VATIS Update Food Processing . Jul-Aug 2010

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Food Processing Jul-Aug 2010

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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New international cocoa agreement concluded

Following consensus reached between exporting and importing countries, the United Nations Cocoa Conference has successfully concluded negotiations for the International Cocoa Agreement 2010. For the first time in the history of international cocoa agreements, the new pact will enter into force for a period of 10 years, a sign of clear recognition by all parties of the long-term value of the agreement and of their commitment to it.

The Conference, held in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was attended by 53 countries. The agreement will take effect in 2012, succeeding the previous agreement, which went into force in 2003. After 10 years, the new pact may be extended for two additional four-year periods. Major innovations and changes in the International Cocoa Agreement 2010 as compared with the agreement currently in force include:

  • Implementation of a new organizational structure to enhance the efficiency of the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO);
  • A broader-based composition of the Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy;
  • Enhancement of market transparency through collecting, processing and distribution of data from both private and public sources, and through increased cooperation between the ICCO and the private sector;
  • Reinforcement of a mandate for the development of projects relating to the cocoa economy, recognizing their role in strengthening national cocoa economies and allowing them to better respond to evolving demand;
  • Recognition of the need to strive towards fair cocoa prices leading to equitable returns for both producers and consumers; and
  • Promotion of the quality of cocoa and recognition of the need to develop appropriate food safety procedures in the sector.
The new agreement will build on the success of the 2001 agreement, by implementing measures leading to an increase in the income of cocoa farmers and by supporting cocoa producers in improving the functioning of their cocoa economies. The new agreement also will deliver cocoa of better quality, take effective account of food-safety issues and help establish social, economic and environmental sustainability. The export value of world cocoa bean production during the current 2009/2010 cocoa year is estimated at some US$10 billion.

FAO calls for ‘limited’ regulation of food futures markets

Some regulation of commodities futures markets could be beneficial – but should stop short of tight limits or an outright ban, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said in a new policy brief. Two years ago, there was a major surge in food prices, which led to food shortages in many parts of the world, amid soaring prices for industry and consumers – and many have claimed that excessive market speculation helped fuel price spikes. Prices of maize, rice and wheat, for example, reached their highest levels in 30 years.

“Apart from actual changes in supply and demand of some commodities, the upward swing might also have been amplified by speculation in organized futures markets,” FAO said. However, it added that too much regulation to prevent the recurrence of such a scenario could be risky. “Limiting or banning speculative trading might do more harm than good.”

In terms of the type of regulation that could be appropriate, FAO said that efforts should focus on improving the functioning of the market. The measures should include more transparency of futures trading and closer investigation of suspicious behaviour, such as traders requesting permission to invest above their speculative position limits. The organization said that reducing speculation in futures markets could “have unintended consequences”. It also pointed out that speculation was not solely responsible for soaring food prices, citing high oil prices, strong demand for crops from the bio-fuel sector, falling stockpiles of food and lower cereal production as other contributing factors. In addition, strong economic growth, low interest rates and export restrictions also played a role, FAO said.

India mulls boards for major food commodities

India’s Minister of Food Processing Industries, Mr. Subodh Kant Sahai, has said that the Ministry, after setting up National Meat and Poultry Processing Board and Indian Grape Processing Board, is contemplating to set up similar National Boards for fisheries, soya, and guar gum. He was speaking at the recent Entrepreneurs Meet on “Emerging Innovative Technologies for Competitiveness in Food Processing Sector” held in New Delhi.

The Minister revealed that the Ministry provided assistance amounting Rs 600 million (US$12.9 million) to over 200 entrepreneurs, and another 200 more will be added by September 2010. He said this would consume more than two-thirds of the Ministry’s Budget. About ten integrated cold chain projects are under implementation, with another 25 likely to come up shortly, to address the issue of past-harvest losses.

ADB extends loan for food security to Bangladesh

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has extended financial assistance to Bangladesh to grow high-value crops including vegetables, spices and fruits to boost income for the poor farmers and support the nation’s food security. Concessional Asian Development Fund of the ADB sanctioned a loan of US$40 million to support the development of high-value crops in 27 districts in the southwest and northwest of the country.

The project will focus on crops with proven market demand, high profitability and potential for commercialization, such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, spices, cut flowers, potted plants and value-added agro-products. With Bangladesh highly susceptible to extreme weather events due to its low-lying position along the Bay of Bengal, the project will also pilot test climate-resilient varieties of crops in drought and flood-prone areas.

Under the project, training in production and post-harvest processing and marketing of high-value crops will be provided to bring down post-harvest losses and improve produce quality. The loan, which will finance 87 per cent of the total project cost of 45.8 million US dollar, has a 32-year term with an eight-year grace period. The Department of Agricultural Extension and Bangladesh Bank are the executing agencies for the project, which is expected to be completed by June 2016.

China and Europe to work together on food nanotech

The Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine and the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) are collaborating to support risk management and improve consumer protection through new approaches in the areas of nanotechnology and alternative methods to animal testing. The organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the occasion of the European Union-China food safety scientific seminar this June at the Shanghai World Expo. Both institutions provide technical support for policy makers and aim to reinforce their cooperation in consumer products safety research.

Nanotechnology is being increasingly exploited in the development of novel and improved products and applications in many areas such as food technology, biotechnology, medicine and materials science. This trend is, however, causing concerns regarding the potential effects of nano-materials on health and on the environment. JRC-IHCP has several years of experience in the field of nanotechnology, particularly in research on the safety assessment of nano-materials, where it evaluates the potential risks of particulate nano-materials and subsequent potential adverse effects on the living tissue.

