VATIS Update Food Processing . Mar-Apr 2011

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Food Processing Mar-Apr 2011

ISSN: 0971-5649

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

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WHO and FAO issue global food safety response plan

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have created a new safety plan to assist government agencies in their responses to food emergency situations. “The management of food safety emergencies is rarely the responsibility of a single national authority, and timely and coordinated collaboration among all partners is required to ensure an effective response,” said the two organizations. While several countries have well developed food control systems with response plans in place, there is currently no guidance documenting the best practices to use while developing the plans, or what the plans should contain.

The document consists of five sections covering the necessary steps required before the development of national food safety emergency plans and important issues to be considered by all partners when drafting a plan. The core section of the document “Key elements of an emergency response plan” provides guidance on essential topics to be included in the plan. WHO and FAO said the plans are consistent with the risk analysis concept, a process that consists of three components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication.

Food processing ministry to complete food park drive

In India, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) plans to invite expressions of interest from private companies to set up the balance 15 food parks of the total 30 the government had planned in the 11th Five Year Plan, a senior government official said recently. The government in its 11th Five Year Plan has allocated Rs 15 billion to set up 30 mega food parks that will process farm produce for supplies to retailers in order to minimize waste. So far, the government has been able to set up three such projects – in Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh), Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and Assam.

“We have already allocated 10 projects to private players and have received 40-odd applications for five more parks. We also plan to invite private parties for another 15. We will get a cabinet approval on the same in the next three months,” said Mr. Ashok Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries. The government would provide a grant of Rs 500 million to each of the projects, where at least three private players are involved, Mr. Sinha said. Nearly a third of India’s fruits and vegetables go to waste every year due to a lack of processing and cold chain facilities, which is a serious concern when food inflation is in double-digits.

China rolls out its annual plan on food safety

The General Office of the State Council has published China’s annual working plan to bolster food safety in 2011 on the government website. As per the plan, China will specifically target dairy products, edible oils, health-promoting food, meat, food additives and alcohol in its food safety campaign this year. The plan stresses ensuring food safety in those key categories by raising the benchmark for market entry, gradually phasing out unqualified producers, and introducing an information-based tracing mechanism and credit system in those industries.

The plan suggests the establishment of a unified national database of dairy product manufacturers and a system to verify relevant certificates. It emphasizes the need for a registration system to record all purchases of melamine, a prohibited food additive that has caused major scandals in the country’s dairy industry since 2008. Furthermore, the plan bans the use of clenbuterol in meat after a recent case involving the illegal additive triggered public concern. A subsidiary of Shuanghui Group, China’s largest meat processor, was found using pork contaminated with the toxic chemical in its meat products.

The plan also urges upgrading supervision over edible oils, cracking down on the production and sale of shoddy edible oils – particularly “gutter oil” (oil extracted from kitchen waste) that was noted as being commonly used by small restaurants – and cracking down on purchases made through illegal channels.

The plan stresses the role of law enforcement in food safety, and warns that severe punishments will be meted out to those who cover up food safety hazards and evade supervision. Those guilty of wrongful conduct in food safety supervision should also be held accountable, the plan suggests. A statement issued along with the plan recalls an amendment made in February 2011 to the country’s Criminal Law, imposing harsher punishments on offenders in food safety crimes, including possible capital punishment for committing food crimes resulting in death or other severe consequences.

Foods to boost nutrition of school children

In the Philippines, much attention is given on the right food mix for use in the supplementary feeding programmes (SFPs), which continue to be one of the major direct nutrition interventions that address malnutrition among children. A research team of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science & Technology (DOST) led by Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa assessed the effects of using FNRI-developed food products on the nutritional status of children under school-based SFPs. These products include ‘pan de sal’ (salted bread), loaf bread and buns with squash, iron-fortified instant ‘pancit bihon’ (stir-fried rice noodles), iron-fortified chocolate crinkles, fortified juices and health drinks.

Two groups of children were studied. Children in the experimental group were fed nutritious food products, while the children in the control group were not. Results revealed that after 100 days of feeding, children in the experimental group had significant increases in weight, height, haemoglobin levels, iron and vitamin A. Prevalence of underweight was much lower in the supplement-fed group than the control group at end-line.

The study showed concrete evidence that the FNRI-developed food products rich in vitamin A and iron were effective in combating underweight and iron deficiency in school children. Contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City, The Philippines. Tel: +63 (2) 837 2934; Fax: +63 (2) 837 3164; E-mails: mvc@,; Website:

Sri Lanka selected for INFOFISH pilot project

Sri Lanka is among the five countries selected by INFOFISH – the inter-governmental organization providing marketing information and advisory services for fishery products in Asia-Pacific – for a pilot project to promote, processing and market fresh water fish. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Pakistan are the other four countries. The project is jointly funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It was launched in Sri Lanka by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board and INFOFISH. The Board will act as the national focal point and the National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA) under the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will be the national partner for the project.

The main objective of the project is to provide support for both export and domestic marketing of freshwater fish and fish products through the introduction of innovative processing and presentation methods, and reducing post-harvest losses while ensuring the safety and quality of fish products. The project is designed to encourage small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) in the sustainable production and marketing of freshwater fish species for domestic sale and export. The project will work directly with and relate to the needs of SMEs.

ADB grant for Nepal’s agribusiness

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to help thousands of households in remote mountainous areas of Nepal gain more income from the production and sale of valuable agricultural produce. ADB said that a grant of US$20 million from its concessional Asian Development Fund for the High Mountain Agribusiness and Livelihood Improvement Project will be provided to small farmers and rural enterprises to help them increase the value and saleability of their goods.

