VATIS Update Food Processing . May-Jun 2008

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Food Processing May-Jun 2008

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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India to enhance research capacity in food biotechnology

Ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, export and projected growth, the food processing industry is one of the largest industries in India, but still at a nascent stage in terms of development. For it to remain internationally competitive and to provide quality nutritive food for India, application of science and technology in food processing is the most urgent need. There is considerable scope to upgrade food processing technologies using biotechnological approaches, not only minimizing wastage but also maximizing value addition to novel products made in India, thus making them competitive in world market.

Taking into account that modern food processing requires biotechnological interventions, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science & Technology, has taken the initiative to fill this gap by enhancing research capacity in the area of food biotechnology. DBT is initiating integrated Master’s and Doctoral programmes in food science and technology in select institutions from the academic year 2008-09 onwards.

According to Mr. Kapil Sibal, Minister for Science and Technology, the specific goal is to enhance the capacity of four institutions spread across the country with well-developed research and academic programmes. DBT will provide support so as to: (1) produce adequate human resource in this area; (2) expand scientist density and develop faculty research capability; (3) enhance research infrastructure; and (4) pursue practical but ambitious research goals through short- and long-term programme-based funding in the area of food biotechnology.


China’s market watchdog names poor quality food brands

China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) named 18 sub-standard Chinese food brands in a move to better regulate the food market. A market survey of 100 samples of honey products found 46 per cent of the products as not up to national food quality standards, with problems involving excess levels of sucrose and water. SAIC also conducted quality inspections of other foods and found that 21 per cent of liquor, 10.8 per cent of jellies and 10 per cent of children’s food do not meet the food quality standards. In March this year, SAIC had vowed to intensify routine quality checks on grains, meat, vegetables, dairy products, liquor and beverages.


Malaysian ministry may promote halal industry

In Malaysia, the International Trade and Industry Ministry will soon present a working paper to the Cabinet to fix the responsibility of promoting the halal food and non-food industry. Its minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that although the Halal Industry Development Corporation was tasked with promoting the industry, the ministry had been there longer and had the workforce and resources to do the job.

Qualifying his ministry as “the most qualified body to coordinate this industry,” Mr. Muhyiddin said it would also decide whether the scope of collaboration with international producers of halal food and non-food products needs to be expanded, in the light of many international manufacturers expressing their wish to work with Malaysia to get the right certification for halal products. “Since we have limited capacity and ability to produce halal products and face a lot of constraints in terms of resources, capital and raw materials, we have to see what needs to be done to address this issue,” he stated.


Republic of Korea to step up food safety efforts

As part of efforts to strengthen food safety, the government of the Republic of Korea will suspend the operations of foodstuff makers who repeatedly manufacture harmful products or cover up such activities. In a recent policy report to President Mr. Lee Myung-bak, the health, welfare and family affairs ministry also said that it plans to establish an ad hoc centre to which consumers can report their complaints. If such a complaint is deemed serious, the ministry said it will inform the media and order the related company to stop producing and distributing the product in question. The move comes in response to increasing consumer complaints about foreign objects in food products. The ministry said it will draft measures to confiscate profits earned from the sale of goods containing foreign objects, and would allow consumers to file class-action lawsuits against food makers.


Philippine coconut exports decline by 16 per cent

Exports of Philippine coconut products declined by 16 per cent in 2007 to 1.71 million tonnes in copra terms, according to official data from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). Coconut exports had reached 2.03 million tonnes in 2006. According to the PCA, nearly all coconut products experienced a decline in terms of export volume, mainly due to the reduced coconut harvest during the year. The exports in 2007 and those in 2006 (in parentheses) are as follows:

Coconut oil : 886,561 t (1,070,000 t)
Copra meal : 422,889 t (429,965 t)
Desiccated coconut : 130,674 t (136,203 t)
Oleochemicals as copra : 98,599 t (124,316 t)
Coco shell charcoal : 25,553 t (25,578 t)
Activated carbon : 30,474 t (33,849 t)
Glycerine : 16,548 t (11,290 t)
Fresh coconuts : 778 t (2,112 t)


Viet Nam’s seafood exports go up by 11 per cent

The growth of food processing sector has nearly doubled to 13.7 per cent during the last four years, said Mr. Subodh Kant Sahai, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries. Mr. Sahai said the ministry has set a growth target of 20 per cent by 2015, and blamed the mismatch in agricultural production and processing for the turmoil in the food processing sector.

The minister said state governments should adopt financial measures for promoting the food processing sector, which caters to almost 70 per cent of the country’s population. Farmers could reap the benefits of industrialization only if potential investors treated their products as raw material. This, if done, would improve the bargaining capacity of farmers, he added.


Malaysia sets record palm oil exports

Viet Nam’s seafood exports were estimated to reach US$551 million in the first quarter of 2008, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reported. The  department said seafood exports were 11 per cent above first quarter of 2007 and reached US$300 million in March alone. Deputy Minister Mr. Luong Le Phuong said that the total catch for the first quarter was 517 t. Tra catfish exports were valued at US$250 million in the first quarter, he said.


Chinese villages show concern on food safety

The Malaysian Palm Oil Board expects palm oil export earnings to touch a record RM50 billion (US$15.37 billion) this year on anticipation that the price of the commodity will maintain its bullish run. Last year, palm export revenue rose 41.8 per cent to RM45.1 billion (US$13.86 billion) compared with RM31.8 billion (US$9.77 billion) in 2006, though palm oil exports fell 4.8 per cent to 13.7 million tonnes in 2007 from 14.4 million tonnes in 2006.

