VATIS Update Food Processing . Mar-Apr 2006

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Food Processing Mar-Apr 2007

ISSN: 0971-5649

VATIS Update Food Processing is published 4 times a year to keep the readers up to date of most of the relevant and latest technological developments and events in the field of Food Processing. The Update is tailored to policy-makers, industries and technology transfer intermediaries.

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All eyes set on Indian food processing market

According to the 2005 Food Processing Industry: Asia-Pacific report, the Indian food processing market is expected to show strong growth due to consumers changing food patterns and rising incomes. Indias food processing sector is reported to be one of the largest, in terms of production, consumption and export-import prospects. It is also estimated that this market would attract a phenomenal investment in capital, human resources, technology and finance of over US$32.1 million by 2010.

With a robust economy tipped to grow by 7-7.5 per cent in 2005-06, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) report identified India as the only economy capable of maintaining growth rates of above three per cent until 2050. The middle class in the worlds second most populous nation is growing wealthier and seeking greater diversity in food products. According to Amber Waves, a research report published by the United States Department of Agriculture, the average Indian household spends about 55 per cent of its income on food, a share much higher than that spent by households in developed countries!

FHA2006, which consists of seven specialized components catering to the respective needs of the food and hospitality sector, offers Indian buyers comprehensive solutions to their respective front and back-end needs. Indian companies have been using FHA as a platform to source for and procure the latest food and hospitality supplies and equipment to fulfil their business needs. About 4-5 firms are expected to launch new products at this international trade event.

Contact: Ms. Vibha Mittal, Mileage Communications Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India. Tel: +91 (11) 2651 1423/2651 1342


China, Korea for early warning system for food safety

According to Chinas Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, China and the Republic of Korea are scheduled to launch a bilateral early warning system concerning food safety. According to the Ministry, the system, whose details are yet to be decided, evolved from the first bilateral quarantine council meeting held in Beijing. The parties agreed to hold regular quarantine meetings to fine-tune and concretize the warning system. The councils next meeting is to be held in Seoul late this year or in early 2007.


Malaysia-Indonesia palm oil pact

Major palm oil producers from the private sector in Malaysia and Indonesia have forged a historic pact to try to prevent unhealthy and disruptive competition in the industry, which brings in billions in annual income for each country. The two nations, which produce a combined 80 per cent of the worlds palm oil, will soon sign a government-to-government agreement following the successful cooperation pact between private sector players of both countries.

The Malaysian Minister of Plantation Enterprises and Commodities, Mr. Peter Chin Fah Kui, stated that the private sector business councils of the two countries signed the pact during Prime Minister Mr. Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawis meeting with the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. According to the accord, private sector palm oil players on both sides would set up an avenue to cooperate in areas such as R&D, export trade links, information sharing, etc.


Indian measures to boost food processing sector

In India, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (FPI) initiated several promotional measures in 2005 aimed at taking the food processing sector to new heights of development and phenomenal growth. Some of the measures announced for the 2005-06 period include:

1. Excise duty of US$22.36/t of refined edible oil and US$27.95/t of vanaspati abolished;
2. Customs duty on refrigerated vans reduced from 20 per cent to 10 per cent;
3. Institutional/HRD support:
  • Twelve food processing training centres have been set up to train rural entrepreneurs in various parts of the country; and
  • Ninety entrepreneurial development programmes were launched to give training to a minimum of 1,800 potential entrepreneurs.

4. Schematic and other support:

  • Financial assistance amounting to about US$10.07 million sanctioned for 171 FPI units attracting investments to the tune of approximately US$60.376 million from the private sector;
  • Two new food parks one each at Adoor, Kerala, and Murshidabad, West Bengal have been set up. An additional nine food parks have been made partly operational, thus, taking the total of such food parks to 22;
  • Assistance sanctioned for 15 food labs/pilot plants;
  • Project approval procedures streamlined, fortnightly PAC meetings are being held and clearance expedited;
  • A time frame for processing project cases prescribed for the first time;
  • FPI has prepared a Vision Plan for growth that seeks to raise the following processing level of perishables from 6 per cent to 20 per cent, value addition from the present level of 20 per cent to 34 per cent and share in global trade from 1 per cent to 3 per cent.
  • A draft national agribusiness policy, has been envisioned for speedy development of the food processing sector, envisages reduction in wastage, rise in the level of processing, enhancement in value addition, generation of employment, provision of remunerative income to farmers, etc.
  • Food safety and standard bill 2005: At
    present, thirteen different laws affect food and the food processing sector. Multiple laws/regulations prescribe varied standards with regard to food additives, contaminants, food colours, preservatives and labelling. In order to rationalize this multiplicity of food laws, a Group of Ministers was set up to suggest legislative and other changes to formulate a modern integrated food law that would serve as a single reference point in relation to regulation of food products. A draft Food Safety and Standard Bill 2005 has been prepared and the same introduced in the Lok Sabha on 25.08.2005. The Bill is presently under examination by the Standing Committee of Parliament on Agriculture.


India provides tax break to food processing firms

In India, there are several schemes that provide financial assistance for setting up and modernizing food processing units, creation of infrastructure support for R&D activities and upgrading skills to promote the food processing industries. Moreover, this year the government has allowed the food processing sector hundred per cent deduction of profit under the Income Tax Act for five years in case of new agro-processing industries. The food processing sector is exempted from excise duty on processed items and vegetable products. To further promote the food processing sector, the government has fully waived the excise duty of 16 per cent on dairy machinery. Additionally, a national mission was launched in April this year to boost the horticulture sector. The countrys estimated value addition in the food processing sector is about 20 per cent.


