Increasing probiotic survival
Probiotic bacteria offer many health benefits such as reducing gastro-intestinal problems like diarrhea, controlling inflammatory diseases, and enhancing the immune system. Processing and food storage as well as the harsh environment of the GI tract can adversely affect the survival rate of these beneficial bugs. Microencapsulating probiotics—generally with alginates—helps increase their survival. Researchers at Victoria University in Australia found that many other encapsulating materials show promise in protecting probiotics.

They examined the effects of various coating materials (alginate, guar gum, xanthan gum, locust bean gum, and carrageenan gum) on the bile and acid tolerance of 10 probiotic bacteria. Free probiotic organisms were used as a control. The results indicated that under acidic conditions, probiotic bacteria encapsulated in alginate, xanthan gum, and carrageenan gum survived better than free probiotic bacteria. When free probiotic bacteria were exposed to taurocholic acid, viability was reduced by 6.36 log CFU/mL, whereas only 3.63, 3.27, and 4.12 log CFU/mL was lost in probiotic organisms encapsulated in alginate, xanthan gum, and carrageenan gum, respectively.

The study, “Effect of Various Encapsulating Materials on the Stability of Probiotic Bacteria,” appeared in the March 2009 issue of Journal of Food Science.

Not easy being green
Could the recessionary climate be affecting sales of “green” and organic products? It remains to be seen, but the number of Americans who say they almost always or regularly buy green products remains unchanged since 2008, at 36%, according to research conducted by Mintel.

The survey showed that cost remains an important driver as to whether consumers would purchase the green products, with the majority of adults willing to pay only a little extra for these products. More than half of the respondents (54%) said they would buy more green products but the products are too expensive.

In another consumer survey, Mintel reported similar hesitancy toward buying green based on price. An October 2008 report on organics revealed that nearly four in five adults (78%) say they would buy more organic food if the products were less expensive.

Mintel does expect future increases in sales, saying that organic food, the most mature segment, will experience slow but steady growth over the next five years, despite lower prices from private label organics and competition from natural and local foods.

“True value includes health and safety benefits, quality, convenience, appeal, and trust, all at a reasonable price,” said Marcia Mogelonsky, Senior Research Analyst. “Companies that provide those benefits, as well as appease shoppers’ green sensibilities, will enjoy success despite the recession.”

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Off notes blocked
Rebaudioside-A (reb-A), the stevia-derived high-intensity sweetener, which recently debuted for use in foods in the United States, is said to have flavor off notes. As more food manufacturers consider formulating products with the ingredient, Givaudan, Vernier, Switzerland, has discovered the bitter taste receptor that reb-A triggers.

Understanding how bitterness is activated in the mouth with reb-A has allowed Givaudan to develop flavor ingredients that specifically block this mechanism. The company has filed for patents of these developments, which are covered under its TasteSolutions™ technology and ingredients program.

Kraft states new focus
Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., has announced its “recipe for success,” two years into its three-year turnaround plan to return to sustainable growth.

“Make today delicious” is the company’s new focus. “It starts with delighting consumers with great-tasting food, but it’s also about making a delicious difference in our workplaces, our communities, and our world,” said Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO.

As part of the plan, Kraft has introduced a new corporate logo to deliver the “delicious” message. The logo, which made its public debut in February, features the Kraft name as well as a smile and a colorful flavor burst.

Taking steps to reduce risk
While a majority of Americans have heard about the recent recall of peanut products, one in four mistakenly believes that major national brands of peanut butter are involved in the recall, according to a poll conducted by the Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Among those who are aware of the recall, six in 10 report they have taken one or more precautions to reduce their risk of getting sick from the contaminated products. Specifically, one in four say they have checked ingredient lists on foods to make sure they know which products contain peanuts (27%), thrown away foods in their home that they think might be on the recall list (25%), stopped ordering foods containing peanuts in restaurants (22%), and stopped eating those foods they heard were in the recall (28%), while 15% say they have stopped eating all foods containing peanuts.

About three-fourths of those who are aware of the recall do know that it involves contamination by salmonella.

The poll shows that public confidence in food production and inspection is quite low, with 67% and 62% of those polled expressing only some or very little confidence in the ability of food manufacturers and government inspection systems, respectively, to keep food safe.

“There’s a striking level of awareness of this recall, and many people have taken action,” said Robert Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis. “But they’re not aware of the range of products involved in the recall.”

The national telephone survey of 1,283 adults was conducted Feb. 4–8, 2009, and the margin of error was ±3.5%. For more information, visit

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PepsiCo scholarship offered
The University of Massachusetts’ Dept. of Food Science is accepting applications for the PepsiCo Food Science Scholarship for Minority Students.

The scholarship will be given to outstanding minority students with U.S. citizenship who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree in food science. Potential research areas include nano-particle delivery systems for bioactive food components, omega-3 fatty acids for foods and health, bioactive food components in the fight against cancer, identification of genetic determinants needed for biofilm, development of quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction for the quantification of foodborne pathogens, and food-based strategies for obesity and osteoporosis prevention.

The scholarship will be given for admission to the fall 2009 semester. Applications will be accepted until a suitable candidate is found. For more information, contact Yeonhwa Park at 413-545-1018 or [email protected]. For more information about the university’s Dept. of Food Science, visit

Company growth moves forward
Ingredient suppliers, product manufacturers, and research firms are investing in new technology and building alliances to spur competitive growth. Here is an update.

Ingredient suppliers, product manufacturers, and research firms are investing in new technology and building alliances to spur competitive growth. Here is an update.

AB Enzymes and Barentz Europe have signed an agreement that makes Barentz the preferred distributor in Europe for AB Enzymes’ Baking and Food & Specialties divisions.

Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Igene Biotechnology Inc. have formed a joint venture, Naturxan L.L.C., to produce natural-source astaxanthin, which imparts the characteristic red color to farmed fish.

Danisco and NattoPharma have entered into long-term global supply, marketing, and license agreements securing Danisco rights as NattoPharma’s sole partner in marketing the natural vitamin K2 product MenaQ7® to the global food industry.

FMC Corp. plans to consolidate its alginate extract production to a facility in Haugesund, Norway; finished product blending will be primarily in Girvan, Scotland.

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. has opened its new Creative Center in Shanghai, China. The center includes application facilities, as well as a consumer insight facility that allows IFF and its customers to gain deeper understanding of the needs and preferences of the Chinese market.

Martek Biosciences has entered into a license agreement with General Mills for a patented microencapsulation technology that should help Martek’s ability to produce DHA powders for certain food applications.

NutraCea has opened a new cereal processing facility in Phoenix, Ariz.

Tragon Corp. has opened its new Research & Training Facility at its headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif. It features state-of-the art sensory science technology.

Unilever has opened a global foods product development center in Poznan, Poland.

Wild Flavors Inc. and Sunwin International Neutraceuticals Inc. are partnering to sell, market, and distribute Sunwin stevia extracts as well as formulate proprietary, natural sweetening blends for food and beverage products.