The Board’s Chairman Datuk Sabri Ahmad said the continued tight supply and high demand for vegetable oils as well as adverse weather conditions could see a continued bull run in palm oil prices this year and the next. He said the palm oil industry recorded a phenomenal performance in 2007, with average palm oil price having risen 67.5 per cent. However, the production of crude palm oil declined marginally to 15.8 million tonnes in 2007 from 15.9 million tonnes in 2006. The total oil palm planted area increased 3.4 per cent in 2007 to 4.304 million ha from 4.165 million ha in 2006, he added.


Philippines to promote tender coconut juice

Up to 86.1 per cent of rural residents in China considered food safety a major concern when shopping, according to a survey conducted by the commerce ministry. The figure is 28 percentage points higher than a year ago, and merely 11.1 percentage points lower than that of urban counterparts. The survey covered 9,305 residents in 22 provincial areas. It found 86.6 per cent of rural consumers and 83.3 per cent of urban ones to be satisfied with food safety.

The ministry said rural residents often fall victim to low-priced, shoddy products. China has intensified quality control checks for urban manufacturers after scandals involving poisonous chemicals in export goods like pet food, toys and seafood. In the first 10 months of 2007, more than 2,800 food factories in the rural areas were demolished for making fake and sub-standard products, said the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. More than 20,000 tonnes of sub-standard food products were taken off the shelves in rural stores and markets, it said.



The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will promote the aromatic green dwarf (AROD) variety of coconuts as the principal source of sweet juice that is cherished by local and foreign consumers. Known as Thai aromatic coconut, the variety is not actually new in the market; it had been grown since 1956. PCA says aromatic coconuts could be a boon to farmers who can use the sweet juice to supply a market hankering for organic juices from coconuts and other fruits.

AROD was registered with the National Seed Industry Council of the Department of Agriculture in 2000, and it has been propagated in La Union, Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Basilan, Davao and Zamboanga. The high demand for planting materials has made the PCA gene bank in Zamboanga City a beehive for the development of AROD seedlings and other coconut ecotypes.

PCA is also recommending 15 coconut hybrids for the National Coconut Planting and Replanting Programme. These hybrids have high productivity and tolerance to adverse growing conditions and can produce 4-6 tonnes of copra per year. They have higher medium chain fatty acid than traditional coconut varieties.



QC measurements for liquid food products and packaging

Production quality and uniformity in food processing and its subsequent packaging is closely related to good quality control (QC) during the manufacturing process, according to Rheology Solutions, a specialist sales & service organization operating within Australia. Laboratory and on-line systems are capable of delivering solutions for QC monitoring.

Laboratory instruments, designed for quick data collection and intuitive understanding of the data can be useful where no proven online alternative exists. On-line systems can provide streamlined data, showing changes in more limited criteria for the product during the process. In this way corrective action can be quickly taken, minimizing potential for waste and reprocessing.

On-line monitoring of shear viscosity is widely accepted for many kinds of materials including for liquid foods and molten polymer packaging. In-pipe or in-tank probes can closely monitor the shear viscosity of the material, for taking appropriate action to maintain the specifications of the food product. These probes can also be set at the die end of an extruder to monitor the viscosity of molten polymer before the moulding of packaging.

Post-extrusion, the packaging material’s quality can be monitored optically to detect, catalogue and notify when user-defined flaws exist in the packaging material (fish-eyes, pinholes, dark/light spots, etc.). For filling a liquid food into a package (by pouring, squirting, spraying, etc.), extensional viscosity often dominates the process.

For some materials stringy strands hang from the nozzle and soil the packaging, necessitating an extra process step to clean the packaging. This stranding is related to the extensional viscosity of the material. Although there is no proven on-line method for monitoring the extensional viscosity of foods as they are dispensed from above into their packaging, a novel, simple and quick laboratory technique has been developed for this purpose – measuring the relative impact of the extensional properties of a liquid.

Testing of solid-like properties in the laboratory is possible for both foods and their packaging with uniaxial testing. Miniature uniaxial testers – texture analysers – can be used to objectively quantify textural properties of a food, while units with larger capacities can also be used to investigate the tearing, stretching, crushing, etc. of the finished packaging product.

Laboratory analyses are good solutions for material characterization and in many cases cannot be otherwise replicated online. However, during production, it is sometimes preferable to have an on-line system for QC, so that any deficiencies in the product or its packaging can be detected as quickly as possible.


Diagnostic kit to detect genetically modified crops

In India, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) have jointly developed a kit for rapid detection of genetically modified (GM) traces in food by going to the level of DNA. An earlier diagnostic test developed by the Central Institute for Cotton Research could detect by going only to the level of protein.

The new diagnostic kit has been validated for detection from whole or crushed seeds of Bt rice and Bt cotton crops. Both these crops have been genetically modified to express cry 1 Ac and cry 2 Ab transgenes from Bacillus thuringiensis. The kit employs the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique for rapid detection of five elements in the transgenic cassettes – the promoter CaMV 35S, transgene cry 1 AC or cry 1 Ab, marker gene npt II and the end-signal NOS-T. The detection of four of these elements is based on primers designed by CDFD and cross-validated by other national laboratories, while the detection of CaMV 35S is based on primers designed to ISO standards, which are likely to be adopted by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

“These tests have been shown to be useful in detecting Bt cotton and Bt rice seeds at an admixture as low as 0.4 per cent with non-Bt seeds,” said DBT secretary, Dr. M.K. Bhan. He said that this diagnostic kit can also be used for Bt brinjal, Bt cauliflower, GM mustard with barnase/barstar gene and GM tomato with osmotin gene.


