Health boost for pizza
A team of food chemists from the University of Maryland has boosted the antioxidant levels of pizza dough by optimizing baking and fermentation methods. They presented their findings at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Longer baking times and higher temperatures can enhance the flavor of pizza; this study shows that these baking conditions may also increase the antioxidant levels in dough, especially whole-wheat varieties.

But why try to make a food that has been maligned by nutritionists as one that can contribute to obesity, heart problems, and a host of other health-related issues? As Jeffrey Moore, co-author of the study, doctoral student, and IFT Student Member, said, "Making popular food more healthy using the tools of chemistry may have a larger impact on public health."

The study, which was led by Liangli Lucy Yu, an associate professor of food chemistry and IFT Member, is part of an ongoing effort by researchers at the university to discover and develop new technologies that enhance the levels of natural antioxidants in grain-based food ingredients.

To demonstrate the effect of different baking conditions on the antioxidant levels in pizza dough, Moore exposed whole-grain pizza dough from two different varieties of wheat to different baking temperatures (400–550°F) and to different baking times (7–14 min). He used a number of tests to measure changes in antioxidant properties.

Moore learned that longer baking times or higher temperatures generally corresponded to higher levels of antioxidants in comparison to less-intense baking conditions. The results also showed that antioxidant levels increased by as much as 60% during longer baking times and by as much as 82% during higher baking temperatures, depending on the type of wheat flour and the antioxidant test used. Moore said that the exact mechanisms involved are not yet fully understood. Additionally, he found that if the process is monitored carefully, both the baking time and temperature can be increased together at the same time without burning the pizza.

The researcher also examined the effect of different fermentation times (0–48 hr) on antioxidant properties. He found that longer fermentation times also boosted antioxidant levels, sometimes by as much as 100%, and said that the increase may have resulted from chemical reactions induced by yeasts, which had more time to release the antioxidant components that were bound in the dough.

Pizza made from whole-wheat flour was tested in this research, but it is also possible to test pizza made with refined flour. The increase in the levels of antioxidants may not be as obvious though, Moore said, because most of the antioxidants in wheat are found in the bran and endosperm components, which have been largely removed in refined flour.

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Colorado Wheat Research Foundation, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, and Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station funded the study. According to the researchers, the pizza industry did not provide funds.

Program supports industry leaders
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program recently gave to Portland State University’s Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC) a $168,000 grant to support the recruitment of students into the Food Industry Management Program.

A student on a full academic scholarship will receive more than $20,000 in support from the program while preparing for a management career in the food, beverage, and consumer products industry.

According to the university, the food and beverage industry is the largest employer in the Pacific Northwest region, with one in six jobs supporting the food industry.

The management program is part of the university’s School of Business Administration.

Scholarship support from USDA was matched with funds from Fred Meyer Stores and PepsiCo Foundation as part of FILC’s Pathways Diversity effort.

Lionel Hitchen opens U.S. office
Lionel Hitchen (Essential Oils) Ltd., Hampshire, UK, recently expanded its presence in the United States with the formation of Lionel Hitchen USA Ltd. in Sarasota, Fla. The company had relied on Thwaites Inc. to distribute its products in the U.S.

Suzy Nolan, an IFT Member, was named Director of Sales and Marketing and will be responsible for the daily operations of the U.S.-based company, which opened last month.

Lionel Hitchen (Essential Oils) currently exports concentrated citrus oils, essential oils, oleoresins, and flavors to companies in more than 50 countries.

Caravan expands ingredient portfolio
Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, Kan., recently acquired the Specialty Bakery Ingredients Business from Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, Ill. Caravan will now expand the number of its ingredient offerings to include enrichment premixes, bakery dough conditioners, specialty bases and mixes, stabilizers, emulsifiers, yeast foods, and monoglycerides.

Caravan was recently formed by the merger of American Ingredients Co. and Caravan Products. It is a subsidiary of CSM nv.

Dietary copper helps heart
Researchers with the University of Louisville Medical Center have discovered that including foods rich in copper in a well-balanced diet may have beneficial effects on an ailing heart.

Copper, an essential trace element, acts as a cofactor for the physiological function of many proteins. Tiny amounts of the element are found in the hundreds of copper-dependent proteins that perform essential biological functions in animals and humans.

The researchers studied the effects that copper had on hearts affected with cardiac hypertrophy, a condition in which the heart becomes bigger, followed by disease. Enlarged hearts often occur in response to elevated blood pressure. In humans, the enlarged heart muscle leads to shortness of breath during exertion, discomfort caused by reduced blood supply to the heart muscle, and abnormal heart rhythms.

They studied two groups of mice subjected to a cardiac challenge—the control group that received the equivalent of the recommended dietary amount of copper for adults for two months and the experimental group that received this amount for the first month and three times the human recommended amount of dietary copper for the second month. The amount that the experimental group subjects received for the second month was one-third of the equivalent safe upper limit for humans.

After one month, cardiac hypertrophy developed in the mice in both groups. After two months, heart failure developed in the control group mice. The hearts of the mice in the experimental group returned to normal size and function.

The researchers advised that conformational, controlled human research studies are needed in which volunteers with hypertrophic heart disease consume copper-rich diets.

Center stresses produce safety
Produce trade associations and the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture are contributing funds to create a Center for Produce Safety at the University of California–Davis.

The Produce Marketing Association is contributing $2 million, Taylor Farms, Salinas, Calif., $1 million, and the state $500,000 to the formation of the center.

The center, which is being created in response to the industry-wide investigation of the recent Escherichia coli outbreaks, will serve as a clearinghouse for all available research related to produce safety and fund new scientific studies focused on developing solutions that mitigate risks associated with the nation’s produce supply.

"The Center for Produce Safety will lose no time putting together an aggressive research, training, and outreach agenda into how and where foodborne illnesses arise in produce, and actions that can be taken to reduce these risks," said A.G. Kawamura, California Secretary of Agriculture.

The center will be housed at the university’s Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, Davis, Calif.

Givaudan forms partnerships
Givaudan, Vernier, Switzerland, recently entered into research collaboration and a licensing agreement with Redpoint Bio Corp., Cranbury, N.J., whereby Givaudan will use Redpoint’s proprietary technologies and acquire the exclusive worldwide rights to any licensed compounds for food and beverage products. Redpoint holds many patents regarding taste science.

Under the terms of the partnership, Givaudan will be able to expand its TasteSolutions™ technology in health and wellness foods and beverages to discover and develop novel sweetness and savory enhancers as well as bitter-blocker compounds.

Symrise to open citrus center
Symrise, Holzminden, Germany, recently broke ground on its Global Citrus Center in Sorocaba, Brazil. The company plans to expand its expertise in the area of natural citrus flavorings.

The center will house the Development and Application Technologies Divisions, as well as pilot plants for use in a variety of processing applications. The site is in direct proximity to areas where citrus fruits are grown.

The company also announced that it has acquired 100% of the share capital of Steng Ltd., a British supplier of herb and spice pastes, stocks, marinades, and natural flavorings.

by Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor
[email protected]