VATIS Update Food Processing . May-Jun 2009

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Food Processing May-Jun 2009

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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ADB loan to improve food safety in Viet Nam

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a US$95 million loan to Viet Nam for a programme aimed at improving the safety, quantity and quality of commercial food crops, as well as providing alternative and clean energy supply to households through biogas development. The project will seek to upgrade food regulations and quality control systems to comply with both domestic and export standards. New infrastructure and facilities to support safe food products will be established, and biogas plants will be built to reduce health hazards from livestock waste. The total project cost of US$110.4 million includes US$6.22 million from the central government, US$6.5 million from the peoples committees in the 16 provinces, US$1.35 million from partner financial institutions and another US$1.35 million equivalent from the beneficiaries of the biogas plants.

Financial support, including a credit line, will be available to 40,000 households for the development of biogas digesters, which both reduce pollution and provide an alternative energy source. ADB added that projects eligible for carbon credits will be developed in conjunction with the biogas units, helping to generate revenue for the government. Also, the project is expected to directly benefit around 6.5 million farmers in 16 provinces and generate about 1.4 million jobs in post-production work. As a result, poverty incidence in the project areas is expected to fall from 19 per cent to 10 per cent over the 2016-2020 period. The ADB loan has a 32-year maturity with a grace period of 8 years carrying an interest rate of 1 per cent per annum, which rises to 1.5 per cent for the balance of the term. The executing agency is the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the estimated completion time is June 2015. ADB is also providing a technical assistance grant of US$1.5 million towards start-up support for the project management and to design a strategy to expand the national biogas programme. The central government is contributing about US$ 300,000 to the technical assistance.

Cheapest ELISA test kit

The International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India, has developed an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) kit to detect aflatoxin. The kit, which can rapidly detect aflatoxin, is ideal for remote areas to monitor grains and nuts, and improve storage techniques. While kits available in the market are priced at US$25, the new ICRISAT kit costs just US$1.

Aflatoxin contamination in groundnut, sorghum, millets, maize, poultry and milk costs farmers hugely each year in lost sales. Many countries reject import of agricultural products that exceed certain levels of aflatoxin. ICRISAT is in talks with a few companies for large-scale production of its kit. ICRISAT has also helped establish aflatoxin detection laboratories in India, Mozambique, Mali, Kenya and Malawi.

Hong Kong resumes processing of poultry import applications

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS), Hong Kong, has resumed processing applications for importing poultry and poultry products from Administrative Region 6 of Thailand (the central west part of the country). The centre had suspended processing of applications following confirmation of an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 on a poultry farm in Thailand last November. The centre lifted the restrictions for Thailand, except Administration Region 6, in January this year while continuing to monitor the situation in Administrative Region 6. In view of the control measures taken by Thailand and the fact that there are no other cases of avian influenza reported in the country, we decide to resume processing applications from the whole of Thailand, a CFS statement said.

Sri Lanka: Processed food industry records steady growth

In Sri Lanka, investments in the processed food sector have increased since 2002 with the high demand for processed foods. When compared with other industries, the processed food industry has exhibited a steady growth of 12 per cent to 14 per cent during the last few years.

However, the global financial crisis has had an adverse impact on the nations processed food exporters. Although many opportunities exist within the region Malaysia, India and Singapore the main disadvantage is that exporters who only looked at the lucrative markets in the West have now lost the demand. Therefore, to survive in the industry by minimizing their risk factors, these exporters will have to get into the local market and also seek opportunities within the region as well. Most of the dairy products, herbs and packaging materials are being imported while spices, tea, fruits, vegetables and tinned foods are being exported.

Alternative energy sources for the food industry

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) has recommended the food industry to use technologies anchored on renewable energy and thereby save on production cost. The three viable options being offered by the Department of Science and Technologys (DOSTs) council include adoption of bamboo-charcoal briquette, jatropha enterprise integrated to research and development project for biodiesel production and a biogas digester system.

The bamboo-charcoal briquette is viewed as the best substitute for LPG or for a pile of hardwood or charcoal because it possesses longer burning capacity and low obtaining cost. The bamboo-charcoal briquette can produce heat for 2 h without leaving black residues at the bottom of cooking pans and on ovens. This briquette is created by Mariano Marcos State University to also process bamboo that failed to pass furniture standards like dead poles and branches from the clumps, explains Dr. Stanley Malab, Consortium Director of Ilocos Agriculture Resources Research and Development Consortium. Its binder is effluent from the processing of chichacorn (crispy fried corn kernels) that has starch mixture.

Jatropha enterprise is being leveraged to counter the projected scenario of fossil oil supply running out by 2040, based on technical research and increasing negative effects of global warming. One gallon of fossil fuel burns 10 kg of carbon dioxide, said Dr. Roberto Guarte, Vice-President for Administration as well as Finance and Project Director for Jatropha Project in Eastern Visayas-Visayas State University. Planting jatropha is one way to attain energy self-sufficiency, which is also the governments goal for the country. The plant has been used as traditional medicine, pesticide, soap, and fuel for lighting and cooking. As its strong root system can hold water for long periods to survive the dry season, jatropha is considered useful in reforestation, soil rehabilitation and soil-erosion projects.

The biogas digester system that uses animal and human dung is a viable option for totally free gas consumption. Even small-scale and farm-sized animal growers can build the biogas system and control the foul odour of their pens or poultry. The digester is built of concrete materials. Since it is enclosed, it cannot leak or affect the water table, said Mr. Felimon Santander of Magsasaka Siyentista. It is more safe than what is built in India and China because it is designed with a hydraulic chamber that controls pressure. When the system detects pressure is too much, it will be bubbled out. A household-sized digester is 2 m3 and requires 10 heads of pig or 20 chickens to work. The sludge is produced in a dome-shaped digester, and it contains 1.09 per cent nitrogen, 10.13 per cent of phosphoric acid, 1.44 per cent potassium and 9.28 per cent moisture content.