Viet Nam lowers sugar prices

In Viet Nam, sugar prices are decreasing after the government permitted imports of several thousand tonnes to ease domestic supply shortfalls. Weather conditions in recent months have delayed the sugar cane harvest, causing a shortage in the key raw material for food makers. Six firms were selected to import sugar, most likely from Thailand (owing to its proximity), although it is unclear whether any of the imports have yet reached the country. Imported sugar from Thailand currently costs US$410/t, US$57 more than imports from Northern Europe. Thailand is also experiencing shortages in domestic production.


Ministry to the rescue of Vietnamese seafood exporters

Mr. Ho Quoc Luc, President of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, has stated that the quality of products would be crucial for the seafood industry to comply with the strict prerequisites required of importers and achieve its export targets this year. The seafood industry has targeted US$2.8 billion in seafood exports this year, an increase of 5.66 per cent over 2005. Since 1 January 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration has mandated food processors to list and label nutritional and protein content in seafood, milk and eggs. The European Union has also instituted new regulations on the hygiene of feed, with strict reporting requirements that entail feed producers to raise responsibility.

In order to overcome technical barriers in meeting stricter hygiene requirements, Viet Nams Ministry of Fisheries would continue to assist seafood processors. The Ministry will intensify inspection for antibiotic residues and other banned chemicals in products meant for export, particularly seafood exported to the United States and Canada, such as shrimp, crab and catfish.


China to revamp food and drug safety sector

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) of China plans to overhaul its food and drug safety market over the next five years. The plan aims to expand Chinas food safety supervision network to more than 90 per cent of its counties by the end of 2010. SFDA will establish evaluation systems for medicines and medical apparatus, as well as evaluate traditional medicines.


Indonesian processed food exports tipped to increase

The Indonesian Association of Food and Beverage producers (Gapmmi) predicts that the countrys earnings from processed food exports in 2006 would reach about US$2 billion, up by US$0.3 billion over the US$1.7 billion recorded in 2005. Mr. Thomas Darmawan, Gapmmi chairman, stated that if primary products like coconut and cocoa are included, the export value would touch US$4.5 billion. However, Indonesias import of processed foods is also estimated to reach about US$1 billion in 2006, and with agricultural products like fruits, the import value could reach US$3 billion, Mr. Darmawan added.


Malaysia to set cocoa exports record

The Malaysian cocoa board anticipates that cocoa exports during 2005 would set a new record. Cocoa exports in the first nine months of 2005 jumped 21 per cent to US$386 million from US$320 million over the same period in 2004. Director-General of the Malaysian cocoa board, Dr. Azhar Ismail, has attributed the record figures to increased consumption in traditional markets such as the United States and Europe, along with Malaysian cocoa products infiltrating new markets in Ukraine and Romania.

Malaysia is currently deploying a two-fold strategy to try to decrease growing cocoa imports while at the same time concentrating on building exports of cocoa products. Mr. Laurent Pipitone of the International Cocoa Organization said Malaysia is expected to increase its production of cocoa products and continue to prosper through exports. Mr. Pipitone noted, however, that Asias role in cocoa production, especially in relation to beans, is far behind that of Africa.


Sucralose breakthrough

Pharmed Medicare, India, has developed a new process to manufacture sucralose. The patent-pending technology is expected to end the monopoly enjoyed till now by the United Kingdom-based company Tate and Lyle in the sweeteners market. Plans to establish a 1,000 t/y plant dedicated for the production of sucralose are already afoot. According to Pharmed President Mr. Sundeep Aurora, the proprietary technology was developed from scratch and is the result of five years of dedicated scientific research and engineering.

The sweeteners market is very attractive. Sectoral growth is pitched at about 8.3 per cent year on year until 2008, far outpacing food industry growth currently pegged at around 3-4 per cent. As more and more consumers are increasingly turning to sugar-free and low-calorie products, food makers are on the lookout for cheap sugar alternatives.



Sensor for quick detection of pathogens

An engineer at Drexel University, the United States, has developed a cheap, quick and simple sensor that allows for the detection of pathogens like Escherichia coli or Listeria within 10 minutes. The hand-held device fabricated by Mr. Raj Mutharasan enables food manufacturers to test their products before they are shipped out of the plant. Increasing regulatory emphasis on food safety in plants and expensive recalls have spurred food companies to seek faster ways to identify pathogens.

The device works by detecting how the mass of a few E. coli cells changes the vibration of a miniature glass beam. The sensor comprises a sliver of glass, 5 1 mm (length width), fixed at one end and with a layer of piezoelectric ceramic called lead zirconate titanate (PZT) glued to the other end. The glass sliver is coated  with antibodies to E. coli 0157:H7, the strain that causes food-borne illness. An alternating voltage applied to the piezoelectric layer makes it expand and contract, causing the sliver to vibrate. Vibration is greatest at the slivers resonant frequency, which can be detected by measuring the voltage across the PZT generated by the  reverse piezoelectric effect, as it peaks at the resonant frequency. Changes in the resonant frequency, as E. coli cells bind to the antibodies, provide a measure of the concentration of the pathogen. To ensure that only E. coli cells sit on the sliver, the testing procedure takes place in moving fluid.


Freshness detector

Scientists at Voronezh Technological Academy, Russia, have developed a sensor that smells meats gases to determine if it is fresh and how long it has been kept in storage. Meat stored in freezers deteriorate over time in part due to the interaction of meat tissues with atmospheric oxygen. However, the extent of oxidation is difficult to determine by smell. The key to this problem is a device that is impossible to deceive by masking odours, for example with spices. The new sensor takes a reading of gases present above the meats surface with several electrodes, which help identify gases emitted by proadipose and muscular tissue oxidation through a piezoelectric micro-weighing process.


