Stevia acceptance moves forward
In the coming months, expect to see the debut of food and beverage products that contain the sweetener rebaudioside A (reb A), an extract from the stevia plant leaf. That is because the Food and Drug Administration recently issued a no objection letter with respect to reb A, recognizing that reb A at a minimum specification of 95% is generally recognized as safe for use as a sweetener in foods and beverages.

Food manufacturers have already begun to roll out products that contain the ingredient, including PepsiCo’s Zero-Calorie SoBe Lifewater® and Tropicana Trop 50 and Cargill’s Truvia™ table-top sweetener.

According to PureCircle USA, Florham Park, N.J., the company that produces reb A on a commercial scale, the ingredient is 200 times sweeter than sugar with no calories and is stable at extreme temperatures.

Alcohol marinade may cut HAs
Beer and wine are tasty beverages, useful ingredients in culinary applications, and now, potential cancer fighters.

Researchers at the University of Porto, Portugal, have reported that marinating beef in beer or red wine can reduce the levels of certain heterocyclic amines (HAs) formed when the meat is grilled or fried. HAs are believed to be carcinogenic.

The researchers compared the effects of marinating samples of beef for one, two, four, and six hours at 18°C in red wine and pilsner beer in the reduction of two HAs: aminoimidazole-azarenes (AIAs) and amino-carbolines (ACs). AIA s are formed during the Maillard reaction and ACs are formed from pyrolysis of proteins heated at high temperatures.

The researchers learned that the levels of some heterocyclic amines decreased as marinating time increased but that there was degradation in sensory quality in the beef marinated longer than two hours. They believe that the different carbohydrate content of the beer and red wine may have affected the formation of HAs.

The study, “Effect of Beer/Red Wine Marinades on the Formation of Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines in Pan-Fried Beef,” appeared in the Nov. 26, 2008, issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Model predicts Hg levels
Researchers at North Carolina State University said they have developed a way to predict which aquatic aquasystems are likely to have fish with high mercury levels—great news for consumers concerned about ingesting this dangerous element.

The statistical model includes data on factors that influence mercury levels in fish tissue such as the pH of the water and the size and species of the fish. The new model is a synthesis of a number of smaller statistical models that allows researchers to examine the combination of factors that can drive contaminants in aquatic systems.

Derek Aday, Assistant Professor of Biology and a member of the research team, said that the model can be used to develop specific advisories for bodies of water and fish species rather than general advisories. And while the model so far focuses on North Carolina, plans are under way to expand the model’s usefulness around the country. “Specific variables may change, but the approach would be the same,” according to Aday.

The researchers presented their findings in a symposium, “A Statewide Assessment of Fish Tissue Mercury Dynamics,” at the university’s Water Resources Research Institute 11th Annual Conference.

Fortitech addresses malnutrition
To address the growing number of people around the world who suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, Fortitech, Schenectady, N.Y., has launched the World Initiative for Nutrition. The group will work with governmental and non-governmental organizations, ingredient suppliers, local food mills, and manufacturers to develop and deliver tailored nutritional products.

“The message we want to convey through WIN is that nutrition is not the problem, it is the solution,” said Françoise Chomé, Director of WIN. “Food fortification not only impacts the health of the individual, but the health and economic wellbeing of the nations and communities to which they belong.”

Fortitech will provide on-demand support from its six facilities around the world as well as expertise in food fortification.

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Institute improves peppers
The chile pepper contributes more than $300 million annually to New Mexico’s economy, and it shows no sign of cooling off anytime soon, especially now that researchers at the New Mexico Chile Pepper Institute in Las Cruces have developed improvements to two popular varieties of chile peppers.

They developed the varieties—NuMex Heritage Big Jim and NuMex Heritage 6-4—because local growers said that the current green chile varieties were losing flavor. The improved varieties have 20% more flavor compounds than the old ones and will produce a better yield for farmers. The seeds for these varieties are available as of January 2009.

CPI is part of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State University and provides the latest research-based information on chiles for growers and processors.

Food companies participate in new projects
Many food companies continue to branch into new business areas or combine expertise with others. Here is a look at some recent developments.

Barentz Europe BV, Hoofddrop, Netherlands, has established Barentz Baltic SIA in Riga, Latvia. It will distribute specialty ingredients to the food and animal nutrition industries in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., Latham, N.Y., has launched the Beech-Nut Advancing Nutrition™ initiative to develop products with the highest nutrition standards for infants and toddlers.

Biorigin, São Paulo, Brazil, has acquired PTX Food Corp., Cortlandt, N.Y. The transaction will strengthen Biorigin’s strategy of offering ingredients for salt reduction, flavor enhancement, and other functions.

Cargill, Minneapolis, Minn., has opened two texturizing sales and customer service offices in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. It has partnered with Anader, the national agency for rural development in Côte d’Ivoire, to provide training for cooperative managers and local farmers. Cargill also opened a new cocoa processing facility in Tema, Ghana.

Commercial Bakeries Corp., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Ganeden Biotech Inc., Cleveland, Ohio, have partnered to produce a variety of probiotic-enhanced cookie products.

E.T. Horn Co., La Mirada, Calif., has announced that it will be a distributor of Martek Biosciences Corp.’s life’sDHA™ to the food and beverage industry in Southern California, Arizona, and Utah. This is the first time that Martek will use a distributor for the food industry in the United States.

• Switzerland-based Emmi has acquired Roth Käse USA Ltd., Monroe, Wis., a move that will focus continued growth in the retail and foodservice sectors with Swiss premium cheese and American specialties.

FoodLogiQ, Durham, N.C., will provide a value-added traceability system to the members of the Canadian Cattleman’s Association, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The system will link to the current national database and will provide additional capabilities to improve producer collaboration, information sharing, and data capture.

Jungbunzlauer, Basel, Switzerland, has won the 2008 Frost & Sullivan Ingredient of the Year Award for successfully introducing sub4salt® in the European food additives market. The ingredient is used as a substitute for salt and is said to reduce the sodium content in processed foods by up to 50%.

Kerry Ingredients & Flavours, Beloit, Wis., has acquired X-Café, Portland, Maine, a manufacturer of shelf-stable coffee extracts.

Naturex, Avignon, France, has received organic certification for its manufacturing plant in France, allowing the company to produce and distribute organic ingredients. The facility complies with 7 CFR Part 205–NOP and the E.C. directive 2092/91 and meets certified organic standards in the United States and the European Union.

Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, has expanded its molecular distillation plant in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia. The plant is used in the production of the company’s MEG-3® omega 3 EPA/DHA fish oil ingredient.

Savoury Systems International, Branchburg, N.J., has moved to a new facility in the city. The new building features more warehouse and production space, as well as new equipment to increase production capacity.

Symrise, Holzminden, Germany, has opened its Citrus Showroom at its North American headquarters in Teterboro, N.J. The facility will house space for citrus flavor ingredient development.