Australia introduces voluntary bisphenol A phase out

International pressure to eliminate bisphenol A (BPA) from food contact materials intensified after the Australian government unveiled a deal this June with major retailers to phase out baby bottles containing BPA from 1 July 2010. Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mr. Mark Butler said growing public concern over the chemical, used as a plasticizer in polycarbonate bottles, was the reason behind the government brokering the deal with leading retailers after months of negotiations.

Mr. Butler, however, stressed the agreement did not mark a change in the country’s position on the safety of BPA. “Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has evaluated the safety of BPA and plasticizers in baby bottles and concluded that levels of intake of BPA or plasticizers are very low and do not pose a risk to babies health,” he said. “The government has listened to families on the issue of BPA and we have taken appropriate action.” Mr. Butler highlighted the announcement in the United States this January that the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) would be carrying out further research into the risks for babies and infants associated with BPA, and that a number of other countries had taken action on the substance.

India gets tough on artificial ripening of fruits

In India, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has asked the state authorities to keep a strict vigil on use of carbide gas for ripening of fruits. Use of carbide gas for ripening of fruits is prohibited under Rule 44 AA of Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules 1955. The Union Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare, Mr. Dinesh Trivedi directed the authorities to take up this issue with states.

In a circular to all state food (health) authorities, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has stressed the need to take legal action for violation the PFA Rules. The circular also invited attention of state enforcement authorities to the provisions that circumstantial evidence of presence of calcium carbide in warehouses/crates/premises kept together with fruits may be evidence for the courts that artificial ripening has been used by the vendor. FSSAI has also circulated a copy of procedure for detection of acetylene in warehouses or treatment chamber for detection of artificial ripening of fruits.

Bangladesh study highlights rice processing loss

A research done by the Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU) has revealed that absence of advanced technology, poor rural infrastructure, inadequate common storage facility and inexperience have caused on average 18.7 per cent loss of rice at different stages of harvesting and post-harvesting processes. Of the total losses, average harvesting loss is 5.3 per cent for all types of rice while post-harvesting loss during the process of threshing, winnowing, handling and milling is around 12.5 per cent.

Preliminary findings of the study were discussed at a day-long workshop on food security at the BAU Mymensingh campus in June 2010 as part of the research activities being implemented under the national food policy strengthening programme. The research paper has been prepared under a pilot study in 55 villages of 20 sub-districts under 12 districts across the country for finding options to adopt to bring down such huge loss.

The researchers suggested on-time harvest of crops using machines, encouraging farmers to perform post-harvest operations on common yard in the field as possible measures to be taken to check grain loss. Further development of rural infrastructure, introduction of less grain-shattering variety of rice, making available of more common storage facility and increased use of advanced technological tools to minimize the loss of rice were also suggested.

Food safety tops people’s concerns in survey

Food safety is Chinese people’s main concern, with 72 per cent putting it ahead of 10 other issues including social security, and medical and marriage safety, according to a recent survey. The survey, jointly conducted by the Beijing-based Xiaokang Magazine and Tsinghua University in 12 cities in June, said Chinese people’s concern over food safety had dramatically increased after the melamine scandal that haunted the whole milk industry in 2008. People’s confidence in food safety still remains low, with only 40 per cent confident about the safety of food purchased from supermarkets, and just 20 per cent trusting milk powder brands made in the country, according to the survey. A new organization for food safety monitoring was founded to deal with this problem in February this year, with three Chinese Vice Premiers as the heads.



United Nations sets safety guidelines for melamine in food

The first global limits on permitted melamine levels in food were set early this July by the World Health Organization (WHO) at its annual food safety summit in Switzerland. The 130 members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission agreed to set the threshold for the chemical in food at 2.5 mg/kg, while the permitted level for infant formula milk was set at 1 mg/kg. While not legally binding, the new levels allow countries to refuse to allow the importation of products with excessive levels of melamine. Codex, which was set up by WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), establishes food safety standard for importers and exporters.

WHO expert Dr. Angelika Tritscher said the purpose of setting the limits was to allow for the occurrence of natural contamination of melamine through approved uses. She explained that these were from the insecticide cyromazine and through migration from food contact materials such as melaware and some table-top surfaces used in food processing plants. Dr. Tritscher said the levels of exposure from these sources were minute and posed no health concerns for humans.

Codex extends aflatoxin code to Brazil nuts

The United Nations’ food standards body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, has extended its code of practice for the prevention and reduction of aflatoxin in tree nuts to include additional measures for Brazil nuts.

The report of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods was considered by the delegates to the 33rd Session of Codex Alimentarius Commission, who set a maximum level of 10 mg/kg for aflatoxin in Brazil nuts (shelled, ready-to-eat) and 15 mg/kg for shelled Brazil nuts (intended for further processing).

Dr. Angelika Tritscher, Secretary to Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (JECFA) and the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), said that Brazil nuts were not included in earlier standards on tree nuts adopted by the Commission due to the fact there was insufficient data at the time on aflatoxin contamination levels in these as they are not a plantation crop.

She said that the additional measures on Brazil nuts were sought by the delegation from Brazil, who cited the recent completion of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) Safe Nut Project, which addressed the factors causing aflatoxin contamination in the Brazil nut production chain and the methods of control available.

ISO/IDF standard on fat content of milk

The International Organization for Standards (ISO) and the International Dairy Federation (IDF) have developed a standard providing testing requirements and guidelines to determine the fat content of milk. Now in its third edition, the standard is for the first time applicable to sheep and goat’s milk, in addition to cow’s milk. The fat content of milk is an important quality factor, and a major determinant of the price paid to milk producers.