The initiative is expected to generate new jobs for an estimated 7,500 people, directly benefiting about 5,000 households in 10 districts across four development regions. “The goal is to make mountain agribusinesses more commercially viable and to take advantage of improving rural infrastructure, as well as rising private sector interest in their goods,” said Mr. Hans Woldring, an economist with ADB. Agriculture employs about two-thirds of Nepal’s population and contributes over a third of its gross domestic product (GDP). Despite the sector’s importance, growth has been hampered by limited access to services, marketing and employment opportunities for farmers. By supporting activities such as improved processing, packaging, distribution and marketing, the project will help agribusinesses add quality and value to their goods, increase investment opportunities for the private sector, and boost off-farm employment.

Improved produce quality expected in Viet Nam

The quality of farm produce and agricultural products in Viet Nam is expected to rise after stricter controls are imposed when the Food Safety Law takes effect on 1 July 2011. Food safety inspections would be carried out from point of origin to final destination based on international standards, said Mr. Phung Huu Hao, Deputy Director, Department of Agricultural, Forest and Aquatic Products Quality Control of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Management responsibilities would be clearly split between central and provincial levels, and each agricultural sector would have its own specific standards, he said at a recent workshop held to review food safety management in 2010 and to discuss the 2011 plan.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Cao Duc Phat observed that many production and trade establishments failed to meet safety standards on preservatives used on fruit and vegetables. Annual inspections revealed that 4-5 per cent of imported preservatives were sub-standard, said Director of the Plant Protection Department, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Hong. There are around 200 preservative trading businesses, 79 production establishments and 29,000 shops that market preservatives in the country.

India extends subsidy period

India’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has extended the subsidy on pulses and edible oil for one more year, till 31 March 2012. Stock limits for another year have also been imposed on both commodities. The Ministry has been subsidizing pulses and edible oil under the public distribution system (PDS) to the extent of Rs 10/kg and Rs 15/litre, respectively. The difference between the market price and the price of PDS is compensated to the states through these subsidy schemes.

Since edible oil imports are affected by the current high international prices, the food ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, has also decided to maintain the existing duty structure for edible oil imports. Currently, there is zero import duty for crude edible oil and 7.5 per cent duty for importing processed edible palm oil. The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has also extended the ban on export of pulses till 31 March 2012.

Coffee processing centres planned in the Philippines

The Philippine Centre for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), an agency of the Department of Agriculture, is set to establish by 2016 at least 21 coffee processing centres in areas where coffee is grown as a cash crop. Each centre will cost P4.9 million (US$114,300), and the total cost will thus amount to P102.90 million (US$2.4 million).

Of the 21 coffee processing centres, 13 will be established in the Cordillera Autonomous Region where there are many farmers who are growing the crop organically or free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Four centres would be in Cagayan Valley, two in Caraga, and one each in Calabarzon (Region 4-A) and Eastern Visayas. The location of each centre was carefully studied to make sure that these are strategically located in areas where coffee farming is a major activity, and where there are more farmers and businessmen taking up coffee farming, stated PhilMech’s Executive Director Mr. Ricardo L. Cachuela. Each centre can process 480 kg of ground coffee per eight-hour shift.


ISO/IDF guidelines for melamine detection endorsed by Codex

Guidelines developed by the International Organization for Standards (ISO) and the International Dairy Federation (IDF) to help prevent a recurrence of the crisis caused by milk adulterated with melamine have been endorsed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. To help detect and prevent future adulterated milk products from entering the market, ISO and IDF prepared technical specification (TS) ISO/TS 15495 | IDF/RM 230:2010, Milk, milk products and infant formulae – Guidelines for the quantitative determination of melamine and cyanuric acid by LC-MS/MS.

At its 32nd session during 7-11 March, the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) endorsed the joint IDF/ISO guidelines for milk, milk products and infant formulae. The endorsement of these guidelines means that an internationally harmonized procedure has now been approved that will allow authorities to check the level of melamine in powdered infant formula against the recently adopted Codex maximum level of 1 mg melamine per kg of product. CCMAS is recommending this method for final adoption by the Codex in July 2011. The document was prepared by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 34, Food products, subcommittee SC 5, Milk and milk products, in collaboration with IDF – a non-profit organization representing the dairy sector worldwide.

China adopts new licences to ensure dairy standards

To legally sell dairy products, retailers in China must apply for new operating licences or renew their old ones by the end of July 2011 or face punishment, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce has announced. Beginning this April, dairy retailers will be required to apply for one of two types licences. One will allow them to sell dairy products that contain baby formula and the other will allow them to sell formula-free dairy products. The licensing requirement for dairy retailers is the latest step in China’s campaign to ensure the safety of its food supply.

Guidelines for probiotics

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, are formulating guidelines for evaluation of probiotics in food in the country. The two bodies have constituted a Task Force for examining various guidelines available in different parts of the world and deliberating on the relevant issues keeping in view the local conditions.

The Task Force – chaired by Prof. N K Ganguly, former Director-General of ICMR – defined a set of parameters required for a product/strain to be termed as ‘probiotic’. These include identification of strain, in vitro screening for probiotic characteristics, animal studies to establish safety, and in vivo animal and human studies to establish efficacy. Labelling requirements of the probiotic products with strain specification, viable numbers at the end of shelf-life, storage conditions, etc. are the other requirements.

Pakistan to begin halal certification by year-end

The certification of “halal” products will begin by the end of this year in Sindh Province, Pakistan, with the help of the Malaysian certification authority, said Mr. Zubair Motiwala, Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister, at the recent International Halal Conference 2011 organized by Sindh Board of Investment (SBI) and Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) of Malaysia.

Currently, HDC is training Pakistanis in halal certification. “After the programme completes, we will be able to start certification of halal products in the next six to nine months,” Mr. Motiwala said. Pakistan would adopt the Malaysian model for certification with necessary amendments. Dr. Syed Jalaluddin Bin Syed Salim, HDC Chairman, said his organization would be happy to extend help to Pakistan in developing halal certification mechanism. “We will train auditors for halal certification. They will do audit for the relevant Pakistani authority,” he added.


