J. Peter Clark

IFT’s New Products & Technologies Subcommittee, from which I am retiring after seven years, is offering some new presentation formats and opportunities for commercial developers of new ingredients at this year’s IFT Annual Meeting & Food ExpoSM. Among these are two forums on the Food Expo® floor, using the same stage and seating area used for the culinary challenge presentations.

Antimicrobial spray system, AutoJet® from Spraying Systems Co., provides controlled application of antimicrobial agents onto meat and poultry products (see p. 134).These New Products & Technologies Forums will feature three presentations on Sunday afternoon and three others on Monday afternoon. The topics were identified by the subcommittee as especially deserving of a wide audience. Eight other presentations are being given as tabletop displays near the poster presentation area. This approach was tried first last year as a showcase for emerging ingredients. Again, novel ingredients that lend themselves to demonstration or sampling are featured.

In addition, the regular Scientific Program will feature three oral New Products & Technologies sessions on innovations in ingredients, analytical techniques, and processing. These have typically been among the best-attended scientific sessions, perhaps because the subcommittee has always been very selective and the presentations have traditionally been of high quality and direct commercial interest.

Innovations in Processing
The "New Products & Technologies: Innovations in Processing" session (session 181) on Tuesday morning will include presentations on a method of reducing flatulence-inducing carbohydrates in legume products by treating with salts and then desalting; an improvement in food container sterilization by shaking the racks; a method of sterilizing dry products using a heated screw in a steam atmosphere followed by rapid cooling; a continuous ohmic heating system in a liquid jet; and a method of inspecting pouch seals using a noncontact ultrasonic probe.

• Flatulence in humans is most often the result of ingesting foods containing the oligosaccharides raffinose, stachyose, and verbascose: raffinose series oligosaccharides (RSOs). Humans lack enzymes that hydrolyze RSOs to monosaccharides. Unhydrolyzed RSOs are fermented by microorganisms present in the colon and produce gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane that manifest as intestinal distress and flatulence.

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The process presented is based on a combination of hydration of legume seeds, saline treatment, and desalination, yielding a product with consistently greater than 95% reduction in RSOs. The product can then be cooked and subjected to further processing as needed. Commercialization of the process has been performed with pinto beans in collaboration with Inland Empire Foods, Riverside, Calif. The final product is available as cooked, dried whole beans or flakes that can be rapidly reconstituted for use. Similar results are achieved with pinto, soy, navy, black, garbanzo (chickpeas), green peas, black eye peas, white eye peas, and fava beans.

• In the Shaka™ process, the retort is loaded with baskets filled with packed food containers. A reciprocating actuator shakes the baskets and their contents back and forth vigorously, thoroughly mixing the food and allowing very rapid heat transfer throughout the contents. The process sterilizes food up to 20 times faster than conventional static retorting processes, with commensurate improvement in food quality. It can be used successfully for fluid foods packed in a variety of containers, including metal cans, glass jars, pouches, and suitable plastic containers. Only about 3 min is needed for sterilization and about 10 min for overall cycle times. Soups, sauces, vegetables, baby foods, pasta-in-sauce, ready meals, pet foods, and other categories have all shown significant quality improvements when sterilized by this process.

• Powdered food products, particularly spices, seaweeds, and other dry food ingredients, are subject to microbial contamination at different stages, resulting in toxicological risks, alteration of their qualities, or even storage loss. Irradiation is used for some such products but may not be accepted in every market. The approach patented by the GPAB Laboratory of ENSBANA enables removal of 6–7 log on total plate count and up to 2–3 log of spores, while guaranteeing minimal alteration of the product.

• The SafeSteril process combines a Spirajoule heat treatment with a flash cooling step. With Spirajoule, the product is quickly treated with steam as it is gently conveyed by a screw, heated electrically by the Joule effect. This avoids any risk of condensation during the sterilization and keeps the products dry.

