, stevioside, etc). Coconut milk is present in an amount sufficient to enhance the mouthfeel of the beverage, yet not affect the taste. Non-nutritive sweetened beverage compositions, natural beverage compositions and beverage concentrates incorporating steviol glycosides and coconut milk are also provided. Other natural ingredients may be included in the beverage, for example juices and fruit flavours, natural acids, botanical flavours, colorants, edible salts, etc.


Nano-coated ‘killer paper’ to extend food shelf life

Researchers from Institute of Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, claim to have developed a simple, ultrasonic process of coating packaging paper with antimicrobial colloidal silver nanoparticles to combat bacteria such as Escherichia coli and extend product shelf life. Dr. Aharon Gedanken and his colleagues note that the antimicrobial properties of silver are well established, and using silver nanoparticles lengthens the bacteria-fighting properties. The process developed at the Kanbar Laboratory of Nanomaterials involves on-site generation of nanoparticles and their simultaneous application onto the paper substrate. Both the thickness of the silver coating and particle size can be controlled through varying precursor concentrations and reaction times.

The nanomaterials were attached to the paper by a process of ultrasonication, which the scientists said is “one of the most attractive methods for coating applications involving nanomaterials”. The silver nanoparticles are anchored strongly to the surface either by physically embedding them in the surface or by forming chemical bonds or other interactions with the substrate to form a “remarkably sturdy coating”.

Dr. Gedanken said the coated paper showed potent antibacterial activity against food-borne disease-causing organisms such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, killing all the bacteria in just three hours. The coatings are highly stable with loss of silver from the surface described as minimal – a key factor in making them suitable for long-life applications. The process can also be scaled up easily.

Polyamine to extend shelf life of tomatoes

Tomatoes spend so much time on shelves and in refrigerators that a substantial percentage of them are lost to spoilage. Researchers with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working with colleagues at Purdue University, the United States, to extend the shelf life of tomatoes. The research also may lead to tomatoes that taste better and are more nutritious.

Dr. Autar Mattoo, a plant physiologist at the ARS Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, led the team that focused on manipulating a class of nitrogen-based organic compounds known as “polyamines”, which act as signals and play a role in the plant’s growth, flowering, fruit development, ripening and other functions. The researchers wanted to see if they could increase levels of polyamines in tomatoes, and what the effects of such an increase would be. They introduced a polyamine-producing yeast gene – spermidine synthase – into tomato plants to increase the production of a higher polyamine spermidine that is believed to modulate the plant ripening process.

The results showed that introducing the gene not only increased spermidine levels and vegetative growth, but extended the tomato’s post-harvest shelf life. Shrivelling was delayed by up to three weeks, and there was a slower rate of decay caused by diseases. The fruit also had higher levels of lycopene. The study also showed for the first time that spermidine has its own effects independent of other polyamines, extending shelf life and increasing growth.

New preservation technologies

Food Freshness Technology Ltd. (FFT), the United Kingdom, has developed technologies that are rooted in state-of-the-art materials science and offer benefits to the whole fresh produce supply. FFT’s e+ Ethylene Remover extends the shelf life of pre-climacteric fruits, vegetables and flowers. Many horticultural crops – such as bananas, dates, tomatoes, apples and melons – have their ripening response accelerated in the presence of ethylene. Some other crops – such as citrus fruit, asparagus, grapes, lettuce and pineapples – have a physiological response to ethylene. Control of ethylene will avoid: premature ripening of fruit; fading or wilting in flowers; early sprouting in root vegetables; and loss of green colour/bitterness in vegetables.

When screening was carried out in a plug flow reactor (200 ppm ethylene, 10 per cent oxygen + balance helium, with/without ~100 per cent relative humidity), e+ Ethylene Remover showed a capacity of over 4,500 ml/g in the presence of moisture at room temperature. Additional research at Cranfield University, the United Kingdom, showed the ability of e+ to extend the shelf life of bananas and avocados by removing ethylene gases. Test results also showed that e+ improved the taste and nutritional aspects of avocado, and extended shelf life in cold storage, with fruit softening delayed by two weeks. Contact: Mr. Simon Lee, Food Freshness Technology Ltd., H300, Edison Rd, Hams Hall, Coleshill, Birmingham B46 1AB, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1675) 431 001; E-mail:

Exhaust smoke to cool food

Indonesian engineers have developed a system of keeping transported food fresh and cool using the exhaust from motorcycle tailpipes. Mr. Ardiyansyah Yatim, head of a five-man research team and a mechanical engineer at Universitas Indonesia (UI), said that the portable refrigeration system was meant to help seafood traders who transported goods from markets to remote villages. The team looked to improve small retailers’ system of preserving fish in Styrofoam boxes filled with ice and mounted on motorbikes for transportation. With this dated method, fish spoil easily during trips to market.

