Whole-grain products popular
Development and sales of whole-grain products have reached record highs, according to market research firms Mintel and SPINS.

Data from Mintel Global New Products Database show that more than 3,700 products with a “whole-grain” claim debuted in the United States since 2005. And since that time, the “whole-grain” claim has been in the top 20 of all food and beverage claims. Mintel adds that in 2010, 5.6% of all new product launches had a “whole-grain” claim, up from 2.3% in 2005.

The Whole Grains Council oversees the Whole Grain Stamp logo program, which includes a stamp that appears on packages of foods and beverages formulated with whole grain. According to the organization, the stamp appears on more than 4,400 products in the U.S. and 20 other countries. SPINS, which tracks natural, organic, and specialty gourmet sales data, also analyzes sales of products with the Whole Grain Stamp and found that sales of naturally positioned dry grocery products with the stamp increased 16% for the 12-week period ending Aug. 7, 2010, vs the same period in 2009.

Electric shock boosts AO levels
Experiments on the antioxidant levels of potatoes yielded some electrifying results. Treating potatoes with electric shock or ultrasound increased the amounts of antioxidants by as much as 50%, reported scientists at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

For the electric shock treatment, the researchers immersed whole potatoes in a salt solution for 10 seconds and then exposed the potatoes to an electrical charge for 10, 20, or 30 minutes; for the ultrasound treatment, they immersed whole potatoes in water and subjected them to ultrasound for 5 or 10 minutes. Exposing the potatoes to 5 minutes of ultrasound increased polyphenol levels by 1.2 times and other antioxidants by about 1.6 times.

“We know from research done in the past that drought, bruising, and other stresses could stimulate the accumulation of beneficial phenolics compounds in fresh produce,” said Kazunori Hironaka, an associate professor at Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Japan and head of the research. “We found that there hasn’t been any research on the healthful effects of using mechanical processes to stress vegetables. So we decided in this study to evaluate effects of ultrasound and electric treatments on polyphenols and other antioxidants in potatoes.”

Improving film structure
The addition of the bacteriocin enterocin to films made from alginate, polyvinyl alcohol, or zein did not affect the physical performance of the films and also helped to improve some of their other properties, according to researchers at IRTA–Monells in Girona, Spain, and Teagasc’s Ashtown Food Research Centre in Dublin, Ireland. The results are of interest to the developers of antimicrobial biodegradable packaging material, which can be used to help improve food safety while reducing packaging waste.

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The researchers prepared the film by incorporating enterocin into alginate, polyvinyl alcohol, and zein films and analyzed the physical performance of the films by measuring color, microstructure, water vapor permeability, and tensile properties. The results showed that the addition of enterocin to both the polyvinyl alcohol and zein films helped to improve the water vapor permeability and tensile properties of the films compared to control films. While the addition of enterocin to the films affected the microstructures of the three films, the microstructure of the film made with polyvinyl alcohol was affected the least.

The study, “Physical Performance of Biodegradable Films Intended for Antimicrobial Food Packaging,” appeared in the October 2010 issue of Journal of Food Science.

Pinpoint bacteria more quickly
Identifying Campylobacter in foods like raw chicken can take several days or even weeks. Scientists with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service have developed a method that detects the foodborne pathogen in 24 hours.

The technique uses technology called hyperspectral imaging—a combination of digital imaging and spectroscopy—to provide hundreds of individual wavelength measurements for each image pixel. Microorganisms grown on solid media have one-of-a-kind spectral fingerprints, and the hyperspectral imager measures light waves that bounce off or through these objects to identify the fingerprints.

The imaging technique detects pure cultures of Campylobacter and can be used for early detection of Campylobacter colonies in mixed cultures. The scientists are developing a screening technique to detect both Salmonella and Campylobacter in food.

Pairing unexpected ingredients
McCormick & Co. has identified five flavor pairings in its McCormick Flavor Forecast® 2010: Holiday Edition that provide inspiration to consumers and product developers.

Pairing coconut with pumpkin pie spice, a blend of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice, adds an exotic touch to the spice flavors traditionally associated with foods served at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. The flavor of sage—a long-time partner of turkey—is brightened by tart citrus. McCormick predicts that sage and citrus will pair up in foods from appetizers to desserts. Caramel and almonds are standout ingredients on their own, but pairing the two brings the toasty notes of caramel together with the nutty flavor of almonds. People love bacon, and roasted cinnamon brings out more of bacon’s smokiness. The fifth flavor pairing—bay leaf and pear—blends the slight bitter, highly aromatic flavor of bay leaf with sweetness and subtle floral notes of pear.

McCormick draws on the expertise of food technologists, researchers, sensory analysts, chefs, trend experts, and home economists to identify emerging flavors.

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Soybean trait raises oleic acid
Soybean oil that contains more oleic acid helps to improve the nutrition and oxidative stability of the oil and reduces the need for hydrogenation. Scientists have been able to raise the levels of oleic acid from 20%, the amount that typical commodity soybean oil contains, to 80% through conventional plant breeding techniques.

Researchers with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and universities in Missouri and Korea used mutant alleles of two genes to develop the high-oleic acid trait in soybeans. Field tests are being conducted on soybean plants that contain the trait.

The study, “Mutant Alleles of FAD2-1A and FAD2-1B Combine to Produce Soybeans With the High Oleic Acid Seed Oil Trait,” was published in the volume 10, 2010 issue of the online journal BMC Plant Biology, doi: 10.1186/1471-2229-10-195.

Extract may inhibit cancer growth
Modified apple polysaccharides show promise as inhibitors of colorectal cancer cells growth, reported scientists with Fourth Military Medical University and Northwestern Polytechnical University, both in Shaanxi, China.

Apples have one of the highest antioxidant contents of all fruits, and research has shown that many extracts of apples have anticancer properties. The researchers extracted polysaccharides from apples to determine whether they had antitumor effects. They exposed three human colorectal cancer cell lines to different concentrations of modified apple polysaccharides (0%–0.1%) and then evaluated cell growth and apoptosis of the cancer cells. The results showed that at the concentrations of 0.01% and 0.1%, modified apple polysaccharides significantly inhibited the growth as well as induced apoptosis of all three colorectal cancer cells via both the intrinsic mitochondrial pathway and extrinsic death-receptor pathway.

The study, “Modified Apple Polysaccharides Could Induce Apoptosis in Colorectal Cancer Cells,” appeared in the October 2010 issue of Journal of Food Science.

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What’s new with food companies
• The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded LEED® Silver certification to Carolina Ingredients’ food production facility in Rock Hill, S.C.

• DuPont and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture are developing a new test for hard-to-detect foodborne pathogens.

• FoodCause Inc. is working with IMC Licensing to market Grein meat alternative.

• The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council has certified Foran Spice Co. Inc. as a Women’s Business Enterprise.

• Intertek has opened a food testing laboratory in the NCR Gurgaon region in Delhi, India.

• Kraft Foods has named Barry Callebaut its global cocoa and industrial chocolate supplier.

• Nestlé has acquired Waggin’ Train dog snack business in the United States.

• Ocean Nutrition Canada has acquired the exclusive global marketing and distribution rights to GAT Food Essentials’ omega-3 microencapsulation-emulsion technology.

• Philadelphia Macaroni Co. has purchased a pasta factory in Wauseon, Ohio, from Campbell Soup Co.

• MicroVal has certified Q Laboratories as a MicroVal Expert Laboratory.

• SensoryEffects has acquired the emulsifier technology and Encap product line from Emulsion Technology Inc. and Food Ingredient Technologies LLC.

Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]