‘ISO 1211|IDF 1:2010, Milk – Determination of fat content – Gravimetric method (Reference method)’ provides a test methodology to determine the fat content of milk of good physical and chemical quality, including guidelines for calculation and expression of results. It has been an important standard in the milk industry since 1984 when it was first published by ISO. The 2010 edition brings the content up to date with state-of-the-art developments. Originally applicable to cow’s milk, the methodology can now be used for sheep’s and goat’s milk, whether full fat, reduced fat or skimmed, as well as chemically preserved and processed liquid milk. Contact: Ms. Maria Lazarte, Communication Officer, Marketing, Communication and Information, International Organization for Standards, 1, ch. de la Voie-Creuse, Case postale 56, CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland. Tel: +41 (22) 749 0111; Fax: +41 (22) 733 3430; E-mail:

Viet Nam tightens inspection of imported meat

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Viet Nam has issued a new regulation governing stricter meat import inspections. The new decree, which will take effect 1 July 2010, requires export countries to register their domestic businesses to meet hygiene demands with Vietnamese agencies. It stipulates that only these enterprises will be able to export meat into Viet Nam. Certificates of safety must be enclosed with import consignments.

According to the Ministry, in the first five months of 2010, frozen meat imports increased three-fold over the last months of 2009. This year’s outbreaks of the “blue ear disease”, however, stalled containers of frozen meat at the country’s ports. All new imports would be placed under scrutiny and importers would be ordered to re-export food if shipments are found to have skirted hygiene requirements. Companies found to have intentionally breached regulations would be shut down.

Nepal issues new standards for packaged juices

The Technical Committee of the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) of Nepal has set standards for fruit juices and sweetened fruit juices sold in the domestic market, said Mr. Pramod Koirala, spokesperson for the Department. DFTQC has set standards for pulp content in juices for 14 fruits and nectar content for 13 fruits.

As per the standards, mango juice should have at least 12 per cent pulp content, followed by 10 per cent in lychee, banana, passion fruit and apricot, and six per cent in guava, papaya, melon, strawberry and mulberry. The highest pulp content of 18 per cent is required for prune juice. DFTQC has permitted the use of preservative citric acid at 3.5 per cent. Nectar content has been set at 15 per cent in all fruit juices including lime, lemon, apricot, gooseberry, raspberry and others. The use of 1.5 per cent critic acid is permitted. As per the standards, sweetened juices must have sugar content between 15 g/kg and 150 g/kg.


New analytical technology for the food industry

Led by Dr. Peter O’Brien, Food for Health Ireland (FHI) is introducing the latest and most powerful ‘cellomics’ analytical technologies to its ‘Intelligent Milk Mining’ initiative. Cellomics, or high content analysis (HCA) technology, combines and automates microscopy with fluorescent biomarkers and image analysis. As part of its broader programme to ‘mine’ milk for bioactive peptides, the FHI team at University Colleges at Dublin and Cork are using HCA to analyse the functional characteristics and assess the bioavailability, efficacy and safety of bioactive milk compounds.

HCA enables the quantitative study of biological systems at the level of individual living cell. In a new approach to food ingredient analysis, FHI is applying this HCA cell-based model to its metabolic health platform. In HCA, multiple fluorescent dyes are used to visualize and characterize a cell’s biochemical, physiological and morphological responses to a milk-derived bioactive. The cells are screened for specific functional effects that may translate into bioavailable, safe and effective bioactives for foods.

Device to detect insects in stored wheat

National Manufacturing Inc., the United States, has built “insect-o-graph”, a device that can detect internal insects in wheat that are not visible to the eye or that cannot be detected by usual grading methods. The device is based on a technology developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture.

ARS engineers Mr. Tom Pearson and Mr. Dan Brabec at the Centre for Grain and Animal Health Research developed the device, which uses electrical conductance signals to monitor wheat as it is milled. If a seed containing an insect is crushed, an electrical spike occurs. The software counts the number of insects in a kilogram sample. This system can detect low levels of infestations such as 5-10 infested seeds out of 30,000 good seeds. Insect damage reduces the grain’s value, and the grain also requires additional cleaning to remove the insects and damaged kernels. With insect-o-graph, before unloading a truck or railcar of grain, a few minutes are taken to sample the load and inspect the grain. The device can estimate the number of live insects hidden in a 1 kg grain sample in about a minute.

Food and beverages analysis with magnetic levitation

Measurement of a substance’s density and other settings is important in the food industry, because they provide key information about the substance’s chemical composition. Existing devices for making those measurements are far from ideal, and a need exists for simpler, less expensive, easy-to-use technology. Dr. George Whitesides and colleagues at Harvard University, the United States, have developed a special sensor that uses magnetic levitation (maglev) to meet those needs. The sensor, which is about the size of an ice cube, consists of a fluid-filled container with magnets at each end. Samples of different materials are suspended inside, and the distance they migrate through the fluid gives a measure of their density.

The scientists showed that the device quickly estimates the salt content of different water samples and the relative fat content in different kinds of milk, cheese and peanut butter. Potential applications of maglev include evaluating the suitability of water for drinking or irrigation, assessing the fat content in foods and beverages, or monitoring processing of grains (e.g. dehusking, drying). Contact: Dr. George Whitesides, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA02138, United States of America. Tel: +1 (617) 495 9430; Fax: +1 (617) 495 9857; E-mail: gwhitesides@gmwgroup.harvard. edu.

Pulsed light may revolutionize soft drinks production

A firm pioneering the use of pulsed light to kill bugs is preparing to run the first industrial trials of the technology to decontaminate sugar syrup. The pulsed light system, developed by French firm Claranor, exposes food or packaging surfaces to bursts of white light, which have a lethal effect on microorganisms.

Small-scale tests had shown that pulsed light could kill bugs without impacting the sensory quality of sugar syrups such as sucrose, glucose and invert sugar, which were widely used in the production of soft drinks and dairy products. The ability of the system to attack heat-resistant spores such as Alicyclobacillus acidoterrestris, as well as those commonly tackled by heat, means it could also help firms avoid using preservatives and ‘clean up’ product labels.