The team created a cooling box that essentially mixed the ammonia in exhaust smoke with water to create a heat-absorbing solution. The exhaust fuels a generator, which causes the ammonia to vaporize and separate from the water molecules. The vapour is channelled to a condenser, where it will turn into liquid. This ammonia liquid flows into an evaporator, where it mixes with steam to produce the cooling for the portable system. The prototype cost less than Rp 1.5 million (US$170) to build. In laboratory tests, the prototype – which could carry up to 52 litres of liquid or 15 kg of seafood – could keep food fresh for up to two and a half hours. The system, Mr. Ardiyansyah said, achieved refrigeration temperatures between -13° and -4° C from generator temperatures of 80°-100° C. This means it is feasible to build small portable fridge systems operating at the recommended temperature for storing fresh seafood – 0° to 8° C.


A new packaging solution

San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp. (SMYPC), the largest maker of packaging products in the Philippines, has announced the development and rollout of the first locally made multi-layer plastic tube, a packaging format used heavily worldwide for consumer and industrial products. The new product, dubbed Suretube, is a durable, leak-proof and non-breakable packaging solution that is suitable for semi-solid products. Suretube, designed to have as much as five layers, greatly increases protection against oxygen and other elements, considerably prolonging product shelf life and better preserving aroma. While initially targeted at personal care products, SMYPC said it will soon offer Suretube to food companies for packaging creams, sauces, dressings, pastes, toppings, etc.

MAP provides long-term solution for food manufacturers

The compact, modular and self-contained MAXIGAS and MIDIGAS systems, from Parker Hannifin Ltd., the United Kingdom, represent a considerable advance in industrial-scale nitrogen generation on site from a conventional supply of compressed air for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). By providing a high-performance, energy-efficient system that produces nitrogen on-demand, the systems eliminate the need for costly and unsafe gas bottles and bulk storage facilities. In addition, the modular design allows for ease of transportation, installation and servicing in comparison with existing supply options.

The MIDIGAS range has been developed as stand-alone compact, units that allow food processing and packaging companies to produce their own supply of nitrogen, on site and on demand, with typical payback periods of 12-24 months. Both systems are quick and easy to install, requiring only power and compressed air connections. They use proven pressure swing adsorption technology, with pairs of extruded aluminium modular columns filled with high-performance carbon molecular sieves to adsorb oxygen from a compressed air supply. Contact: Parker Hannifin Ltd., Industrial Division, Dukesway, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, NE11 0PZ England, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (191) 402 9000; Fax: +44 (191) 482 6296; E-mail:; Website:

'Smart’ MAP food packaging

Scientists at the University of Strathclyde, the United Kingdom, have developed a type of modified atmosphere packaging that can tell people when food is starting to go off. Researchers said their “intelligent” plastic indicator should help cut food waste. The indicator changes colour when the food is about to lose its freshness because of damaged packaging, has passed its expiry date or has been poorly refrigerated. The research team said the indicator, which is part of the packaging itself, would be cheaper to produce.

Prof. Andrew Mills, who is leading the research, said: “We hope that this will reduce the risk of people eating food which is no longer fit for consumption and help prevent unnecessary waste of food. We also hope it will have a direct and positive impact on the meat and seafood industries.”

Antimicrobial and barrier properties of sago starch films

Sago starch-based edible films prepared using microwave irradiation have demonstrated potential for use as antimicrobial agents in active packaging, according to new research from India. The study led by Mr. S.K. Bajpai, Department of Chemistry, Government Model Science College, Jabalpur, also measured how water vapour barrier properties of the film were influenced by its thickness and the presence of chitosan micro particles.

