Fruits may prevent brain diseases
It is well known that fresh fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, and research has shown that fruits provide plenty of health benefits. Now researchers from Cornell University and several universities in Korea say that consuming fruits may also protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers examined the effects of extracts of apple, banana, and orange—three of the most popular fruits consumed in North America and Korea—on neuronal PC12 cells and found that phenolics prevented oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and reduced oxidative stress-induced damage to the membranes of the cells. In the brains of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, free radicals cause oxidative stress, which is thought to be responsible for damage to neuronal cells, the researchers noted.

The study, “Effects of Banana, Orange, and Apple on Oxidative Stress-Induced Neurotoxicity in PC12 Cells,” appeared in the March 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science. For more information, visit, and click on “Publications.”

UC to open olive center
The University of California, Davis, recently launched the first university-based olive research and education center in North America.

The new Olive Center, which is part of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, will include an olive oil processing plant and state-of-the-art milling equipment. Researchers at the center will study issues identified by olive oil and table olive producers as well as develop better laboratory methods for detecting adulterated olive oil. Additional features of the new center include short courses on the production and sensory evaluation of olive oil, a certified-organic olive orchard, a research taste panel to help improve the quality of olive oils, a Web site, and a library.

A combined $75,000 from the university’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Office of Research, as well as $25,000 from Corto Olive, Musco Family Olive Co., Bell-Carter Foods, California Olive Oil Council, and California Olive Ranch, has funded the establishment of the center.

Construction of the Olive Center is expected to be completed in June.

Kerry, Dierbergers Oleos partner
Kerry Group, Tralee, Ireland, has entered into a long-term strategic partnership with Dierbergers Oleos Essencias SA, Sao Paulo, Brazil, a cultivator and producer of certified organic essential oils.

The agreement will significantly expand Kerry’s portfolio of such ingredients. The essential oils will be sourced from lemon, mandarin, bitter orange, cypress, citronella, and three varieties of eucalyptus.

Gallo Winery celebrates 75 years
This year marks the 75th anniversary for E. & J. Gallo Winery, Modesto, Calif., one of the country’s first family-owned wineries.

Founded in 1933 at the repeal of Prohibition by brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo, the company today has 15 Gallo family members—spanning the second, third, and fourth generations—working in various areas of the business, including grape growing, winemaking, marketing, and sales.

The company operates seven wineries across California, has access to grapes from vineyards in the premier grape-growing areas in the state, and imports wines from nine wine-producing countries around the world.

Symrise acquires Chr. Hansen flavors
Symrise AG, Holzminden, Germany, has signed an agreement to acquire part of the flavor division of Chr. Hansen, Hørsholm, Denmark. This includes seasonings (spice blends) and savory, sweet, and dairy flavors.

According to Lars Frederiksen, CEO of Chr. Hansen, this transaction represents a strategic change of focus for the company, which will concentrate its efforts on developing innovative and value-added solutions based on lactic acid bacteria, enzymes, and natural colors.

Aromatech opens U.S. office
Aromatech Group, Saint-Cezaire, France, expanded its operations with the recent opening of a subsidiary office in Orlando, Fla., for its Aromatech Flavorings Inc. This is the company’s sixth such office and the first in the United States. This location coordinates all flavor projects for the company’s North, South, and Central American customers. The office is equipped with an R&D laboratory, and employees will manage technical documentation, sampling, product development, and regulatory issues from this office. Much of Aromatech Group’s research and development is dedicated to organic flavors, of which it has more than 500 American NOP and European Eco-Cert.

Processing affects phenolics
A new study in the Journal of Food Science explains that certain processing methods used on almonds affect the properties of phenolic compounds in almond skins.

Researchers with the Instituto de Fermentaciones Industriales, Madrid, Spain, examined the phenolic composition and antioxidant activity of almond skins from whole almonds that were processed by blanching or roasting. The skins obtained from the blanching process were freeze-dried or dried in an industrial oven.

The researchers analyzed the skins that were blanched/freeze-dried, blanched/oven-dried, or roasted, using various methods to determine phenolic content and antioxidant capacity. The results showed that roasting produced skins with more phenolic compounds than blanching/freeze-drying or blanching/oven-drying. Roasting produced skins with the highest antioxidant composition, followed by blanching/oven-drying, and blanching/freeze-drying.

Almond skins are a by-product of almond processing. Recent research has shown that the skins contain phenolic compounds and antioxidants, which the food industry could use as ingredients in a variety of products.

The study, “Polyphenols and Antioxidant Properties of Almond Skins: Influence of Industrial Processing,” appeared in the March 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science. For more information, visit, and click on “Publications.”

Boiling water releases BPA
Exposing polycarbonate drinking bottles to boiling water releases harmful chemicals more rapidly—55 times more rapidly, to be exact—than exposing the bottles to hot water, according to researchers at the University of Cincinnati.

The chemical of concern, bisphenol A (BPA), is an endocrine disruptor—an environmental estrogen, more specifically—which mimics the role of the body’s natural hormones. Studies have shown that small amounts of the chemical have harmful effects on laboratory animals, and some scientists believe that BPA could also harm humans.

“BPA is just one of many estrogen-like chemicals people are exposed to, and scientists are still trying to figure out how these endocrine disruptors, including natural phyto-estrogens from soy, which are often considered healthy, collectively impact human health,” said Scott Belcher, who led the research team. “But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests it might be at the cost of your health.”

The study, “Bisphenol A is Released From Polycarbonate Drinking Bottles and Mimics the Neurotoxic Actions of Estrogen in Developing Cerebellar Neurons,” appeared in the January 2008 issue of Toxicology Letters.

Irradiation effects on fruit measured
Researchers with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service found that irradiation produces low levels of the carcinogen furan in fresh-cut grapes and pineapples as well as undetectable levels—or levels less than 1 ng/g—in other fresh-cut fruits.

Their research is detailed in the article, “Effect of Ionizing Radiation on Furan Formation in Fresh-Cut Fruits and Vegetables,” which appeared in the March 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science.

In addition to analyzing grapes and pineapples in the study, the researchers used apples, bananas, strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, green peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red cabbage, snap peas, spinach, tomatoes, and button mushrooms.

Most of the irradiated vegetables did not produce measurable amounts of furan.

They said that the pH and the amount of simple sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables had a role in the formation of furan, and they found that irradiation induced low levels of furan only in those fruits that had a high amount of simple sugars and low pH.

For more information about the study, visit, and click on “Publications.”

by Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor 
[email protected]