Electron beam sterilization system

Advanced Electron Beams (AEB) from the United States has unveiled the e16ITB – its ‘in-a-bottle’ sterilization system for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers. The system, which has been specifically designed for Asia where bottle geometrics require a narrow nozzle emitter, sterilizes surfaces of packaging materials at high speeds with a stream of energetic electrons.

AEB’s e16ITB features a 16 mm diameter, 350 mm length nozzle compatible with narrow neck bottles up to two litres in volume. The system can sterilize a single serve bottle up to two litres in about two seconds, thus supporting typical high-speed aseptic filling systems, said the firm. AEB claims that e16ITB helps beverage brand owners and co-packers cut costs by reducing energy use, reducing bottle resin and by eliminating the use of chemicals and water in their aseptic bottling systems.

Nanotech-based biosensor for pathogen detection

A nanotech-based biosensor being developed by researchers from Kansas State University (KSU), the United States, may allow early detection of both cancer cells and pathogens, leading to better food safety and lower health risks. Mr. Lateef Syed, a doctoral student in chemistry, is developing the biosensor with Dr. Jun Li, Associate Professor of chemistry. Their research focuses on Escherichia coli, but Mr. Syed said the same technology could also detect other kinds of pathogens, including viruses.

Mr. Syed’s research focus was on developing nanotechnology-based biosensors for pathogen detection and cancer biomarker detection. The project is a continuation of work that Dr. Li performed at the Ames Research Centre of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in California. While working there, he came up with the idea of developing a small chip to capture and detect pathogens.

In KSU, Dr. Li continued his biosensor research with Mr. Syed. To develop the biosensors, the team uses carbon nanofibres because they can form an array of tiny electrodes that is smaller than bacteria and viruses. When these microbial particles are captured at the electrode surface, an electric signal can be detected. “A goal is to integrate this technology into a hand-held electronic device for pathogen detection so that we can use this device for in-line monitoring of water quality or food quality at industrial processing sites,” Mr. Syed said. “We have some preliminary results that indicate this technology is feasible,” he added.

Food microbiology testing tool

3M Food Safety, based in the United States, has adapted its -food microbiology testing tool to the beverage industry with the launch of the 3M Petrifilm Aqua Plates. The new testing tool detects four of the most common contaminants in drinks – heterotrophic count, coliform, yeast and mould, and enterobacteriaceae.

3M developed the tool as an alternative to agar petri dishes. The company claims that the traditional approach of manufacturers using their own agars or purchasing pre-made dishes produces excessive waste and requires large investment in employee time and refrigeration space. It says that the Petrifilm Aqua Plates provides a reliable and simple way to test product safety, saving beverage bottling companies’ time and money. The main target market for the new product would be the bottled water industry, according to Mr. Eric Amann, Global Marketing Development Manager.

3M introduced its first plate for the food industry 26 years ago and is only now targeting the beverage market directly. Mr. Amann said adapting its existing technology to the needs of the beverage safety market brought with it additional challenges. “The main challenge was ensuring that the plate performs well with a membrane filter placed on it. The presence of the membrane filter introduces a new material into the equation of growing detecting colony forming units on the plate.”

HPP effective in reducing Listeria risk in yoghurt

High pressure-processing (HPP) combined with mint essential oil could be a promising technique for reducing Listeria risk in yoghurt-based drinks with no significant impacts to their quality attributes, claims researchers based at Abant Izzet Baysal University (AIBU) in Turkey and Ohio State University (OSU) in the United States. The authors concluded that the addition of plant essential oil reduces process severity and lowers costs while maintaining effectiveness in terms of inactivating L. monocytogenes and L. innocua in ayran – a product popular in Turkey consisting of yoghurt, water and salt (added at a maximum level of 1 g/100 g to impart flavour).

The researchers – Dr. Gulsun Akdemir Evrendileka from AIBU and Dr. V.M. Balasubramaniam from OSU – aimed to evaluate efficacy of pressure treatment both alone and in combination with mint essential oil on inactivation of L. monocytogenes and L. innocua inoculated into ayran samples (~105-106 cfu/ml), using a control for reference purposes. Colour, pH, water activity and serum protein separation were also measured.

The inoculated samples (100 ml) were aseptically packaged into sterile pouches. After the removal of air bubbles, the pouches were heat-sealed. The sample pouches were then placed in a high barrier film bag and heat-sealed, and subsequently placed inside a larger high barrier film bag and vacuum packed at -97 kPa. An additional set of experiments was also carried out to evaluate efficacy of combining mint essential oils and pressure treatment. The mint essential oil was added at the concentrations of 0.05 ml and 0.1 ml, and subsequently pressure-treated. HPP of ayran samples at 600 MPa for treatment time of 300 s reduced L. monocytogenes and L. innocua by more than 5-log units at ambient temperature. The scientists reported that the addition of mint essential oil further enhanced inactivation of both bacteria by more than 1 log cfu/34 ml. Combination of mint essential oil with HPP provided a reduction in pressure treatment severity by 100-300 MPa or by 210 s to achieve the same level of inactivation relative to HPP alone. Pressure treatment alone or HPP combined with mint essential oil did not cause significant changes in pH, water activity, colour as well as serum protein separation.

Natural way to fight E. coli

An “all-natural” strategy from Intralytix, the United States, to significantly reduce or eliminate Escherichia coli O157:H7 in ground meat has received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Intralytix’s phage-based EcoShield, which received regulatory clearance, offers a “kill step” that can substantially reduce or eliminate E. coli O157:H7 by 95 to 100 per cent. A blend of three phages, EcoShield is harmless to humans, animals and plants, but provides broad protection against E. coli O157:H7, says Mr. John Woloszyn, CEO of Intralytix. Also known as bacteriophages, phages are naturally occurring viruses that can be very effective in killing bacteria. They go after specific targeted bacteria, infecting and then killing them.

