KAREN BANASIAK

USDA revises BSE testing protocol
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently announced a new bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) confirmation-testing protocol. This comes after USDA’s announcement in June 2005 that a sample from an animal which was blocked from the food supply in November 2004 had tested positive for BSE. Johanns has also directed USDA scientists to work with international experts to develop a new protocol that includes performing dual confirmatory tests in the event of another inconclusive BSE screening test.

Effective immediately, if another BSE rapid screening test results in inconclusive findings, USDA will run both immunohisto-chemistry (IHC) and Western blot confirmatory tests. If results from either confirmatory test are positive, the sample will be considered positive for BSE.

An initial screening test on the animal in November 2004 was inconclusive, which caused USDA to conduct the IHC test. Those results were negative. In early June, USDA’s Office of the Inspector General recommended further testing using the Western blot test, and this test was reactive. Further testing using a combination of rapid IHC and Western blot tests showed that the sample was positive for BSE.

This is the second cow to have tested positive for BSE in the United States; the first was in December 2003.

For more information on BSE and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, see IFT’s Scientific Status Summary, “Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies,” in the June/July 2005 issue of Journal of Food Science, also available online under “Research, Reports, & Policy” at www.ift.org.

Temperature and time affect acrylamide levels
Research conducted in recent years has shown that levels of the carcinogen acrylamide in certain types of food are elevated when those foods are processed at high temperatures. Scientists at Texas A&M University are studying how cooking temperatures and storage times affect acrylamide levels in foods such as French fries and potato chips. So far, their research is showing that lowering the cooking temperature is a way to reduce acrylamide levels in fried foods.

According to the World Health Organization, the temperature at which acrylamide is formed in foods is not exactly known; however, the compound has so far not been found in food prepared at temperatures less than 120°C, including boiled foods.

The Texas A&M study found that lowering the pressure permitted the use of lower temperature (118°C) during vacuum frying and increasing the cooking time to 8 min yielded potato chips with less acrylamide than those normally fried at 165–180°C for 4 min. The researchers say that more studies need to be conducted. Information on the effects of acrylamide is available from the World Health Organization at www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/chem/acrylamide_faqs/en/. Research on acrylamide can be found by a keyword search of the Journal of Food Science found under “Publications” at www.ift.org.

Ancestors’ origins key to lactose intolerance
Researchers from Cornell University have discovered a link between the climate in which peoples’ ancestors lived and their descendants’ ability to digest milk.

Their study found that it is primarily people whose ancestors that came from places where dairy herds could be raised safely and economically, such as Europe, who have developed the ability to digest milk. Their ancestors passed on gene mutations that maintain lactase into adulthood. Most people whose ancestors lived in extreme climate conditions—very hot or very cold—that could not support dairy herding or in places where deadly diseases of cattle were present before 1900, such as Africa and many parts of Asia, do not have the ability to digest milk after infancy.

“The implication is that harsh climates and dangerous diseases negatively impact dairy herding and geographically restrict the availability of milk, and that humans have physiologically adapted to that,” said Paul Sherman, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell. “This is a spectacular case of how cultural evolution—in this case, the domestication of cattle—has guided our biological evolution.”

Sherman and former Cornell student Gabrielle Bloom collected data on lactose intolerance from 270 indigenous African and Eurasian populations in 39 countries, from southern Africa to Greenland. They found that, on average, 61% of people studied were lactose intolerant, ranging from 2% in Denmark to 100% in Zambia. They also found that lactose intolerance decreases with increasing latitude and increases with rising temperature.

Students develop space food
A team of graduate students from Oklahoma State University won first place in the 2005 NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center Product Development Competition for developing a bite-sized muffin suitable for space missions.

The product, Nutraffin, is made from freshly shredded carrots, peanut flour, wheat flour, sugar, low-sodium baking powder, a spice blend of cinnamon and cardamom, and soy milk. The muffin is formulated to be high in fiber, protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and calories and low in sodium and iron, to meet the nutritional needs of astronauts.