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• Ohmic heating processes for food products are known to minimize fouling caused by heating, since the electric current is applied directly in the product. However, the thermal processing of highly viscous liquid foods remains problematic. Fouling encountered in tubular ohmic heating was caused by overheating of processed products in the vicinity of electrodes and walls, so a new design was based on the elimination of the product–wall interface. The newly developed cell applies an alternating electrical current directly in the jet between two electrodes. The principal advantage claimed for this technology is its ability to heat highly fouling and viscous fluids rapidly and uniformly.

• A pouch seal is a structural element that joins flat film material and a component designed to close a pouch airtight. Traditional test methods (e.g., peel strength or burst) can measure the joint strength of the pouch seal using destructive methods that are often unreliable. A strong seal is not necessarily an airtight one, and the flow of gas or liquid through the seal (leak) is just one type of seal defect.

Several studies indicate that many of the traditional methods used for seal inspection are unreliable because they fail to recognize invisible defects and falsely reject properly sealed pouches that exhibit cosmetic irregularities. However, airborne ultrasound technology has been proven in the field with online and offline installations.

Food Engineering Sessions
The Food Engineering Div. is sponsoring eleven sessions on the usual mix of topics, including one oral session and one poster session on "Process Engineering," two symposia on "Engineering Research Priorities" and "Sensor Technologies for Process Control," an oral session on "Emerging Technologies," oral and poster sessions on "Rheology" and on "Modeling and Simulation," a poster session on "Drying and Kinetics," and a general oral session. There are 49 posters in the "Process Engineering" session, 23 in "Drying and Kinetics," 43 in "Rheology and Food Processing," and 31 in "Modeling, Simulation, and Novel Technologies."

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Four industrial researchers and one academician discuss the disconnect between the industry and university approaches to research in the symposium on "Engineering Research Priorities: Communication Between Academia and Industry" (session 037) on Sunday afternoon. Scientists in the food industry focus on troubleshooting and applied research, preferably accomplished in a short term, whereas university scientists tend to focus on basic, longer-term research. The symposium asks the questions, "How can the industry make more use of research in academia?" "How can the faculty in academia do more relevant applied research and collaborate with the scientists from the industry?" and "What research does the food industry need?"

The symposium on "Sensor Technologies for Process Control" (session 157) on Tuesday morning will have presentations on sensing technologies of interest, including but not limited to ultrasound, Raman spectroscopy, NMR, and dielectric spectroscopy. This session is expected to identify the current needs in process control, highlight the state of the art in sensing technologies, and educate on selecting suitable sensing technologies based on process needs.

I am honored to give the Food Engineering Div. Lecture this year during the "Food Engineering: Thermal Processing" session (session 133) on Monday afternoon. In my lecture,"Food Engineering in the Real World," I will reflect on my years of practicing food engineering in the design and construction of food plants and the development of processes.

Nonthermal Processing
The Nonthermal Processing Div. is sponsoring nine sessions—three oral sessions, one poster session with 38 papers on Tuesday afternoon, and five symposia. The oral sessions are "Nonthermal Processing and Food Quality" (session 074) on Monday morning,"Nonthermal Processing for Improving Microbial Food Safety" (session 092) on Monday afternoon, and "Nonthermal Processes for Adding Value to Food Materials" (session 118) on Monday afternoon. Note that this year the Scientific Program sessions are shorter and there are more of them to allow attendees more flexibility.

In collaboration with the International Div., the Nonthermal Processing Div. symposium on "The World and the Future of Nonthermal Technologies for Processing Foods" (session 026) on Sunday afternoon aims to present a global view of what is going on with these innovative technologies, who the key players from around the world are in terms of scientific and technical developments as well as industrial applications, and how countries and regions could become more effectively involved in research and implementation of these very promising approaches to processing foods.

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Technologies to be highlighted in these presentations are, among others, high pressure, pulsed electric fields, ultrasound, cool plasma, and ultraviolet. Speakers are from several countries, thanks to the international connections of the organizers.

Another nonthermal processing symposium addresses the Annual Meeting theme of "Health, Wellness, and Foods" by focusing on innovative product development using the emerging high-pressure processing (HPP) technology to produce fresher, healthier foods for today’s consumer. Recent advances in the elimination of spores by HPP are of paramount interest to the food processing community.