Republic of Korea approves items as functional foods

For the first time, the Republic of Koreas Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) has approved gum, edible oil and red yeast rice as functional food products in order to activate the functional and health food market, which is regarded as a future core growth industry. The four items are: Xylitol gum of Lotte Confectionery, Light oil of CJ Cheiljedang, Healthy Resetta imported by Lotte Samgang and Red yeast rice of F&P. These items will be produced and sold as functional food products, and they will get the benefit of more sales as different kinds of food products. The KFDA gave the new approvals as the relevant regulation was revised so the functional food could be produced as general food instead in the form of drugs, including capsules or pills.

According to the KFDA, these items have been approved as functional food products since the gum with xylitol reduces risk of tooth decay, the oil product with diglyceride and medium-chain fatty acid does not increase body fat like other oil products do and the red yeast rice contains Monacholine-K that helps improve cholesterol level. The xylitol gum is effective when 10 g to 25 g is taken every day. The daily requirement of the two oil products is the same as regular oil. The red yeast rice is effective for improving the cholesterol level when a total of 2 mg to 8 mg of Monacholine-K is taken per day. However, not all kinds of gums and oils with similar ingredients were approved as functional food products. When someone wants to produce a functional food in the shape of general food, they should present data relevant to safety and functionality and get a KFDA approval by way of an individual assessment.

Modernization of abattoirs

Indias Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries to launch a comprehensive scheme to modernize abattoirs in the country. The scheme aims to provide facilities for scientific and less painful slaughtering, chilling, by-product utilization and effluent treatment with required sanitary/phytosanitary conditions. Modernization of abattoirs will also augment essential supply base of hygienic raw material to the meat processing industry, both for domestic consumption and exports, and discourage unauthorized slaughtering.

The central government would extend financial, technical and managerial assistance to viable projects under a sustainable framework which is to be implemented by local authorities/boards/federations/private investors. It will also consider assistance for modernization of existing abattoirs of local municipal authorities under the scheme for capacity expansion. The scheme envisages technical and managerial guidance to concerned local authorities, via a professional Programme Management Agency that will assist the Ministry for technical appraisals of the proposals as well as progress monitoring of projects from concept to commissioning. The volume of assistance is 50 per cent and 75 per cent of the eligible cost of plant and machinery and technical civil work in general areas and difficult areas, respectively, with a ceiling of US$3.1 million (Rs 150 million) per abattoir.

New food technology centre

A food technology centre, with two modern fruit juice production lines for research and teaching, was recently inaugurated at Viet Nams Ha Noi University of Technology (HUT). This new centre was developed under a US$1.6 million reinforcement of potential research and training capacity food industry project funded by the Italian government. The project will help improve the countrys food security processes. A similar project is planned for Thai Nguyens University of Agriculture and Forestry.

New law to strengthen food safety control

Chinas top legislature approved the Food Safety Law, providing a legal basis to the government for strengthening food safety control from the production line to the dining table. Effective 1 June 2009, the law will enhance monitoring and supervision, toughen safety standards, recall substandard products and punish offenders severely. The National Peoples Congress (NPC) Standing Committee gave the green light to the intensively debated draft law, following a spate of scandals that triggered vehement calls for overhauling the countrys current monitoring system. The law, which won 158 out of 165 votes, said the State Council, or Cabinet, would set up a state-level food safety commission to oversee the entire food monitoring system, whose lack of efficiency has long been blamed for the repeated scandals.

The departments of health, agriculture, quality supervision, industry and commerce administration will shoulder different responsibilities, including risk evaluation, the making and implementation of safety standards and the monitoring of about 500,000 food companies across China, as well as circulation sector. The law draft has seen many revisions since its submission to the NPC Standing Committee for the first reading in December 2007. China will set up compulsory standards on food safety, covering a wide range from the use of additives to safety and nutrition labels. The law stipulates a ban on all chemicals and materials other than authorized additives in food production, saying that only those items proved to be safe and necessary in food production are allowed to be listed as food additives. Health authorities are responsible for assessing and approving food additives and regulating their usage. Producers of edible farm products are required to abide by food safety standards when using veterinary drugs, pesticides, growth regulators, fertilizers, feedstuff and feed additives. They must also keep farming or breeding records. Offenders can face maximum fines, which would be 10 times the value of sold products, compared with five times at present.

Another highlight of the law is that celebrities can share responsibility for advertising food products that are found to be unsafe. The law says all organizations and individuals who recommend substandard food products in ads will face joint liability for damages incurred. The provisions were added out of concern over fake advertisements, which contained misleading information. Many of the ads featured celebrities, said Mr. Liu Xirong, Vice-Chairman of the NPC Law Committee. On tonic food, a booming industry with an estimated annual output value of 100 billion yuan (US$14.62 billion), the law prohibits any claims related to prevention or cure of any illness on the products label and leaflets.

Monitoring all farm products

In the Republic of Korea, the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will expand its security tracking system to cover all agricultural products. Coming in the backdrop of rising public interest in food safety, the agricultural ministry has stated that it will extend its tracking system, currently applied to 105 different farm products, to cover all agricultural goods at certain farms beginning in the second half of the year. A farmer selling an agricultural product covered under the state tracking system is required to disclose all records of the products origin, the quantity and type of agrochemicals used, as well as when it was harvested and where it was rinsed and packed.

The new measure is meant to enhance quality control and facilitate a swift response to recalls, preventing possibly dangerous goods from being distributed. Currently, the system is applied to agricultural products at farms participating in the government-run Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) programme aimed at enhancing food quality, as well as at non-GAP farms that voluntarily applied for the programme. At present, nearly 4.8 per cent of farms in the Republic of Korea are taking part in the tracking programme. The Ministry aims to increase this figure to 10 per cent by 2012 by inducing more farmers to join the GAP.

