James Giese

University technical centers, pilot plants, and research institutes provide a valuable option for entrepreneurs and manufacturers developing new foods. Many processors have found that outside sources can provide economical and efficient product development resources and pilot-plant equipment. Products can be scaled up and made ready for market distribution on specialized equipment. Technical centers, pilot plants, and research centers can be found at universities, supplier companies, and government agencies. The following are some of the university programs and centers available for food technology research:
The Center for Advanced Food Technology or CAFT (New Brunswick, N.J., phone 908-932-8306) is a cooperative research venture between the food industry, academia, and government affiliated with Rutgers University. The basic research program at CAFT develops pre-competitive research projects aimed at fulfilling the needs of member companies. Research is performed in the areas of processed food stabilization, which investigates mechanisms underlying the phenomena that contribute to the fresh-like state of processed foods; physical forces in food systems, which studies chemical and physical changes that occur during food processing; in-line sensors for food processing systems; and quality enhancement of combat rations.

The New York State Food Venture Center (Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, phone 315-787-2273) is designed to provide guidance to state residents and others seeking to introduce new foods to the marketplace. It is especially focused on smaller companies and entrepreneurs who are developing and commercializing new food products. The Center offers help with product development, sensory evaluation, marketing, analytical services, processing and pilot-plant facilities, packaging and labeling services, and financial analysis.

The Food Processing Center (University of Nebraska, Lincoln, phone 402-472-2832) provides a combination of technical and business assistance to the food industry on a confidential basis. Their pilot plants and laboratories assist manufacturers on a wide range of food products and unit operations. Areas include grain processing (extrusion and baking); “wet” processing (thermal and spray drying); dairy processing (homogenization, pasteurization, cheeses, ice cream, and yogurt); and meat processing. Besides product development and analytical services, the Center has a range of marketing capabilities in product costing, ingredient sourcing, market testing, and business venture development.

The Northern Corps Institute (North Dakota State University, Fargo, phone 701-231-7736) supports the promotion and market development of crops grown in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and South Dakota. Several laboratories are equipped for baking, pasta processing, twin-screw extrusion, grain grading, and commodity and product analysis.

The Kansas State University Extrusion Center (Kansas State University, Manhattan, phone 913-532-4072) specializes in extrusion processing and grain products. Equipment includes blenders, a twin-screw cooking extruder, a single-screw cooking extruder, and a continuous dryer.

The Spray Systems Technology Center (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa., phone 412-268-2498) has as its focus the study and analysis of atomization of liquids, spray dynamics, and spray systems. It has an extensive array of equipment such as phase Doppler spray analyzer, laser Doppler velocimeter, digital image analyzer, and high-speed cameras.

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The Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center and the Center for Aseptic Processing and Packaging Studies at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, phone 919-515-2957) are two industry-supported research centers. Pilot plants at the university can be employed as part of an integrated approach to product and process development. Service areas include process and formula optimization, product preparation for sensory analysis and market research, shelf-life studies, evaluation of alternate ingredients, and process scale-up.

The Food Innovation Center (Oregon State University, Corvallis, phone 541-737-6502) was established by the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Oregon Dept. of Agriculture. It coordinates and conducts research, and provides information on value-added product technology for Pacific Rim markets. It is also the lead organization for ValNET (Value Added Network of Export Technologies), generating and archiving information on value-added technology from agricultural flavor preferences, processing and packaging technology, fermentation science and biotechnology, and quality enhancement. A network of researchers, consultants, product developers, and Pacific Rim consumer testing groups provides a gateway to the international marketplace.

The Food Industry Institute (Michigan State University, East Lansing, phone 517-355-8295) is funded by the state of Michigan to conduct research, teaching, and outreach in food technology. The Institute operates in three main areas: establishment of consortia to conduct basic research on a pre-competitive basis; equipment leasing; and workshops. Technical facilities are available for fruit and vegetable processing, cereal production and processing, meat processing, and dairy processing. The Institute is especially active in international programs. An example is its utilization of international students to conduct focus groups for companies interested in obtaining foreign market preferences.