Industrial steamer zaps bacteria

AmeriVaps industrial steamer replaces chemicals with superheated water to eliminate bacteria. The new Xtreme Steam machine is an excellent alternative to the use of chemicals presently employed to clean equipment at food plants as chemicals could lead to faster equipment corrosion. Xtreme superheats water, then electronically releases and directs it as dry steam. The portable, self-contained unit heats water to between 104 and 185C.  The dry steam, which contains 5 per cent moisture, allows a surface to dry almost instantly, removing dirt, degreasing and killing bacteria and other micro-organisms instantly. This technology has demonstrated a kill ratio of 99.9 per cent and can be used on wrappers, conveyor chains, belts, sprockets, scales, sensors, refrigeration systems, electrical panels, circuit boards, gaskets, slicers and dicers.


Pathogen tester

A new pathogen testing instrument launched by DuPont Qualicon could help speed up the process of ensuring that food products meet regulatory requirements. BAX Q7, which is more flexible than previous versions of the testing system, combines safety and quality testing features to allow for assays that provide new and meaningful information on food samples, e.g. presence and amount of multiple microbes in a single sample.

BAX Q7 can utilize both real-time and end-point detection methods to identify up to five different dyes used for probe-based detection, as well as intercalating dyes. This allows testers to use the best chemistry to match the needs of the assay. It finishes 40 cycles of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in less than two hours, leading to faster results. Also, for the first time, food makers can use the same automated platform for both safety and quality testing. BAX Q7 is the result of an alliance formed earlier last year between DuPont and Applied Biosystems, a unit of Applera Corp. DuPont Qualicon plans to develop additional technologies to shorten the entire testing process.


Dual-use analyser

TA.XTplus texture analyser from Stable Micro Systems, the United Kingdom, can be used to test the strength of the packaging too. TA.XTplus is used to measure the strength and resilience of film-like foods, including confectionery strips, leaf gelatine, nori, rice paper and wafer thin. The Film Support Rig, a new attachment developed for the analyser, allows manufacturers to assess the mechanical properties of sheet packaging materials like shrink wrapping, plastic film, foil and bakery parchment.


PCR assay to detect Campylobacter jejuni

A highly specific, fast and sensitive PCR-based method for detecting Campylobacter jejuni has been developed in China. C. jejuni a species of curved, rod-shaped bacteria is responsible for an estimated 14 per cent of diarrhoea worldwide. Possible sources of infection include non-pasteurized milk and undercooked meat products, while the major source is poultry and poultry products. Current detection methods are time-consuming and arduous, hampered by the fact that the infective dose of C. jejuni is very small as few as 500 cells are estimated to be sufficient to cause illness in humans.

The new method developed by researchers from Shantou University, Xiamen University and the Inspection and Quarantine Bureau involves isolation of the target pathogen by immunocapture using a polymerase chain reaction. Two species-specific gene sequences have been identified that allow for detection by fluorescent PCR. Special sequences in the flaA gene and hipO gene were reported to be specific to C. jejuni and were also anti-jamming, which means the sequences in C. jejuni can be detected even in a bacterial mixture. This method has exhibited its ability to positively identify C. jejuni in the presence of 13 different bacteria.



Solubilization technology applied to isoflavones

AquaNova has applied its solubilization technology to soya isoflavones, resulting in a fat- and water-soluble form that has been exhibited to greatly improve bioavailability. NovaSol, AquaNovas carrier system, utilizes product micelles just 30 nm in diameter to encapsulate the active substances. Normally, the human body must convert nutrients into product micelles before it can use them. By delivering them ready micellized, the technology cuts down on the amount that would otherwise be lost in the conversion process. AquaNova recently obtained a European patent for its new isoflavone technology, called NovaSOL ISO.

Soya isoflavones are well-known phytoestrogens active substances derived from plants that have a weak oestrogen-like action. They have been studied for their role in cancer prevention and slowing down the ageing process in pre-menopausal women and have proved to be a popular alternative to hormone replacement therapy for those wishing to control menopause symptoms without resorting to drugs. NovaSol ISO is much better and faster absorbed than traditional formulas. Since nano-particles containing the isoflavones have a higher aqueous distribution, access to the membranes responsible for uptake is increased.


Flavour perceptions to aid tastier food

A new technology from Danisco can reportedly harmonize flavours with other food ingredients and, for the first time, human perceptions of flavour. According to the company, the groundbreaking Commonsense Flavour Technology can create a real-time picture of how human perceptions of flavour change when the food is chewed and swallowed. One of the key technologies behind the development of Commonsense Flavours is proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry, which makes it possible to measure flavour components released while natural and processed foods and beverages are being consumed. These measurements make it possible to obtain a precise picture of how consumers perceive the taste of the food they eat and specific constituents behind consumer preferences data that are then utilized in the development of highly targeted Commonsense Flavours.


Functional antioxidant powder from citrus peel

Researchers from Kyunpook National University, the Republic of Korea, and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, India, have developed a functional powder from waste citrus peel. This new ingredient can easily replace synthetic antioxidants such as butylated-hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated-hydroxytoluene (BHT) currently used in the food industry. The functional powder is a cheaper and safer alternative to synthetic antioxidants, which studies have reported to be potential toxins or carcinogens. Citrus peel, a major by-product from juice production, is known to be rich in polyphenols, potent antioxidants.

Researchers prepared the citrus peel powder by finely grinding frozen peels and extracting with 70 per cent ethanol. The powder was then irradiated to eliminate micro-organisms. Previous studies have shown that irradiation at 20 kGy is optimum for sterilization without altering the physiological activities. The powder was characterized in terms of phenolic content and antioxidant activity against DPPH radicals, -carotene bleaching and nitrite scavenging.