Nanotechnology creates bacteria-killing spray

Researchers at University of Lincoln, the United Kingdom, have helped create a new “nanotechnology” to design an anti-microbial spray coating for kitchen surfaces. Experts from the National Centre for Food Manufacturing and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) worked together to develop the anti-microbial spray that is claimed to eliminate food-related pathogens.

Senior Lecturer in food manufacturing, Mr. Mark Swainson, said: “This particular project involves embedding a chemical compound into food surface materials or applying it in spray-on coats to help to keep microbes at bay.” While the coating will not kill every pathogen, it will kill or inhibit many microbes, particularly those that commonly affect food – Escherichia coli, Listeria and Salmonella.

“The success of the development could lead to immediate commercial application,” said NTU nanotechnology expert Dr. Fengge Gao, pointing out that the “technology does not require sophisticated manufacturing equipment and hence is suitable for both small and medium-sized enterprises, plus large manufacturers”.


Researching umami from soybean paste

Doenjang is a fermented soybean paste that provides protein, mainly lysine, and umami flavour (a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate) to traditional Korean foods. The commonly used Korean flavouring and condiment is fermented by Bacillus subtilis and lactic acid bacteria, as well as various moulds. To investigate its flavour properties, scientists from the Korea Food Research Institute, Republic of Korea, examined doenjang water extract for component compounds that contribute to Doenjang’s taste.

The researchers found that a 1 per cent solution produced the highest umami taste ratings in a taste profile test. They replaced 9.4 per cent of monosodium glutamate with 3 per cent solution of doenjang water extract to test its role in the taste in a soup base, and found it masked the bitter taste of hydrolysed animal protein when mixed in solution.

When the doenjang water extract was fractionated based on molecular weights, the researchers found that the fraction with the highest peptide contents produced the strongest umami taste and that the acidic peptide fraction of that fraction elicited the strongest umami taste. The major bound-type amino acids in extract and the high-flavour peptide fractions were glutamic acid and aspartic acid. The scientists concluded that the umami taste characteristics of doenjang extract’s were a result of the low-molecular-weight acidic peptides naturally produced during the fermentation of soybeans.

Biotech helps extract terpenes at lower cost

Allylix, the United States, plans to bring six more flavours and fragrances to market over 2012. The biotechnology company said it has developed proprietary technology – using yeast fermentation in a process similar to making beer or wine – to produce compounds extracted from plants, called terpenes, at a fraction of the cost.

Initially it focused on two products: nootkatone – a grapefruit flavour that can be extracted from grapefruit – and valencene – an orange flavour that can be extracted from the peels of valencene oranges. Both are broadly used as citrus flavour ingredients. Six more products are imminent, as Allylix’s years of investment in biotechnology comes to fruition at a time when food and beverage manufacturers seek “green” and stable supplies.

Allylix said biotechnology is the key to developing new products for the flavour and fragrance industry that are “natural, cost effective, and green, in the sense that they don’t create the burden on the planet that previous methods required”. Over a long term, it anticipates producing the ingredients for a fifth or a tenth of the cost of terpenes extracted from plants, says Ms. Carolyn Fritz, CEO of Allylix. This is partly due to the production process enabling Allylix to produce highly pure terpenes in large quantities in fermentors, without being subject to variations in crop yield and commodity swings. As Allilix terpenes are identical to the terpenes produced by plants, they come with a ‘natural’ label.

Maple syrup as a health food

After a group of scientists identified 54 new compounds in the natural sweetener, many of which have antioxidant properties, maple syrup producers in Quebec, Canada, are promoting maple syrup as a health food. In laboratory studies commissioned by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, researchers from the University of Rhode Island, the United States, found that the compounds acted as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. Initial studies also suggest that maple compounds may “inhibit” the enzymes involved in the conversion of carbohydrate to sugar and could help manage Type 2 diabetes.

“It is a one-stop shop for these beneficial compounds, several of which are also found in tea, berries, red wine and flaxseed,” stated lead researcher Dr. Navindra Seeram. In their research, the scientists also uncovered five new antioxidants that have never before been identified in nature. One polyphenol was named Quebecol, in honour of the province that produces maple syrup. If consumers are going to use a sweetener for pancakes, real maple syrup is the healthier alternative to commercial products made from fructose corn syrup, says Dr. Seeram.

Multi-layered microencapsulation to lock in the flavour

Two-layered emulsions were found to increase the retention of volatile flavours during spray drying, according to researchers from the University of Bourgogne, France. The study, led by Dr. Adem Gharsallaoui, looked at whether a multi-layer pea protein isolate-pectin complex was more effective than a pea protein isolate coating alone at protecting oil droplets from flavour loss.

Pea proteins and pectins are electrically charged biopolymers. The same group of researchers had previously used them to produce stable mono and multi-layer emulsions, and had found them to improve the stability of oil droplets to ageing, pH changes and spray drying versus those droplets coated by a protein single-layer membrane. In the current study, oil-in-water emulsions were created using three flavour compounds – ethyl acetate, ethyl butyrate and ethyl hexanoate. Two samples of the oil-in-water emulsions, one with and one without pectin, were then dried in a spray-drier.

The results showed that when pectin was used as additional oil droplet coating, flavour retention increased notably, and that the beta-sheet structure was protected by pectin. “This protective pectin effect against heat-induced loss of the beta-sheet structure could be used to partly explain the high retention during spray-drying of flavour compounds in oil droplets coated by two-layered interfacial membranes of pea protein and pectin,” wrote the authors.


Modified atmosphere processing to boost shelf-life

Processing fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and other foodstuffs in a modified atmosphere could significantly improve quality and shelf-life, judging by preliminary research at Campden BRI, a food research group in the United Kingdom.