The Food Industries Center (Ohio State University, Columbus, phone 614-292-7004) serves as a liaison between the food industry and programs at Ohio State University, primarily the food science and technology department. The Center has a pilot-plant facility and is capable of conducting research, product development, and scale-up perations in fruit and vegetable processing and snack processing, as well as in the meat and dairy areas.

The Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement (Griffin, Ga., phone 770-228-7284) conducts sponsored research in food safety and in the enhancement of food quality. Safety emphases include the detection and enumeration of pathogenic microorganisms, evaluation of microbial safety of processed foods, and development of methods to eliminate or control foodborne pathogens. Quality enhancement emphases include consumer attitudes and perception of quality, fundamental basis of food quality and evaluation of processing, formulation, and storage effects on quality. The Center can enter into confidential or nonrestricted research agreements with food companies, commodity boards, or government agencies.

Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, Tex., phone 210-522-6671) is an independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization. The staff of 2,700 specialize in the creation and transfer of technology in engineering and the physical sciences. The Institute occupies 1,200 acres and provides nearly two million square feet of laboratories, test facilities, workshops, and offices. The staff performed more than $300 million in contract research in 1998.The Institute provides custom microen-capsulation of ingredients such as acidulants, aromas, bacteria, flavors, fragrances, nutritional supplements, vitamins, minerals, and leavening agents.

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Patents this month describe various methods for detecting microorganisms.

Concentration of waterborne and food-borne microorganisms. U.S. patent 5,961,846, filed 2/3/1998, issued 10/5/1999 to M. Borchardt et al., assigned to the Marshfield Medical Research and Education Foundation. Describes a method of concentrating microorganisms, particularly pathogenic microorganisms, from food and/or water potentially contaminated by dilute densities of the organisms. Potentially contaminated water or fluid food is directed along an elongated flow path which rests generally within a plane perpendicular to an axis of rotation, and is subjected to centrifugal forces by rotating the flow path about the rotational axis. The method is intended for medical applications.

Test apparatus, system and method for the detection of test samples. U.S. patent 5,965,453, filed 6/8/1998, issued 10/12/1999 to R. Skiffington et al., assigned to Charm Sciences, Inc. Describes a kit for the testing of a sample on or in a material, such as body fluids or food, particularly adapted to a bioluminescent test, such as for the detection of ATP or phosphatase or other materials. The apparatus includes a transparent tube having at one end a sample unit and at the other end a detachable or nondetachable test unit which are connected, as well as a cover with a probe containing a swab at one end. The unit provides for a rapid and efficient test for the detection of various test samples from materials or surfaces. The unit may be used to detect alkaline phosphatase, Salmonella, drugs, and antibiotics, such as sulfa drugs, beta-lactam drugs, organophosphates, carbamates and active metabolites, and various bacteria.

Nucleic acid probes and methods for detecting Enterobacter cloacae. U.S. patent 5,958,679, filed 5/30/1995, issued 9/28/1999 to J. Hogan et al., assigned to Gen-Probe Inc. Describes a method for preparing probes constructed of an oligonucleotide that is sufficiently complementary to hybridize to a region of rRNA selected to be unique to a non-viral organism or group of non-viral organisms sought to be detected, said region of rRNA being selected by comparing one or more variable region rRNA sequences of said non-viral organism or group of non-viral organisms with one or more variable region rRNA sequences from one or more non-viral organisms sought to be distinguished. Hybridization assay probes for Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium intracellulare, the Mycobacterium tuberculosis-complex bacteria, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Legionella, Salmonella, Chlamydia trachomatis, Campylobacter, Proteus mirabilis, Enterococcus, Enterobacter cloacae, E. coli, Pseudomonas group I, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, bacteria, and fungi also are also described.

Products & Literature
ICP-MS APPLICATIONS AND BENEFITS are described in a CD-ROM tutorial entitled, “Take a Close Look at the ELAN® 6100 Series of ICP-MS Systems.” The electronic guide provides an in-depth view of the workings of a Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (IC-MS) system, as well as the opportunity to learn the basics of ICP-MS technologies. An introductory presentation explains how users can increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their laboratories with an ICPMS system. More than 40 ICP-MS application articles are included on the CD-ROM. The guide also contains an interactive financial worksheet that enables laboratory managers to input their financial data to determine the payback period and the monthly cash flow that would result from the addition of an ICPMS system to their laboratory. Reference No. D-6028 when ordering. For more information, contact Perkin-Elmer LLC, 761 Main Ave., Norwalk, CT 06859-0010 (phone 800-762-4000 or 203-762-4000)—or circle 372.

