Students get a ‘taste’ of food R&D
Budding food scientists at Iowa State University unveiled new food products that they developed from concept to finished product.

During the past semester, 23 students created and formulated the products; produced concept, consumer, color, and shelf-life tests on the products; processed the products; designed the packages; and created nutrition labels for the products. Some of the items included cinnamon roll ice cream, saffron-poached pears, berry-apple-kiwi fruit salsa with cinnamon crisps, strawberry-filled cream puffs, an Indian-spiced breaded chicken appetizer with cucumber-yogurt sauce, and cheesy broccoli rice balls.

As a requirement for the food science and human nutrition senior capstone course, Food Product Development, the students then presented the products to food industry representatives who served on the board of directors of Dyscovry Foods Inc. This "company" is actually another name for the course.

The course is set up like a corporation whereby the student "employees" work in product development teams as they compete against each other to create products that can succeed in the marketplace. The students met each week for 8–10 hr in a multi-kitchen laboratory, where they tested and retested their product formulations.

One of the students, Trisha Terry, an IFT Student Member, emphasized that this was not a cooking class. "When you’re preparing foods in your kitchen, you’re not thinking about the pH level or how to make a product with a shelf life of 100 days."

The Dyscovry Foods board initially approved all of the students’ product concepts. In the past, some of the products approved by the board have been commercialized, said Ken Prusa, one of the instructors of the course.

"A few years ago, we had a group working on a raspberry vinaigrette spray salad dressing. You could just spritz it on and control the calories. Our students called it Raspray. Just recently a product like this came on the market."

According to the instructors, Hy-Vee Foods might develop another product from the class called Short-Cut Shortcake.

FDA, EFSA sign agreement
The Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority are strengthening their cooperation in assessing food safety risk with the signing of a U.S./European agreement last month. This is the first formal international cooperation agreement EFSA has signed and the first formal step in cooperation between the two organizations.

The agreement includes the sharing of confidential scientific and other information, such as methodologies to ensure that food is safe.

Kraft bids for biscuits
Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., last month made a bidding offer to acquire the global biscuit business of Groupe Danone, Paris, France.

The planned acquisition involves Danone’s biscuit brands and operations as well as assets in 20 countries, including 36 manufacturing facilities. It does not include Danone’s joint ventures in Latin America and India.

The acquisition is subject to review, as required by French law, but if it is successful, it will increase Kraft’s presence in the snacks business segment around the world. According to Kraft, the acquisition also will double the size of its business in China and help the company gain entry into the biscuit category in Eastern Europe.

Kraft said that the European headquarters of the biscuit business will remain in the greater Paris metropolitan area for the foreseeable future, and that it has no intention to close any of the Danone biscuit manufacturing facilities in France for at least three years after the agreement is signed.

Fuel your car, feed your body
Amid the growing concern that an increasing percentage of the U.S. corn harvest is going to ethanol production rather than food production, scientists are creating new foods from an edible by-product of ethanol production, distiller’s dried grains.

Some of these foods include cookies, breads, and pastas that are said to be low in calories and carbohydrates and high in protein and fiber.

Kurt Rosentrater, a scientist with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, and Padmanaban G. Krishnan, Professor and Acting Head of the Dept. of Nutrition, Food Science, and Hospitality, South Dakota State University, are developing cookies made with distiller’s dried grains flour. They substitute it for more than 50% of the wheat flour normally used. The cookies are smaller than those made with all-wheat flour, though, because the high-protein/low-starch combination of the distiller’s dried grains flour keeps the cookie batter from spreading as easily as batter made with all-wheat flour.

According to ARS, since 2000 only one study has been published on food products made with distiller’s dried grains, other than the studies conducted by Rosentrater and colleagues.

Ethanol processing tends to concentrate distiller’s dried grains’ protein and fiber three- to nine-fold, and this, according to the researchers, helps to make distiller’s dried grains flour more nutritious than regular flour. The researchers must now address some sensory issues, since the fermentation process used to make ethanol often imparts a bitter off-flavor and odor to distiller’s dried grains.

Frutarom acquires two companies
Frutarom Industries Ltd., Haifa, Israel, recently announced that it will acquire two companies, pending regulatory approval.

Its wholly owned subsidiary, Frutarom Ltd., last month signed an agreement to acquire Israel-based Adumim Food Additives Ltd., a developer, producer, and marketer of ingredients for the food and functional food industries and ingredients that contain medicinal plant extracts, vitamins, and minerals.

In June, Frutarom signed an agreement to acquire 100% of the share capital of the Israeli company Raychan Food Industries Ltd. The acquisition is expected to increase Frutarom’s savory and functional ingredient offerings.

Gadot acquires Pharmline
Israel–based food ingredient producer Gadot Biochemical Industries Ltd. recently acquired 85% of shares of Pharmline Holdings Inc., Florida, N.Y. The acquisition of Pharmline, a processor of ingredients and premixes for the nutraceuticals market in North America, will allow Gadot to broaden its Enrichment Minerals product line as well as other health ingredients offered to the nutraceuticals industry.

Nanotech center opens
A new interdisciplinary research center that will focus on nanotechnology opened in June at the University of Nottingham, UK.

The Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre will house state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities to help scientists and students learn more about this increasingly important technology.

There is a growing interest in applying nanotechnology to many products produced by the food industry, including food packaging. Nanotechnology has already proved itself useful in other industries such as industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

All of the nanotechnology activities across the university will be held at the center, which is a joint initiative between the schools of pharmacy, physics and astronomy, chemistry, and mechanical, materials, and manufacturing engineering.

Cargill relaunches line
Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., recently launched its erythritol product line under the Zerose™ brand name to convey to food manufacturers and consumers that the sweetener contains no sugar, calories, aftertaste, and artificial ingredients.

Formerly known as Eridex erythritol, Zerose erythritol is a bulk sweetener that is said to taste and function like sugar in beverages, dairy products, and confections.

Unilever, Perdigão sign joint venture
Unilever, London, UK, and Perdigão S.A., São Paulo, Brazil, have formed a joint venture to manage the Becel and Becel ProActiv brands in Brazil and identify additional business opportunities.

The alliance will allow the companies to utilize Perdigão’s experience in the manufacture, sale, and distribution of food products in Brazil and Unilever’s expertise in marketing, food product innovation, and worldwide brand recognition.

Under the terms of the agreement, Unilever will sell its Doriana, Delicata, and Claybon brands to Perdigão. The manufacture of these products will continue at Unilever’s plant in Valinhos, São Paulo.

Silliker acquires Plant Bioactives
Silliker Inc., Homewood, Ill., recently acquired Plant Bioactives Research Institute, Orem, Utah, which provides analysis of dietary supplements using validated methods. The acquisition will allow Silliker to provide services to the growing dietary supplement industry.

by Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor
[email protected]