Kerry Group to acquire Quest Food Ingredients
Kerry Group plc, Tralee, Ireland, has entered into an agreement to acquire Quest International’s Food Ingredients Div., which manufactures emulsifiers, proteins, lactose, hydrocolloids, yeasts, enzymes, and cultures. This division accounts for about 20% of Quest’s business.

As part of the $440-million acquisition agreement, the commercial and technical relationship between Quest and the Quest Flavors and Fragrances Div. will be maintained, with Quest continuing to supply ingredients to Quest Flavors. Quest plans to invest in the expansion of its flavor manufacturing sites and technical center in the Americas and in a new creative center in Shanghai, China.

Based in Naarden, Netherlands, Quest operates facilities in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Southeast Asia and serves the pharmaceutical, culinary, snack, bakery, dairy, and confectionery markets around the world.

Food safety leaders form food irradiation council
Scientists, educators, government officials, and suppliers of food irradiation equipment and services from around the world have formed the International Council on Food Irradiation (ICFI). The council’s primary mission is to gather and disseminate information—based on sound science—on the safety and benefits of food irradiation.

Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to electromagnetic energy known as ionizing radiation to achieve desirable objectives, such as inactivating insect pests or bacteria. According to the ICFI, within approved dosages, irradiation has been shown to kill at least 99.9% of common foodborne pathogens such as Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Salmonella (various species), and Listeria monocytogenes. More than 50 countries have approved irradiation for one or more food products.

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Super downsize of McDonald’s fries and drinks
Hold the fries. Oak Brook, Ill.–based McDonald’s Corp. in March began to phase out its super-size fries and soft drinks at its 13,000 U.S. restaurants and plans to completely eliminate them, except for promotions, by the end of 2004. In addition to the growing concerns about obesity, the company said it made the decision to discontinue offering the super-size fries and soft drinks as a way to streamline its core menu and its restaurant operations. McDonald’s debuted the super-size menu more than a decade ago.

New soybean promises healthier soy oil
Scientists at ARS have developed a new germplasm, or soybean genetic material, for cultivating new soybean lines that have higher levels of monounsaturated fats. Oil from the beans of the germplasm contains increased levels of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat stable enough for use in salad dressings or frying oils without treatment by hydrogenation. Commercial soy oils contain 7% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)—liquid fats that break down over time or during frying and cause off-odors—whereas the germplasm’s oil contains 3%. The low PUFA levels mean that even without hydrogenation, the germplasm’s oil would be as stable as most hydrogenated oils, yet not oxidize as quickly as other soybean oils.

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