The team prepared plain sago starch (PSS) films – starch films loaded with ethylenediamine tetra acetic acid (EDTA) – using microwave-induced gelatization, and characterized them by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry and tensile strength measurements. The equilibrium moisture content data, obtained at 23°C and 31°C too were interpreted in terms of Guggenheim-Anderson-deBoer (GAB) isotherm model. The degree to which water vapour seeped into the film was found to increase with temperature and relative humidity. The water vapour permeation rate showed a linear relationship with film thickness – with the amount of vapour penetration falling when the thickness of the film was increased.

The researchers also found films loaded with EDTA had higher antimicrobial efficacy against Escherichia coli. This was attributed to its “strong chelating tendency” that weakens the stability of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The substance also “releases a large proportion of Gram-negative lipo-polysaccharide from the outer membrane and exposing hydrophobic phospholipids that increases the susceptibility to hydrophobic and cell wall degrading agents”, said the study.

Nanocomposite coating to boost moisture barrier performance

Lightweight, reduced cost, and improved oxygen and moisture barrier performance are the claims made by InMat Inc., the United States, for its new water-based nanocomposite coating for flexible packaging – Nanolok WR 20135a. A one micron coating is reported to provide an oxygen barrier that performs more than fours times as effectively as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) coated with polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) at 0-80 per cent relative humidity (RH).

InMat claimed that WR 20135a is about 10 times better oxygen barrier and 40 times better moisture barrier than ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH). These barrier improvements over the RH range are significant in maximizing the performance of flexible packaging to preserve product quality and maintain shelf life, according to InMat. The technology allows water-dispersed polymers to be combined with nano-dispersed clays into stable water based barrier coatings. The new coating is far thinner than comparable EVOH products and therefore more cost-effective. It has double the amount of solid content than the company’s previous coatings, which reduces drying time and speeds up the coating process. WR 20135a is compliant with all European and United States food contact standards, said InMat.


Technology alternative to microwave cooking

Nutri-Pulse – developed jointly by IXL Nederland BV and Wageningen University & Research Centre’s Food & Biobased Research in the Netherlands – may well replace the microwave in kitchens in the near future. With its expertise in technologies such as high-pressure, pulsating electric fields and cold plasma Food & Biobased Research helped IXL develop the new process for “slow cooking” food rapidly.

New textures and tastes are created when cells are electrically broken open while being heated rapidly. IXL applied this process in Nutri-Pulse. At first sight, Nutri-Pulse resembles a microwave oven. But unlike in microwave ovens – where water molecules receive the microwaves and converting their energy into heat – in Nutri-Pulse, the food is placed on a tray between two electrodes. Then a high-frequency, pulsating electric field is built up between the electrodes. That field cooks the food rapidly, says Ms. Ariëtte Matser, a research engineer at Food & Biobased Research.

Nutri-Pulse is so efficient that stewed meat is ready in just 4 minutes, compared with the usual 3-6 hours for conventional cooking. Nutri-Pulse gives results comparable to another alternative cooking method, the sous vide – which involves cooking vacuum-packed foods for hours at low temperatures (60° to 80°C) – but many times faster. Initial calculations have indicated that energy consumption using this technique is 10 times lower than with traditional cooking methods, says Ms. Matser.

Innovative processing system for frozen mussel

North Island Mussel Processors Limited (NIMPL), New Zealand, has installed a processing system that can withstand the challenging frozen mussel processing environment. The customized solution combines an open, gateless stainless steel design with caustic wash-down capabilities to minimize food safety risks. The state-of-the-art NIMPL facility, which processes up to 1.6 million individually quick frozen (IQF) half-shell mussels per day, comprises an innovative combination of distribution, accumulation and weighing systems provided by tna, headquartered in Australia.

A key component of the system is the electromagnetically driven roflo®HMW 3 horizontal motion conveyors, constructed to handle intense pressure cleaning with caustic solutions without the need to remove any guarding or machine parts. The hygienic gateless design meets the need in shellfish processing where microbial pathogens are a serious threat. The rapid, yet gentle linear motion of the conveyor transports the IQF mussels with no vibration, reducing damage to the shells. With fully automated control and few moving parts, maintenance requirements will be considerably less than mechanical handling systems.