A recent advance in the commercial sterilization of low-acid food products is the complete inactivation of vegetative microbial cells and spores by pressure-assisted thermal sterilization (PATS). This is a combined process where both pressure and temperature contribute to sterilization by the inactivation of spores and enzymes. The latest understanding of heat transfer in small- and large-scale units and the path forward for commercialization of this technology will be discussed in the symposium on "Innovative Approaches for Microbial Inactivation in Food by HPP" (session 126) on Monday afternoon.

The symposium, "The Applications of Nonthermal Processing Technology," on Tuesday morning will be presented in two consecutive sessions. Part 1,"Innovative Products" (session 160), will examine the drivers and critical paths for production of innovative products with improved properties by using nonthermal processes, such as high pressure or pulsed electric fields to make the foods microbiologically safe and stable with significant quality benefits to attract consumers.

Part 2, "Process Improvements" (session 177), will explore some of the significant benefits that novel physical processes, such as high-power ultrasound or high hydrostatic pressure may bring to the processes for several different types of food materials. One prime case study will be presented by the seafood company that pioneered high-pressure processing of shellfish. All presentations will stress the benefits of a targeted multidisciplinary team approach to innovative employment of new technology for the next generation of quality food products.

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Here are brief descriptions of some of the processing-related exhibits at this year’s Food Expo:
• Antimicrobial spray system, AutoJet®, offers closed-loop spray technology and advanced timing control for on-target dosing of antimicrobial agents. Equipped with PulsaJet® automatic spray nozzles and SprayCheck™ sensors, the system can verify the application of chemicals to make the food safety validation process easier. The system allows meat and poultry processors to achieve and document more-effective pathogen protection, reduce chemical consumption, and extend product shelf life. Spraying Systems Co., www.spray.com, Booth 4708

Wastewater treatment system using the Phoenix Bio-Systems Bio-Methanator anaerobic treatment technology features a modular, compact design that allows for quick supply and installation. Each system has low energy and maintenance requirements and is easy to operate. Zero-discharge systems are attainable, as water can be reused within the plant. The system can increase the capacity of an existing aerobic system and decrease overall operating costs. Also, the company’s membrane bioreactor (MBR) system can produce reuse-quality water within an easy-to-operate, small-footprint package. The effluent is suitable for a variety of uses, from irrigation to cooling towers, as well as providing ultra-high-quality feed water to a reverse osmosis system. ADI Systems Inc., www.adi.ca, Booth 4811

Small-scale processing equipment is available for research & development. The FT102X Carbonator/Filler can carbonate beverages, including highly foaming products, up to 10 g/L. The unit can fill and cap glass and PET bottles and fill into cans. The integral touch-screen control panel allows the user to select, control, and view parameters such as deaeration, syrup dosing, pressurization, flushing, filling time, filling speed, and depressurization. The FT111 Laboratory Scale Rapid Extractor is ideal for extracting active constituents from plants, herbs, fruits, and similar materials. It uses high pressure and both static and dynamic extraction phases to achieve rapid extraction with minimum degradation of the product and is available in 1-, 5-, 10-, and 20-L options. The FT42 Multi Functional UHT Batch Processing Vessel is a 25-L vessel which can heat product up to 150ºC for such applications as candies, soups, and sauces. It can provide high-shear mixing, steam injection, vacuum, and cooling. Armfield Ltd., www.armfield.co.uk, Booth 570

Twin-screw extruder, the Evolum 25, designed for laboratory and pilot-plant settings, is a useful tool for developing value-added products such as functional ingredients, whole-grain foods, textured proteins, modified starches, multigrain breakfast cereals and snacks, filled products, and more. It features a color touch-screen control center that provides real-time operating data and facilitates immediate process changes for efficient R&D testing. All recipes and operating results are fully accessible in a variety of formats for network backup or paper reporting. Maximum flexibility is built in, with push-button hydraulic barrel opening for process evaluation, screw profile changes, and cleanout. The extruder provides reliable scale-up of process parameters to production extruders of both screw and barrel designs. Clextral Inc., www.clextral.com, Booth 4422