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ANTIBIOTIC RESIDUES in meats may be detected with the use of the Premi® Test. The test is a broad-spectrum screening that detects antimicrobial compounds such as antibiotics and sulphonamide compounds in meats. The use of antibiotics in farm animals may leave residues in muscles, livers, and kidneys. Consumer concerns about these residues have created a demand for detection methods. The test provides a fast “yes/no” result that is read by a color comparison. The test is based on the inhibition of growth of Bacillus stearothermophilus, a spore-forming bacterium that is very sensitive to many antibiotics and sulfa compounds. A standardized number of spores is imbedded in an agar medium with selected nutrients. When the test is heated to 64°C and meat fluid is added, the spores will germinate. The germinated spores will multiply and form acid when no inhibitory substances are present. After the required incubation time, the bromocresol indicator will change from purple to yellow, signaling the absence of inhibitory substances. When a sufficient amount of antibacterial compounds is present (above the detection level), no growth will take place and the color will remain purple. For more information, contact DSM Food Specialties, Meat Ingredients, P.O. Box 1, 2600 MA Delft, The Netherlands (phone 31-15-279-4119)—or circle 373.

CAMPYLOBACTER TEST KIT is now available from Neogen Corp. The rapid test kit for Campylobacter is one of two new test kits introduced by Neogen in a new test format for pathogens. The new tests, Alert for Campylobacter and Alert for E. coli O157, are said to utilize superior antibodies to provide what may be the quickest testing times available for any microwell enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). For more information, contact Neogen Corp., 620 Lesher Place, Lansing, MI 48912 (phone 517-372-9200)—or circle 374.

CHLORIDOMETER may be used for the determination of sodium chloride ion concentration in food samples. The titrator may be used to quantitatively measure chloride ion content in beverages, processed foods, and other samples. The unit titrates samples of 10 to 100 microliters. Total titration time for a sample concentration of 100 milliequivalents per liter is said to be less than 20 sec. The unit does not require calibration when standard solutions are used. A blank compensating circuit corrects for variations in blank readings between batches of reagent mixtures. For more information, contact Labcono Corp., 8811 Prospect Ave., Kansas City, MO 64132-2696 (phone 816-333-8811)—or circle 375.

FORCE-MEASURING INSTRUMENT, the Molecular Force Probe™ is said to be the first commercially available, pico-Newton-sensitive, single-axis, force-measuring tool. Applications for the instrument include soft samples in biology, pharmacology, and biomaterials where force measurements are necessary. The technology is based around a flexible cantilever with a sharp tip that deflects in response to the small forces resulting from the interactions between the cantilever tip and the sample. The instrument also uses a separate sensor to linearize the movement of the cantilever, a feature especially important for stretching long biopolymers. The unit has an open mechanical design allowing for a range of samples and mounting schemes. For more information, contact Asylum Research, 601-C Pine St., Santa Barbara, CA 93117 (phone 805-692-2800)—or circle 376.

NITROGEN GENERATORS generate nitrogen from standard house compressed air. The primary applications for the systems include nebulizing gas for LC/MS and dry gas for solvent evaporation. The systems utilize a combination of filtration and membrane separation technologies to produce LC/MS-grade nitrogen from an existing source of compressed air. A prefiltration system pretreats the compressed air to remove contaminants. Hollow-fiber membranes subsequently separate clean air into a concentrated nitrogen output stream and an oxygen-enriched permeate stream, which is vented from the system. The combination of these technologies produces a continuous on-demand supply of nitrogen. For more information, contact Whatman, Inc., 100 Ames Pond Dr., P.O. Box 1262, Tewksbury, MA 01876-0962 (phone 978-858-0505)—or circle 377.

Associate Editor

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