When fresh produce is cut, it starts to brown quickly due to tissue damage, polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzymes oxidize with exposure to oxygen causing browning. Working through hermetically sealed gloves in the glove box in an atmosphere of less than 1 per cent oxygen, researchers were able to dice fruit and vegetables without the enzymatic browning caused by cutting in an oxygen-rich environment. The technique was also used to chop, puree or juice fruit and vegetables. In addition to processing foodstuffs within the glove box, researchers are also studying the effects of bagging and sealing foods in the low-oxygen environment. After bagging and sealing, the product can be withdrawn through a port which is also atmospherically controlled. Mr. Lynneric Potter, Campden’s packaging technologist, believes if the technique proves successful on larger scale, there is potential for many other applications including fresh produce meat, fish and other food.

Onions can act as natural food preservative

The natural flavonoids (antioxidants) found in onions that are beneficial for health can also act as a natural food preservative, claims a new study in Spain. Dr. Jonathan Santas from the Department of Nutrition and Bromatology at the University of Barcelona conducted the study together with the Department of Agrifood Engineering and Biotechnology at Polytechnic University of Cataluna.

Explaining the study findings, Dr. Santas stated: “The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of the flavonoids of the raw onion make it a good candidate for use in food preservation. They are a natural alternative to artificial additives used in food industry.” The researchers studied the effect of extracts of white and yellow onions on microbes such as Staphylococcus aureus, Microcroccus luteus, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli.

The researchers noted that yellow onion extracts have more flavonoid content and better antioxidant capacity. Yellow onion extracts also proved more capable of stopping development of bacteria that cause deterioration of food. “The onion can be effective for delaying lipid oxidation in emulsions of oil and water – a model system of foods like margarines and mayonnaises – and it also inhibits the growth of micro-organisms that alter foods,” wrote the researchers. However, they caution that more research is needed before onion extracts can be recommended as a natural alternative to synthetic preservatives.

Edible coatings boost shelf-life of meat

New antimicrobial edible coatings can extend the shelf-life of fresh meat by up to fifty per cent, according to research from Spain. The coatings – made from essential oils including oregano, clove and rosemary – were applied to the surface of the meat “as a second skin” that were undetectable by consumers, said agricultural engineer Dr. Idoya Fernández Pan from the Public University of Navarre. The research focused on chicken meat and how the application of a range of essential oils incorporated into a coating helped to enhance the shelf-life of the meat.

The coatings are made up of a series of antimicrobial agents that were incorporated into the structural matrix of the product, and then secreted on to the surface of the meat gradually. “Through a bacteriostatic effect, which impedes the proliferation of bacteria, the speed of growth of the pathogen and/or altering agent is reduced, thus enhancing the food safety of the product and extending its shelf-life,” Dr. Fernandez Pan said. She chose eight different essential oils: oregano, clove, rosemary, white thyme, tea tree, sage, coriander and laurel. Edible films and coatings containing different concentrations of these oils were developed and these were shown to be effective against various microbial strains such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enteritidis, Listeria innocua and Pseudomonas fragi.

Films and coatings containing oregano essential oil were found to have the greatest in vitro antimicrobial efficacy against food pathogens such as S. enteritidis and S. aureus, against spoilage bacteria such as P. fragi, and against real mixed populations from different stages of storage of the chicken meat. Significantly, the study found that the application of oregano-based coating boosted shelf-life by almost half to around 13 days in the case of chicken meat that was stored in a refrigerator.

Keeping soft fruit mould-free for longer period

In the United Kingdom, researchers at the University of Nottingham are pioneering a new way of improving the shelf-life of soft fruit like strawberries and raspberries. Working with scientists at Loughborough University and the fruit grower Berryworld, they have successfully used cold plasma technology to keep the mould at bay for longer periods.

It was a chance discovery that led the team of food scientists and microbiologists to believe that cold plasma might be useful in the food sector. They had previously been using the technology, which involves a tiny controllable beam of plasma, to control micro-organisms and to sterilize surfaces. The researchers are now working to see how effective the new technique could be. Early results suggest the cold plasma treatment gives the produce an extra five days of shelf-life. It could have a significant impact on the economics of soft fruit production.

“The cold plasma technology would present a way of eradicating moulds early in the packing process” of soft fruits that are notoriously difficult to keep ‘fur free’ for long said Dr. Cath Rees, an Associate Professor in microbiology at the University of Nottingham. Contact: Dr. Cath Rees, Associate Professor, Food Sciences Division, School of Biosciences, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 5RD, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (115) 951 6167; Fax: +44 (115) 951 6162; E-mail:


‘Special’ coffee may protect against DNA damage

A few cups of a ‘special’ coffee rich in green coffee bean compounds and roast products may protect oxidative damage to DNA and help reduce body fat, say new research from Germany. Body weight and body fat were reduced by an average of 0.63 and 0.69 kg after four weeks of taking a specially prepared coffee, report researchers led by Dr. Tamara Bakuradze, Division of Food Chemistry and Toxicology, University of Kaiserslautern. In addition, the coffee was also associated with a 40 per cent reduction in markers of DNA damage in 33 healthy volunteers, compared with those who did not consume the beverage.

The new study looked at a ‘special’ coffee blend containing roast coffee products and green coffee bean compounds. According to data in the research paper, the coffee was rich in chlorogenic acids and N-methylpyridinium, a compound formed during roasting. The researchers recruited 33 healthy volunteers aged between 20 and 44 and with a body mass index (BMI) ranging from 19 to 32 kg/m2. The 12 week study consisted of three phases: the first four weeks were a wash-out period, which was followed by four weeks of coffee consumption, and then four weeks of wash out.

At the end of the study, the researchers reported markers of DNA damage – measured using the widely accepted comet assay – showed about 40 per cent reduction following the coffee consumption, compared with the first wash-out phase. At the end of the second wash-out phase, the markers had begun to increase again, said the researchers. Body fat and body weight were also significantly reduced following the four weeks of coffee consumption, with the weight loss “significant and more distinct” in lean people (BMI less than 25 kg/m2) than in overweight participants.