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Food safety system, the AiroCide® Food Grade Model, uses the NASA-developed AiroCide PPT technology to kill airborne mold and bacteria and remove volatile organic compounds without using chemicals or ozone, inhibit airborne cross-contamination, and preserve perishables. It combines photocatalytic oxidation and ultraviolet light to break the bonds of volatile organic gases and minimize airborne microbes. When these materials are exposed to UV light, hydroxyl radicals and superoxide ions are formed. The radicals oxidize VOCs to reduce them to trace elements of carbon dioxide and water, and penetrate the cell membranes of bacteria and mold spores to kill and decompose them. The equipment is designed to withstand water and cleaning compound exposure during sanitation procedures. KES Science and Technology, Inc., www.airocide.com, Booth 3224

Liquid pretreatment, ExelerateHS, for heated-surface processing equipment, is a peroxyacid acid–based liquid designed to penetrate tenacious dairy and food processing soils and speed up the cleaning of pasteurizers, kettles, HTST, and other heated process equipment. The product is applied prior to the caustic wash in regular circulation, spray, and soak applications. It quickly penetrates and preconditions stubborn protein soils on heated vessel walls, making it easier to remove them. The acidic pH and chelating agents work to ease soil release on hard-to-clean vessel and pipe walls by removing mineral scale. The product is noncorrosive to stainless steel and compatible with most sealing and gasket materials. Ecolab Inc., www.ecolab.com, Booth 1958

Small-scale spray dryer, the Mobile Minor™, for research and development use provides important information for selecting the design and technical specifications of a given drying project. Three configurations are available—a rotary atomizer, located in the center of the chamber roof, produces particles of 5–25 μm; a co-current two-fluid nozzle, located in the center of the chamber roof and suitable for heat-sensitive materials, handles more-viscous feeds and produces particles of 5–25μm; and a fountain two-fluid nozzle, located in the cone of the drying chamber and spraying upward, is used for non-heat-sensitive products and produces particles of 15–80 μm. Niro Inc., www.niroinc.com, Booth 3318

Ultrasonic homogenizer, the VCF 1500 High Volume Ultrasonic Continuous Flow Cell, is designed for processing low-viscosity samples. Designed primarily for dispersing and homogenizing, the chamber provides the sample with uniform exposure to the ultrasonics, allowing throughput rates as high as 100 L/hr, the variables being viscosity and degree of processing. Easily dismantled for inspection and cleaning, the flow cell is powered by a 1,500-W ultrasonic generator. Sonics & Materials, www.sonics.biz, Booth 3173

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Small-scale production processors— laboratory, mini-production, and pilot (photo above)—provide UHT, aseptic, pasteurization, and continuous cooking processes. The equipment simulates the entire process, not just the hold tube, and enables researchers to obtain production-quality results for milk, shakes, soy milk, juices, puddings, and other products right in their lab or pilot plant.

For example, the PLC Plate Heat Exchanger system provides on-board operational guide and data logging, laboratory steam injection, tubular, plate and microwave systems, in-line homogenizers, ultra-clean fillers, and more. The company also provides training, preventive maintenance, and miniature plant trial services. MicroThermics, Inc., www.microthermics.com, Booth 2313

Vertical retort, the stainless-steel Model RDSW-3SS for laboratory and pilot plant use is complete with thermometer, pressure gauge assembly, pressure relief valve, perforated steam cross, pet cocks, neoprene gasket, and RD-3-C crate. Optional equipment available includes the RD-3-CSS stainless-steel crate, lighted sight glass assembly, and automatic retort control instrument and valve system specifically designed for R&D applications. Dixie Canner Co., www.dixiecanner.com, Booth 2566

