KAREN NACHAY

Candyland in Chicago
Always a favorite trade show of food writers (and dentists), the National Confectioners Association’s 12th Annual All Candy Expo® held May 20–22 in Chicago, Ill., showcased sweets and snacks that emphasized intense and one-of-a-kind flavors and textures as well as upscale and artisan chocolate. Here’s a peek at some of the Expo’s featured attractions.

Liquid-filled Starburst® GummiBursts™ from Mars Snackfood US deliver the sweet fruit taste of Starburst. A popping sensation courtesy of Pop Rocks® lends a surprising crackling to an otherwise smooth milk chocolate bar. Nestlé’s Wonka® Giant Chewy Nerds® feature a soft jelly-bean-like center covered with a hard Nerds shell, providing a candy consumption experience that combines chewy and crunchy textures. From Jelly Belly Candy Co., the company that brought you jelly bean flavors that range from Buttered Popcorn and Toasted Marshmallow to Ear Wax and Rotten Egg, comes a jelly bean line based on Cold Stone Creamery ice cream flavors. It includes Chocolate Devotion™, Our Strawberry Blonde™, Birthday Cake Remix™, Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip®, and Apple Pie a la Cold Stone®.

Highlighting regional flavors, Russell Stover introduced its American Classics™ line of chocolates that include such sweet varieties as New York Cheesecake Ganache, Mississippi Mud Truffle, and Southern Pecan Chocolate Torte. Chuao Chocolatier showed off ChocoPod chocolates in eight varieties that combine such ingredients as chile peppers, caramel, nutmeg, and balsamic vinegar. Premium chocolates displayed at the Expo feature fruits, nuts, and a host of other inclusions. Some of the highlights include: nougat truffles filled with Spanish Marcona almonds from Valor Chocolates; Cherry Almond chocolate bar with dried fruit, almonds, and vanilla from Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates; and NewTree’s Crave milk chocolate with apricot and soy germ extract.

Cargill opens innovation center for bakery products
Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., recently opened its Product Innovation Center to expand technical capabilities to serve bakers.

Located in Minneapolis, the center allows bakery customers to collaborate directly with Cargill technology experts on a wide range of new product initiatives. It is part of a network of the company’s bakery applications facilities located in Atlanta, Ga., Portland, Ore., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Vilvoorde, Belgium.

The center is staffed by a team of Cargill food scientists with bakery expertise that includes whole-grain breads and sweet goods, healthy fats and oils products, high-fiber applications, reduced-calorie products with alternative sweeteners, and gluten-free baked goods. They will share their knowledge of ingredient technology and bakery formulation with customers.

Naturex, Scalime partner
Naturex and Scalime Nutrition, both based in Avignon, France, recently formed a partnership to accelerate the technical development, marketing, and commercialization of Scalime’s polyphenolic extracts.

The extracts, which include onion and lettuce standardized to polyphenols with high antioxidant activity, will be sold in Europe, the Americas, and Asia through Naturex’s worldwide sales network. What’s more, the extracts are in line with the active ingredients developed by the Nat’Life™ division for the nutraceutical industry and will enhance the NatStabil™ line of natural food preservatives, which enhance product shelf life. The extracts also will be integrated into the new Naturex cosmetics ingredients division, which was established earlier this year.

Univ. of Maine offers graduate certificate
The University of Maine recently approved a new distance graduate certificate for the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Students may choose to emphasize either food science or nutrition courses in the curriculum, or take courses from both disciplines. The program requires two courses: FSN436 Food Law and FSN603 Nutrients and Food Processing. Currently, five Internet-based courses are offered with plans to offer more in the future.

For more information, visit www.fsn.umaine.edu/grad_programs/grad_certificate.htm, or contact Mary Ellen Camire at 207-581-1627 or [email protected]

Amaranth popper can help fight hunger
A group of students and faculty members from Purdue University have modified a popper machine that can be used to combat hunger in many impoverished communities in Africa.

The machine, called an amaranth popper, works similarly to a popcorn popper by blowing hot air over amaranth grains, which are high in vitamins, minerals, and protein, causing the grains to expand and pop like popcorn.

Richard Dugger, an engineer and Director of the Sevan Foundation, Culver, Ind., an organization that works to solve many agricultural challenges in Africa, teamed with Purdue’s Technical Assistance Program in an effort to find an alternative energy source to power the machine.

"After attempting to market this machine to African villages, we discovered that electricity is not always accessible in the most-needy areas, but propane is, so it became clear that we must modify the machine to make it marketable," Dugger said.

It took a few months of research and testing, but the Purdue team did change the heating mechanism to a propane-powered system by adding a propane tank and a tube that serves as the combustion and air-mixing chamber. And at $782, the modified machine is also less expensive than the original machine, which costs $1,743.

FMC acquires ISP business
FMC Corp., Philadelphia, Pa., recently signed an agreement to acquire the hydrocolloids ingredients business of International Specialty Products Inc., Wayne, N.J.

FMC will acquire ISP’s alginates and food blends business (other than ISP’s Germinal blending business based in Brazil), including ISP’s Girvan, Scotland, manufacturing facility.

Alginates are extracted from seaweed and are one of the most versatile biopolymers used in a wide range of food, pharmaceutical and specialty applications. Food blends are comprised of specialty hydrocolloids that provide unique functionality in a variety of food uses. The newly acquired business will be integrated into FMC Specialty Chemicals Group’s BioPolymer Division.

PUV reduces allergens
Researchers found that pulsed ultraviolet (PUV) light shows promise as a nonthermal technology to reduce the allergenic properties of peanuts.

They exposed peanut extracts and liquid peanut butter to 3 pulses of PUV/sec, 14.6 cm from the central axis of the lamp for 4 min (extracts) or 3 min (liquid peanut butter). As a comparison, they performed boiling treatments instead of PUV treatments. The researchers found that boiling had little effect on the peanut allergens but that the PUV-treated sample showed a reduced level of peanut allergens (63 kDa). Also, PUV was effective in reducing IgE binding of peanut extracts and liquid peanut butter.

The researchers cautioned that clinical studies need to be conducted to determine the reduction in actual allergenicity.

The researchers are from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and Alabama A&M University. The study, "Effects of Pulsed UV-Light on Peanut Allergens in Extracts and Liquid Peanut Butter," appeared in the June/July 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science.

Wine may lower liver disease risk
Teetotalers take notice: Drinking a little wine every day may help prevent liver disease. Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that modest wine consumption—one glass a day—may not only be safe for the liver, but may actually decrease the prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

They showed that, for the subjects who reported drinking up to one glass of wine per day compared with no alcohol, the risk of liver disease due to NAFLD was cut in half. Contrast this with the subjects who reported modest consumption of beer or liquor; their odds of suspected NAFLD were more than four times greater.

"The odds of having suspected NAFLD based upon abnormal liver blood tests was reduced by 50% in individuals who drank one glass of wine a day," said Jeffrey Schwimmer, Associate Professor of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at the university and Director, Fatty Liver Clinic, Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.

The cross-sectional, population-based study of nearly 12,000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey included 7,211 nondrinkers and 4,543 individuals who consumed a modest amount of alcohol.

Schwimmer added that the research does not support drinking greater amounts and that people at risk for alcohol abuse should not drink any alcoholic beverages. Also, the findings of the research do not apply to those who already have liver disease and should not be drinking alcohol anyway.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award and the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health for the General Clinical Research Center at University of California San Diego funded the study.

The study, "Modest Wine Drinking and Decreased Prevalence of Suspected Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease," appeared in the June 2008 issue of Hepatology.

by Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor 
[email protected]