Scientists at Campden BRI, the United Kingdom, have used the equipment to trial the technology on a range of foods from salmon to bread as well as on surfaces and closures. Test results have suggested that pulsed light could increase the shelf-life of hard cheeses by 5-7 days without affecting its organoleptic properties.

Pasteurization of dry goods

Controlled Condensation Pasteurization (CCP) is a stand-alone dry goods pasteurization system from pasteurization specialists Buhler Barth AG, Germany, and Log5 Corporation, the United States. The process pasteurizes low water activity foods such as tree nuts, groundnuts, spices, grains and preserves the natural quality of the food.

The technology is said to maintain thermal equilibrium by controlling pressure, temperature, surface condensation and moisture levels. The CCP system is natural, without involving any chemical, and can actually pasteurize in-shell groundnuts. The process involves no moisture pick-up from the produce during pasteurization. In addition, the process is said to preserve the original appearance, flavour and texture of the nuts without the cooked flavour notes.

Trials have demonstrated that CCP can deliver a guaranteed 5 log reduction in the Salmonella surrogate species Enterococcus faecium. The system can be installed before or after an existing (continuous belt) roaster for the production of roasted and pasteurized groundnuts. A four-step process, CCP involves:

  • Conditioning or preheating close to the thermal equilibrium;
  • Equilibration to the thermal equilibrium;
  • Pasteurization; and
  • Restoration or the removal of excessive surface moisture.

Processing capacity can reach 20 tonnes an hour. Operating costs are said to be about US$1.10/kg processed.

Automated technology for Salmonella testing

Confectionery manufacturers are set to benefit from Foodproof RoboPrep+ Series, a pioneering automated sample preparation and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) set-up kit for Salmonella testing in chocolate and food products, said the robotics supplier Xiril of Switzerland and Biotecon Diagnostics of Germany. The companies said that the system combines Xiril’s liquid handling instrumentation with Biotecon’s magnetic preparation technology to enable automation of sample preparation and PCR set-up for greater efficiency and data security for high-throughput routine testing of food samples for the pathogen.

Biotecon said that its Foodproof Magnetic Preparation Kit 1 is specifically designed to be used on the Xiril instruments to allow automated isolation and purification of DNA from all kinds of food matrices. The technology has been successfully tested in-house on multiple chocolate and food matrices and that it can be easily customized to a manufacturer’s specific requirements. The results are generated in about 4.5 hours following the complete process of sample preparation, set-up and post-PCR steps. The Salmonella testing system eliminates manual handling steps except in the initial loading of samples, reagents and consumables, while samples are traceable by barcode, and instruments are available with hood and UV/air cleaner. In addition, the technology enables protocol to be started with only a few mouse clicks, and then runs unattended with up to 96 samples at a time. Biotecon said the new system is currently being adapted to enable testing of additional food pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Listeria.


Preparation of an edible fat food product

Unilever NV, the Netherlands, has patented a process for the factory-scale production of a continuous edible fat food product. The process comprises the following steps:
  • Providing a mixture consisting of a fat powder and liquid oil;
  • Providing an aqueous phase;
  • Forming the continuous edible fat food product by mixing the aqueous phase and the fat mixture; and
  • Packing of the food product.
The fat powder comprises a structuring fat and the amount of fat powder in the fat mixture, based on the total amount of fat mixture, is 8-25 wt%. Prior to mixing, the fat mixture is kept at a temperature of 0°-12°C and in motion. At the time of mixing, the temperature of the aqueous phase and that of the fat mixture are equal to or below 25°C. Contact: Unilever NV, Weena 455, AL Rotterdam NL-3013, the Netherlands.

Key to the function of food ingredients

Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other agencies, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam has been successful in securing US$5 million funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to address the persisting dioxin problems in the most contaminated areas of the country.

The fund would be used to implement “Environmental Remediation of Dioxin Contaminated Hot spots in Viet Nam”, a new project with a focus on three main hot spots – Bien Hoa Airport in southern Dong Nai province, Da Nang Airport in central Da Nang City and Phu Cat Airport in central Binh Dinh province. The dioxin concentration in these three places is much higher than permitted by national and international standards.

Flavour-containing particle composition

T. Hasegawa Co. Ltd. of Japan has patented a method for producing a flavour-containing particle composition for use in food items such as chewing gum. The method involves mixing together a flavour, a sugar component, and an oily substance having a softening point of 55° to 90°C. The resulting mixture is heated to render the sugar component in a molten or semi-molten state, cooled to solidify the mixture, and the solid pulverized.

The flavour in the particle composition produced by this method does not dissipate, is completely encapsulated and has good storage stability. The composition has good powder flow characteristics, does not form lumps even under a high-humidity environment and can release the flavour at a desired timing. By increasing the particle size of the flavour-containing particle composition to some extent, the composition can have a crispy, crunchy texture. Contact: T. Hasegawa Co. Ltd., 4-14, Nihonbashi Honcho 4-chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 1038431, Japan.

Resistant starch may replace wheat flour for biscuits

Substituting wheat flour for resistant starch may be an easy way to boost the health profile of a product without affecting taste or acceptance, says a new study from Spain. Up to 40 per cent of the wheat flour in a short dough biscuit could be replaced by resistant starch without detrimentally affecting the taste, sweetness and overall acceptance, according to researchers led by Dr. Susana Fiszman from the Instituto de Agroquimica y Tecnologia de Alimentos (CSIC), Spain. Resistant starch (RS) can be found naturally in cold cooked potatoes, pasta and rice as well as baked beans and lentils. It is not digested but is fermented in the large intestine and has pre-biotic properties.