Tailor-made ingredient solution

Guisto Faravelli, Italy, has launched a range of functional food formulations based on stabilizers, hydrocolloids and emulsifiers. According to the company, the new systems have been designed to help manufacturers achieve ideal texture and stability in finished products like confectionery, ice cream and sauces. An R&D team helps each customer obtain tailor-made systems.

Hydrocolloids are generically polysaccharides that can come from plants locust bean gum, tara gum, guar gum, pectin, starches seaweed, synthesis or biosynthesis xanthan gum, gellan gum, etc. Guisto Faravelli reports that its blend of hydrocolloids, stabilizers and emulsifiers offer food makers a unique means to precisely define texture, viscosity and mouth-feel of various finished products. The company can also supply modern and well-equipped laboratories to analyse and test raw materials and finished products, along with pilot plants for small-scale productions and trial lots.


Nanotech antioxidant system

AquaNovas cutting-edge nanotech antioxidant system for essential oils and flavours, marketed under AquaNovas NovaSol brand as NovaSol CT, is designed to help manufacturers introduce antioxidants into food and beverage products easily and effectively. The breakthrough is that the product is a ready-to-use clear solution that is both water- and fat-soluble. Tiny nano-particles, known as miscelles, carry anything from vitamin C to vitamin E or Q10 to vitamin A. Additionally, the technology also renders hydrophilic substances fat soluble and lipophilic ones water-soluble. Furthermore, AquaNova reports that the process leaves the substances chemically unmodified and guarantees mechanical, thermal and pH stability. NovaSol CT is specifically targeted at food and beverage manufacturers looking to introduce vitamin C and vitamin E into their product range.


Natural tasting citrus flavours

Frutarom, Israel, has developed a processing technology capable of maintaining the true natural flavour of citrus fruit. Citrus Zest makes use of cold processing technology and represents a new generation in natural citrus ingredients. Mr. Yoni Glickman, manager of Frutaroms fine ingredients division, expressed that this breakthrough allows for retention of the full flavour profile of the natural fruit. Traditional processing of citrus oil creates burnt notes and takes away the essential flavour. Moreover, the new technology platform can be used across the whole citrus spectrum.

The unique process is reported to provide for better consistency and stability, resulting in longer delivery of the fruits freshness. Citrus fruits are abundant in limonoids phytochemicals being investigated by scientists for their anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-malarial powers.



EU sets dioxin and PCB levels for food and feed

The European Commission has stipulated the maximum levels for dioxins and PCBs in food, amid escalating fears in three European Union (EU) countries where pig and poultry feed was found to be contaminated with a family of cancer-causing chemicals. The limits will take effect from November 2006, providing food and feed companies another parameter to test for when sourcing their ingredients or releasing products to the EU market. Food or feed wherein the sum of dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exceed these maximum limits will not be allowed to be marketed in the EU.

Maximum levels for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in food and feed have been applicable since July 2002. However, owing to the lack of sufficient scientific information at that time, the Commission did not recommend the standards for dioxin-like PCBs. New data on dioxin-like PCBs have been available since 2002, the Commission stated in adopting the new limits. The regulation lays down mandatory limits for the combined level of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs. The new limit is a part of the Commissions policy for mitigating persistent chemicals such as dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in the food chain. Dioxins and PCBs have toxic properties that could provoke a series of health problems, including cancer, immune and nervous system disorders, liver damage and sterility. 


Quality authentication system

China is scheduled to introduce an overall quality authentication system for the food industry, with the brewery industry to be the first sector subject to quality authentication. Mr. Wang Yancai, the President of China Brewery Industry Association, expressed that the quality authentication project is aimed at promoting development of the brewery industry. Quality authentication will standardize quality and hygienic inspection and control in the production process of breweries. This measure will also protect the established brewery brands and prevent vicious competition to create a healthier market climate.


Custom duty cut on crude oil

The Indian government has reduced the base import price of crude palm oil to US$415 a tonne from US$417. Crude soya bean oil now has a base import price of US$492 a tonne, down from US$497. However, the base import price of crude palmolein has been raised to US$437 a tonne from US$418, RBD palmolein to US$440 per tonne from US$421 and other palmolein to US$439 a tonne from US$420. The Department of Revenue has already issued a notification in this regard. Dealers expressed that the wide price differences between crude and refined edible oils will boost crude oil imports, which will benefit the domestic refining industry. India is the worlds leading edible oil importer and these imports are sourced mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia.


India develops new standards for organic produce

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India, has devised an internationally accepted certification procedure for organically grown vegetables and fruits. This development is intended to overcome certification hurdles faced by the nations organic farm produce in the world markets. Mr. Sanjay Dave, APEDA director, expressed that this step is a major breakthrough for Indian organic farmers as it will bring down the cost of their produce substantially. The certification procedures, based on international norms, are far stricter than those followed by many European nations.

Currently, organically grown agricultural produce imported from India have to be certified by European agencies. The demand for organically grown Indian agri-produce such as tea, coffee, spices, cashew nut, walnut, rice, honey, mangoes or cotton has been growing abroad. Development banks too are boosting this sector, with Nabard launching an investment subsidy scheme for commercial bio-fertilizer production units.