Food texture analyser

The food texture analyser TMS-Pro from Food Texture Corporation, the United States, is a fully programmable and flexible texture analyser. Programmes can be generated and changed by the user. A simple penetration probe test routine can be written or a comprehensive chewing simulation with cyclic motions with varying positional points, speeds and forces.

TMS-Pro is available with a wide variety of accessories such as: the Warner-Bratzler test cell for meat shear testing, the Kramer Shear cell for peas texture testing, extrusion cells for testing purees and pull table for pizza testing. Comprehensive data analysis is available for measuring food texture characteristics such as brittleness, hardness, crispiness and ripeness, and graphs can be overlaid to compare texture samples with each other. Contact: Food Technology Corporation, 45921 Maries Road, Suite 120, Sterling, VA 20166, United States of America. Tel: +1 (703) 444 1870; Fax: +1 (703) 444 9860; E-mail: info


Optimizing food taste, texture, nutrition

A food’s structure plays an important role in defining many of the characteristics of food, such as taste, texture and nutrition. For instance, to release nutrients into the body, the food structure must take on a certain complex arrangement. Researchers from Nestle and the University of California, the United States, have investigated the physics of food structure, and their results may help scientists create foods with optimal stability, nutrient delivery, flavours and aromas.

In this study, the scientists looked at how water molecules interact with lipids. These interactions could serve as a physical basis for understanding and defining the structure of different foods, enabling scientists to assemble the various components in an optimal organized structure.

Until now, no quantitative theoretical framework had been established to understand the structural changes that occur in lipid-water interactions under varying conditions. The scientists have now developed a thermodynamic model, which describes the phase sequences that take place in solutions of lipids and water. These phase sequences were calculated using a quantum mechanical theory called self-consistent field theory. In the future, the researchers will investigate how to apply this understanding of food structure to optimize foods for different specific purposes and on an industrial scale.


Rapid detection kits for food-borne pathogens

Escherichia coli 0157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes are two high-risk food pathogens linked with food-borne disease outbreaks. A highly sensitive and specific multiplex PCR assay has been developed to unequivocally detect within 10 hours the presence of E. coli 0157:H7 from naturally contaminated milk and milk products. The PCR assay developed was found to be highly specific, as it produced PCR products of 152 bp (E. coli specific) and 625 bp (E. coli 0157:H7 specific). The specificity and sensitivity of the assay was further enhanced (1-10 cells) using IMS.

Another multiplex PCR assay based on two sets of primers – one genus-specific targeted against 16S rRNA (genus specific, 1200 bp) and ‘hly’ (L. monocytogenes specific, 713 bp) – has been developed to detect L. monocytogenes. The specificity of the assay was also checked in this study to rule out the possibility of false positive results. The sensitivity was limited to 10 ng of the pure DNA from L. monocytogenes when used as template. The multiplex PCR was able to detect as low as 1-10 cells of the pathogen after 4-6 hours enrichment in BHI broth.

The two multiplex PCR tests are now available in a ready-to-use kit. The kit also includes the reagents for extraction of template DNA, using a simple and effective “NDRI method”, from milk and milk products and other foods which is a very crucial step. The PCR kit has a shelf life of 15 days at ambient temperature, 45 days at refrigeration temperature and six months at -20ºC.



Natural rice bran extracts for healthy cookies

Antioxidant-rich extracts from rice bran may extend the shelf life and improve the nutritive profile of cookies, suggests new research from Pakistan. The study, led by Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Bhanger from University of Sindh in Jamshoro report that rice bran extracts, besides improving the antioxidant profile of cookies, may also contribute towards stabilization.

The new research prepared cookies using methanolic extracts of rice bran (500, 1,000 and 2,000 ppm) in sunflower oil, and compared them with cookies prepared using butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) at 200 ppm.

The oxidative stability of the cookies, measured during one year’s storage in ambient conditions, was found to be highest for the cookie prepared using the highest concentration of the rice bran extract, according to levels of unsaturated fatty acids and saturated fatty acid. The results were authenticated by other measures of oxidative stability, such as peroxide value, iodine value and free fatty acid content, suggesting rice bran to be a potent antioxidant for the stabilization of cookies up to longer periods, reports the study.


New sweet potato paste

In the United States, researchers from the Agricultural Research Service, North Carolina State University and the Industrial Microwave Systems have jointly created a unique, rapid microwave heating process that enable sweet potatoes to be turned into puree without losing their nutritional content or distinctive colour or flavour. The new puree has already hit the market.

The process provides a new market for sweet potatoes that are imperfect in shape or size and might ordinarily be discarded. The potential of sweet potatoes lies in their nutritional content – they are very high in beta carotene and also contain phenolic compounds, vitamin C, vitamin B6, dietary fibre and potassium, among other nutrients.

As a food ingredient, sweet potatoes are also used as natural food colourings – the anthocyanins that give them their distinctive colour can be extracted, a secondary functionality after their antioxidant effect. Spray-dried sweet potatoes could also be used as thickeners.


Additive-free fruit and vegetable preparations

Frutarom, the multinational flavour and fragrance group, is launching new premium fruit, vegetable and herb preparations made with a novel process, which is said to retain their natural characteristics and reduce the need for additives. The VeriTaste Food Systems ingredients are suitable for use in a broad range of finished products, including fresh dairy, ice creams, desserts, bakery products and products for the culinary sector.