Each team designed foods or food processing systems that met the criteria for missions to the moon and planetary outposts, including products that could be made from crops grown in space, prepared easily, and eaten without producing crumbs.

Penn State promotes food industry
The construction of Penn State University’s new food science building will help the university’s efforts to advance food science and the state’s food processing industry, according to Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff.

PSU President Graham B. Spanier adds that many food processing and manufacturing firms are located in the state and that the university’s College of Agricultural Sciences plays an important role in maintaining safety in the production, processing, packaging, distribution, and consumption of food in the state and other areas.

The 130,000-sq-ft building will house modern teaching and research laboratories, classrooms, and offices; an expanded production and customer service space for the Berkey Creamery; and three specialized pilot plants to test research concepts for food companies that choose to partner with PSU, the largest dairy manufacturing plant associated with any university in the United States. Completion of the facility is scheduled for June 2006.

ISU to build dairy operation
Iowa State University will begin construction later this year on a new modern dairy education and research facility located on a 27-acre site about three miles south of the campus.

When completed, the facility will replace two outdated dairy operations: ISU’s Ankeny Farm facilities, which date back to the 1940s, and the former Dairy Teaching Farm, which closed in 2003, had facilities dating back nearly 100 years, and was surrounded by community growth.

In the new facility, various buildings will house barns for different types of cows, a dairy center, research centers, and laboratories for undergraduate and graduate students. The first phase of construction is expected to be complete by late 2006.

Dairy science award nominees sought
The California Dairy Research Foundation is accepting nominations for the 2nd William C. Haines Dairy Science Award. The award honors individuals who work in support of dairy science.

Nomination forms for the 2006 award, which are due by September 23, 2005, are available at www.cdrf.org under “Awards/ Giving.”


YOUR OPINION COUNTS
Please participate in our informal online survey of topical issues of interest to food formulators, technologists, and scientists. To answer the question below, please go to www.ift.org

Q: Which of the following foodborne pathogens presents the most pressing problem for the food industry?
(Please check only one box.)
Campylobacter
Clostridium botulinum
Escherichia coli
O157:H7
Listeria monocytogenes
Norovirus
Salmonella
Shigella
Staphylococcus aureus
Vibrio vulnificus
Other (please specify below)

The single-question survey will be posted on www.ift.org for approximately 2 weeks after the issue is distributed. The poll results will appear on our Web site and be published in a future issue of Food Technology.


People News
Bernadene A. Magnuson has joined Burdock Group, Vero Beach, Fla., as Senior Toxicologist.

Coleman Natural Foods Co., Golden, Colo., has named George A. Chivari President and Chief Executive Officer.

Danisco A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark, has named Robert H. Mayer Chief Executive Officer of Genencor International Inc.; Tjerk de Ruiter Chief Operating Officer of Danisco Flavours, Danisco Cultures, and Danisco Specialties; and Ole Søgaard Andersen Senior Vice President of Danisco’s global sales organization.

Kaltron-Pettibone, Chicago, Ill., has named David Godke Market Manager of Food Ingredients Division.

McDonald’s Corp., Oak Brook, Ill., has promoted Karen King to President of East Division and Wade Thoma to Vice President of Menu Management.

Orthodox Union, New York, N.Y., has named Rabbi Menachem Genack Chief Executive Officer, Rabbi Moshe Elefant Chief Operating Officer, and Rabbi Nosson Neuberger Associate Director of OU’s Ingredient Approval Registry.

Frank van Oers has been named Vice President of Sara Lee Corp., Chicago, Ill.

Jeffery Lucas has joined Silliker Inc., Homewood, Ill., as Technical Director.

Steritech Group Inc., Charlotte, N.C., has named Mark Jarvis Chief Executive Officer, replacing John Whitley, who stepped down in June.

by Karen Banasiak,
Assistant Editor
[email protected]