Update on Indian food processing sector

India is the worlds leading producer of milk, tea and pulses, and the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, rice, wheat and sugar cane. India currently produces about 50 million tonnes of fruits (roughly 9 per cent of world production) and 90 million tonnes of vegetables (accounting for 11 per cent of world production). However, despite a strong raw material base, a mere 2 per cent of fruits and vegetables, 35 per cent of milk, 26 per cent for seafood, 6 per cent of poultry and 20 per cent of buffalo meat are processed. At present, Indias share of the global agriculture export is around 1.6 per cent. In the last five years, exports of processed food products have grown from Rs 330 billion (US$6.8 billion) to Rs 500 billion (US$10.3 billion).

The food processing sector contributes 16 per cent, amounting to Rs. 2,800 billion (US$57.7 billion), to the manufacturing GDP. During the last five years, direct employment has grown from 3.9 million to 4.4 million, and indirect employment has grown from 6 million to 9 million. Over the same period, the processing level in the food processing industry has gone up from 6 per cent to 10 per cent, and during the next five years the processing level is expected to reach 20 per cent. The growth rate of food processing units has increased from 7 per cent to 13.14 per cent and is expected to go up to 20 per cent in five years. Value addition in the food processing sector has also gone up from 20 per cent to 26 per cent and is expected to reach 35 per cent in the next five years. Wastage of perishable commodities has reduced from Rs 580 billion (US$11.95 billion) to Rs 500 billion (US$10.3 billion) per annum in the last five years, and during the next five years wastage is expected to decrease to Rs 350 billion (US$7.2 billion) per annum.


Pan-governmental countermeasure system

The Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) in the Republic of Korea plans to conduct comprehensive inspections on about 66,000 cafeterias in schools, hospitals and industrial companies and reinforce the penalties for food poisoning. Further, the KFDA will introduce a molecular epidemiology analysis method and a simple inspection procedure for promptly tracing the origin of food poisoning. It will keep on strengthening penalties for a cafeteria when a food poisoning accident occurs. A food poisoning prevention plan, which would include reinforced penalties for a cafeteria with a food poisoning accident, is in the offing. It will also prepare a pan-governmental response system to promptly prevent food safety accidents.

Specifically, the KFDA will officially manage the pan-governmental food poisoning countermeasure committee, which will involve local government groups, government departments and the food industry. Current penalties worth 3 million won will be raised to a maximum of 5 million won, depending on the number of violations. One priority will be to reduce the number of people affected by food poisoning events to 100 out of a million. Reducing the norovirus food poisoning rate to 10 per cent is another. Furthermore, the KFDA will conduct comprehensive inspections on facilities in day-care centers and nursing homes to prevent food poisoning. Norovirus contamination inspections will be carried out on schools and training centres that use well water. The KFDA will also provide guidance and conduct inspections several times a year on 46,000 facilities, including schools, kindergartens, senior centres and facilities for the handicapped. Moreover, instead of the previous post-management including the epidemiological inspection conducted after each food poisoning incident, the KFDA will focus on establishing a precautionary management system in order to prevent food poisoning accidents by analysing the occurrence trend in each season and each district.

Accreditation of halal food made stringent

The National Halal Accreditation Board of the Philippines Inc. (NHABPI) was recently formed primarily to accredit halal food certifiers, labs and establishments. The NHABPI will also evaluate the system, procedures and process of certifying from farm to plate. Halal an Arabic word that means lawful, permitted or acceptable not only refers to food products but also covers almost all products that are regulated by the Department of Health like cosmetics, personal care products, food ingredients and beverages. The Philippine National Standard on Halal Food (PNS-2067-2008) prescribes general guidelines for the food industry on the preparation and handling of halal food.

Implementation of food safety law

In China, the health ministry is set to take the lead among the government departments tasked with implementing the new food safety law. Detailing the division of responsibilities for enforcing the law, Vice Health Minister Mr. Chen Xiaohong stated that a joint leading group comprising nine departments had been founded to deal with the supervision of food safety nationwide. The health ministry would mainly handle food safety monitoring, evaluation and investigation of food safety emergencies.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is committed to creating a credit record system among food manufacturers and strengthening self-discipline in the food industry. The Agriculture Ministry will take measures to secure the quality and safety of farm produce at source and promote standardized agricultural production. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce will be responsible for regular inspections of retail and wholesale markets and the establishment of a long-term supervision system on food distribution links. Finally, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine along with the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) would mainly deal with producer access to the industry and the market. The SFDA would also conduct inspections of sanitation at restaurants.


Chip ensures safety of food

A tiny chip that can detect harmful bacteria in food products accurately and significantly quicker than more traditional tests has been developed at Purdue University, the United States. Prof. Arun Bhunia and his team have found a way to use human cell receptors in biochips to detect the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium common in some unpasteurized cheeses and deli meats. In those with weakened immune systems, Listeria monocytogenes can lead to sickness and death. Current tests for Listeria and other pathogens take between 1 day and 10 days to yield results. The new biochips take less than 12 h, and since the chips can be hooked up to a computer tests could be done on-site, eliminating the need to send samples to outside labs. Contact: Mr. Ok Kyung Koo, Purdue University, United States of America. Tel: +1 (765) 4967 356; E-mail: okoo@; Prof. Arun Bhunia, Purdue University, United States of America. Tel: +1 (765) 4945 443.

Ancient truth: Plant oils fight food pathogens

A study undertaken by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), in collaboration with the University of Guelph and the Public Health Agency of Canada, has confirmed that oils derived from cinnamon and cloves do more than taste and smell good they can also fight food-borne diseases such as E. coli and Salmonella. This ability of some ancient natural oils geraniums, cloves, wild oregano, cinnamon and thyme offers promise in finding alternatives to antibiotics used in animal feed.