Banana juice extraction process

A significant percentage of bananas perishes before reaching the consumer because of the fruit’s short post-harvest shelf-life, and dearth of good quality transportation as well as storage facilities. One effective way to cut this loss would be to extract the juice out of the fruit and preserve it. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India, has developed a novel laboratory-scale process for the extraction of juice from banana and production of banana powder as a by-product.

The moisture content of banana is in bound form, unlike that in many other fruits like apples and citrus fruits. The BARC process achieves separation and extraction of juice through a series of operations like blending, churning, autoclaving and centrifuging. A yield of up to 55 per cent (w/w) of juice with a distinct banana flavour is obtained without addition of any enzymes. The juice can be stored up to 3 months in cold storage at a temperature below 4°C without any preservative. The remaining pulp is converted into fine banana powder through freeze-drying followed by grinding.

The juice is a clear, viscous liquid with a specific gravity of 1.07-1.14 and a pH of 4.5-4.8. The composition of the juice obtained from fully ripened Cavendish banana is: sugar 25-35 per cent and solids 25-27 per cent. The banana powder, the by-product of the process, is a fine and free-flowing hygroscopic powder dark brown in colour. It has a composition of 15-20 per cent sugar, 1.3 per cent soluble fibre, 3 per cent protein and 75-80 per cent insoluble material. Contact: The Head, Technology Transfer & Collaboration Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Mumbai 400 085, India. Tel: +91 (22) 2550 5337, 2559 3897; Fax: +91 (22) 25505151; E-mail:

Cold-active enzyme to reduce production costs

A cold-active enzyme identified yeast isolate may help to reduce production costs by clarifying fruit juices at lower temperatures, says new research from India. The study by researchers from BVB Vivekananda College and Osmania University says that it is possible to produce pectinolytic enzymes, which break down plant cell walls, for fruit juice clarification using the cheaper raw pectin-rich substrates at low temperatures. The scientists, led by first author Dr. P. Naga Padma of BVB Vivekananda College, said low-temperature clarification of fruit juices by cold-active polygalacturonase (PGU) enzymes and with low-cost fruit wastes as substrates is cost-effective, and reduces the risk of spoilage from high processing temperatures. They identified for the process a Saccharomyces species isolate with good growth and enzyme production at low temperatures.

“Cold active PGU enzyme production at 25°C was good with cheap raw pectin substrates like orange peel, apple peel and mango peel,” wrote the researchers, noting it as commercially very important. Commercial pectinases of fungal origin are generally a mixture of enzymes including PGU, pectin lyases and pectin esterases. The researchers screened isolates from pectin-rich spoiled fruits and vegetables (cold stored) and cold soils. Six yeast isolates with high pectin hydrolysis were identified from the screening process and tested for PGU production and activity at room temperature (25°C) and at 5°C. Saccharomyces sp. was found to have good growth at both 25°C and 5°C and was to efficiently produce cold-active PGU enzymes at room temperature.

Sucrose monoester to stabilize beverages

Compass Foods, Singapore, is launching a new sucrose monoester emulsifier as a natural way to stabilize flavour oils, natural colours and nutraceutical ingredients in clear beverages. The new tasteless, odourless Habo Monoester P90 forms part of the company’s SoluClear monosters for making oils soluble category, used in conjunction with the SoluClear process.

SoluClear process makes beverages that have authentic citrus and mint flavours, contain water-soluble carotenoid-based colours without the use of polysorbates, or are fortified with fat-soluble nutraceuticals. It allows for clear, stable beverages using very small proportions of sucrose monoester. Emulsifier to oil ratios can be less than 0.5:1, the company says. The process, in development for more than eight years, involves stabilizing volatile and sensitive compounds through micelle encapsulation and anti-oxidant technologies. Compass Foods not only supplies the ingredient but also has a technical team that can help manufacturers with the development of emulsion systems.


World’s first fully plant-based PET bottle

PepsiCo, the United States-based multinational food and beverage company, has announced the development of the world’s first polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle made entirely from plant-based, fully renewable resources, enabling the company to manufacture a beverage container with a significantly reduced carbon footprint. The company’s “green” PET bottle is reportedly 100 per cent recyclable and is made from bio-based raw materials, such as switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. In the future, the company expects to widen the renewable sources used to create the “green” bottle to include orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural by-products from its foods business.

Combining biological and chemical processes, PepsiCo has identified methods to create a molecular structure that is identical to petroleum-based PET, which results in a bottle that looks, feels and protects its product identically to existing PET beverage containers. PepsiCo will pilot production of the new bottle in 2012. Upon successful completion of the pilot, the company intends to move directly to full-scale commercialization.

Packaging based on waste from crustaceans

GAIKER-IK4 Technological Centre, Spain, is taking part in an international project led by the Sonora Technological Institute in Mexico to design active packaging with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. The objective is to prolong the useful life of packaged food while preserving its original properties. To achieve this, the Centre is developing both the material and their transformation processes, in such a way that molecules with antimicrobial (chitosan) and antioxidant (astaxanthin) properties can be incorporated into the packaging.

Chitosan is obtained from chitin, a structural element of the exoskeleton of crustacea (lobsters, crabs, shrimps, etc.). The antimicrobial capacity of this compound against bacteria and fungi is high, and it is also notable for its non-toxicity. Astaxanthin is a red-coloured pigment present naturally in a great variety of living organisms, including shrimps. Chemically it is a carotenoid which, unlike the others, does not transform into vitamin A (retinol) in the human body. It is a very powerful antioxidant with a capacity 500 times that of Vitamin A and, unlike vitamin A, non-toxic at high concentrations. Both materials are obtained by means of extraction and purification after lactic fermentation. These compounds are subsequently incorporated into polyethylene and polyamide plastic matrixes to prepare the active packaging.