VeriTaste preparation process involves three steps. The fruit, vegetables or herbs are gently heated first, before being given a brief blast of thermal treatment at temperatures of up to 135ºC. The final cooling process is quick and gentle. The result, according to the company, is preparations that have guaranteed microbial safety, and less or no need for preservatives. They also retain the original flavour spectrum of the produce, and keep the original colour and shape. The shelf life of the preparations is said to be up to 12 months.


Herbal solution for stable hydrogel

The production of stable, cross-linked hydrogels could be possible by using the herbal substance genipin, suggest Indian researchers. Genipin is the active compound found in the gardenia fruit extract. A highly viscose, thermally stable hydrogel was produced by treating agar and kappa-carrageenan with the natural cross-linker genipin, according to the researchers from Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute.

Hydrogels are liquid or semi-solid materials composed of long-chain molecules cross-linked to one another to create many small empty spaces that can absorb water or other liquids like a sponge. If the spaces are filled with, for example, a bioactive compound the hydrogel could release it gradually, as the structure biodegrades. “This genipin cross-linked blend presents an immense potential for food applications and in other pH-specific applications as well,” reports lead author Mr. Ramavatar Meena.

Optimal conditions were reported as 75 per cent carrageenan, 25 per cent agar, and 0.8 per cent genipin. The resulting hydrogel could swell by 8,600 per cent and 9,380 per cent at pH 1.2 and 7.0, respectively, the research indicates. Mass spectrometry analysis revealed that the genipin was fixed chemically and not physically in the hydrogel.


New antioxidant nutritional ingredient

A comprehensive in vivo study on the antioxidant profile of Capros® antioxidant product, manufactured by Natreon Inc. in the United States, has substantiated its positive impact on health and vitality. Capros, which is a cascading antioxidant ingredient developed from the Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica), helps balance the body’s homeostasis and overcome oxidative stress.

The in vivo study shows that Capros has better or comparable antioxidant potential based on well known in vivo radical scavenging assays, such as changes in superoxide dismutase and catalase activity (markers that increase transiently and are down-regulated during excess or chronic oxidant exposure) and malonedialdehyde level (used as a convenient index of lipid peroxidation-related oxidative damage of tissues). Compared specifically with the popular extracts of pine bark, grape seed and pomegranate, the resulting values for Capros showed significantly better defence against chronic oxidative stress with no adverse effects.

The model design included controls and was a severe challenge to the mice, based on 28-day administration of potassium dichromate, known to produce oxidative stress. The assays were made on samples taken from the brain, liver and plasma of the animals. Natreon claims that Capros brings together the powers of ancient medicine with the support and backing of modern science and clinical research.



Indian government regulates food commodities trade

The Indian government has scrapped import duties on edible oil and tightened restrictions on rice exports to rein in inflation that hit a 13-month high of 6.68 per cent, a government spokesman said. Earlier, import duties on maize was cut to zero from 15 per cent, while a ban on exports of pulses was extended for 12 months.

All exports of non-basmati rice would be stopped, the Finance Minister Mr. Chidambaram said, and the minimum export price for basmati hiked to US$1,200 per tonne from the current US$1,100. The country had already halted most non-basmati rice exports before the new decision, but had continued some sales to countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh which face shortages.


Tracking system put in China’s food safety draft law

The new product identification and tracking system, which has been in the spotlight recently over concerns it may raise production costs, has been written into China’s draft food safety law, a senior quality control official said. The system will become a legal obligation for all food companies if it is passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), said Mr. Pu Changcheng, deputy director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

“The system, which allocates a unique code to every product, is another major step forward in ensuring quality,” Mr. Pu said. It allows every stage of a product’s production and distribution cycle to be tracked, and interested consumers can also get information about the products they buy via the Internet or telephone. By the end of the year, all products in nine categories, including food, cosmetics and home appliances, must carry a code or they will not be allowed to be sold.

Food companies, however, argue that the system will increase their production costs. More than 20 firms – including Nestle, Mars, Coca-Cola and Pepsico – have submitted a joint petition against the system to the legislative affairs commission of the NPC Standing Committee and State Council Legislative Affairs Office. The system will slow production, will need purchase of new equipment, and changes will have to be made to packaging and design, the firms said in the petition. In response to this, Mr. Song Mingchang, director of the system’s promotion office, said the administration will work with food companies to iron out problems as they arise.


Republic of Korea to label safer children snacks

The government of Republic of Korea is considering labelling “authorized” children’s snacks that do not exceed government-approved levels of sugar, fat and sodium, and contain no more than 200 kilocalories. The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) has said that hygiene and nutrition standards for 30 kinds of children’s snacks – such as cookies, ice cream, dairy products and beverages – will be set by the end of the year. Those qualified will be designated government-authorized children’s snacks. KFDA will also ban using food dye and limit caffeine levels for snacks for children.

The exact standards are yet to be set and the KFDA said it will make specific guidelines after consulting snack makers and civic groups. KFDA came up with the guidelines since many children’s snacks were found to have little nutritional value.


Indian tea to get geographical indicator status

The long-felt need of the tea planting community in the Nilgiris, India, for a separate identity for the tea grown here will become a reality soon. The Union Minister of State for Commerce, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, said within four or five months orthodox tea produced in the Nilgiris would be provided with a geographical indicator like Darjeeling tea. The special logo would enhance the value of the produce.



Natural preservative for bakery products

Rancidity and oxidation of fortified bakery products are common problems due to the high fat content inherent in whole grain flour, nuts, seeds, oats flakes, vegetable oils and butter, as well as the omega-3 fats frequently used today for increasing nutrition values. High fat contents and storage temperatures can cause changes in the organoleptical characteristics of the final product as well, impacting flavour, aroma and appearance.