New measures to safeguard food and drug safety

In China, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) has worked out food and drug regulatory targets for the 11th Five Year Plan period (2006-2010). SFDA will adopt five measures to ensure the obvious betterment of national production and circulation order in terms of food, drug, medical apparatus and instrument, as well as health food products. The five measures are:
  • Intensify the comprehensive supervision on food safety. Strive for making the information monitoring network system on food safety covers more than 90 per cent of counties across the country, with the monitoring rate surpassing 80 per cent by 2010;
  • Improve drug safety regulatory conditions;
  • Boost the quality of food and drug supervision staff. By 2010, those with professional knowledge concerning food, drug, medical apparatus and instrument, medicine, law and related professionals will account for more than 70 per cent of all civil servants and various experts in the supervision sector, while those with academic degrees of university graduates and above would make up more than 50 per cent;
  • Strengthen infrastructure construction on food and drug supervision; and
  • Speed up the construction of food and drug supervision information system. By 2010, set up an advanced network information infrastructure for food and drug supervision. Also, safe and reliable data monitoring centres will be built. A platform for electronic governance and social services system will be set up to cope with supervision needs. A standardized system for the management of food and drug information will also be worked out.



Boosting shelf-life

Hefestus, Israel, has developed technology that can significantly extend the shelf-life of various products like fruits and vegetables, fish and meat, grains and even flowers and medical drugs. A key drawback of conventional modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technologies is the possibility of damaging delicate products during the process of removing oxygen from the packaging. In the case of Shelf-Life Booster (SLB), the modified atmosphere is achieved using a fully automatic vacuum-free machine. The patented technology utilizes centrifugal gas flow to remove oxygen from each package and then insert a gas mixture suitable for each product to maximize its shelf-life.

SLB technology has been demonstrated to be capable of keeping grapefruits fresh for up to four months and preserve fresh fish without freezing for up to 20 days. Moreover, SLB offers several advantages over existing technology, namely:
  • In some products, e.g. fruits and vegetables, SLB can radically extend the shelf-life by slowing down their life cycle instead of stopping it; and
  • SLB is twice as fast as any commercially available MAP technology and is relatively small and quiet compared to its competition.

Although existing SLB products are aimed at the industrial and business markets, the company is not ruling out the possibility of a smaller home version in the future.

Contact: Hefestus, P.O Box 56, Israel. Tel: +972 (4) 6271 835; Fax: +97 (4) 6271 876



New drying technology

Scientists at Friedrich-Schiller-Universitt Jena and the Technische Universitt, Germany, together with the Zittauer Fruchtveredlungs GmbH (ZIFRU), have been studying a new method to process dried food so gently as to preserve as many vitamins and secondary plant compounds as possible. After examining various processing conditions, researchers observed that food processed using vacuum microwave puffing technology not only retained valuable components after drying, but also exhibited other attractive characteristics like crispy texture, stable colour and puffed structure. Additionally, scientists uncovered that the method tested for strawberries could be transferred to other kinds of berries, apples and vegetables too.

A complementary investigation undertaken by Jena University examined the impact of both frozen strawberries and strawberries dried using vacuum microwave puffing technology on the human body. In both cases, the anti-oxidative capacity in the blood increased and the immune system was strengthened, which could be explained by the amount of vitamins contained in the strawberries. Following two years of research, an impressing comparison was finally drawn 2 oz dried strawberries deliver nutritionally valuable substances equivalent to 12 oz of frozen ones.

Contact: Technische Universitaet Dresden, Noethnitzer Str. 43, Dresden, Germany.



Food preservative neutralizes anthrax spores

Researchers from Biosynexus Inc., the United States, report that a common food preservative effectively neutralizes anthrax spores and could be used to decontaminate skin in the event of exposure. Nisin is a natural antimicrobial peptide used as a preservative in heat-processed and low pH foods. It is derived by controlled fermentation of the naturally occurring milk bacteria Lactococcus lactis. Nisin has been classified as a Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) substance. It is also used in the dairy industry as a topical treatment for mastitis.


Solar fruit dryer

The Uganda Industrial Research Organization has developed a highly effective solar dryer, with support from the German Technical Cooperation and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. The dryer utilizes both solar energy and wood energy. The machine can dry a tonne of fresh fruits using just 40 kg of wood in about 12 h. Moreover, the dryer can be built using locally available materials. The permanent structure has an absorber for sunlight with a black surface filled with black paste. The absorber is covered with clear glass to allow sunlight to heat the black paste. When the air is heated, it is sucked inside by a fan in the middle of the stove. The air then moves over heated pipes and reaches the product being dried before evaporating in a furnace at the top of the dried produce. The dryer temperature can reach up to 800C.


Solar drying of fish

Researchers from Bangladesh and Thailand have conducted field trials to assess the potential of utilizing solar tunnel dryers to preserve fish. The dryer comprises a transparent plastic covered flat plate collector and a drying tunnel connected in series to supply hot air directly into the drying tunnel using four dc fans, operated by two solar modules. This dryer has a loading capacity of 120-150 kg. Temperature inside the collector increases along the length of the collector while the drying air temperature decreases along the dryer length during the early stages of drying and then remains almost constant. The dryer is simple in design and can be constructed using locally available materials. The solar tunnel dryer can be operated by two photovoltaic modules independent of the electrical grid.

RERIC Online International Energy Journal, Vol. 6, 2005

Crop drying

Conserval Engineering Inc., Canada, is offering Solarwall roof integrated panels to dry different crops. Commercial drying operations can reduce fossil fuels used in most dryers by adding Solarwall panels as a preheater or primary heater. Solar-heated air will not burn or harm delicate foods, which cannot be ensured when steam-heated or fossil fuel-heated air is used. The drying chambers can incorporate solar heating by covering the entire roof and walls of the chambers and production buildings with Solarwall metal panels. Each square metre of Solarwall panel is roughly equivalent to a 500 W heater.