Once the first packaging prototypes are developed, GAIKER-IK4 will evaluate their antioxidant and antimicrobial capacities in the presence of food pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Aspergillus niger. Finally, all these process will be scale up to an industrial level through pilot trials. Other research partners are the Food and Development Research Centre and Bioderpac – both based in Mexico – University of Santiago de Compostela of Spain and Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute of Portugal.

New packaging coating helps keep food fresh longer

Scientists at Texas A&M University, the United States, have developed a material that could be used as a transparent coating to enhance plastic food packaging. The nano-brick is a film that resembles a brick and mortar under a microscope. The eco-friendly coating could ensure that foods and beverages stay fresh and replace foil-based packaging.

The technology offers the preservation properties of glass, according to Dr. Jaime Grunlan, an associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department who authored the research paper. The film integrates mont-morillonite clay particles with multiple polymer materials. The resulting film is almost 70 per cent clay and has a small portion of polymer. The film is less than 100 nm in thickness and is visible to the naked eye. When arranged in layers on an existing plastic packaging, it delivers a strengthened barrier to oxygen.

Barrier packaging for tuna fish

Waldorf Technik, Germany, which makes robotics and automation for injection moulding cells, is reported to be part of a team tasked to create an injection moulding cell for an as-yet unnamed brand owner that wants to test whether its tuna fish can be packed and marketed in plastics packaging rather than in metal tins. Waldorf and the two other companies involved – Kortec Inc. of the United States and Intravis GmbH of Germany – have delivered a moulding cell to run a 32-cavity mould for the brand owner as part of the production trials. If the packaging proves suitable, then the brand owner will order another nine large moulds to convert its production from metal to plastics.

The three companies claim to have developed an injection moulding system and quality assurance equipment allowing for high-volume moulding of polypropylene containers with an ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) barrier in which the barrier layer’s consistency can be 100 per cent verified in-line. EVOH, a co-polymer of ethylene and vinyl alcohol, is often used as a barrier material to prevent oxygen ingress and carbon dioxide egress. The three-layer tuna fish packaging structure will be retortable.

The novelty is the claim that the EVOH barrier layer in every container will be perfect throughout the complete body of the container. Waldorf calls the technology its Check´n Pack EVOH system. Waldorf says its system allows 360° rim, 360° side wall, bottom and injection point inspection. A shelf-life of up to two years can be promised even for sensitive products such as fish, meat, fruit and pet food, the company claims.

First monomeric HALS product with food contact approval

The Germany-based company BASF has developed the first monomeric hindered amine light stabilizer (HALS) for food contact applications in plastics. BASF’s Uvinul 4050 FF protects polymers from degradation, thanks to its combination of HALS and ultraviolet (UV) ray absorbers. “The product enables more effective stabilization of polypropylene applications with food contact,” said BASF spokesman Mr. Tobias Wölfing. While the main application is in consumer goods, the product is also designed for food packaging across a range of sectors – from crates for vegetable and fruit to bulk bags for flour and cereals.

The HALS product, which replaces the chemically identical Uvinul 4050 H, received European Union approval in 2010 for all types of polymer and food, with a specific migration limit (SML) of 50 parts per billion (ppb). “Uvinul 4050 FF is the low-molecular-weight HALS with the broadest food contact approval in plastic applications,” said Mr. Klaus Koch, BASF’s Global Product Manager for Light Stabilizers, adding that consumers benefit from longer-lasting end products and plastic converters no longer risk any non-food contact cross-contamination. The product is also supplied in a compacted pellet form, which is said to improve flowability and reduce dust levels during dosing.

New tea packaging machines

Teepack Spezialmaschinen GmbH & Co KG, a German packaging company specialized in tea bag packing machinery, is introducing its new tea bags packaging machines. Zenobia is a vertical form, fill and seal machine that can produce flat, gusset or block bags for the food and the non-food industries. It comes with patented air-free system and can produce air-reduced stand-up pouches in just one step. Subsequently, with an integrated folding and labelling machine, block bags may be produced continuously.

Compacta, an entry-level machine specializing in tea packaging, avoids cost-intensive electronics and decreases the levels of investment. It can produce up to 250 bags per minute and tea bags with the smallest tags of size of 20 mm × 24 mm. The newly developed, heat-sealing unit enables the machine to pack ready tea bags with tag in an aroma-protected envelope foil. An extended monitoring system, a faulty bag ejection system and machine data gathering system are optional.

The high-end Perfecta Universal allows for the production of three kinds of tea bags on a single machine. With a production speed of 350 bags per minute, it packages tea bags with tag and thread in paper or aroma-protected envelope foil.


Intelligent laser fruit sorter

BEST, a sorting technology company in Belgium, is claiming enhanced laser sorting technology, improved defect detection and heightened accuracy as benefits of its new berry sorting machine. The company said its Primus Gemini system allows berries to be sorted and graded on a single run, instead of the more usual two, to detect soft and discoloured products. The machine can sort cherries, cranberries, raspberries and blueberries.

In the double-sorting step, the fruit, blueberries for example, would get dropped down the sorters twice, resulting in a higher risk of bruising. Another disadvantage is that often one machine is used for both detection steps, resulting in a higher false reject load and the machine not being able to detect all defects. In the new sorter, the berries are sorted by colour to reject the off-spec products. Further on the same run, it inspects the berries again, using laser technology to remove those with structural defects.

The system even allows producers to pick and sort lower quality berries that were previously left on plants because they had too many defects and needed to be gathered manually. Improved inspection capabilities and boosted accuracy means reject streams can now be kept apart and yields improved by reducing false rejects.

New production line to improve herb quality

Technicians at the Academy of Science and Technology, Viet Nam, have designed a production line to improve the productivity and quality of herbs, oils and spices used to flavour or colour food and medicines, or as dried food products. The plant products targeted at present include ginger, crocus, cinnamon, cedar and star aniseed, as well as plum, litchi and cassava.