INOLENS 12, an all-natural preservative developed by Vitiva, Slovenia, can readily be blended with other ingredients, such as flour, sugar and powdered milk, as well as fats and oils. It can easily replace synthetic antioxidants in all baked goods, as it significantly reduces organoleptic changes and provides outstanding anti-rancidity protection, explains Mr. Ohad Cohen, CEO of Vitiva.


Shelf-stable, meltable particulate food product

Kerry Inc., the United States, has patented a shelf-stable, meltable, particulate, food-grade, savoury plasticized composition, having a water activity (aw) of 0.70 or below. The composition is an oil-in-water emulsion made of: a protein that forms a thermally reversible meltable gel; plasticizer components to solubilize the protein, comprising a polyol plasticizer and a non-polyol plasticizer; an edible oil component sufficient to provide proper texture, mouthfeel and melt characteristics to the plasticized composition; and a savoury flavouring component.

The product typically comprises: 10-30 weight-per cent protein; 15-50 weight-per cent plasticizer component, including 10-40 weight-per cent polyol plasticizer and 3-15 weight-per cent non-polyol plasticizer; 10-40 weight-per cent oil component (such as partially hydrogenated soybean oil); 5-25 weight-per cent moisture; and 10-40 weight-per cent flavour characterizing component (such as cheese or tomato).

The invention aims to provide long-term shelf stability to selected snack toppings without compromising the shelf life of associated substrates, natural texture or flavour-release attributes. In the case of a meltable cheese shred on a cereal-based chip, a combination of protein and a particular non-aqueous plasticizer system are used to achieve the gel texture while maintaining a low enough moisture content so that the snack chip base remains unaffected during shelf life.

The topping is designed to have a melting point that facilitates adhesion to the snack chip and retail shelf life. This melting point is low enough to avoid the need for high temperatures for binding to the snack substrate, but high enough to prevent melting during distribution. Besides meltable cheese, the product design principles of the present invention can be used with other savoury items, such as tomato sauce and sour cream.


Best method to chill chicken depends on water

Chilling is an important step in processing poultry carcasses before marketing of the birds, and there are different ways to do it. Scientists at the Richard B. Russell Research Centre of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United Stated Department of Agriculture, recently compared two chilling methods to determine which better suits processors’ needs. Food technologists Dr. Julie Northcutt and Dr. Doug Smith evaluated the two primary industry methods in terms of meat quality, food safety and water management.

Carcass temperature must be quickly lowered after poultry slaughter to prevent growth of bacterial pathogens that may cause food-borne illness when consumed. Immersion chilling – in which chicken carcasses are submerged cold water or an ice-and-water mix – is the method now mostly used in the United States. Dry-air chilling blasts carcasses with cold air. Evaporative-air chilling combines cold air blasts and water misting. Some poultry processors are beginning to convert to dry-air chilling.

Both immersion chilling and air chilling met criteria for limiting bacterial pathogen growth on chicken. But tender chicken is also important to consumers. During commercial processing, whole carcass is aged under refrigerated conditions to allow muscle fibres to relax and become tender. Research has shown that air chilling leads to better quality of breast fillets and provides higher cooked-meat yields than immersion chilling.

In the end, water may be the most important factor in deciding which chilling method may be most feasible in the future. It takes an average of 26.5 litres of water to process each chicken, and switching to air chilling can save a minimum of 5.7 litres per bird.


Essential oil combinations offer shelf-life prolongation

Combining low levels of essential oils (EOs) could enhance their antimicrobial power and remove adverse taste effects, suggest researchers from Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. However, they add a rider that careful selection of EOs appropriate to the sensory and compositional status of the food system is required, as their application for microbial control might be affected by food composition.

Dr. Paula Bourke and co-workers studied the efficacy of essential oil combinations – including rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, sage, basil, lemon balm and marjoram – against food-borne pathogens such as Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Promising results were obtained from these initial experiments for oregano in combination with basil, thyme or marjoram, with an additive efficacy of the oregano combinations against B. cereus, E. coli and P. aeruginosa. In terms of L. monocytogenes, the researchers report that marjoram or thyme in combination with rosemary, basil or sage showed additive protection.

Dr. Bourke’s team also studied the effect of food ingredients on the efficacy of EOs, and concluded that the antimicrobial efficacy of the EOs is a function of ingredient manipulation. Higher protein concentrations and moderately acidic conditions, for example, were found to boost the antimicrobial activity of oregano and thyme. On the other hand, higher concentrations of potato starch or sunflower oil acted to reduce the efficacy of the oils.



Dehydration of probiotics and enzymes

EnWave Corporation, Canada, recently announced its success in applying its radiant energy vacuum (REV) technology to dehydrate probiotics and enzymes used in the food and fine biochemical industries. It has conducted a range of internal and third-party tests to determine the feasibility of using REV technology in dehydrating probiotics and enzymes. EnWave is seeking an alternative to the industry standard of freeze drying, which is time consuming and expensive, and can require constant refrigeration of the end product during storage and shipment.

Dr. Tim Durance, EnWave Corporation’s Chairman and Co-CEO, reported encouraging results from the company’s research in using REV to dehydrate probiotics and enzymes in small vials. He said that additional research would be undertaken to refine the process and design equipment for meeting commercial processing requirements in the industry.