Plants contain essential oils that defend them from insects, fungi, bacteria and other destructive invaders. Since ancient times, some of these oils have been recognized as safe in flavourings, preservatives and over-the-counter medicines. These have also been used in the manufacture of perfumes throughout history. The first focus of AAFCs study has been to test these oils as alternatives for the dietary antibiotics in swine production. The results indicate that many of the essential oils eliminated the bad bacteria without destroying the good bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Food inspection equipment

Accuweigh, Australias largest weigh packaging company, offers metal detection systems, X-ray food inspection systems and checkweighers. The firm is an exclusive Australian distributor of the highly regarded XR series of X-ray food inspection systems from Applied Sorting Technologies (AST), which developed and supplied the first X-ray meat inspection. Various models are available, including one of Australias most powerful X-ray inspection units, the XR-3000C, which is capable of high-detail scanning of 27 kg boxes of frozen meat at belt speeds up to 60 m/min.

Accuweigh is also the exclusive distributor for one of Europes high profile brands Prisma. The Prisma range of metal detection equipment from Italy is available in both IP65 and IP67 ratings. Models for most typical metal detection needs are available, including:

  • Loose and packaged goods;
  • Liquids and pastes;
  • Meats and mince;
  • Both vertical and horizontal pipes; and
  • Pharmaceuticals.


Test kit for melamine

EnviroLogix Inc., the United States, has introduced the first five-minute, on-site immunoassay to detect melamine contamination in raw materials utilized in animal feed and pet food products. The QuickTox kit was developed with speed, simplicity and sensitivity in mind. It is as sensitive as Elisa and detects melamine contamination at 2.5 ppm, the threshold established by regulatory agencies worldwide for non-infant food products. Intended for use at material-receiving points, QuickTox enables accurate and visual screening of many sample types, including corn gluten meal, distillers grains (DDG), cotton seed meal and soybean meal. The test may also be adapted to detect melamine in finished pet food and milk.

The test itself is a lateral flow strip, or so-called dipstick. In principle, specific colour-coded antibodies bind to melamine molecules in a sample. In a positive result, the antibody-melamine complex travels up the strip and inhibits colour development at the test line. In a negative sample, unbound antibodies migrate up the strip and are captured at the test line, resulting in colour development. All strips include an internal control to ensure the test was performed correctly. Contact: Mr. Simon Varney, EnviroLogix Incorporated, United States of America. Tel: +1 (207) 7970 300; E-mail: simon.; Website: www.enviro

Portable, low-cost dairy analyser

Australasian Medical & Scientific Ltd., Australia, is offering a small, portable ultrasound analyser. LactiCheck provides a rapid, affordable method for compositional analysis of milk from the farm to the factory. Fat, SNF, protein, density and added water, are all automatically displayed giving details relevant to the nutritional value and safety of milk and milk products. The LactiCheck is easy to operate and does not require costly or proprietary chemicals. Other benefits include streamlined calibration and minimal maintenance requirements. An automated dated collection system, LactiLog, facilitates recording and reporting procedures, fulfilling or exceeding ISO and HACCP stipulations. Contact: Mr. Andrew Odd, Australasian Medical & Scientific Limited, Australia. Tel: +61 (2) 9882 3666; Fax: +61 (2) 9882 3999; E-mail:

Packaging fights pathogens

Researchers at Purdue University, the United States, have developed a process that turns the food packaging into a bacteria-fighting container. The process uses electricity to change oxygen surrounding the food into ozone. This ionization kills bacteria and then reverts back to its natural, stable form. The process can be designed such that the food is treated at the factory when the product is put in the package, and by the time it gets to the grocery store, there is nothing left in the pack except air.


Rennet-gelled protein for probiotic encapsulation

According to the Technical University of Munich, Germany, gelling of milk proteins using the food-approved enzyme rennet yields microcapsules capable of encapsulating healthy ingredients like probiotics. Researchers Mr. Thomas Heidebach, Mr. Petra Forst and Mr. Ulrich Kulozik report that rennet could be used to prepare water-insoluble microcapsules based on milk proteins without significant loss of cells during the encapsulation process. The team states, This principle could be a suitable alternative to the now established probiotic encapsulation methods, mainly based on ionotrophic gelation of plant polysaccharides like alginate.

The team produced water-insoluble, spherical milk protein matrices using rennet with an average size of 68 m. For food applications, the average diameter of the added microcapsules is one of the most important characteristics. One aspect is that the capsules must be sufficiently small to avoid a negative sensorial impact on the product. While firm and irregular-shaped particles can be detected from size ranges of about 10 m in foods, the soft spherical hydrogel microcapsules have a higher threshold for graininess detection.

Low GI sugar

The worlds first low glycemic index (GI) sugar, an Australian innovation, is said to be a healthier alternative to white sugar. Manufactured by CSR and marketed under the LoGiCane logo, the new sugar formulation was developed with the aid of A$5.4 million (US$4.45 million) in grants from the Australian and Queensland governments. Independent tests have put the sugars GI at 50 compared with a GI average of 65 for white sugar. Foods with a high GI, such as white bread, potatoes and jelly beans, are converted into glucose quickly by the body, and these spikes in blood glucose levels can damage vital tissues and organs over time. Low GI foods, like rolled oats, apples and yoghurt, are converted much more slowly, and they have been shown to lower glucose levels in people with diabetes while aiding in efforts to keep a healthy weight. GI is a ranking of carbohydrates in food using a 100-point scale according to its differing effect on blood glucose levels.

Processing food ingredients into value-added products

Food ingredients are now increasingly assuming significance as nutritional support solutions, but the challenge is to up-scale these processed products that are known for their high nutritional value. In India, there are many projects focusing on the nutritive value of food ingredients taking place at research institutes and the food ingredients constitute cereals, pulses, jaggery, spices, oil seeds and condiments.