Dr. Dang Xuan Hao, who is in charge of the work, said most herbs had to be quickly processed after harvest to keep their quality. Sun-drying is the common method used to preserve herbs and spices. But during wet weather conditions, hygiene and quality could be affected by fungi or bacteria.

In the three-year study, the scientists designed a production line consisting of equipment for peeling root plants such as ginger and crocus, and hot-water cleaning equipment that removes any bacteria. There are also a cutting machine that cuts fleshy products into 5 mm slices and a solar heating system to thoroughly dry herbs, even in wet weather, preventing mould growth.

The Essential Oils and Aroma Joint Stock Company, which comes under the Academy, tested the production line in 2009 to produce crocus powder and crocus oil. The operation proved effective in saving labour costs and time, as well as in improving product quality, Dr. Hao said. For example, on average, a worker can peel 10 kg of crocus a day, but the peeling equipment can handle 150 kg per hour. Similarly, the cleaning equipment can handle 500 kg of crocus per hour, five times faster than that done by hands.

New equipment to improve traditional dairy products

SMC College of Dairy Science under Anand Agricultural University, India, has developed several state-of-the-art equipment for the mechanized production of value-added traditional Indian dairy products (TIDP) – such as basundi, kulfi mix, khoa, kheer, peda, thabdi, burfi and halwasan – with better hygienic and rheological properties and improved shelf-life at lower cost of processing.

Dr. Sunil Patel of SMC College, in one of his papers submitted to the Mumbai Chapter of the Association of Food Scientists and Technology (India), has cited these innovations as helpful in commercializing and promoting small entrepreneurship through public-private partnerships. The continuous basundi-making machine (CBM) is one of these. CBM is based on the principle of Scraped Surface Heat Exchanger (SSHE). It consists of a concentration unit of three SSHEs and a chilling unit of two SSHEs with specially designed scrapers, variable frequency drive, resistance temperature detectors and other controls.

The Batch-type halwasan-making machine (BHM) helps standardize the mechanized production of halwasan in terms of sensory profiles as well as compositional and physico-chemical attributes to assure uniform standard and quality. Halwasan prepared using BHM has registered an average sensory score of 92/100 as compared with 88/100 of the traditional product. The cost of processing in BHM is almost half that of conventional method. The keeping quality at room temperature of halwasan made by using BHM is about 20-22 days compared with 8-10 days for halwasan made by conventional method. Other equipment include multi-purpose twin cylinder thin film SSHE, and skid-mounted plate heat exchanger to pre-heat milk.

Continuous cooking system

RotaTherm® continuous cooking system from Gold Peg International, Australia, is a direct steam injection continuous cooking system that can process an extensive range of pumpable products. The heart of the system, the RotaTherm Cooker, uses steam directly with the product so that there is no over or under cooking. Benefits claimed include: improved productivity with the ability to run non-stop for 72 hours; improved product flavour, body and texture due to consistent heating and mixing; low impact on particulates due to minimized pressure drop through system and shear management; and improved product yield.

Among the salient features are:

  • Fully flexible process parameter set up – shear, temperature, pressure, heating profile, mixing, holding time, density, cooling and fill temperature;
  • Ability to cook full range of pumpable products;
  • Reaches set cook temperature rapidly;
  • No burn-on owing to proprietary hardware and software design elements; and
  • Self-diagnosis with alarms, auto divert, auto pause, auto shutdown and auto restart.

The machines offers automatic feed ramping to match speed of single or multiple filling lines. It has a small footprint and allows cleaning in place. Contact: Gold Peg International, 13 Edgecombe Court, Moorabbin, VIC 3189 Australia. Tel: +61 (3) 8531 2999; Fax: +61 (3) 8531 2988; Website:


Oxidation in Foods and Beverages and Antioxidant

Applications Oxidation in Foods and Beverages & Antioxidant Applications: Management in Different Industry Sectors (Volume 2) reviews problems associated with oxidation and its management in different industry sectors. It examines animal products, covering the oxidation and protection of red meat, poultry and fish, and discusses oxidation of fish oils and foods enriched with omega-3 and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The book reviews oxidation in plant-based foods and beverages, including edible oils, fruit and vegetables, beer and wine. After discussing oxidation of fried products and emulsion-based foods, the book also examines encapsulation to inhibit lipid oxidation and antioxidant active packaging and edible films. Contact: Woodhead Publishing Ltd., 80 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge, CB22 3HJ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1223) 499140; Fax: +44 (1223) 832819; E-mail:
Oxidation in Foods and Beverages & Antioxidant Applications: Management in Different Industry Sectors (Volume 2) reviews problems associated with oxidation and its management in different industry sectors. It examines animal products, covering the oxidation and protection of red meat, poultry and fish, and discusses oxidation of fish oils and foods enriched with omega-3 and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The book reviews oxidation in plant-based foods and beverages, including edible oils, fruit and vegetables, beer and wine. After discussing oxidation of fried products and emulsion-based foods, the book also examines encapsulation to inhibit lipid oxidation and antioxidant active packaging and edible films.

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

Oxidation in Foods and Beverages and Antioxidant Applications

Case Studies in Novel Food Processing Technologies: Innovations in Processing, Packaging and Predictive Modelling provides first-hand experiences of many pioneers involved in the development and commercialization of foods produced by novel processing technologies. It presents case studies of commercial products preserved using leading non-thermal technologies of high pressure processing and pulsed electric field processing. The book features alternative novel techniques – such as dense phase carbon dioxide, ozone, ultrasonics, cool plasma, and infrared technologies utilised in food preservation sectors. It also explores novel food preservation techniques using natural antimicrobials, novel food packaging technologies, and oxygen depleted storage techniques.

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


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