High temps retain vitamin C
Thermal treatments of 70°C–90°C helped to retain vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid in crushed broccoli, probably due to the complete inactivation of oxidative enzymes, according to researchers.

At temperatures of 30°C–60°C, L-ascorbic acid was enzymatically oxidized to dehydroascorbic acid, which is further degraded to 2,3-diketogulonoic acid.

The researchers also found that ascorbic acid oxidase, the enzyme responsible for catalyzing the oxidation of L-ascorbic acid, was completely inactivated in broccoli florets and stalks after a 10-minute thermal treatment at 80°C.

“This study showed that L-ascorbic acid could entirely be enzymatically oxidized to dehydroascorbic acid during processing of crushed vegetable products (for example, juices and purees) at temperatures below 70°C, with the implication that serious loss of vitamin C activity upon further degradation of dehydroascorbic acid could occur,” wrote the researchers.

The article, “Thermal Stability of L-Ascorbic Acid and Ascorbic Acid Oxidase in Broccoli,” appeared in the May 2010 issue of Journal of Food Science.

Yogurt drinks and consumer liking
Yogurt drinks fortified with prebiotics, probiotics, and other value-added ingredients can positively affect consumer liking of the drinks, according to researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana.

The researchers used descriptive profiling and consumer testing to find out the drivers of liking of yogurt drinks that contained prebiotics (polydextrose, soluble corn fiber, and chicory inulin) and probiotics (Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12 and Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5). The descriptive profiling involved asking the subjects about frequency of consuming yogurt and their awareness of the health effects of prebiotics and probiotics. The subjects evaluated 10 yogurt drinks: six with various amounts of prebiotics (2.5 g prebiotic/serving and 5 g of prebiotic/serving); three with the probiotics combination and 5 g of prebiotic/serving, and a control. Overall, the subjects liked the yogurt drinks with the higher level (5 g) of prebiotics and the drinks with the prebiotics plus probiotics best, and they liked the control drink and the drink with the lower level (2.5 g) of soluble corn fiber the least. They described the drinks that contained chicory inulin and polydextrose plus probiotics as having a medium level of sweetness and high viscosity. The researchers concluded that a more viscous yogurt drink that is neither too sour nor too sweet is most preferred.

The article, “Drivers of Liking for Yogurt Drinks with Prebiotics and Probiotics,” appeared in the May 2010 issue of Journal of Food Science.

Contamination linked to raw poultry
The primary source of Listeria monocytogenes contamination in commercial chicken cooking plants is incoming raw poultry, according to scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and the University of Georgia.

For the 21-month study, the scientists tested and tracked sources of L. monocytogenes contamination in a brand new commercial cooking facility before and after processing began. They noted several potential sources of contamination (employees, incoming fresh air, raw meat, and the surrounding environment) and tested the soil and water around and near the plant’s exterior; incoming air from air vent filters; incoming raw meat; and the floor surfaces after personnel shift changes. They tested the floor drains monthly to determine the point at which the plant would become contaminated.

The plant was free of L. monocytogenes when first constructed, but within four months, the pathogen was detected in floor drains, indicating contamination from an outside source, according to the scientists. They did not detect L. monocytogenes on the floor samples or on air vent filters but did detect it on the incoming raw poultry. The scientists said that the results should help operators at these facilities concentrate their sanitation processes to reduce cross contamination.

Armenian university seeks resources
The Armenian State Agrarian University has established a food science program; however, there is a need for equipment, supplies, and donations, as well as specialists who will advance Armenia’s food industry and assist its government in the proper design and implementation of international-standard food laws and regulations.

The food science program’s initiation received support from the Office of Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), the Founder and Chair of the Armenian Caucus in the U.S. Congress, and from Shavarsh Kocharyan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia. The Armenian Ministry of Science and Education gave its permission for the project’s development. Under the leadership of Hovik Sajadyan from Yerevan State Agrarian University, Armenia, and Michael Chikindas from Rutgers University, a group of specialists was assembled to coordinate this project.

For more details, please contact Michael Chikindas at [email protected]

Increasing carotenoids in corn
A team of international scientists has found a way to triple the levels of carotenoids in corn, an important discovery that may help to save the eyesight of children in developing countries who suffer from vitamin A deficiencies.

Corn is widely consumed by millions of people in developing countries, but many of these people develop health problems like loss of eyesight or blindness because their corn-based diets lack sufficient amounts of vitamin A. While corn contains carotenoids that our bodies convert to vitamin A, there are very few varieties that have naturally high carotenoid levels. Researchers from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Purdue University, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center identified two genes in corn that are linked to greater levels of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Using this information, they developed a quicker and less expensive way to screen corn plants for additional genes that produce high levels of beta carotene. Plants with these genes can be used in cross breeding with local plants to produce plants that have both increased levels of beta-carotene and are adapted to local growing conditions.

Two of the researchers from the team are working with organizations such as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, China Agriculture University, and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture to train plant breeders.

FDA releases food safety info
The Food and Drug Administration has released slide presentations from a March 30 public workshop about the development of feasible, effective metrics for assessing progress in food safety.

The slide presentations for the workshop, “Measuring Progress on Food Safety: Current Status and Future Directions,” are available at www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEventsWorkshopsMeetingsConferences/ucm201102.htm. A transcript of the March 30 workshop is available at www.regulations.gov.

FDA seeks labeling comments
The Food and Drug Administration is asking for comments and information from the public and organizations about front-of-package nutrition labeling and on-shelf tags in retail stores.

Specifically, FDA wants information that addresses the extent to which consumers notice, use, and understand these nutrition symbols and shelf tags in retail stores; research that assesses and compares the effectiveness of particular approaches to front-of-pack labeling graphic design; marketing and advertising data and information that can help develop better point-of-purchase nutrition information; and insights into how point-of-purchase information may affect decisions by food manufacturers to reformulate products.

FDA is accepting comments until July 28, 2010. To send comments, visit www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#home and enter Docket No. FDA-2010-N-0210. Written comments may be sent to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305) Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville Md., 20852. For more information, visit www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm209953.htm or visit http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-9939.pdf.

What’s new with food companies

Archer Daniels Midland Co. was ranked the most admired company in the food production industry for the second year in a row by Fortune magazine.

BioVittoria has received a no objections letter from the Food and Drug Administration that its Fruit-Sweetness™ branded monk fruit concentrate is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) as a sweetener and flavor enhancer.

Cargill has opened a new flavor manufacturing plant in Pinghu, China.

Diamond Foods Inc. has completed its acquisition of Kettle Foods from Lion Capital LLP.

Kalsec Inc. has opened a new sales office in Shanghai, China.

Symrise has expanded its operations in Asia with the recent opening of a manufacturing plant for liquid flavors located in Singapore. The company also opened a dry blends production site near Moscow.

Wild Flavors Inc. has received Food Safety System Certification (FSSC 22000).

by Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]