Drying system keeps food container surfaces dry

Dryguide from Secomak, the United Kingdom, is a stable air-knife system that employs a high-velocity collision of airflow to remove moisture and ensure that food packaging remains dry. The machine offers optimal removal of water from container surfaces, even in the toughest drying conditions, such as large polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles at high speed. It also provides a solution for drying problems encountered with wet food pouches during batch production.

Rather than using a collection of various angled slots, the air knife is positioned over the length of the drying machine optimizing the drying performance. The panels act as noise reflectors, keeping the sound inside the enclosure, providing quieter working conditions. Dryguide optimizes energy use with the blowers typically under-running by 8-10 kW. Additional energy savings can be made with an integrated Eco-Pack, which includes both an eco-control system and minders. Eco-control system slows blower speeds when there is a gap in the line, ensuring quieter working conditions and a more energy efficient drying solution. Airminder (compressed air) and Aquamider (water wastage) systems provide a supply-on-demand flow, reducing consumption to low levels in drying application. Contact: Secomak, 330 Centennial Park, Elstree, Hertfordshire WD6 3TJ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (208) 7321 300; Fax: +44 (208) 7321 301; E-mail:

Equipment for Italian food items

GS Italia, an Italian manufacturer of food processing machinery, claims to have revolutionized the production of fresh lasagne with their automated lasagne lines. The machinery is able to maintain the ‘hand-made’ look of the lasagne and has a production speed of 300 to 1,200 pieces/hour. The lasagne lines are designed to handle the complete production process – from the production of dressings (meat sauce and béchamel) to the preparation and packing of final product. The machines – available in straight line and rotary configurations, semi-automatic or fully automatic – can be custom-designed with the smallest footprint possible, without compromising productivity. There are two dosing/filling units that dose the béchamel and ragout, an automated tray dispenser, and the heated product storage tanks that hold 100 litres.

GS Italia is also offering “The MaxiForm Baby”, a versatile machine designed to produce snacks and sweets – plain or filled – in different shapes. The machine is suitable for small to medium production, and can produce up to 2,500 × 30 g pieces per hour. A new inverter-controlled pushing system takes the place of screw conveyors, significantly increasing the production speed and allowing for more delicate product production, thus improving the quality of the final product. The exit mouth of the machine has been enlarged to 65 mm to cater for croquettes of up to 300 g. Designed for flexibility, the MaxiForm Baby can produce products from 6 to 300 g using flour, rice dough and meat, chicken, fish, vegetables and cheese filling, including Arancini pear-shaped balls, stuffed or filled gnocchi, cheese, meat, fish or rice balls, fruit bars with a jelly filled pillow, meat pies, sausage rolls, small sweets, and truffles. Contact: HBM Packaging Technologies, P.O. Box 6167, Baulkham Hills, NSW 2153, Australia. Tel: +61 (2) 8814 3103; Fax: +61 (2) 8814 3199; E-mail:; Website:


Freeze-drying of pharmaceutical and food products

This informative book – part of the Food Science, Technology and Nutrition Series – addresses both principles and practice in freeze-drying. The first chapter introduces freeze-drying. The authors then review the fundamentals of the technique, heat-mass transfer analyses, modelling of the drying process and the equipment used. Further chapters focus on freeze-drying of food and pharmaceuticals as well as on the protective agents and additives applied. The final chapter covers the important subjects of disinfection, sterilization and process validation. The publication will be an essential reference for food, pharmaceutical and refrigeration engineers and scientists with an interest in preservation techniques.

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

The Microbiology of Safe Food

This second edition of The Microbiology of Safe Food reviews the production of food and the level of microorganisms that humans ingest, covering both food pathogens and food spoilage organisms. The comprehensive contents include: the dominant food-borne microorganisms; the means of their detection; the setting of microbial limits for end-product testing; predictive microbiology; the role of HACCP; the setting of Food Safety Objectives; and relevant international regulations and legislation. This updated and expanded edition contains new and important information on various emerging microbiological issues of importance in food safety, including: microbiological risk assessment and bacterial genomics.

Contact: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte. Ltd., Customer Service Department, 2, Clementi Loop #02-01 LogisHub@Clementi, Singapore 129809. Tel: +65 6463 2400; Fax: +65 6463 4604; E-mail:


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