The panels can be used for drying different types of produce, such as tea, coffee, fruit, rice, spices, rubber, cocoa beans, timber, nuts, manure, etc. They can be mounted on wall or roof, and work with tunnel, trough, conveyor and other types of dryers.

Contact: Conserval Engineering Inc., 200 Wildcat Road, Toronto, ON M3J 2N5, Canada. Tel: +1 (416) 6617 057; Fax: +1 (416) 6617 146



Improving the microbiological quality of mayonnaise

Researchers from Poland report that Baicalin, a flavonoid obtained from Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi (baical skullcap), which is a perennial plant from the Lamiaceae family (Labiatae), can be added as a preservative to improve the microbiological quality of home-made mayonnaise. Tests were conducted using mayonnaise made of hen egg yolks and sunflower oil, without organic acids or preservatives. The yolks were homogenized and oil added gradually. One-third of mayonnaise was left as control while a preparation of 95 per cent baicalin was added to the remaining. The material was divided into 10 g or 25 g samples and stored at 10C or 20C until visible signs of microbiological decay were detected.

Microbiological analyses were performed at different intervals of storage. Results unveil that baicalin has a positive effect on the microbiological quality of the product. Microbiological counts in the experimental fraction were lower than in the controls for the entire period.


Barrier coating for plastic bottles extends shelf-life

A new barrier coating for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP) provides a better method to extend the shelf-life of beverages than currently available technologies. Researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa, have developed a barrier that is 30 times superior to ordinary PET.

Most conventional high-barrier applications require multi-layered packaging, combining PET with high barrier plastics like ethylene vinyl-alcohol, Nylon 6 or Nylon  MXD6. Oxyplete is based on a double-layered outside coating. Before application, the plastics surface is activated through either an oxyfluorination procedure, corona discharge or plasma treatment followed by spray or dip coating and drying.



Sorter and compact spiral freezer for poultry processing

FMC FoodTech is offering an automated visual system for sorting parts and a spiral freezer that saves on space. The two new machines meet the demand for greater automation in the food processing industry. FMC FoodTechs D-Scan Product Attribute Processor allows processors to scan and sort poultry products based upon numerous attributes, thus improving product quality and production efficiency. The D-Scan uses a vision sensor and software to scan raw products before they arrive at the slicers and portioning systems. It deals effectively and automatically with variations in incoming product.

The footprint of FMC FoodTechs Gyrocompact M10 Tight Curve spiral freezer has the same width as its Gyrocompact 76 model, but more than 40 per cent greater capacity. The M10 TC has superior hygiene, flexibility, reliability and performance. The freezers 40-inch belt expands on the outermost side and collapses on the innermost to create a tight radius and curve. The freezers pulling link is integrated in the mesh of the belt creating a completely flat belt surface. The units drive system advances the conveyor belt using only rolling friction for increased speed, using less lubrication and lower drive forces.


Machine automates confectionery bar packing

Bradman Lake, the United States, is offering an automated machine for packaging cereal and confectionery bars into cartons. This system helps manufacturers speed up their production lines while lowering labour costs. The new Racetrack Cartoner collates product, erects, loads and seals endload cartons at speeds of between 350 to 400 bars a minute. At present, producing packs of wrapped cereal bars in volume requires a carton erector, a robotic top loader and three-flap carton closer. Flow-wrapped confectionery bars have to be manually fed into the machines for loading.

The Racetrack has twin servo-driven belts, each with nine pockets. It can easily provide various product counts, including the number of layers, to a synchronized indexing motion carton end loader. Cartons from a motorized magazine are erected by a triple-head rotary feeder and loaded into the pocketed infeed conveyor of the indexer by a compact overhead pusher unit, also servo-driven and triple-headed.  The bars are then loaded into the erected cartons during the stationary phase of the cycle by a second overhead pusher. The pusher replaces the extended barrel loader section used in many continuous motion end loaders.


Dough mixer upgrade package

Bakers using APV Bakers Tweedy range of mixing machines can now improve the quality of their products and lower costs by appending a pressure and vacuum mixing package to the machines, reports the United Kingdom-based company. By adding this upgrade package, the company claims that bakers would benefit from increased yield, improved crumb quality and shelf-life, as well as a reduction in the levels of ascorbic acid. APV reports that the process involves application of pressure and vacuum to the mixing bowl. In the first instance, air is pumped into the dough by pressurizing the bowl. This provides more oxygen, which in turn enhances the operation of ascorbic acid as the oxidizing agent. In the second mixing phase, a partial vacuum controls the bubbles size in the dough to refine the crumb structure.

According to the company, addition of the new package will increase yield since dough is more machineable at a higher water content. It also promises to improve crumb colour and softness, thereby also improving shelf-life. This new capability can be used with all dough mixers in the current Tweedy range, as well as with older machines installed before the introduction of the pressure-vacuum process. The upgrade package includes a mixing bowl and lid clamp, pressure-vacuum blower and pipework, and strengthening of the mixer frame. The control element involves a modification package or customized controls.


Major shake-up in sterilization technology

Following several years of development, SHAKA technology is now ready and will be introduced on the market. STERIFLOW SAS recently signed a licence agreement with Zinetec, the inventor of this revolutionary system, in order to manufacture the first laboratory-scale SHAKA autoclave.

At the time of processing, containers in the autoclave are vigorously shaken at a frequency of 100-200 cycles/min. Agitation of the product is achieved through a horizontal movement of the baskets. This product agitation allows for rapid acceleration of heat penetration. Cycle times are reduced by a factor of 5-10 compared to standard autoclaves. The reduced process time has a highly positive impact on the quality of the product (taste, colour, vitamin preservation, etc.) compared to that usually obtained with static or rotary autoclaves. SHAKA can be used with all types of containers, from rigid cans, glass jars and trays to flexible packaging such as pouches. Products like sauces, soups, baby food, vegetables or pet food have been positively tested.