EnWave’s goal is to develop new REV technology as a continuous bulk powder processing method capable of dehydrating probiotics and enzymes. The initial proof of concept, expected later in 2008, will be used to determine the feasibility and commercial scalability of the technology. Contact: Dr. Tim Durance, Chairman and Co-CEO, EnWave Corporation, Suite 2000, 1066 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC V6E 3X2, Canada. Tel: +1 (604) 806 6110; Fax: +1 (604) 806 6112.


Probiotic condiments

Zukay Live FoodsTM has launched the first-ever probiotic, lacto-fermented condiments. Each product in the ZukayTM line-up – ketchup, salsas and relishes – contains a symbiosis of live cultures with fresh rw vegetables and aromatic herbs in a non-dairy base. The entire Zukay line is 100 per cent natural with no chemicals or preservatives.

Lacto-fermentation is a unique process performed completely by natural means. Lactobacilli or other symbiotic beneficial bacteria are added to fresh vegetables and allowed to grow. These friendly bacteria consume the starches and sugars in the vegetables turning them into lactic acid, which acts as a natural preservative. This natural fermentation process gives the Zukay products a delicious and fresh taste, and creates a probiotic platform that adds many vitamins and enzymes not available in unfermented foods.

Zukay products feature a powerful probiotic mix of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus thermophilus. Contact: Zukay Live Foods LLC, P.O. Box 514, Elverson, PA 19520, United States of America. Tel: +1 (610) 286 3077; E-mail:


New technique for rapid DNA profiling of E. coli

Michigan State University (MSU), the United States, has developed a new technique to test the DNA of Escherichia coli bacteria by examining very small genetic changes called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Using SNPs, scientists analysed 96 markers, making genetic analysis of pathogenic bacteria possible at a rate never before accomplished. “It used to take three months to score one gene individually,” said Dr. Thomas Whittam at the National Food Safety and Toxicology Centre at MSU. “Now, we are working on a new, more rapid system that can do thousands of genes per day.” Dr. Whittam and colleagues looked at the DNA of more than 500 strains of E. coli O157:H7. “For the first time, we know why some outbreaks cause serious infections and diseases and others don’t,” Dr. Whittam said. “The different E. coli groups produce different toxins.”

Rapid genetic characterization would help identify the exact bacterial culprits in outbreaks and also find out source of their origin. This is the first time anyone has classified very closely related groups, and also the first time the differences in how they cause disease were identified. Dr. Whittam plans to use this methodology to study other bacterial strains, like Shigella, a major cause of diarrhoea around the world.



Microwave pipe technology for uniform food heating

Industrial Microwave Systems (IMS), the United States, claims to have developed a more efficient tube-based heating system for aseptic liquid and semi-liquid food products. According to IMS, its cylindrical heating system offers a means of uniformly heating food and beverages, reducing the risk of disproportionately heated ‘hot spots’.

This is vital to prevent flavour loss and aesthetic degradation that can result from improper heating.
The system can be used to heat liquid, semi-liquid and other pumpable food products through a continuous tube-based flow process, IMS said. It can continuously provide thermal energy to any produce flowing through the tube simultaneously, thus ensuring rapid sterilization of products. The technology, which was developed in cooperation with North Carolina State University Department of Food Science and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, has received its first commercial licence for industrial use.


Fruit and vegetable sorter

Key Technology, the United States, is launching a new high-volume sorter for fruit and vegetable processors to speed up operations. The Manta machine has a two-metre wide scan area that can handle up to 27 tonnes of processed fruit or vegetables per hour. It also has high-resolution scanning to detect and remove small defects and foreign material. The machine is claimed to have the highest number of sensors and image processing modules of any such device on the market. It can be configured with up to eight top-mounted colour or visible infrared cameras and up to two top-mounted FluoRaptor fluorescence-sensing lasers. Optional bottom-mounted sensors can also be added for specific operations.

These sensors and cameras allow the machine to detect any variations in colour in vegetables or fruit, and remove those with defects. Other advantages of the Manta include its design which allows both on-belt and off-belt viewing, as well as in-air viewing. Unlike other sorters that need extra elements such as separate cooling systems, water filters, and air dryers, Manta incorporates all the necessary components in one system. The machine has fewer horizontal surfaces where debris can build up and no overlapping surfaces that can trap bacteria, making the technology less susceptible to sanitation problems.


Advanced compressed air filters

A number of international dairy producers and packagers are adopting energy-efficient compressed air filtration. OIL-X Evolution compressed air filters, from the international group Parker domnick hunter Filtration, optimize air flow paths through the filter’s housing and element to greatly reduce air turbulence and pressure losses, lowering system operating costs. The technology is claimed to be well suited to the dairy industry, where production purity and energy efficiency are essential.

Aerospace technology eliminates all unnecessary pressure losses in the new filters. Air streams are channelled through the filters in a way that reduces turbulence and pressure losses, including the use of full radius blended bends, diffusers and turning vanes that reduce a 90º inlet corner into a number of smaller, more efficient, corners. OIL-X Evolution filters has a flow distributor to distribute the air stream evenly throughout the filter element for maximum filtration performance. The filter media selected is a borosilicate glass nanofibre with 96 per cent open area, providing high dirt holding capacity. An oleophobic coating actively repels oil and water, ensuring the open area is maximized for dirt entrapment.