The Department of Food Sciences and Nutrition of the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, India, used food ingredients to develop simple products from rice and finger millet (ragi), in addition to rice bean that is a combination of cereal and pulse. These products are gaining considerable attention owing to their high dietary fibre, phytochemicals and calcium content. The UAS is currently working on standardization of liquid jaggery for use in products. Efforts are also on to develop bran from the husk or outer layer of cereal and millets which include rice, ragi and legume. Clinical trials for patients who suffer from chronic constipation and colon cancer with the bran products will be held. According to information from Health & Beyond, Amaranth, which belongs to the pseudo-cereal category, can be cooked as a cereal and ground into flour. It can also be cooked with other whole grains, added to stir-fry or to soups and stews as a nutrient-dense thickening agent. Amaranth flour is used in making pastas and baked products. The study on Amaranth is an initiative of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Rice bran-soybean oil could offer trans-fat free shortenings

New research from the Republic of Korea has unveiled that a blend of oils from rice bran and soybean could produce a plastic fat for use in shortenings as a trans-fat replacer. Researchers from the Chungnam National University and the Seoul National University report that a blend of fractionated rice bran oil and fully hydrogenated soybean oil, with added conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), has the potential to replace partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. The inter-esterified hard fat stock produced in the research contained 12.2 per cent to 14.2 per cent CLA, which may provide some health benefits. The inter-esterified products, however, consisted of higher levels of beta crystal form, a desirable property of shortening. The inter-esterified products had comparable physical properties and acceptable fatty acid compositions for the shortening type hard fat stock.

Fortifying foods with nanocapsules

At the University of Hohenheim, Germany, Prof. Jochen Weiss is using nanotechnology to fortify foods with nutrients. According to Prof. Weiss, A lot of the systems that we are interested in are where you try to put in omega-3 fatty acids they have a lot of beneficial functions in terms of health. It is very difficult to include them in a food system and make sure that they are still active and that the food still tastes good. Prof. Weiss method encases the omega-3 fatty acids in capsules that are about 2,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The nano-sized capsules are tasteless and preserve the active ingredients in the omega-3 fatty acids.

New soybean ingredient

A new soy protein product isolated in Canada by Burcon NutraScience, a Vancouver research and development firm, has several major food, beverage and nutrition firms evaluating its possible use. The product, called Clarisoy, is 100 per cent soluble and completely transparent in acidic solutions, which would make it useful in ready-to-drink beverages ranging down to pH 2.5 and lower. That level of solubility and transparency allow for its use in a wide variety of beverages where traditional soybean isolates are not appropriate. The soy protein is heat-stable, allowing its use in hot-fill applications while also eliminating the normal beany taste of soybean products.


Homogeneous dispersion containing citrus pulp

The United States-based Cargill Inc. is patenting a composition in the form of a homogeneous dispersion, which includes citrus pulp and a plant sterol, omega-3 oil, and/or isoprenoid. The new dispersion could be incorporated in foods and beverages. Preferably, the dispersion is essentially free of citrus juice concentrate. The dispersion may be incorporated in foods and beverages with little adverse sensory impact, thereby providing a convenient means for delivering plant sterols, omega-3 oils and/or isoprenoids to a consumer. Contact: Cargill Incorporated, 15407, McGinty Rd. West, Wayzata, MN 55391 5624, United States of America.

Coconut water: Natures energy drink

Coconut (Cocus nucifera) has been known for its essential oil and milk. Nigerian researchers, with support from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), have validated coconut water as a safe alternative to conventional sports and energy drinks. Coconut water does not just boost energy levels in joggers and athletes, but also lowers blood sugar levels/diabetes risk. The researchers have also confirmed the blood glucose lowering effects of coconut water and they have recommended it for the management of diabetes. However, they say that coconut water does not actually have any protective effect on the liver against toxicity of paracetamol overdosage. The use of coconut water to counteract poisons is a common practice in Africa as well as India.

Coconut water, the liquid endosperm of green coconuts, abounds in essential nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, sugars, vitamins, minerals and growth factors that support healthy cell growth and hydration. Studies have shown that coconuts are anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial. Also, mixing coconut water with other juices for a tasty blend increases the health benefit and decreases the amount of calories and sugars in the drink.

Nutritious low-sugar juice targeted for diabetics

Scientists at Jilin University, China, have reported a low-calorie, low-sugar vegetable juice custom-designed for millions of individuals with diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions that involve abnormally high blood sugar. The teams cost-effective method of preparing the special vegetable drink uses lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB) to remove carbohydrates while retaining good taste, vitamins and other nutrients. To develop the juice made from pumpkin, balsam pear, onion and carrots the team turned to an age-old technique in the art of food production. For thousands of years, people have cultured food including everyday eats such as yoghurt, cheeses and sausage using LAB, which belongs to a class of bacteria known as probiotics. Contact: Michael Bernstein, E-mail:<

Beverages from coffee beans using ultrasound energy

Babaev, the United States, is patenting a method and device for producing beverages from coffee beans using ultrasound energy. The use of ultrasound energy may have multiple effects such as extraction of flavour solutes from the coffee beans or the sanitization of the resulting beverage. Ultrasound energy may also be used to help mix milk with espresso in order to produce a cappuccino or a latte; the ultrasound energy may also heat the milk or produce a milk froth.

The present invention is an ultrasound apparatus comprising an ultrasound generator, a transducer cable, an ultrasound transducer, an ultrasound horn and an ultrasound tip. The ultrasound apparatus, which delivers energy to produce beverages from coffee beans, may be used in conjunction with the drip brew method to brew coffee. The ultrasound horn may be positioned where the water drips on to the coffee beans; while the water drips, the horn sonicates the water and coffee beans. The ultrasound apparatus may also deliver ultrasound energy while pressurized water is delivered to coffee beans to produce espresso. The ultrasound apparatus may further be used to deliver energy to a cup containing espresso and milk to produce cappuccino.


Preservative-free jam

Makedoniki, a Greece-based producer of jams and fruit preserves, opted for a barrier container from RPC Bebo Nederland, The Netherlands, to gain a competitive advantage by becoming the first in the country to launch a preservative-free jam in plastics packaging. RPC Bebo Nederland is the subsidiary of leading European rigid plastics packaging group RPC. Preferring the safety, light weight and cost efficiency of plastics over glass, Makedoniki turned to RPC Bebo for its expertise in multi-layer PP/EVOH/PP barrier construction, which provides a long ambient shelf-life.

