Building a better cranberry
An experimental cranberry line developed by scientists with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and the Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension at Rutgers University delivers a readily absorbable dose of healthful antioxidants.

The researchers are studying a species of cranberry from Alaska because some of the fruit’s anthocyanins are glucose-linked. Most anthocyanins are bound to sugars, but those that are bound to the sugar glucose are relatively high in antioxidant capacity and are well-absorbed in the human gut, they reported. They added that the anthocyanins found in the typical American cranberry are mainly bound to other kinds of sugars, so they are less easily absorbed.

To date, the research has shown that, compared to the American cranberry’s anthocyanins, which are 3%–5% glucose-linked, the anthocyanins in hybrids from the first breeding cross were 50% glucose-linked.

According to James J. Polashock, a plant pathologist with the ARS Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory, the cross-bred cranberries provide potentially well-absorbed anthocyanins, but also proanthocyanidins, which are known for inhibiting Escherichia coli from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract.

The researchers will continue their work by moving the traits for glucose-linked anthocyanins from the experimental cranberry line into a variety that can eventually be brought to market.

Infrared process inactivates Listeria
Researchers with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Wyndmoor, Pa., showed that an infrared pasteurization process with automatic temperature control was effective in inactivating Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat meats. Their research, “Elimination of Listeria monocytogenes on Hot Dogs by Infrared Surface Treatment,” appeared in the January/February 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science.

The pasteurization system contained an infrared emitter (used as a heating source), a hot dog roller, an infrared sensor (used to monitor the surface temperature of hot dogs), and a temperature controller. The researchers inoculated the surface of hot dogs with a 4-strain L. monocytogenes cocktail to an average initial inoculum of 7.32 log (CFU/g). The surface temperature was increased to 70, 75, 80, or 85°C and maintained for bacterial kill.

The research results showed an average 1.0, 2.1, 3.0, or 5.3-log reduction in L. monocytogenes after the surface temperature of the hot dogs was increased to 70, 75, 80, or 85°C, respectively, and also showed that even more of the bacteria were killed by holding the surface temperature for several minutes.

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Fortitech names African distributor
Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y., is increasing its focus on the emerging functional food and beverage market in Africa by appointing AB Mauri, a new operating division of Associated British Foods plc, as distributor to a number of African countries. Fortitech will work to increase awareness of food and beverage fortification and to identify new business potential throughout the continent.

The partnership will draw on AB Mauri’s experience within the African marketplace and Fortitech’s capabilities in developing custom nutrient premixes.

FDA okays cloned meat
The Food and Drug Administration recently concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. FDA did not reach a conclusion on the safety of food from clones of other animal species, such as sheep, because it did not have sufficient information.

The agency also released three documents on issues that are important to animal cloning: a risk assessment, a risk management plan, and guidance for industry. The documents, which outline FDA’s regulatory approach, were originally released in draft form in December 2006 but were updated to include new scientific information.

FDA is not requiring labeling or any additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones or their offspring because it said food derived from these sources is not different from food derived from conventionally bred animals. If producers want to use voluntary labeling, such as “this product is clone-free,” FDA will consider it on a case-by-case basis to ensure that it is truthful and not misleading.

FDA expects that the clones will not enter the food supply in any significant number since the clones will be used for breeding; however, the sexually reproduced offspring would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace.

Consumers accept soy-based cereal
Researchers with the University of Illinois found that certain modifications made to a soy-based high-protein cereal helped to improve its acceptance by consumers. They detailed their findings in the article, “Consumer Acceptance of an Extruded Soy-Based High-Protein Breakfast Cereal,” which appeared in the January/February 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science.

The researchers used four formulations with soy flour content of 41%, 47%, 54%, and 60% (w/w) that were processed by extrusion. The formulations met the Food and Drug Administration guidelines for claiming the role of soy protein in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and guidelines for high-protein and high-fiber foods. They examined the effects of soy flour level, addition of cinnamon flavor, and evaluation with or without milk on acceptance of the cereal. The developed cereal also was compared to commercial cereals in the “healthy” cereal category.

The researchers found that adding up to 54% (w/w) of soy flour yielded acceptance ratings comparable to products with lower soy flour content. Adding milk improved aroma and texture acceptance scores, and adding cinnamon flavor improved aroma, taste, and overall acceptance scores. The acceptance of the cereal developed for this research was not as high as for the commercial products, but it did increase when nutritional and cost information was presented.

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New Chinese facility for Barry Callebaut
Barry Callebaut, Zurich, Switzerland, recently opened a new, state-of-the-art chocolate factory and Chocolate Academy in Suzhou, China.

The Chocolate Academy will employ two French pastry chefs, who will promote the company’s specialized gourmet brands, Callebaut (for Belgian chocolate), Cacao Barry (for French chocolate), and Carma (for Swiss chocolate). The academy will offer training courses for chocolate artisans and will serve as a knowledge-exchange platform. Industrial customers will have access to an applications lab and a pilot plant.

Health perceptions of alcoholic and other drinks
Nutritional information about beverages does affect consumers’ perceptions of the healthfulness of the beverages, reported researchers from the University of California–Davis.

Beer and wine consumers ranked seven alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages on the basis of perceived healthfulness both before and after they were exposed to nutritional information about the beverages. After ranking the data, using analysis of variance, the researchers found that, overall, consumers of alcoholic beverages perceived red wine to be more healthful than the other six beverages, including beer and white wine. Consumers who were predominately beer drinkers were more heavily influenced by nutritional information than consumers who were predominately wine drinkers.

The study, “Beer and Wine Consumers’ Perceptions of the Nutritional Value of Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Beverages,” appeared in the January/February 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science. For more information, visit and click on “Publications.”

RQA showcases expanded facility

Product Dynamics, a division of RQA, recently celebrated the grand opening of its expanded Product and Consumer Lab in Orland Park, Ill., and officially launched its Food Forensics business. The upgraded facility includes focus group rooms, client viewing areas, interview rooms, commercial kitchens, consumer kitchen, sensory testing booths, multi-purpose rooms, receiving docks, and storage space for ambient, chilled, and frozen products. In addition, the expanded facility includes the 1,500-sq-ft Product Development Pilot Lab, which houses a bench-top development area and open, flexible space that can be transformed into a bakery, bottling plant, or frozen food facility in a matter of hours. “The completion of this dedicated and specialized space for product development strengthens our capability to offer continual learning about a product throughout development,” said Judy Lindsey, Vice President, Product Dynamics. “We believe consumer-driven product design can only happen when the consumer is part of the development team.”

RQA Food Forensics is a strategic alliance among RQA (extensive capabilities in product retrieval), Microtrace (expertise in criminal forensic analysis and unknown identification), and Silliker (expertise in food testing and microbiological analysis). Resources and services include complaint sample retrieval, sample triage, light and electron microscopy, chemical spectroscopy, microchemistry, x-ray diffraction, microbiological and analytical testing, and expert scientific witness.

by Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor 
[email protected]