All-natural juice superfood smoothies

New Beverage Insights Juiceworks, the United States, has introduced a new line of all-natural, 100 per cent juice superfood smoothies under the brand of Sun ShowerTM with the added nutritional benefits of LifeguardTM Protection, a fortification package of essential vitamins, nutrients, amino acids, electrolytes and herbs. Available as five functional products, each focusing on a single nutritional benefit, the smoothies contain three servings of fruit/vegetables per bottle (12 oz). The smoothies and their claimed features are:

• Stamina (fruit smoothie, grape-apple) – Fortified with 20-plus essential vitamins (A, C, & E), nutrients, amino acids, electrolytes and herbs.
• Strength (protein smoothie, orange-crème) – Fortified with 15-plus essential vitamins, nutrients, amino acids (30 g/12 oz), electrolytes and herbs.
• Revitalize (fruit smoothie, apple-kiwi-mango) – Charged with electrolytes and fortified with 25-plus essential vitamins, nutrients, amino acids, electrolytes and herbs.
• Defense (fruit & vegetables smoothie, berry) – Fortified with 25-plus customized and essential vitamins, nutrients, amino acids, electrolytes and herbs.
• Heart Healthy (fruit smoothie, tropical passion) – Contains essential B vitamins and bioflavonoids, besides antioxidant vitamins A, C & E and fortified with essential nutrients, amino acids, electrolytes and herbs.

In addition to superfood smoothies, Sun Shower produces and distributes a premium line of pure pressed 100 per cent juices in five flavours.


Tender coconut wine

When root-wilt affected his coconut plantation, Mr. Sebastian P. Augustine developed coconut wine from tender coconut. Instead of selling the technology to a bigger company, he has decided to commercially produce the wine himself.

Coconut wine was pioneered in China and the Philippines. However, they used grated coconut, coconut water and water. Mr. Augustine’s patented technology uses only tender coconut kernel and tender coconut water, and it has more sugar content. “Therefore, unlike the Chinese technology, only a little sugar is needed to ferment,” says Mr. Augustine. He claims that the tender coconut wine is devoid of any artificial agents and can be the purest fruit drink, as it does not even contain additional water, as found in other wines.

In the process, the water from tender coconuts is mixed well with the kernel. Then, a few fruits – such as grapes and pineapple – and spices – such as cinnamon, clove and vanilla – are added along with a bit of sugar, and the concoction is left to ferment for nearly a month. The wine then is cleared, pasteurized and bottled. The wine has an ethyl alcohol content of 12.5 per cent.


New fruit juice energy drink

Scientists at fruit company HortResearch in New Zealand have shown in laboratory tests that when isolated muscle tissue is exposed to fruit extracts and then given an electrical impulse, the muscle power increases by up to 70 per cent and the onset of fatigue is delayed by up to 20 per cent.

Sports drinks generally include synthetic ingredients and sugars designed to boost energy and combat dehydration. In contrast, the new energy juice would be made up of fruit compounds that would work by boosting muscle power through the body’s interplay with testosterone. Mr. Kieran Elborough, business leader for food & health at HortReseach, claims to have evidence that specific fruit compounds can aid muscle recovery and reinforce immunity. “The boost in muscle power is related to rises in the level of testosterone,” he says.



Hybrid packaging designed for green benefits

AisacanTM, a new re-sealable packaging for beverages – designed as a hybrid between a bottle, can and pouch – offers processors both environmental and convenience benefits for their products, says its manufacturer Aisapack SA, Switzerand. Aisacan has been designed with a rigid base, while also making use of soft multi-layer laminate walls for reduced weight.

Aesthetically appealing, flexible, shatterproof and conveniently re-closable, Aisacan can nearly halve the carbon footprint required by a rival PET container using a shrink sleeve, Aisapack claims. While Aisacan is not as light as pouch packaging, it generally weighs less than most bottles, while still keeping weight where it is needed to ensure rigidity during storage and transportation.

Aisacan can make use of various materials like aluminium laminates in its walls to afford a can-like feel designed to chill a product from a refrigerator. Propylene laminates can also be used for beverages with high-acidity levels below a pH of 4, making it ideal for products like sport drinks, the company claims.


Packaging with palm fibre

Earthcycle Packaging, Canada, has developed an innovative way to turn raw palm fibre, a waste product discarded when the palm fruit is harvested for its oil, into an environmentally responsible packaging alternative. The packaging will turn into healthy, productive humus for the soil in less than 90 days when composted.

Earthcycle has developed durable, sturdy and display-ready tray packs for fresh vegetables and fruit industries. The packaging material is water-resistant and comes in two colours – natural fibre and vanilla. Earthcycle’s line of food service trays are designed for a range of food, including salads, sandwiches, fries, burgers and complete dinners. The company can develop custom solutions for specific needs. The take-out containers are both oil and water-resistant and microwaveable.

Lid options include NatureFlex in a heat-sealable bag or wrap format, and rigid PET lids suitable for stacking and transport. Earthcycle products are strong enough for machine-applied stretch wrap. Stretch netting is available as a breathable and reusable option. Earthcycle’s packaging is a natural product that complies with USFDA and Canadian CFIA requirements for contact with food. Contact: Earthcycle Packaging Ltd., Suite 1100, 1166 Alberni Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6E 3Z3, Canada. Tel: +1 (604) 899 0928; Fax: +1 (604) 682 4133; E-mail:


Aseptic bag-in-box packaging

A.R. Arena Products Inc., the United States, has added aseptic-filling capabilities to its hands-free Air-Evac® system. The industry-proven Air-Evac bag-in-box packaging system greatly increases the amount of high viscosity fluids that can be extracted from bag-in-box packages. The addition of the aseptic, high-capacity barrier bags brings the efficiencies and cost savings of the Air-Evac system to high-quality food applications such as fruit fillings, diced tomatoes, sauces and other mid-range viscosity food products.