Dr. Fiszman and her co-workers formulated a range of short dough biscuits with 20, 40 or 60 per cent of the wheat flour replaced with RS. Biscuits with no RS were also formulated as a comparison. Results showed that replacement of wheat flour at the 20 and 40 per cent levels did not reduce the overall acceptability of the biscuits, compared with the control biscuits.

The best results were observed for the lowest level of RS, while the 40 per cent biscuit had slightly reduced acceptability in terms of colour, appearance and texture, and the 60 per cent RS product was not accepted by customers. The researchers state that the protein-diluting effects of RS are probably behind the effects. This would change the water content and water-retention capacity of biscuit dough, they said.

Magnetic vitamin separation

Chinese scientists have developed a novel method based on magnetic solid-phase extraction (MSPE) for removing the fat-soluble vitamins D2, E and K from foods. Dr. Li Jia and colleagues from the South China Normal University adapted an earlier type of magnetic octadecylsilane particle, which they had developed for the analysis of trace estrogens in sewage. In that case, magnetic octadecylsilica particles were prepared by coating iron oxide (magnetite) particles with silica activating with acid, and modifying with octadecyltrimethoxysilane. The silica shell protected the magnetite particles from the outer environment and activation provided hydroxyl groups for subsequent reaction with the silane.

For the vitamin work, the research team adjusted the procedure by replacing octadecyltrimethoxysilane with more reactive octadecyltrichlorosilane as the modifying agent. The particles were characterised by Fourier transform infra red (FTIR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and magnetic measurements, which revealed that C18 groups were bound to the surfaces of the magnetic particles and formed entwined chains, resulting in a porous structure.

The suitability of the new medium for MSPE of the three vitamins was tested and optimized with standard solutions. The magnetic particles, activated with aqueous acetonitrile, were dispersed in standard solutions using ultrasonication. The supernatant was decanted, rinsed with water and dispersed in acetonitrile. The best extraction solvent was 50 per cent acetonitrile, allowing 30 minutes with ultrasonication. The analytes were desorbed with 100 per cent acetonitrile over 10 minutes to give average extraction efficiencies of 67.6, 84.0 and 55.5 per cent for vitamin D2, E and K, respectively, over 0.01-1 µg/ml. The optimized method was used to extract the fat-soluble vitamins from a commercial fruit juice-milk drink. The levels of vitamin D2, E and K were found to be 5.53, 78.81 and 3.60 µg/ml, respectively. The recoveries were 83.9, 97.5 and 90.2 per cent, respectively, with relative standard deviations less than 6.0 per cent.

Engineered photosynthetic bacteria to produce sugar

In the United States, researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard Medical School have developed a method to produce sugar from photosynthetic bacteria. The innovation could reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with transporting sugar globally from producing countries, lead to greater availability of biodegradable plastics, and allow capture of harmful CO2 emissions from industrial facilities. The technology also has potential economic advantages. Because the production methods use photosynthesis, the cost of making sugars, lactic acid and other compounds would be significantly lower than traditional methods.

Wyss Institute senior staff scientist Dr. Jeffrey Way, said: “What we are doing is using genetic engineering to get organisms to act the way we want them to, in this case producing food additives. These discoveries have significant practical implications in moving towards a green economy.”


Flakes to boost shelf-life of baked goods

New flake ingredients, based on an ancient barley variety, can extend the shelf-life of multi-grain breads, rolls and bagels, claims Kampffemeyer Food Innovation, Germany. StoneAge barley flakes consist of 95 per cent of amylopectin and a high content of cholesterol-lowering beta glucans.

Kampffmeyer has conducted successful trials on the inclusion of the flakes at multi-grain bread manufacturers in Germany. The bakers produced bread and rolls using 40 per cent of the barley flakes combined with wheat or rye, with no negative effect on taste, texture or colour in the final product, said Ms. Bettina Zeuch, the company’s Product Manager.

The light colour of the flakes and their mild aromatic taste make them suitable also for product decoration applications. Furthermore, said Ms. Zeuch, the high amylopectin content of the barley ingredient enables delayed retrogradation and thus extend shelf-life for baked goods by up to 20 per cent depending on the quantity of wheat flour and flakes used.

Antioxidant-rich groundnut skins may boost meat shelf-life

Extracts from groundnut (peanut) skin that are rich in antioxidants may preserve the colour of raw beef and slow its spoilage, suggests a new study by researchers from North Carolina A&T State University, the United States. According to their findings, peanut skin extracts (PSE) at a level of about 0.06 per cent were as effective as the synthetic preservatives butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) at a level of 0.02 per cent.

Dr. Jianmei Yu and colleagues investigated the effects of a PSE to inhibit the oxidation of lipids in cooked and raw ground beef. They did not observe any undesirable discolouration or off-flavour in treated meat at 0.06 to 0.1 per cent dose range. Results showed that adding PSE to ground beef before cooking significantly inhibited the formation of peroxides and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) in cooked ground beef during the refrigerated storage. The extract preserved the meat pigments, thereby maintaining the “fresh redness of treated meat”, they stated. Therefore, the researchers concluded, PSE at that concentration range may be used as “a safe and effective natural antioxidant to inhibit lipid and myoglobin oxidation in cooked and raw/fresh beef, respectively, as to prevent the development of warmed-over flavour in cooked meat and discolouration in fresh/raw meat.”

Innovative coating technology boosts food freshness

Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology (FEP) have developed a method to coat plastic foils with a very thin barrier layer that keeps out humidity and oxygen, the main culprits of food deterioration. In addition to extending freshness, the new coating is transparent, allowing the consumer to visually appraise the food.

