KAREN NACHAY

Carotenoids protect bones
Researchers with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service report yet another reason to eat your fruits and veggies.

The natural pigments found in plants may help protect against bone loss in older men and women. The researchers examined the effects of several carotenoid compounds, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and lutein+zeaxanthin, on bone mineral density at two areas of the hip and lumbar spine. The subjects were 334 men and 540 women, with an average age of 75, participating in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Measurements were taken at the beginning of the study and four years later.

The results showed that carotenoids were associated with some level of protection against bone mineral density loss in the hip in men and the lumbar spine in women but not at other bone sites. Based on this, the researchers said that carotenoids, particularly lycopene, protected against bone loss in older adults, and that this may explain, in part, the previously observed protective effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on bone mineral density.

The study, "Inverse Association of Carotenoid Intakes with 4-y Change in Bone Mineral Density in Elderly Men and Women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study," appeared in the January 2009 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

USC offers food safety program
The University of Southern California’s School of Pharmacy is offering a Certificate in Food Safety that meets the growing needs for regulatory and safety experts within the food and dietary supplement industries.

The 12-unit program strengthens the knowledge base and functional "tool kit" of individuals whose responsibilities include the production and management of food in the industry or government. The coursework may be completed through distance education modules in real time or accessed via streaming technologies or onsite. The three core courses include Introduction to Food and Dietary Supplement Regulations, Introduction to Food Science and Technology, and Introduction to Food and Drug Toxicology. Students have the option to choose one of three other related courses in Quality Assurance, Chemical Manufacturing Control, or Introduction to Medical Products Regulations. For additional information, contact the USC Regulatory Science Program at 323-442-3102 or [email protected], or visit http://regulatory.usc.edu.

‘Natural’ is No. 1 product claim
Food and drink claims classified as "natural" were the most frequently featured on new products launched globally in 2008, according to new research from the Mintel Global New Products Database.

Mintel’s research found that nearly one in four food and drink launches (23%) last year carried the claim, a 9% increase from 2007. The claim includes the descriptors all natural, no additives/preservatives, organic, and wholegrain.

While "natural" claims increased, "plus" claims such as added vitamins or added calcium fell 20%, appearing on just one in 20 new-product launches worldwide. The research company also noted that the use of "minus" claims such as low-fat and reduced-sugar on new product launches has decreased.

Genetic engineering guidance issued
The Food and Drug Administration in January issued a final guidance for industry on the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) animals.

The guidance, "The Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable rDNA Constructs," clarifies FDA’s statutory and regulatory authority, and provides recommendations to producers of GE animals to help them follow the law. FDA released the draft guidance in September 2008 with a 60-day public comment period, and received about 28,000 comments. For more information, visit www.fda.gov/cvm/GEanimals.htm.

Fonterra opens tech center
New Zealand-based dairy co-operative Fonterra Inc. recently celebrated the grand opening of its Chicago Technical Center (CTC) near O’Hare International Airport. The $2.4 million facility houses advanced processing equipment, a sample analysis lab, and an ingredient supply area.

Utilizing the scientific innovations from Fonterra’s R&D hubs in New Zealand, the CTC and its 15-person technical staff will enable U.S. and Canadian customers, partners, and scientists to formulate retail and foodservice products using the company’s functional dairy proteins and specialty ingredients.

Recently, Fonterra USA launched several products for the North American market. These include PowerProteins for improved functionality and flavor in bars, clear whey-based ingredients for beverages, specialty milk protein concentrates designed to improve yield and texture in cheese and yogurt, and several hydrolysates for pediatric nutrition products.

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DG, size affect starch digestion
New research on the microstructure of starch granules might be useful in the development of starchy foods for the treatment of obesity and weight control.

The microstructure of starch granules affects the digestion of starch and its nutritional value, but past research has been unable to pinpoint the exact relationship between these. Researchers at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, reported that the relationship is related to granule size and degree of gelatinization (DG). More specifically, they showed quantitative relationships between granule size, DG, in vitro digestibility by enzymatic methods, and glycemic response of potato starch granules gelatinized by heating at several constant temperatures (55°C–65°C).

The results demonstrate that the DG of starch strongly affects its digestibility in vitro, and may influence the postprandial glycemic response. The researchers said that reducing the release of glucose via heat processing of starch would possibly result in a lowered insulin response and greater access to use of stored fat, and may aid in the development of new starchy food products.

The study, "In vitro Digestibility and Glycemic Response of Potato Starch is Related to Granule Size and Degree of Gelatinization," appeared in the January/February 2009 issue of Journal of Food Science.


Food companies move forward with projects
Despite the recessionary climate, food companies around the world are opening facilities, investing in new technologies, and advancing expansion plans. Here’s an update on some key projects.

ADM, Decatur, Ill., has launched its updated Web site at www.adm.com. The site features a new layout, expanded content, and improved usability and navigation.

Barry Callebaut, Zurich, Switzerland, recently opened a new chocolate factory in Monterrey, Mexico.

Comax Flavors, Melville, N.Y., and Food Specialties, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, have partnered to use the companies’ flavor development capabilities and dairy technology to develop new products.

Danisco, Copenhagen, Denmark, has signed an agreement with the French company Ferco for the worldwide exclusive supply of Grap’Active™ grape-based extracts. The extracts include white and red grape skin and grape seed water-extracted polyphenols.

DSM, Heerlen, Netherlands, has expanded its DSM Food Specialties production facility in Delft, Netherlands and increased its capacity by 35%.

Emerson, St. Louis, Mo., has acquired System Plast S.p.A., Telgate, Italy, which produces engineered modular belts and custom conveyor components used in food processing.

Firmenich SA, Meyrin, Switzerland, has won the DuPont Safety Award for its Health, Safety & Environment Management System. The award recognized companies for their dedication to safety in the workplace and beyond.

Frutarom Industries Ltd., Haifa, Israel, has acquired Oxford Chemicals Ltd., Hartlepool, UK. Frutarom will integrate Oxford’s flavor and fragrance ingredients into its Fine Ingredients Division.

International Flavors & Fragrances, New York, N.Y., has named Barentz UK Ltd., Hoofddorp, Netherlands, as its official distributor for the UK and Ireland.

Kraft Foods Global Inc., Northfield, Ill., has collaborated with Medisyn Technologies Corp., Minneapolis, Minn., to discover effective bioactive ingredients suitable for food use. The work will utilize Medisyn’s Forward Engineering™ technology platform to identify, analyze, and optimize promising bioactive compounds.

Symrise Flavors, Teterboro, N.J., and First Choice Ingredients, Germantown, Wis., have partnered to further develop dairy flavors, particularly enzyme-modified dairy ones. Also, Symrise has expanded its facility in Vienna, Austria.

Tate & Lyle, London, UK, has opened a Health and Wellness Innovation Centre in Lille, France. Scientists will develop new ingredients for healthful foods.

Unilever, London, UK, recently opened its Centre of Excellence Assembled Foods in Cisterna, Italy. The facility will house global product development activities for composite food products.

Vitiva, Markovci, Slovenia, has opened a subsidiary office in the UK to market rosemary extract-based ingredients.

Supplying grape-based extracts is the core of an agreement between Ferco and Danisco. The extracts are produced using a patented water-extraction technology.