Juice filler

Zhangjiagang Huawei Technology Development Co. Ltd., China, offers a new juice filling machine. Key features of this system are given below.
  • Direct connection technology between the air conveyor and infeed starwheel is applied to replace infeed screw and conveyor chain, making the bottle changing process easier. Bottle grippers of a new design are coupled to the starwheel.
  • For easier bottle size changing, a neck-gripper is employed instead of the traditional starwheel.
  • Specially designed, durable, stainless steel rinser grippers.
  • High-speed, easily cleaned filling valves with a large flow volume.

The machine can be used in the production of tea, juice and functional drinks.

Contact: Zhangjiagang Huawei Technology Development Co., 2 - 101 Xinhonghaoyuan, Middle Changan Road, Zhangjiagang City, Jiangsu Province, China. Tel: +86 (512) 5891 2812; Fax: +86 (512) 5891 2728.


Steam pasteurizer processes delicate items

Meyer Machine Co., the United States, offers Pure Steam Pasteurizer for processing pasta, potato products, seafood, fruits and vegetables without damaging the products surface. Garroutte Pure Steam Pasteurizer is an ideal choice to process delicate or degradable items. The thermal process to the outer surface enhances food safety without affecting the sensory qualities of the food.

Contact: Meyer Machine Co., 3528 Fredricksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78201, United States of America. Tel: +1 (210) 7361 811; Fax: +1 (210) 7364 662



Fluid bed processor

In the United States, Kason Corp. supplies circular, vibratory fluid bed dryers, coolers and moisturizers along with Air-Lift device, which facilitates disassembly, cleaning and inspection of the fluid bed processing chamber. Available on fluid bed processors in diameters from 18 to 84 inches, the self-contained system comprises a circular fluid bed processor, heating/cooling/moisturizing unit, blower and cyclone separator on one skid. With on-site connections to a power source, bag house and material inlet/outlet, the system is ready. Options are offered for de-lumping, agglomerating, scalping or powder coating. The interior of the unit is easily accessed for thorough cleaning.

Contact: Kason Corp., 67-71 E. Willow Street, Millburn, NJ 07041, United States of America. Tel: +1 (973) 4678 140; Fax: +1 (973) 2589 533




Scientists develop lactic acid as mycotoxin fighters

Researchers in Ireland report that common grade lactic acid bacteria (LAB) from grain, malting, brewing and cereal processing could provide a cheap and natural means of reducing deadly mycotoxins in grains. This project has the potential to provide an eco-friendly means of fulfilling the European Unions new legislative requirements for the reduction of mycotoxin content in cereal-based products. Mycotoxins are produced by Fusarium fungi, a serious problem in the cereal food and feed chain. Mycotoxins cause serious illness and immuno-suppression in humans and animals as well as result in losses for grain producers and food processors.

Scientists at the University College Cork, Ireland, have so far screened over 50,000 food-grade LAB for antimicrobial activity, studying their ability to reduce or prevent Fusarium attacks. The team is testing LAB with anti-fungal activity to improve the safety, quality and processability of cereal products like malt, beer and bread. The use of LAB is a nature-friendly means of decontaminating grains.


Lactose-reduced skim milk

Researchers at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Austria, have developed a hollow fibre membrane reactor technology for enzymatic lactose hydrolysis. Mesophilic -galactosidases were circulated abluminally during luminal flow of skim milk. The main problem, microbial growth in the enzyme solution, was minimized by sterile filtration and UV irradiation. In order to characterize the process parameters, e.g. skim milk concentration, enzyme activity and flow rates were varied.

Contact: Division of Food Biotechnology, Department of Food Sciences and Technology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, A-1190 Vienna, Austria.



Fully automatic candy packer

Wenzhou Ruida Machinery Co. Ltd., China, is offering a completely automatic candy packaging system. Key features of the machine include:
  • Stepless high-speed, continuous, fully automatic operation;
  • Stable running and convenient adjustment;
  • Photoelectric eye to track colour index automatically;
  • Low noise and good performance;
  • Excellent sealing property; and
  • Packaged candies have longer shelf-life.

DXD-800A, the standard model, has an output capacity of 800 pieces/min while the specialized model has an output of 500 pieces/min.

Contact: Wenzhou Ruida Machinery Co. Ltd., 1108 Yumeng Road, Economic Development Zone, Ruian City, Zhejiang Province, China. Tel: +86 (577) 6560 6665; Fax: +86 (577) 6560 6667



Fastest aseptic filling machine

Tetra Pak has announced the global availability of its fastest aseptic filling machine. Tetra Paks A3/Speed is reported to be the worlds fastest carton aseptic filling system for family-sized packages. Mr. Ivano Selmi, a vice president with Tetra Paks ambient carton division, expressed that Tetra Pak A3/Speed packaging line meets large-volume customers demands for faster, better and cheaper production solutions, the key to achieving higher profits in todays increasingly competitive market. The machine produces Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Baseline, the companys best selling aseptic carton, and two additional family-sized packages with different closures.

A3/Speed has a capacity of 12,000 packages per hour, increasing the output per square metre of production space compared with existing solutions while keeping  operational costs low. The machine can be operated by a single controller as all key functions are located on the ground floor level and several key parameters are automatically controlled. Tetra Paks standard line concept ensures that the other equipment on the packaging lines matches with the performance of the filling machine. Tetra Pak can provide the entire carton ambient packaging line.