The key technology that enables this innovation is a vacuum-based, roll-to-roll coating process that can coat several thousand square metres of foil in a single hour. The foil – which can be of a common plastic like polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP) or polylactic acid (PLA) – is coated with a very thin layer of a natural oxide, which hinders the diffusion of humidity or oxygen into the package. This technology provides one of the most effective barriers against moisture for transparent foils to date, FEP claims.

As the roll-to-roll barrier coating is suitable for a wide spectrum of polymeric materials, the technology is applicable and affordable for a broad product range, says Dr. Nicolas Schiller, Head of FEP’s Coating of Flexible Products Business Unit. The nanometre-thin coating also helps conserve resources, since the barrier can be a hundred times thinner than traditional layers while retaining the same barrier properties. In addition, the new technique eliminates chlorine, a chemistry traditionally used in the production of polymeric barriers. Applied Materials Inc., Germany, worked closely with FEP in commercializing this technology. The effort further benefited by its collaboration with Biofilm S.A., Colombia, a manufacturer of packaging materials. The first plant to use this new plasma-assisted vacuum web coating technology in production is Biofilm’s facility in Mexico. Contact: Dr. Nicolas Schiller, Head, Coating of Flexible Products Business Unit, Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam & Plasma Technology FEP, Winterbergstraße 28, 01277 Dresden, Germany. Tel: +49 (351) 2586131; Fax: +49 (351) 2586105; E-mail:

Gene leads to longer shelf-life for tomatoes

A researcher at the Purdue University, the United States, has found a sort of fountain of youth for tomatoes that extends their shelf life by about a week. Dr. Avtar Handa, a horticulture professor, found that adding a yeast gene increases the production of a compound that slows aging and delays microbial decay in tomatoes. Dr. Handa said the results could apply to most fruits.

The organic compound spermidine is a polyamine found in all living cells. Dr. Handa and Dr. Autar Mattoo, a plant physiologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture, had shown earlier that polyamines such as spermidine and spermine enhance the nutritional and processing quality of tomato fruits. “At least a few hundred genes are influenced by polyamines,” Dr. Mattoo said. “We see that spermidine is important in reducing aging.”

Ms. Savithri Nambeesan, who was a graduate student in Dr. Handa’s laboratory, introduced the yeast spermidine synthase gene, which led to increased production of spermidine in the tomatoes. Fully ripe tomatoes from those plants lasted about eight days longer before showing signs of shrivelling compared with non-transgenic plants. Decay and rot symptoms associated with fungi were delayed by about three days. Dr. Handa said tomato growers, and possibly other fruit growers too, could use the finding soon, if they wanted, through either transgenic plants or using natural breeding methods. “We can add this gene to the tomatoes or look at natural variation and select the cultivars that already have a high level of this gene’s expression,” he said.


Production of fermented milk and fermented milk beverage

Calpis Ltd., Japan, has secured a United States patent on a method for producing fermented milk with excellent taste and flavour. The method also enables effective production of certain peptides having useful functions, such as antihypertensive effect, in the resulting fermented milk. The invention also provides milk food and beverages utilizing the fermented milk. The method includes the steps of: enzymatically digesting animal milk casein with proteases such as papain; and fermenting milk casein with lactic acid bacteria to produce valyl-prolyl-proline (VPP), isoleucine-proline-proline (IPP) and a dipeptide (YP) in the resulting fermented milk. Thus the milk food and beverages produced using the method would contain fermented milk and VPP, IPP and YP.

Nano whey protein may extend beverage innovations

Taking whey proteins down to the nano-scale may boost their heat stability as well as help produce clear whey beverages, suggest new research from the Department of Food Science and Technology of University of Tennessee, the United States. Whey protein nanoparticles were produced by incorporating whey protein in microemulsions – a technique that boosted the heat stability of the whey, and produced transparent particles that could lead to clear beverages.

“The improved heat stability and reduced turbidity of whey protein nanoparticles may enable novel applications of whey proteins in beverages,” said Dr. Weinong Zhang and Dr. Qixin Zhong. Normally, whey proteins can clump together and form gels when heated. The whey protein nanoparticles produced were found to have significantly increased heat stability, with particles produced at pH 6.8 more stable than those produced at pH 3.5. In addition, the whey protein nanoparticles that measured less than 100 nm were found to be transparent, which could be utilized in clear beverages.

Mulberry fruit syrup and jam

The Sericulture Division of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST), India, has developed a technology for the production of mulberry fruit syrup and jam. The technology is the outcome of three years of research work aimed at adding to the income of growers and creating more employment options. The Head of SKUAST Sericulture Division, Dr. Afifa Kamili, said that mulberry fruit jam and syrup have high medicinal and nutritional values. She said that the fruit has a high content of vitamin C, and anthocynin that helps in controlling blood pressure and cholesterol level. She claimed the mulberry fruit syrup (juice) to be more refreshing a drink than any other similar fruit drinks available in the market.

Low-energy decanter for beverage technology

The German processing equipment manufacturer GEA Westfalia Separator has succeeded in constructing GCF 465 decanter, a clarifying decanter with fundamentally enhanced performance and reduced operating and service costs than earlier models. The decanter delivers high throughput capacities with reduced energy requirement and optimum price-performance ratio. Despite the high throughput capacity and the sharply increased torque, the specific energy requirement is low.

The GCF 465 decanter is designed as a deep-pond machine. The small solids discharge diameter produces a relatively high liquid level in the bowl, which in turn means a correspondingly high filling volume. Throughput capacity and clarification efficiency are consequently higher. The clarifying decanter is operated under pressure using a centripetal pump, thus largely avoiding oxygen intake. This is important for its application in the clarification of oxygen-sensitive wine, must or fruit juice.