Scraped-surface heat exchanger, Unicus®, is a dynamic shell-and-tube heat exchanger with scraped-surface blades and rods and various configurations of tubes and number of passes within the shell. The scraping elements, mounted in groups on bars fitted inside each of the tubes, reciprocate within the tubes and move hydraulically along the longitudinal axis of the tubes. They scrape the internal surface of the tube and prevent the formation of significant fouling layers that reduce the heat transfer coefficients. They also stir the fluid to prevent stratification of the flow and encourage turbulence within the fluid, increasing the forced convection heat transfer rate and improving the overall heat transfer coefficient. Applications include bakery, dairy, beverage, and prepared foods, as well as aseptic applications and particulate products. HRS Process Technology Inc., www.hrs-spiratube.com, Booth 3274

Small-scale equipment for laboratories and pilot plants includes a carbonator, aseptic filling system, and a deaerator. The Table-Top Carbonator allows R&D and QA departments to carbonate water fast, with a minimum of effort yet with production level accuracy. The test results can be quickly and accurately reproduced and scaled up to production size. The carbonator accepts glass bottles, PET bottles, and cans with a maximum capacity of 1.5 L. Small-scale aseptic filling is accomplished by the Asepto-Fill system. Containers are brought into the container holder and sterilized by gamma radiation. Then overpressure in the working chamber created by sterile air excludes any further chance of contamination. The system can be equipped with closing devices for cans, screw caps, or crown corks. Also being exhibited are a small-scale deaerator that removes air and gases during laboratory-scale experiments and pilot runs of pasteurization, homogenization, and filling. OMVE Netherlands, www.omve.com, Booth 3361

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Steam pasteurization process, SteamLab, disinfests, pasteurizes, and sterilizes spices, herbs, tea ingredients, and other delicate dried products in whole, granular, and powder form. Based on vacuum-steam cycles, the process is a proven alternative to irradiation and chemical methods. It is safe, natural, residue-free, and organic certified and ensures a maximum reduction in microbial load while maintaining color, flavor, texture, volatile oil, bioactivity, etc. The SteamLab Process Management Software provides full traceability of each batch run. Besides offering turn-key systems for sale, the company also provides steam pasteurization services for more than 200 different products at its plants in Germany and Turkey. SteamLab Systems GmbH, www.steamlab.de, Booth 3123

Twin-screw extruder, the ZSK Megavolume, offers many features and processing advantages for food applications. It ensures ideal conditions for products with low bulk density, difficult feed characteristics, or high fiber content. This extension of the ZSK Mega series of twin-screw compounders provides a solution for almost any process task in the food, pharmaceutical, and pet/animal food industries. Coperion Corp., www.coperion.com, Booth 3870

Water disinfection technology, Hydro- Optic Disinfection, combines UV technology with advanced optic principles to deliver unprecedented microbe inactivation, at industrial and municipal water flow rates. Its Medium Pressure High Intensity proprietary UV light sources are placed outside the water and behind thick quartz windows. By separating the electrical mechanism from the wet water chamber, no heat is generated in the water and fouling is virtually eliminated. The core of the system is a large quartz tube that acts both as a clear water channel and as an effective light trap using the "total internal reflection" principle. This configuration creates a homogeneous uniform distribution of the UV light throughout the reactor’s cross-section and a dosage that systematically achieves high microorganism reduction. Atlantium Technologies, Ltd., www.atlantium.com, Booth 5428

Pilot-plant mixer/dryer, the FM-75, has stainless-steel construction allowing for easy disassembly and cleaning. The jacket is designed for heating and cooling and is rated at 90 psig at 330° F. The mixer has enough power for even the most demanding lab applications. Charging is accomplished through a charging door. A high-speed chopper is available. A contour door is provided as the standard discharge, with Semi-Spherical Valve or Ball Valve available as an option. LDI’s Filtorr® system for liquid-solid separation may be used in conjunction with either valve discharge for many applications, including impurity removal and extractions. The company is also exhibiting its 5- and 22-L laboratory mixers, the M-5 and the M/DVT-22. Littleford Day, Inc., www.littleford.com, Booth 4522

by J. Peter Clark,
Contributing Editor,
Consultant to the Process Industries, Oak Park, Ill. 
[email protected]