A consortium of public, private, and academic researchers has decoded the DNA of nine representative strains of lactic acid–producing bacteria that carry out a variety of key biosynthetic processes. The processes help develop a range of tangy and tart flavor compounds in hundreds of fermented food and beverage products. Most important, though, is that the data obtained from the research is being used to develop biobased ingredients for use in industrial applications.

The bacteria give cheeses various levels of sharpness or mildness and impart flavors to yogurt and kefir. They produce lactic acid as an end product of enzymatically fermenting lactose anaerobically.

Using comparative genomic analysis, the researchers discovered coding regions that allow lactic acid–producing bacteria to produce antimicrobials. For example, bacteriocin is produced by certain strains and can inhibit Listeria monocytogenes. Dextran can be biologically produced when Leuconostoc mesenteroides, one of the newly sequenced bacteria, acts on cane or beet sugar. Dextran can be used in products such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

The researchers are continuing to use the data obtained about these bacteria in developing additional biobased ingredients.

Nutrition learning tools released
Several U.S. government agencies recently released food-related learning and informational tools for consumers and scientists.

The Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition offers two new learning tools to help consumers use the Nutrition Facts label to choose nutritious foods and achieve healthy weight management. Make Your Calories Count, an interactive online learning program that can also be downloaded, leads consumers through a series of exercises about the food label to help them explore the relationship between serving sizes and calories. It also explains what serving sizes, percentages, and daily values mean and how to use them when choosing different foods. The program is available at www.cfsan.fda.gov/labelman.

The Nutrition Facts Label brochure can be used by consumers and health professionals to teach consumers how to make healthier food choices. The brochure is available at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/lab-gen.html.

The National Agricultural Library, part of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, recently added digitally reformatted annual reports and conference proceedings of the Bean Improvement Cooperative to the NAL Digital Repository at http://naldr.nal.usda.gov. Included is information about bean varieties, production, and processing.

ARS also recently launched the Soybean Breeder’s Toolbox, an online database that provides information about the genetic makeup of soybeans, diseases and insects that attack soybeans, and soybean quantitative traits such as the resistance of different soybean genotypes to environmental stresses. It can be accessed at http://soybase.org.

ARS’s online Ground Beef Calculator allows consumers, dietitians, and researchers to estimate dietary nutrient intakes based on ground beef products available in the marketplace and allows industry to use the nutrient information generated by the program to meet labeling requirements for their products that contain ground beef. Visit www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata/groundbeefcalculator for more information.

Quest sold to Givaudan
Givaudan, Vernier, Switzerland, in November acquired the flavor and fragrance manufacturer Quest International, Naarden, the Netherlands. The acquisition is in line with Givaudan’s strategy to focus on developing markets and to capture opportunities in key market segments. Quest, a fully owned subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries PLC, has facilities and about 3,400 employees located around the world, including in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Givaudan will strengthen its technology portfolio by expanding the offerings of taste solutions for the health and wellness product category and by adding flavor-delivery systems.

Quest is no stranger to acquisitions— in 1997, ICI acquired the company from Unilever.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to be completed during the first quarter of this year.

ADM acquires Classic Couverture
Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., has expanded its industrial chocolate manufacturing capabilities in Europe with the acquisition of chocolate manufacturer Classic Couverture, Liverpool, UK. ADM has cocoa processing plants on five continents and is building a state-of-the-art cocoa processing facility in Hazelton, Pa.

Food processors, CIA collaborate
The Culinary Institute of America recently launched a program in partnership with several food manufacturers to support food ingredient and product development for the foodservice industry.

The Menu R&D and Flavor Discovery Initiative will focus on applied research, student scholarships, and curriculum development. Coca-Cola Co., Campbell Soup Co., Tyson Foods Inc., and Ventura Foods have pledged $250,000 to directly support the program. Partnering with industry will also help to generate information about trends in flavor development and consumer preferences and support the expansion of menu research and development as an important industry discipline and professional career choice. An additional element of the program is applied research in the areas of flavor development, consumer research, and the evaluation and application of emerging foodservice technologies.

“The foodservice industry needs research to help it address rapid changes in the environment,” said Tim Ryan, CIA President. The recent proposal to ban the use of trans fatty acids by restaurants in New York City is an example of change in the industry, and the CIA program will address this in its research, he explained.

PCI purchases SensoryEffects
Performance Chemicals & Ingredients, St. Louis, Mo., has acquired the SensoryEffects business unit of Loders Croklaan USA LLC, Channahon, Ill. Last May, PCI acquired Diehl Food Ingredients Inc., and this recent purchase reinforces PCI’s plan to build a specialty food ingredients business that includes lipid technology capabilities and delivery systems for specialty ingredients.

Flavor-prediction method debuts
Quest International recently introduced a method to predict and design consumer-preferred flavors based on trends noted around the world.

According to the company, the Linking flavor Ingredients and Sensory data to Acceptance (LISA) method will change the way the company supports its customers’ brands by developing flavors with the exact target consumer in mind. LISA will allow Quest to accurately predict the flavors that people of different nationalities, genders, and ages prefer.

The method produces results by combining data on the flavor components that determine consumer preferences with data on sensory attributes such as juiciness, ripeness, creaminess, or sweetness.

First, the flavorists develop the flavors that will be tested. Next, sensory tests on the flavor models are performed using trained panelists. Then consumer tests using untrained people are performed to help scientists compile data on consumer acceptance and liking. The flavors are then reformulated and retested based on the data produced by the sensory panels.

“Based on a customer brief, we can use LISA to determine how the presence of different amounts of certain flavor components positively or negatively influence flavor acceptance,” said Tom De Block, Consumer Understanding Systems Manager. “In other words, we can accurately predict the flavor components that drive liking and those that have the opposite effect.”

He added that Quest has used LISA to develop several flavors, like strawberry, orange, and chicken, and is obtaining data on worldwide vanilla flavor preferences.

by Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor
[email protected]