GEA Westfalia Separator achieved low energy consumption by reducing the solids discharge diameter. As a result, the geometry of the bearing hub on the liquid side was able to be modified to further reduce the energy consumption. The decanter is rated for capacities of 5 to 10 t/h for wine and fruit juice clarification, and 10 to 15 t/h for must clarification. Contact: GEA Westfalia Separator GmbH, Werner-Habig-Straße 1, Oelde 59302, Germany. Tel: +49 (2522) 770; Fax: +49 (2522) 772 488.

Calcium-boosting soy ingredient for drinks

Solbar Industries Ltd., Israel, is launching a new stabilized and fortified soy protein isolate to help formulators boost the protein and calcium content of beverages. Solpro 735 is designed to help companies developing alternatives to dairy, with major applications expected to be calcium fortified soy drinks and other soy beverages.

“The calcium fortification brings the calcium level of Solpro 735 to 3 per cent while protein level is 80 per cent. Cow’s milk contains typically 3 per cent protein and 0.12 per cent calcium,” said Mr. David Kraus, Global Application Manager. Solpro 735 is made using calcium phosphate, which is the main form of calcium found in bovine milk, except that here it is made from soy protein. The ingredient is easy to formulate with: it is dispersible even in cold water and requires minimal preparation time.

The product has a crème/off-white colour but it is suitable for different coloured drinks and has a bland profile and a low viscosity. In terms of applications, Solpro 735 is suitable for any drink in need of calcium fortification. The ingredient can be used for dry beverage blends and other powdered drinks that are be reconstituted with water or juice before consumption. Equally, it can be used in ready to drink beverages as well as those that are processed at ultra high-temperature (UHT).


Layer multiplication technique

Extrusion Dies Industries LLC (EDI), the United States, has developed a microlayer technology for thick film and sheet that promises to extend the shelf life of retort, hot fill and flexible food packaging. The layer multiplier is a special tool that can be engineered to multiply some or all of the layers within a co-extrusion “sandwich” provided by a feedblock. The resulting microlayer structure then passes into the manifold of an extrusion die, where it is transformed into film or sheet of target width and thickness profile. Despite the number of microlayers, the overall thickness is no greater than that of a conventional co-extrusion, and the amount of raw material used remains the same.

By transforming a single layer of a resin such as ethyl vinyl alcohol (EVOH) into several microlayers, it is possible to reduce oxygen transmission rate (OTR) by 60 to 80 per cent, the company claims. The resulting benefits for food packaging include prolonged shelf-life, enhanced quality and lower material consumption. EDI used a commercial cup mould to pressure-form a sheet with 1, 4, 8 and 16 EVOH layers. All were 50 mil in thickness, with skin layers of polypropylene and tie layers between the skins and an EVOH core. Barrier resins included a general-purpose EVOH and a “retort” grade of EVOH. Thirty days after retort, cups with a single layer of the “retort” grade of EVOH exhibited 3-6 times higher OTR than cups where a layer of similar material had been multiplied.

Aluminium bottles for beverage packaging

The novel Coil to Can (C2C) aluminium bottle manufacturing technology from Exal Corporation, the United States, features recyclable aluminium alloy and enables marketers to consider aluminium bottles for large-scale beverage packaging. This hybrid process marries the manufacturing speed and lightweight characteristics of standard drawn and ironed aluminium can technology with shaping technology to create highly stylized bottle design options. The C2C manufacturing process uses less material and higher speeds to enable a significant weight reduction at a cost comparable to PET or glass. C2C aluminium bottles weigh about 40 per cent lower than impact-extruded aluminium bottles. While C2C bottle is thinner than impact-extruded bottle, it is stronger in container deformation and burst strength. In addition, less metal and higher run speed offers a competitive pricing.

Flexible, edible food packaging

Scientists from the Izmir Institute of High Technology (IYTE), Turkey, have developed flexible packaging materials by incorporating substances such as egg white and corn protein into edible film. They hope to see production of the new product within three to four years. “Scientists from around the world have previously developed edible food packaging; however, they face the problem of fragility because their films for edible packaging are not flexible and can easily break when in use. Our research has resulted in flexible film for edible food packaging,” said Prof. Ahmet Yemenicioglu from the IYTE Department of Food Engineering and one of the scientists involved in the project. Prof. Yemenicioglu also said the film of edible food packaging includes many proteins as well as natural substances that are able to kill bacteria in food while other plastic packaging only protects the food against dust and humidity, but cannot kill microbes.

Servo drive technology for packaging equipment

In the United Kingdom, KHS, a provider of filling and packaging equipment in the beverage industry, has implemented IndraDrive Mi decentralized servo drive technology from Bosch Rexroth. IndraDrive Mi combines high power density with full functionality. It is equipped with several advanced technical functions, including integrated Motion Logic. With this capability, totally new decentralized automation architectures become possible. The IndraDrive Mi’s motor housing surface serves as a heat sink for the drive’s control electronics, which are mounted flat on the motor, creating little change in its shape. Additional drives can be added in the future, without requiring changes to the control cabinet.

Using the new integrated motor/drive concept, KHS has built a machine to shrink-wrap wine bottles. Along with compatible shrink wrappers, the machine provides the complete power range at 35-150 cycles/minute in continuous operation. The machines package cans, jars and bottles as well as pre-packaged products in the beer, soft-drink, hygiene, food and non-food industries. The drive is controlled by Rexroth’s Motion Logic for one to three-row processing, where the speed automatically adjusts to match the actual line capacity. Downtime is reduced because of the high degree of user-friendliness and the diagnostic system, which is integrated into the HMI screens.