Additional benefits are provided by a convenient re-closable lid and the choice of a large 410 ml container size enables Makedoniki to differentiate its new range from competitors on-shelf. The container is also fully recyclable. Pasteurization of RPCs multi-layer packaging and the use of a protective atmosphere inside preserve the colour, taste and flavour of jams for a long time. The company offers a variety of branded, private label and food service solutions for the local market.

Techniques to extend sea bream shelf-life

Researchers from Valencia Polytechnic University (UPV), Spain, are developing new systems that improve the conservation of vacuum-packed fresh and cooked sea bream fillets. The still-experimental method comprises adding bioprotection contents to the fillets. These consist of essential oils from oregano and substances produced by lactic acid bacteria. The bioprotection substances can be applied to sea bream fillets through pulverization, immersing the fish in a watery solution or even recurring to techniques like vacuum impregnation. An expansion of gas is produced in its interior when subjecting a food to a vacuum [process], although the cavities it contains remain intact. When the vacuum is broken, the cavities are forced to incorporate in their interior the medium that surrounds it, in this case, the bioprotection substances, explained Mr. Purificacion Garcia, one of the researchers. The Department of Food Technology has expressed that the use of these substances is in response to growing consumer concerns like the suppression of food additives, for example, in favour of natural products.

The research team is also working on improving the preparation of sea bream fillets via vacuum frying, which has the advantage of cooking at a lower temperature. This technology conserves the foods original texture and protects its organoleptic characteristics better, at the same time reducing the substances produced by the oxidation process and extending the products shelf-life. Though the food does not end up as golden as traditional frying, it is healthier because it contains less fat. Under this line of research, a team of scientists led by Mr. Xavier Martinez has developed the Gastrovac, an appliance for professionals which creates a low-pressure atmosphere in a vacuum, thus improving the results of traditional culinary techniques such as cooking, frying, pickling and marinating.

Mushroom extract as meat preservative

An extract from the edible mushroom Flammulina velutipes may prolong the shelf-life of tuna meat while also stabilizing the colour of the meat, report researchers from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Japan. Extracts from the fungi would extend shelf-life by up to six days during cold storage, compared with untreated meat. Since oxidative spoilage of the fish is linked to colour, the extract was associated with improved colour stability of the meat.

Led by Mr. Huynh Bao, researchers formulated four preparations of minced tuna meat, containing 0, 1, 3 or 5 ml of mushroom extract per 100 g of meat. A dose-dependent response was observed, with the tuna meats shelf-life under ice storage being increased by 2, 4 and 6 days, respectively, compared with meat without the extract. Furthermore, 5 ml of the mushroom extract was found to be more effective than adding a vitamin C salt at a level of 500 ppm or vitamin E at the same levels. Beneficial effects on the colour of the meat were also identified, and linked to the level of lipid oxidation and the formation of metmyoglobin in the fish meat.


Wheat DNA test

Canadas SRC GenServe Laboratories, operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), has signed an agreement with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to ascertain whether a technology developed by AAFC and other research partners can be made into a viable commercial test to identify wheat classes and varieties by way of DNA analysis. SRC GenServe aims to complete that validation phase for wheat class DNA testing shortly. If its research validates the testing process, then SRC plans to determine whether the technology could be ready to offer to clients in the grain industry by as early as this fall. In case the test is successful, it would help ensure grain shipments are graded correctly and farmers and grain companies are compensated fittingly.

GM soybeans for health-conscious consumers

In the United States, a new type of genetically modified (GM) soybean should be on the market sometime this year. The new soybean variety, developed by DuPont, has a different composition of fatty acids. It contains more oleic acid a monounsaturated fatty acid than conventional soybeans and at the same time has a lower level of polyunsaturated fatty acids. At high temperatures, such as when frying or roasting, part of these are transformed into trans-fatty acids which can cause high levels of bad cholesterol. Regulations stipulate that the trans-fatty acid content must be declared on food product labels. Trans-fatty acids also result from hydrogenation process, such as when a plant-derived oil is transformed to a spreadable fat for making of margarine.

This year we hope to bring to market the first product from a GM plant designed to deliver health benefits to consumers, stated Mr. Jim Borel, DuPont Group Vice-President. It is the first GM soybean created for health-conscious consumers as well as for food producers active in this market segment. Because of the new GM soybeans high oleic content, oils and fats derived from it can be used at high temperatures without turning into undesirable trans-fatty acids. According to Mr. Borel, the oil from the new GM soybean is comparable to palm oil or other vegetable oils. DuPont expects to receive regulatory approval for planting the new GM soybean (event 305423) sometime this year. Food and feed approval has already been granted. The new high-oleic soy-bean will first be tested in small, regional markets.

Strains of Bacillus subtilis for food fermentation

Nestle S.A. is patenting an invention pertaining to strains of the Bacillus subtilis group capable of fermenting beans, which are essentially devoid of any iso-valeric acid production. The present invention especially relates to novel strains of B. natto, in which one or more genes involved in the biosynthetic pathway for the production of iso-valeric acids are essentially non-functional. In extensive experiments leading to the invention, it has been found that the flavour of products obtainable by fermentation with B. subtilis, especially B. natto, are unfavourably affected by particular compounds created by the micro-organism during its propagation, namely the iso-valeric acids (2-methyl-butyric acid and 3-methyl-butyric acid), which result in a clinging, strong and pungent smell of the fermentation product.

It is known that in micro-organisms the major use of branched chain fatty acids, such as the iso-valeric acids, resides in the synthesis of the cell membrane where they account for about 90 per cent by composition. Cell membrane synthesis is an essential function of any cell. Hence, influencing the biosynthesis of one of its components is a delicate matter because a decreased production of any of the fatty acids required for the formation of the cell membrane or even an entire depletion thereof may eventually lead to micro-organisms not viable under normal conditions or not able to fulfill their function as a fermenting agent. Although the exact biosynthesis pathway for iso-valeric acids is unknown, a potential synthesis pathway has been devised with data from the newly completed B. subtilis genome.