The aseptic, metallized film bags are available with a variety of barrier films to meet customers’ specific needs. They are available in both the Starfish and Blowfish Air-Evac liquid liner styles. The Starfish provides top discharge, while the Blowfish provides bottom discharge. Customers also have the option of using the Arena bag cassette, which makes filling easier by positioning the bottom fitment near the bottom drain hole so that operators can easily lock it into place prior to filling. The cassette also helps to keep the top fitment centred and allows the bag to fill to its maximum volume.

The Air-Evac system functions by replacing the volume of liquid pumped out of the inner chamber of the liners with shop air introduced to chambers on the outside of the bag. The inflating air chambers push the liquid content towards the bag outlet. As product pools around the drain opening, it can be easily pumped out, enabling the Air-Evac to achieve very low residual levels, virtually eliminating waste. The shop air does not come into direct contact with the bag contents, preventing product contamination. Contact: Arena Products Inc., 2101 Mt. Read Boulevard, Rochester NY 14615, United States of America. Tel: +1 (800) 836 2528; E-mail:; Website:


Cost-effective skin packing machine

Cryovac, a subsidiary of Sealed Air Corporation, a global manufacturer of packaging materials and systems, has developed a machine designed specifically for lower output cost-effective packaging. The R175 CD, the latest addition to Cryovac’s Darfresh packaging line, can provide skin packaging for fresh food products to smaller processors while reducing installation and operating costs.

The R175 CD rollstock model has been designed to offer a compact packaging solution. Developed specifically for Darfresh line, the packager has applications with a large variety of products such as fresh or frozen seafood, meats, poultry and even cheese and ready meals. According to the company, the Darfresh system uses two different webs of packaging to create a wrap around package for food products that acts as a second skin. The packaging is designed to gently, but firmly, wrap directly around all surfaces of a food product to provide an airtight vacuum in order to improve shelf life.


Reusable packing box

Entropy Solutions, the United States, has developed a high-tech packaging system that can maintain pre-programmed internal temperatures to protect perishable products like food and medical supplies for five days, long enough to reach most destinations around the world. Called the “Green Box”, the system – which consists of an outer shell, insulation panels and packs of special “phase changing” materials – can be reused many times.

Green Box boasts three layers of thermal defence to keep out heat or cold. The first is an HDPE outer container. The second layer consists of Thermal-Lok® insulation panels. Using nanotechnology, Entropy manipulates the microscopic pores in the panels so energy cannot easily pass through. The third layer comprises packs of patented materials made from vegetable oils that change states of matter depending on certain temperatures. Energy that seeps into the box bounces between the packs as the materials phase back and forth between solid and liquid states, creating in effect an internal thermostat within the box that can handle settings ranging from -4º to 122ºC.

Phase-changing materials are not new; however, Entropy’s patented system is claimed to make it possible to maintain temperatures across such a broad range in the box for long periods of time even under extreme outside temperatures. Green Box is also reported to save money because one system can be reused more than 100 times. The boxes can, after use, can be sent back to one of Entropy’s reclamation centres.


Zip-Pak slider system

Propac Industrial Pty. Ltd. of Australia, together with Zip-Pak, a leading global resealable technology provider, has introduced the first Australian-made Zip-Pak slider system. The Propac vertical form-fill-seal (VFFS) model 90-D machine produces resealable ‘Standa’ pouches with consumer preferred slider zipper technology. Propac incorporated technology from Zip-Pak’s AMI equipment division to develop a new zipper applicator for the VFFS 90-D.

The Standa pouch is a large, resealable bottom-gusseted pouch with a flat instead of curved base, suited for larger packages. Specially designed for packages up to 300 mm wide and 450 mm tall, and carrying between 500 g to 5 kg, the Standa package can be used as an eye-catching platform for various marketing graphics and brand messaging for products sold in the large-size pouch. Standa pouch has full-mouth opening and slider zippers at the top to offer easy access to contents.

In addition to creating Standa pouches, the versatile 90-D can also create Doy-style stand-up packages using low-density polyethylene, which is an improvement over older systems that could only use laminated film. The machine can also be quickly converted in only 40 minutes to run 3-sided, 4-sided, pillow and bottom-gusseted packages, with either press-to-close or slider zippers.



Handbook of Food Packaging Chemicals and Materials

This second edition handbook is a comprehensive source of information on chemicals and materials used in the packaging, holding, manufacturing, processing and treating of foods. It is designed to function as a material and chemical selection tool for the food packaging and processing industry. The book centralizes information on these food packaging and processing components by profiling both trade name and generic products, detailing their properties, uses, use levels, regulatory status, toxicology, sources for purchase, etc.

Contact: Smithers Rapra Technology Ltd., Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 4NR, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1939) 252413; Fax: +44 (1939) 251118; E-mail:

Frozen Food Science and Technology

This book provides a detailed account of freezing and frozen storage of food. It describes the process of freezing and the fundamentals of thermal and physical processes that occur during freezing. Experts in each stage of the frozen cold chain provide guidelines and advice on how to freeze food and keep its quality during storage, transport, retail display and in the home. The book also covers specific aspects of freezing relevant to the main food commodities: meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. Legislation and new freezing processes are also covered. Frozen Food Science and Technology thus offers in-depth knowledge of current and emerging refrigeration technologies along the entire frozen food chain. It is aimed at food scientists, technologists and engineers within the frozen food industry; frozen food retailers; and researchers and students of food science and technology.

Contact: John Wiley & Sons Asia, 2 Clementi Loop, #02-01 LogisHub@Clementi, Singapore, 129809. Tel: +65 6460 4280; Fax: +65 6463 4604


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