Improving low-fat chocolate
Chocolate is truly an indulgent treat. But its high fat content (about 30% by weight) has caused food formulators to develop low-fat versions. Decreasing the fat content of chocolate, however, can lead to problems with processing or loss of taste and textual qualities.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the Nestlé Product Technology Center studied how particle size distribution affects certain properties of reduced-fat chocolate. They detailed their findings in the article “Impact of Particle Size Distribution on Rheological and Textural Properties of Chocolate Models with Reduced Fat Content,” which appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of Journal of Food Science.

The researchers said that optimizing the particle size distribution (PSD) can decrease the viscosity of highly concentrated suspensions. The optimized PSD used was a specific ratio of small to large particles that maximized the packing fraction. They examined the effects of PSD and fat content on the rheological properties, melting behavior, and hardness of chocolate models (dispersions of sugar in fat). They discovered that optimizing PSD while reducing the fat content to 22% decreased the viscosity of the molten material and reduced the hardness of the crystallized chocolate models. They also said that it improved melting and swallowing, two eating properties often compromised in low-fat chocolates.

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

Indiana honors Nelson
Philip Nelson, Scholle Chair Professor in Food Processing at Purdue University and the winner of the 2007 World Food Prize, now has a prize named in his honor.

The newly created Philip E. Nelson Innovation Prize will recognize outstanding scientists from Indiana whose work extends beyond pure scientific research and leads to the creation of products or processes that revolutionizes industry, inspires further scientific inquiry, and improves the quality of life. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. Foundation will fund the $5,000 cash award. A panel of scientific researchers and entrepreneurs from the state will work with IEDC to establish the selection criteria for the prize.

“The great scientist or inventor does far more to improve people’s lives than the politicians, business leaders, or entertainers who dominate the headlines,” said Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. “It’s time we lifted up and honored those Hoosiers whose scientific achievements will make us the great state we intend to be.”

Nelson, a past president and Fellow of IFT, has spent his career conducting research that led to the development of the aseptic processing and packaging of bulk vegetables and fruits.

Kraft merges Post with Ralcorp
Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., recently announced an agreement to merge its Post cereals business with Ralcorp Holdings Inc., which specializes in private-label and frozen bakery products, in an all-stock transaction.

The Post cereal business had net revenues of about $1.1 billion in 2006 and includes such cereals as Honey Bunches of Oats, Pebbles, Shredded Wheat, Selects, Grape Nuts, and Honeycomb. The brands in the transaction are distributed primarily in North America.

According to Ralcorp, under the terms of the agreement, Kraft will distribute ownership of Post and related assets to Kraft shareholders in either a split-off or spin-off transaction. Kraft will determine the form of the transaction prior to closing.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

McCormick buys Lawry’s
McCormick & Co. Inc., Sparks, Md., has agreed to purchase Lawry’s from Unilever, London, UK.

The Lawry’s business includes a full line of seasoning blend products under the Lawry’s and Adolph’s brands that are marketed in grocery stores and other consumer outlets and account for 65% of sales. Another 23% of sales are Lawry’s wet marinades. Sales to foodservice customers represent the remaining 12%.

The acquisition includes the rights to the brands as well as related inventory and a small number of dedicated production lines. It does not include any manufacturing facilities or employees. The transaction will close after regulatory approval.

Helping bacteria survive
Scientists at Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, examined the acid, bile, and heat tolerance of free and microencapsulated probiotic bacteria and learned that microencapsulation helped the bacteria to survive under certain conditions.

Studying eight strains of probiotic bacteria, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium longum, L. salivarius, L. plantarum, L. acidophilus, L. paracasei, B. lactis type BI-O4, and B. lactis type Bi-O7, they reported that microencapsulated probiotic bacteria survived better than free probiotic bacteria in MRS broth containing hydrochloric acid. When exposed to oxgall, a type of bile salt, there was a 3.36-log cfu/mL loss in viability of the microencapsulated bacteria versus 6.51-log cfu/mL for the free bacteria. They exposed the bacteria to a heat treatment for 1 hr at 65°C and found that after 30 min, the microencapsulated bacteria survived with an average loss of only 4.17-log cfu/mL vs 6.74-log cfu/mL for the free bacteria. After the treatment, both types of bacteria showed similar losses in viability.

The study, “Acid, Bile, and Heat Tolerance of Free and Microencapsulated Probiotic Bacteria,” appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of Journal of Food Science. For more information, visit and click on “Publications.”

Alliance supports developments
Tate & Lyle, London, UK, and Lipid Nutrition, Wormerveer, Noord-Holland, Netherlands, have entered into a partnership whereby Tate & Lyle will develop new Enrich™ ingredients for soups, sauces, and dressings that incorporate Lipid Nutrition’s PinnoThin™ pine nut oil, Clarinol™ conjugated linoleic acid, and Marinol™ fish oils and powders. Under the agreement, Tate & Lyle will have the exclusive rights to market these ingredients in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and Lipid Nutrition will gain access to Tate & Lyle’s technical knowledge, applications support, and customer base in the soups, sauces, and dressings category.

Tate & Lyle launched Enrich earlier this year to help food and beverage manufacturers create products that contain additional nutrients but taste as good as regular brands. The first product prototype developed through the partnership, Soup Enrich, was showcased at 2007 Food Ingredients Europe, London, UK.

Physics of food molecules studied
Scientists from Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland, and Materials Research Laboratory, University of California, Santa Barbara, have developed a model to explain the behavior of self-aggregating molecules in food.

They studied the molecular interactions of molecules in lipid–water mixtures and then developed a thermodynamic model to quantitatively predict the self-assembly of lipid–water molecules into ordered structures.

“This discovery allows us to grasp complex food systems, providing new food science insights for enhancing the physical and functional attributes of food such as flavor, texture, and nutrient delivery,” said Raffaele Mezzenga, a scientist with Nestlé Research Center.

The researchers’ findings could also lead to the development of foods that have optimal stability and delivery of nutrients, active ingredients, flavors, and aromas.

The interaction of lipids and water is important to the physics of food structure, as it determines the texture as well as the transport of flavors and nutrients in foods.

Their research appears in the November 2007 issue of Physical Review Letters.

PepsiCo realigns units
PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., recently realigned its organizational structure into three major operating units.

The company, which previously comprised PepsiCo North America and PepsiCo International, will now be organized into PepsiCo Americas Foods, which includes Frito-Lay North America, Quaker, and all Latin American food and snack businesses; PepsiCo Americas Beverages, which includes Pepsi-Cola North America, Gatorade, Tropicana, and all Latin American beverage businesses; and PepsiCo International, which includes all PepsiCo business in Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa.

Kemin, DSM strengthen alliance
Kemin Industries Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, and DSM Nutritional Products, Kaiseraugst, Switzerland, recently strengthened an alliance to increase the usage of lutein.

Currently, DSM offers Kemin’s FloraGlo® lutein products made with crystalline lutein. Under the terms of the new agreement, Kemin will supply the FloraGlo lutein brand exclusively through DSM. DSM will commercialize the ingredients through distributors and directly to customers in the food and beverage, dietary supplement, and over-the-counter pharmaceutical industries.

Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor 
[email protected]