Coatings to kill superbugs

Researchers at the University of Bath, the United Kingdom, are set to be part of an Europe-wide research collaboration to pioneer research into safer, more effective antibacterial plastics and coatings. The Bath team has developed a range of new compounds that have been shown to be highly effective against common hospital bacterial infections, like MRSA, and are safer than existing antibacterials based on silver nanoparticles. The team will develop these compounds so they can be cheaply and efficiently incorporated into a wide range of materials, including medical devices, wound dressings, food packaging and nappies. The so-called superbug bacteria, such as MRSA, are dangerous because they are resistant to most conventional antibiotics, a problem that is getting worse each year. To understand this problem, the team will be studying which genes allow bacteria to become resistant.

Compact machine for sweet bagging

PFM Packaging Machinery, Italy, has launched a new weighing and bagging machine that can be used for packing sweets. Designed to help firms save on floor space, capital and running costs, the compact ZCI integrated bagger and weigher is ideal for small businesses or a large firm that wants to start with a low investment to test the market for example, for packaging small individually wrapped sweets that may need to be packed in bags at a certain weight. It could also be used for other dry free-flowing products (such as pasta) and snacks (such as biscuits). The machine is so compact that it can be installed in small buildings. With a conveyer, it brings the products up, weighs the product and drops it into a bag that the machine forms and seals.

For companies with a range of products and which need a quick changeover from one to the other, PFM Packaging is offering ZCI vertical form, fill and seal (VFFS) machine. The ZCI VFFS combines the Zenith bagger and C1 multi-head weigher, which is mounted on the bagger with no need for supporting gantry. The ZCI VFFS has been developed to meet the need for an inexpensive system that nevertheless offers a high degree of flexibility and accuracy and is simple to use. The absence of a gantry reduces cost and machine footprint in comparison to a conventional system while the compact nature of the unit also allows elevator and other support equipment to be downsized for further savings in capital and running cost. Also, drop height is kept short, improving performance and providing more gentle handling for delicate goods. The ZCI VFFS is capable of mid-speed duties up to 80 bags/min. Bagging and weighing controls are integrated in a single control system, which is designed to allow other equipment, such as coding or labelling machines, to be integrated.

Aseptic package to meet light-weighting trend

Ecolean, Sweden, unveiled its new light-weight aseptic packaging system for liquid food products at the Anuga FoodTec show in Cologne, Germany. This latest packaging development was informed by market research undertaken with the firms customer base. The package is made up of a flexible multi-layered polymer film consisting of 60 per cent polyethylene and polypropylene and 40 per cent calcium carbonate. It weighs about 14 g, which is a 40-50 per cent reduction on a conventional liquid food carton or bottle. Once empty, the packaging is as flat as an envelope. With its unique thin material and durable, lightweight construction, the package saves energy during production, transport and waste handling.

Post-harvest packaging

In the United States, Breakthrough Solutions LLC, in agreement with Landec Corp., has introduced the BreatheWay modified atmosphere membrane bag solution. The new packaging incorporates BreatheWay patented technology that preserves freshness naturally and extends the shelf-life of practically any fresh produce. The BreatheWay membrane, licensed from Apio Inc., a subsidiary of Landec, automatically adjusts to compensate for mild temperature fluctuations in the cold chain, creating very low oxygen atmospheres without the risk of anaerobic conditions or unacceptably high levels of carbon dioxide.

The BreatheWay package can achieve and maintain atmospheres similar to controlled atmosphere while retaining the necessary level of moisture to ensure fresh appearance and optimal texture. This is the first and only packaging of its kind to be able to manage all three critical aspects of modified atmosphere packaging for produce correct gas mix, ideal humidity level and the ability to adjust to mild in-transit temperature fluctuations. The BreatheWay packaging technology allows exporters to successfully ship products, which hitherto could only be shipped by airfreight, on ocean containers. Contact: Mr. Raul U. Fernandez, Breakthrough Solutions LLC, 1790 Lakeshore Circle, Weston, FL 33326, United States of America. Tel: +1 (954) 3195 255; E-mail:

Cinnamon oil-polypropylene combo keeps bread extra fresh

Researchers in Spain report an active package based on cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) essential oil and micro-perforated polypropylene that may extend the shelf-life of bread by a week. Researchers from the University of Zaragoza and Artibal S.A. state that the final packaging design increased the shelf-life from three days to 10 days. Sensory evaluation tests have shown the packaging ensures maximum quality and safety.

The team had earlier reported that solid wax paraffin incorporating cinnamaldehyde-fortified cinnamon essential oil could be an efficient antimicrobial coating for paper or board packaging to inhibit white bread spoiling. This more recent study adds to these earlier results. Researchers prepared the antimicrobial films by incorporating the essential oil of cinnamon at known concentrations in films of food-grade polypropylene using an innovative process protected by European patent EP1657181 held by Artibal S.A. Fifty-four bakery products were packaged and their sensorial properties analysed by a panel of 12 trained individuals. Chemical analyses were also performed using headspace-single drop micro-extraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. There is no regulatory issue over the use of essential oils as a preservative.


Leak tester ensures shelf-life

Jenton, the United Kingdom, has launched a new range of seal testers, which check the packaging for leaks or faults and help guarantee freshness and shelf-life. Ideal for use by bakeries, Jenton Autotester has been developed for detection at-source of any leakage in packagings with products like naan breads and part-baked bread, so that they can be removed and repacked. This potentially reduces waste and the risk of product recalls further down the line.

