KAREN NACHAY

Salt adhesion on snacks
Researchers from Ohio State University said that several factors affect the adhesion of salt onto potato chips. They detailed their findings in the article “Factors Dominating Adhesion of NaCl onto Potato Chips,” which appeared in the October 2007 issue of Journal of Food Science.

By examining the time between frying and coating, surface oil content, chip temperature, oil composition, salt particle size and shape, and electrostatic coating, they learned that surface oil is the most important factor for adhesion and salt size is the next most important. Salt shape is the least important.

In the article, the researchers described that potato chips with high surface oil had the highest adhesion of salt, and that decreasing chip temperature decreased surface oil and adhesion. They also increased the time between frying and coating (immediately, after one day, and after one month) and found that this reduced adhesion for low-surface oil chips but did not affect high- and no-surface-oil chips.

Oil composition had no affect on adhesion, but salt size did; increasing salt size decreased adhesion. The researchers said that stronger van der Waals forces per unit of mass caused the smaller salt particles to adhere better than larger salt particles.

Even though they noted that salt shape hardly played a role in adhesion, when differences arise, cubic salts adhered better than flake salts, which adhered better than dendritic salts.

For more information, visit www.ift.org and click on “Publications.”

Cargill collaborates
Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., is advancing business deals made with companies around the world.

It recently formed a joint venture with the Spanish cooperative Hojiblanca to source, trade, and supply customers worldwide with private label and bulk olive oil. This agreement will strengthen Cargill’s involvement in high-premium olive oil and complement its existing oil offerings, including sunflower, rapeseed, soy, corn, and palm, to customers around the world.

Cargill and Clabber Girl Corp. partnered to create a sugar-free sugar replacement product for home bakers. Clabber Girl Sugar Replacer for Baking™, which recently debuted to retailers in select markets, contains Cargill’s SweetDesign™ sugar replacer.

Under an agreement with Cargill, Verenium Corp., Cambridge, Mass., is developing several new custom enzymes that Cargill will use to create a new food-related product.

Junk food offerings decrease
Although United States schools have made considerable improvements in their policies and programs to promote the health and safety of students, there is still more work needed to strengthen school health and wellness policies and programs, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

The School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006, conducted by CDC and published in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of School Health, is the largest and most comprehensive study of health policies and programs in the nation’s schools. It is conducted every six years.

Comparison of the results from the 2000 and 2006 studies showed that schools that sold cookies, cake, or other high-fat baked goods in vending machines or school stores decreased from 38% to 25%; schools that offered deep-fried potatoes (French fries) a la carte decreased from 40% to 19%; states prohibiting schools from offering junk foods in vending machines increased from 8% to 32%, and school districts doing so increased from 4% to 30%; and schools selling water in vending machines or school stores increased from 30% to 46%.

Despite these encouraging findings, CDC said that there is still need for improvement, since 77% of high schools sell soda or fruit drinks that are not 100% juice and 61% sell salty snacks not low in fat in their vending machines or school stores.

Copper helps brain function
Copper found in certain enzymes in the brain help form key neurotransmitters that allow brain cells to communicate with one another. Studies conducted by scientists with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service show that adequate intake of copper is crucial to brain function.

Curtiss Hunt, a biologist and lead scientist at the ARS Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D., found that moderate copper deprivation in pregnant or lactating rats led to underdevelopment of the dentate gyrus and hippocampal areas of their babies’ developing brains. These areas are important for higher brain functions such as learning.

W. Thomas Johnson, a chemist at the facility, has detailed several biochemical mechanisms that underlie impaired brain development associated with copper deficiency in Nutritional Neuroscience, a book that he coauthored.

Even though copper defi ciency is not a public health concern in the U.S., national food intake survey data from ARS showed that 8–16% of women of childbearing age had inadequate copper intakes. The recommended daily allowance of copper is 1,000 μg for women of childbearing age and 1,300 μg for lactating women.

H2O2 affects tomato quality
Researchers from the University of Arizona have learned that hydrogen peroxide affects the quality of fresh-cut tomatoes.

They learned that while H2O2 was an effective sanitizing tool, it did accelerate degradation of certain phytochemicals during seven days of storage. They believe that the phenolic content of the tomatoes treated with H2O2 decreased, possibly as a result of oxidation and subsequent use of oxidized phenolics for lignin formation. After storing the treated tomatoes for seven days, they observed an initial decline in vitamin C and lycopene.

The researchers measured the a* and C* values, which indicate red color of tomatoes, and noted that the color of the tomatoes degraded only one day after the H2O2 treatment

The study, “Effect of Hydrogen Peroxide on Quality of Fresh-cut Tomato,” appeared in the September 2007 issue of Journal of Food Science. For more information, visit www.ift.org and click on “Publications.”

GTC opens specialty oats plant
GTC Nutrition, Golden, Colo., recently celebrated the opening of its specialty oats manufacturing facility in Missoula, Mont. The location will produce OatVantage™, a highly concentrated soluble fi ber that contains 54% beta-glucan.

This is the second new manufacturing plant that the company has opened in North America. Last year, the company opened a manufacturing plant in London, Ontario, Canada, the only plant in North America to produce short-chain fructooligosaccharides.

USDA awards food safety grants
USDA recently awarded more than $14 million in food safety grants to researchers and educators at 17 U.S. universities. They will use the grants to conduct research in the areas of food safety—from on-farm production to food consumption—and to develop measures to improve the safety nation’s food supply.

For a list of the universities, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.

Acquisitions & divestitures
Several food companies have recently acquired others or sold off business divisions or brands.

Kraft Foods Inc., Northfi eld, Ill., recently agreed to sell its Fruit2O water and Veryfine juice brands and related assets to Sunny Delight Beverages Co., Cincinnati, Ohio. According to Kraft, these brands had net revenues of approximately $135 million in 2006.

Symrise, Holzminden, Germany, has acquired the UK non-branded food ingredients business of Unilever, London, UK. The portfolio includes dry seasonings and wet pastes, which are both used to develop chilled foods and snack foods.

Chr. Hansen A/S, Hørsholm, Denmark, recently sold its excipients and coating division to Colorcon, West Point, Pa. The transaction includes coatings, compressible sugar, compressible calcium carbonate, and sugar spheres.

J.M. Smucker Co., Orrville, Ohio, said that its subsidiary, Smucker Foods of Canada Co., has acquired the Canadian Carnation brand canned milk products business from Nestlé Canada, North York, Ontario, Canada, including the rights to use the Carnation brand for these products in Canada. The products acquired are evaporated milk, thick cream, and skim milk powder.

PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., recently announced plans to acquire the Brazilian snack foods company Comercio de Doces Lucky Ltda., which makes the brands Torcida and Fofura. The transaction provides PepsiCo with more manufacturing capacity and a larger selection of snacks to offer consumers in Brazil.

by Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor
[email protected],