Packaging tea bags

Dalian Chem Imp. and Exp. Group Co. Ltd., China, offers an automatic tea bag packing machine that is suitable for packaging products like tea and coffee. The machine features include bag-making, measuring, filling, heat-sealing, cutting, counting, threading, labelling and over-wrapping. The unit adopts sealing pads to replace the sealing rollers on old machines. The envelope is sealed and packed with paper. The system has an output capacity of 110 bags/min.

The company can also supply the automatic tea bag packing machine with drawing thread, tag pack into paper box with drawing thread, and tag and paper envelope with paper/polyethylene laminated film.

Contact: Dalian Chem Imp. & Exp. Group Co. Ltd., Chem Building, 61 Renmin Road, China. Tel: +86 (411) 8269 1792; Fax: +86 (411) 8263 0088/8264 0610



Robots automate biscuits packaging

In the United Kingdom, Sewtec Automation has developed a multipack autofeed system for Foxs Biscuits, an element of which uses two ABB IRB 340 FlexPicker robots. The new system is easy-to-use with a foolproof control system, reliable, capable of automatically balancing the speed of the two independent product infeeds with the existing rate of product out-feed, and has a pay-back period of less than two years.

Sewtecs system comprises two servo-driven vertical racetrack collators, two slat band conveyors, a Siemens-based control system and two ABB IRB 340 FlexPicker robots. The FlexPicker robots were chosen because they have the ability to move and orientate objects with speed and accuracy. Regardless of whether the objects are on moving belts, placed at random or guided, FlexPicker is faster and more efficient than most conventional systems currently available with a capability of 150 cycles/min.


Food safety indicators for packaging

Toxin Alert, Canada, has developed diagnostic packaging inserts that allow buyers to know if the food is fresh and safe to eat. Toxin Guard is a system of placing antibody based tests on polymer packaging films to detect pathogens or other selected micro-organisms. The insert sends a visual alert when it encounters targeted spoilage bacteria or pathogens like E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. It will also alert consumers if chemicals such as those used for pesticides are present in the food. It would also be able to tell if the food is a result of genetic modification.

The patented diagnostic tests are not yet available in the market. The company is exploring development agreements with several food packaging products manufacturers. According to Toxin Alert, this technology can be inexpensively incorporated into conventional plastic food wraps and other kinds of packaging. The system has been proven on commercial printing equipment running plastic food wrapping film at 250 ft/min, with 144 tests/ft2. The inserts are stable over a wide temperature range, broader than that tolerated by conventional commercial food-packaging inks and substrates.


Automated PET bottle packaging

Motion Controls Robotics offers a new stand-up bottling machine that allows beverage companies to automate handling and unloading of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. SUBTA (Stand Up Bottle Take Away) is said to ensure labour savings of up to two people per shift.  It also provides increased throughput due to high reliability and uptime, and with cycle times faster than most mould machine rates.

SUBTA is a pre-engineered automation system that can integrate with major moulding machines on the market. The SUBTA system grabs and sets the bottles on a conveyor standing up, acting as a take-away unit. It automates handling, leak checking, unloading, coating, case packing and bulk palletizing of PET bottles. The programmable unit is run through a joystick and a computerized operator panel for recipe adjustments and error reporting. The portable system handles single or double row mould configurations.


Super lightweight blow-moulding technology

Graham Packaging Co. L.P., the United States, has developed a new, proprietary blow-moulding technology that allows for the production of lightweight PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles without necessitating any change in the design or compromising performance characteristics. According to Mr. Toshi Kojitani, director of Graham Packagings PET product line, This special moulding process in effect distributes the plastic where it is required and removes it where it is not needed.

The first actual product to emerge from development would be a multi-serve hot-fill bottle. Mr. Kojitani expressed that this bottle will be blown in the same mould used for the current, heavier version of the same size bottle. This technology will eventually be rolled out to the entire family of PET hot-fill bottles. The new bottle has the same look, height, diameter and footprint as the current version.


Bagger built to withstand frequent washdowns

Automated Packaging Systems (APS), the United States, has launched a new packaging machine that can withstand daily washdowns. With an output capacity of up to 120 bags/min, the new FAS SPrint SidePouch bagging system handles hand load or automatic operations in food packaging operations. The machine is fabricated using stainless steel, has a one-touch clean-out switch and can tilt at an angle of up to 90, making it easier to clean. The design incorporates corrosion-resistant materials as well as NEMA 4 electronics protection to ensure safe and reliable operation. FAS SPrint SidePouch has a foot switch for use in single cycle bag indexing. A computerized control screen stores settings for up to 50 packaging jobs.



Food Processing Handbook

This book describes the principles as well as the equipment used and the changes that occur during food preservation. In-depth coverage is provided on techniques like post-harvest handling, thermal processing, evaporation and dehydration, freezing, irradiation, high-pressure processing, etc.

Dairy Microbiology Handbook: The Microbiology of Milk and Milk Products

This third edition, completely revised and expanded, is a vital resource for quality control and product development managers, microbiologists, dairy scientists, engineers and students. It includes the latest safety research, guidelines and information. Some highlights of this book are:
l New diagnostic techniques that allow a pathogen to be detected in a matter of hours;
l An exhaustive coverage of dairy microbiology principles and practical applications; and
l Latest developments in dairy starter cultures and genetic engineering

For the above publications, contact: Customer Care Centre, John Wiley and Sons Inc., 10475, Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, United States of America. Tel: +1 (877) 7622 974


Detecting Allergens in Food

Food allergies are an increasingly perplexing issue in the nutritional world today. This book reviews the range of techniques and their application to all the main allergens in food. The nature of food allergy and the range of allergenic foods have been dealt with in detail.

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



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