KAREN BANASIAK

New Waxy Starch Tested
Scientists with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service are field-testing soft white spring wheat whose starch could be used for a variety of food uses. The new wheat, Penawawa-X, was developed by Craig Morris, a cereal chemist at the ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory, Pullman, Wash.

According to Morris, Penawawa-X would be one of the first commercial soft white spring wheats with 100% amylopectin starch. This trait is known as “full waxy,” and starches with this trait form a paste at lower temperatures and swell with more water than regular or partially waxy wheat starches. Waxy starch gels do not lose water on exposure to freezing and thawing. Potential uses of full-waxy starches are food-bodying agents, shelf-life extenders, and shortening replacement agents.

Morris used plant-breeding techniques to combine three deficient forms of the gene for granule-bound starch synthase (GBSS), the enzyme responsible for making amylase. The deficient forms cannot make GBSS; therefore, no amylase is made.

Penawawa-X wheat is not available commercially; field testing is underway, and one company is exploring use of the wheat.

Soft white wheat is grown in Pacific Northwest states for making cookies, cakes, udon noodles, flatbreads, and other Asian and Middle Eastern baked goods.

UK task force addresses contamination
For months now, the European Union has been dealing with the problem of illegal ingredients, such as Para Red and the Sudan dyes, appearing in food products. As a result, the Food Standards Agency, London, UK, which represents the UK government on food safety and standards issues, has established an incidents task force to help strengthen the existing controls in the food chain by reducing the possibility of future contamination and improving the management of such contamination incidents if they do occur.

The responsibilities of the task force will include identifying practical ways of reducing the likelihood of food contamination incidents occurring; deciding what type of response to take; designating clearly agreed-on roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in risk management of food contamination incidents; and identifying the ways the FSA can implement proposals.

“The task force will help us achieve the overall objectives in our strategic plan to work with industry to reduce high- and medium-risk incidents by 25%,” said Julie Unwin, FSA Acting Chair.

For more information on food and beverage colorants and the Sudan contamination, see “Coloring Food & Beverages” (Food Technology, May 2005) at www.ift.org/foodtechnology/foodcolor.

Red wine’s benefits added to peanuts
Food scientists at the University of Georgia have found a way to increase a key cancer and heart disease preventive in peanuts to levels far higher than those in red wine.

Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in wine, has been proven to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. The research team led by Anna Resurreccion has modified peanuts to contain 12.3 times more resveratrol than red wine; studies have shown that wine averages about 0.6 μg/g, with very few exceptions containing up to 5 μg/g. The resveratrol-enhanced peanuts contain almost 8 μg/g.

Resurreccion says that the method of enhancing the peanuts involves slicing the peanut kernels into tiny pieces, which causes stress, and then applying an additional stress through ultrasound technology. Because the nuts have to be sliced, the scientists have not been able to increase the resveratrol levels in whole nuts.

So far, the only drawback to the project is a slight off-flavor detected in a peanut butter prototype by a consumer panel and verified by the university’s trained taste panel.

Resurreccion has partnered with Belle Plantations Inc. of Georgia to use resveratrol-enhanced peanuts to commercially manufacture peanut flour. Both the enhanced peanuts and their flour by-product will be used to make products such as pasta, candy bars, snacks, cakes, breads, and power and other health shakes. Peanut butter with increased resveratrol is another possible product.

U.S. agencies propose rule on food standards
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration recently released a proposed rule to establish a set of general principles for evaluating whether to revise, eliminate, or create new standards of identity for food.

Standards of identity define what a given food product is, its name, and the ingredients that must be used or may be used in the manufacture of the food. The food standards list the minimum amounts of certain ingredients; maximum fat and water contents; methods of processing, cooking, and preparation; and optional safe and suitable ingredients and expected or characterizing ingredients. Above all, food standards ensure that consumers get what they expect when they purchase certain food products.

“The rule will likely encourage the development of food products with better nutritional profiles and stimulate innovations in food processing technology,” said Barbara J. Masters, Acting FSIS Administrator. “The rule, if adopted, will allow both agencies to better utilize resources to better protect public health.”

Masters also added that the proposed rule marks a significant step toward modernizing food standards.

The number of petitions to modify food standards has increased as a result of recent technological advances in the food industry. The hope is that the general principles will lead to the updating of existing standards or the creation of new standards that will allow food processors to continue to produce safe and wholesome products while stimulating technological advances.

The proposed rule is available at www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/95n-0294-npr0001.pdf. Deadline for comments is August 19, 2005.

McDonald’s tests new French fries
McDonald’s Corp., Oak Brook, Ill., is testing new French fries that contain reduced levels of trans fatty acids; however, customers do not know it, according to an article in the May 16 Crain’s Chicago Business.

The article’s author reports that the company is not disclosing how many restaurants are involved in the testing, where those restaurants are located, or when the testing moved from the laboratory to the field. Also, the company will not disclose if it is testing a new oil, a new process, or both.

Officials at the company are keeping these details secret to help avoid an onslaught of customer comments that occurred in 2002 when McDonald’s announced that it was switching oils. Shortly after the announcement, the company received a large number of customer complaints about the taste of the French fries, even though it had not yet started to use the oil.

Nominations sought for food science award
Nominations are now being sought for candidates in the food science profession for the 2005 Ron Harris Distinguished Food Scientist Award. This award, which was named for Ronald D. Harris, Adjunct Professor in the Food Science and Technology Dept. at Ohio State University, is given annually to recognize excellence in and contributions to the discipline of food science.

The award consists of a $3,000 honorarium plus all travel expenses to Ohio State University to attend the Harris Award Celebration. The nomination deadline is July 30, 2005. For more information, call 800-752-2751, e-mail [email protected], or visit http://fst.osu.edu/news/harris/htm.

Fulbright program seeks food scientists
The Fulbright Scholar Program for Faculty and Professionals has announced a research opportunity for a food scientist during the 2006–07 academic year. Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary, is seeking a specialist in nutritional sciences to teach undergraduate students, assist in the development of a graduate program in nutrition, and train faculty. The award also includes the opportunity to participate in European Union research projects.

The application deadline is August 1, 2005. For specific information about this opportunity, contact Muriel Joffe at 202-686-6249 or [email protected]. For general information about the Fulbright program, visit www.cies.org.


On the Move
FONA International Inc. has moved into its new state-of-the-art world headquarters in Geneva, Ill. The facility includes two full sweet-application laboratories equipped with a fill line of bakery and confectionery equipment; a savory-application area equipped with restaurant-grade equipment; eight flavor development laboratories; a full-scale pilot plant; a separate spray drying area; and a 325-person auditorium for courses and industry and community events.

Sara Lee Corp., Chicago, Ill., recently announced that it will move its corporate headquarters to Downers Grove, Ill. In addition to housing the corporate staff, the facility will be home to the company’s North American operating businesses. The move will begin this summer and is expected to be completed by July 2006.


Your Opinion Counts
Each month in our News section, we will be asking you, our members and readers, to participate in an 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: Once the trans fat issue is resolved or has diminished, what will be the biggest area of concern for food product developers and scientists? (Please check only one box.)

Antibiotics/hormones in meat

Antibiotics/hormones in meat

Calories

GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

Non-nutritive sweeteners

Nutritive sweeteners

Pesticides

Serving or portion size

Sodium

Other (please specify)

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.

Food Technology.

by Karen Banasiak,
Assistant Editor
[email protected]