KHS is able to combine the machine modules with greater flexibility using IndraDrive Mi technology. For example, with the addition of two modules, a shrink packer becomes a tray shrink packer: simply, two additional IndraDrive Mi drives are added to the existing seven, with no change in the control cabinet. Contact: Bosch Rexroth, 15 Cromwell Road, St. Neots, Huntingdon PE19 2ES, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1480) 223200; Fax: +44 (1480) 219052; E-mail:; Website:

Eco-friendly food packaging

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is using atomic layer deposition (ALD) to reduce oil-based plastics and aluminium in packaging, and thus provide environment-friendly packaging coating for food and pharmaceutical items. The coating provides a way for recyclable, thin, air-tight and lightweight packaging materials to be produced with less aluminium. VTT can also improve the humidity tolerance as well as the performance of bio-polymers, reducing the need for oil-based plastics.

VTT uses the ALD reactor for the chemical composition of thin film, and produces a flexible film with the accuracy of one atomic layer. With VTT’s coating, barrier materials can prevent molecules from penetrating the packaging, which helps to prevent humidity, drying or oxidation. Other functions can also be integrated into the packaging material to help prevent surface staining and bacterial growth, VTT said.


New laser sorter for nuts, peas and beans

A new ‘self-learning’ optical laser sorter system combines shape, colour and structure functionality to aid improved defect monitoring and minimize false rejects while checking tree nuts, beans, peas and berries, says its manufacturer Visys NV of Belgium. Visys’ Python Smart Optical Laser Sorter is the first sensor-based tooling system to provide shape and colour analysis with foreign matter detection based on cell structure, the company claims.

Python optical laser sorter uses Apollys Neural Network Technology for advanced shape recognition and “becomes self-learning in that it adapts its settings to the quality of the product it is sorting, and lowers the amount of false rejects in doing so,” says Mr. Frank Zwerts, Visys CEO. If products are highly contaminated with foreign matter or are suddenly longer or bigger in shape, the Python will adjust accordingly, he explained. The aflatoxin detection sorting option available on its Spyder and Lynx digital laser sorters is also possible with the Python, he adds.

Twin-shaft batch mixers for bulk dairy powders

Twin-shaft mixers from Forberg International AS, Norway, are widely used in food powder mixing applications for the mixing consistency (coefficient of variation of 5 or less) achieved batch after batch in only short mixing time (30-120 seconds). Branch-specific demands have led to the development of tailor-made machines. The main task for mixers in powder applications in the dairy industry is to mix bulk powders, like whole milk powders, skimmed milk powders, maltodextrin and sucrose with various micro ingredients like vitamins, minerals and probiotics.

The final product has consistent quality and fulfils the highest quality demands. Foberg mixers are specially designed o match the high standards, especially in infant formula production. Hygienic equipment design conforms to the best standards and accepted practices. The possibility for residue and bacteria growth is minimized, as there are no cavities or rough surfaces inside the mixer where product could be trapped, and all internal corners are rounded and product contact surfaces are polished.

Forberg design allows the mixers to be used for long periods without intervention and minumum downtime. Contact: Forberg International AS, Hegdalveien 77, N-3261 Larvik, Norway. Tel: +47 (33) 133434; Fax: +47 (33) 133435; E-mail:; Website:

Spray dryers

ProSoya Inc., Canada, offers spray dryers that are relatively simple to operate. The dryers accept fluids and convert them into dried particulate form by spraying them into a hot drying medium. Feed atomization is done using a high-pressure nozzle, high-pressure air or two fluid nozzles.

The heating method of drying can be with steam coils, thermic fluid or an air heater, according to the service conditions available. Hot air is distributed into the chamber from the top by an air dispenser. The fines produced are taken from the top/centre along with air to a cyclone separator and separated, with the final powder being collected at the bottom of the separator.

ProSoya spray dryer ensures less wear and tear of atomizing system due to the absence of any moving parts, and less down time for maintenance purposes. The dryer offers the flexibility of drying different products in one dryer and in controlling powder quality. Other features include the possibility of expanding capacity up to 100 per cent, and a winch-driven special cleaning lift. Additional systems for operations such as fines recycling into the chamber for agglomeration, powder cooling, conveying, storage and bagging are optional. Contact: ProSoya Inc., 2-5310 Canotek Road, Ottawa, ON K1J 9N5. Tel: +1 (613) 745 9115; Fax: +1 (613) 745 2045; E-mail:


Innovations in food labelling

Innovations in food labelling provides information about the principles and requirements of food labelling and reviews the latest trends in this very important area. Following an introduction on the evolution of food labelling, further chapters cover the Codex Alimentarius and food labelling, international trade agreements, nutrition labelling, food allergies, and food labels and environmental and social labels, among other topics. This book is essential reference for food regulatory agencies, food law experts and professionals in the food industry responsible for labelling, as well as for consumer and environmental associations with an interest in labelling.

Contact: Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Abington Hall, Granta Park, Great Abington, Cambridge CB21 6AH, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1223) 891358; Fax: +44 (1223) 893694; E-mail:

Chemical Deterioration and Physical Instability of Food and Beverages

For a food product to succeed in the marketplace, it must be stable throughout its shelf-life. Quality deterioration due to chemical changes and alterations in condition due to physical instability can be just as problematic as microbial spoilage. This book provides an authoritative review of key topics in this area. Chapters in part one focus on the chemical reactions that can negatively affect food quality, such as oxidative rancidity, and their measurement. Part two reviews quality deterioration associated with physical changes, such as moisture loss, gain and migration, crystallization and emulsion breakdown. Contributions in the following section outline the likely effects on different foods and beverages, including bakery products, fruit and vegetables, ready-to-eat meals and wine. The book is very useful for food industry professionals and researchers with an interest in this subject.

Contact: Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Abington Hall, Granta Park, Great Abington, Cambridge CB21 6AH, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1223) 891358; Fax: +44 (1223) 893694; E-mail:


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