A newly redeveloped model of the seal tester is more accurate and easier to use and features improved control functions. The non-destructive test can be used with, for example, thermoformed packs, modified atmosphere packaging and controlled atmosphere packaging. Leaking packs are rejected on the spot, which means they can be re-packaged. Packagings are typically tested by hand, although infrared systems are available. However, the Autotester is reported to be a more reliable and consistent alternative to human testing and could minimize the risk of poor product shelf-life. The seal tester is very easy to place in the production chain. One needs to just present the tester with a good pack, it will calibrate itself from this and also report the fault pattern.

In-line steaming and self-stack conveying

JBT FoodTech, Sweden, is offering M-series of GYRoCOMPACT spiral freezers, proofers and chillers. This new series is based on the proven GYRoCOMPACT technology, which has been in use since 1978. Frigoscandia GYRoCOMPACT S6 steamer provides both affordability and the hygiene, reliability and performance advantages of a self-stacking conveyor. The self-stacking freezers replace the refrigeration system with a steam injection system and a modified enclosure that can withstand high temperatures. Engineering from a freezer design instead of a more complex oven system has provided a solution that is significantly less expensive than conventional oven-concept steamers available in the market.

Unlike the regular spiral steamers, which have trouble controlling steam flow and reaching ideal operation temperatures, the GYRoCOMPACT S6 has a controlled steam environment that provides even product steaming across the belt width. A patented two-zone cooking approach offers a mixture of saturated and dry steam that achieves better cooking results than traditional steamers. As the product enters the bottom of the spiral, it encounters saturated steam, which condenses on the product to cook it. The steam enters the belt stack from the top, where it hits a hood, or top hat, that covers the top tiers of the spiral, creating a zone of dry steam. The product will have been cooked by the saturated steam when it reaches the dry zone, where excess surface water is removed for a higher-quality final product.

Modular conveyor system 

In Germany, the latest conveyor system technology from Schuco Design Industrial Automations stable is helping Conrad Schulte & Co., a leading biscuit manufacturer, to make considerable improvements to the productivity of its factory processes. The modular CS SL (Stretch Line) conveyor system available in the United Kingdom through Schucos exclusive partner Autarky Automation can be installed quickly and simply for safe and efficient bespoke production lines.

The 90 mm wide CS 090 SL conveyor line used at Schultes has been designed for optimum line management and accommodates product widths of 20-200 mm. All the parts used in the installation belong to Schuco Designs CS SL system. The design of the Stretch Line system compensates for the stretch in the chain caused during operation; as a result, the chain need not be shortened and machine downtime can be minimized. This stretch effect also leads to reduced friction and excellent gliding features, providing extremely quiet operation and speeds of up to 80 m/min. A minimal curve radius allows narrow curves with only small gaps to be achieved, improving operator safety and minimizing the risk of line downtime. With both horizontal and vertical line sections, almost any point in a three-dimensional room can be reached by the chain conveyor system. Contact: Autarky Automation Ltd., Charlwoods Place, East Grinstead RH19 2HY West Sussex, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1342) 311 388; Fax: +44 (1342) 323 733; Website:

Food dehydration system

In Canada, after a 10-year development programme EnWave Corp. is offering a continuous nutraREV food dehydration system. The company made the first sale of the food dehydration equipment to Cal-San Enterprises; one of British Columbias largest blueberry producers. Compared with the industry standard freeze-drying technology, the equipment reduces processing time to minutes rather than hours or days, energy use by one-third and capital costs by one-sixth. The technology also lowers the potential for large batch losses with continuous processing, improves the retention of flavour and colour, and facilitates value-added attributes such as puffing.

REV technology combines microwave energy transfer with pressure control to dehydrate and alter structures and drive chemical reactions. This creates unique product characteristics for food products as well as medical applications. Following pre-commercial test results with fruits, vegetables and herbs, nutraREV dried products are said to have shelf-life similar to freeze-dried products.

Food sorting machine

In the United Kingdom, Buhler Sortex in partnership with the University of East Anglia has developed the prototype of an invention that promises to revolutionize food processing across the world. The invention relates to improving the automatic sorting of nuts, rice, coffee beans, chickpeas and others. In line for this years Lord Stafford Awards, a prestigious competition that seeks to encourage closer links among universities and businesses, the innovation employs colour-based computer vision and image processing to cut down on waste, including debris such as sticks and stones, and blemishes. The prototype is undergoing verification tests and a patent has been applied for. When introduced to the market, it can help lower wastage of food resources.


Food Packaging and Shelf-Life: A Practical Guide

Current food packaging should take into account the biochemical, chemical, physical and biological changes that occur during both processing and the life of storage. This practical handbook defines the indices of failure for foods as diverse as milk, fruits, bottled water, juices, vegetables, fish and beef. It discusses the deteriorative reactions for each and reviews how different forms of packaging material may influence time to failure. Bio-based packaging is examined in a separate chapter as is the impact of migrants from packaging materials and the impact of active packaging on shelf-life. Contact: CRC Press, 6000 Broken Sound Parkway, NW (Suite 300), Boca Raton, FL 33487, United States of America. Tel/Fax: +1 (561) 9940 555/9899 732; E-mail:

Food Packaging Science and Technology

This guide covers basic principles and technologies and advanced topics such as active, intelligent, and sustainable packaging with unparalleled depth and breadth of scope. Divided into four parts, the topics covered include:

  • Gas permeation and migration, and four basic types of packaging materials;
  • Traditional methods and concepts such as end-of-line operations, permeation and migration, canning, aseptic packaging, and vacuum/modified atmosphere packaging are juxtaposed with the more advanced technologies of microwaveable packing, active packing, and intelligent packaging;
  • Shelf-life determination and elements of storage stability and packaging requirements of various food categories; and
  • Issues concerned with packaging sociology, addressing sustainable packaging, as well as sociological and legislative considerations.

Contact: CRC Press, 6000 Broken Sound Parkway, NW (Suite 300), Boca Raton, FL 33487, United States of America. Tel/Fax: +1 (561) 9940 555/9899 732; E-mail:


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