Consumers hungry for local products
The “local” claim on U.S. restaurant menus has increased 13% during the past year, indicating growing consumer interest in regional foods and ingredients, according to market research firm Mintel.

In fact, Mintel’s research shows that 58% of restaurant patrons want to see more locally grown products used in menu offerings.

“This extends the idea beyond geography to include other important attributes such as ‘seasonal,’ ‘traditional,’ and ‘authentic,’ especially as it relates to global cuisines,” said Kathy Hayden, Foodservice Analyst, Mintel. “Serving the best of the season communicates freshness and a ‘get-it-now’ urgency. Perhaps most importantly, indigenous ingredients help the migration away from overly processed food toward more recognizable and simpler ingredients sourced closer to home.”

Some restaurant chains have begun serving local and regional food and using locally produced ingredients. One example of a restaurant that takes such an approach is Vancouver, Wash.-based Burgerville, which serves berries, meats, cheeses, and vegetables from Oregon and Washington, reported Hayden.

FDA issues food safety rules
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May issued two new rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act, the first to be issued by the FDA regarding this Act.

The first rule strengthens the FDA’s ability to prevent potentially unsafe food from entering commerce by allowing the agency to detain for up to 30 days foods believed to have been produced under unsanitary or unsafe conditions. In the past, the FDA was able to detain food products only when it had credible evidence that the food was contaminated or mislabeled so as to present a threat of serious health problems or death to humans or animals.

The second rule is a new reporting requirement mandating that anyone importing food into the United States must inform the FDA if any country has refused entry to the same product, including food for animals.

Both rules will take effect July 3, 2011.

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USDA grant to fund new U of I program
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has given a five-year $4.5 million grant to the University of Illinois to establish the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP).

The new research-based program will combine a Ph.D. degree with a master’s in public health degree that focuses on child obesity prevention and draws on research from nutrition, child development and family studies, physical activity, public health science and practice, economics, practices in child care centers, and the effects of media. It will feature an ongoing seminar series, develop two new courses, promote cross-disciplinary work between the university’s faculty and international leaders, and host an annual conference. The university’s Division of Nutritional Sciences will administer the program.

Halting lipid oxidation
While green tea extract (0.05%) and sodium nitrite (0.009%) used separately inhibited lipid oxidation in pepperoni, the same amounts in combination were not effective and showed a pro-oxidant effect, according to a study published in Journal of Food Science.

The researchers with Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu, China, and Hormel China Idea & Innovation Center, Shanghai, China, investigated the effects of green tea extract and sodium nitrite both individually and in combination on lipolysis and lipid oxidation in pepperoni during processing and storage at 4°C. Based on the results, additional studies are needed to determine how the additives interact in the pepperoni and to examine the reportedly harmful effects of combining green tea extract and sodium nitrite in pepperoni, said the researchers.

The study, “Prooxidant Effects of the Combination of Green Tea Extract and Sodium Nitrite for Accelerating Lipolysis and Lipid Oxidation in Pepperoni during Storage,” appeared online early in Journal of Food Science, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02187.x.

PEF test has mixed results
Pulsed electric field technology was shown to reduce the growth of mesophilic bacteria in raw skim and raw whole milk but it did not inhibit the growth of psychrophilic bacteria, and researchers from Washington State University and U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center said that more research is needed before the technology can be used commercially.

They pasteurized the milk under the following processing conditions: temperature of 20°C, 30°C, and 40°C; electric field of 30.76 kV/cm–53.84 kV/cm; and pulse numbers of 12, 24, and 30 for skim milk and 12, 21, and 30 for whole milk. They measured physicochemical parameters (pH, electrical conductivity, density, color, and nonfat milk solids) and composition (protein and fat content) after processing; shelf life after processing at 46.15 kV/cm combined with temperature (20°C–60°C); and mesophilic and psychrophilic bacteria loads and pH during storage at 4°C and 21°C.

In addition to the results on bacteria growth/inhibition, the researchers found that nonfat milk solids, fat, and protein content decreased in skim milk as the treatment became stronger; protein and fat content in whole milk treated at 40°C decreased; the milk samples had a greater stability at 4°C with minor variations in pH; the milk samples showed faster spoilage and a pH drop to 4 after 5 days when stored at 21°C.

The study, “Milk Processed by Pulsed Electric Fields: Evaluation of Microbial Quality, Physicochemical Characteristics, and Selected Nutrients at Different Storage Conditions,” appeared online early in Journal of Food Science, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02171.x.

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Oil may improve insulin sensitivity
Sterculic oil may help to reduce belly fat in humans, reported researchers from the University of Missouri.

The oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the Sterculia foetida tree, consists of fatty acids that curb the activity of an enzyme associated with insulin resistance. The researchers added that reducing the activity of the enzyme helps to improve insulin sensitivity. One quality of the oil is that it has several of the same chemical properties of other vegetable oils, which may allow it to be used in place of other oils, said the researchers. They plan to take what they learned from this study and others to conduct more research on the effectiveness of the oil in humans and for the development of a nutritional supplement.

IFSH holds inaugural event
The Illinois Institute of Technology recently held an inaugural event and tour of the newly formed Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at the university’s Moffett Campus in Bedford Park, Ill. The event marked the reclassification of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology (NCFST) to IFSH to better reflect the organization’s research, expertise, and new state-of-the-art facilities available to the food industry and government agencies.

“This restructuring strongly positions us to better assist the nation’s food companies and regulators with practical, authoritative science-based knowledge, especially in light of new requirements arising from the recent passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Robert E. Brackett, Vice President and Director, IFSH.

NCFST and three other research centers—Center for Nutrition Research, Center for Processing Innovation, and Center for Specialty Programs—now operate under the IFSH scientific organizational structure to support the work on food safety, nutrition, and technology research projects conducted by U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists and university researchers.

What’s new with food companies
• Biosecur Lab Inc.’s
Biosecur™ ingredient line has received self-affirmed GRAS status.

• Burcon NutraScience Corp. and ADM have a new license agreement for the worldwide production, distribution, and sale of Burcon’s Clarisoy® soy protein.

• Functional Technologies Corp. has received funding from the Canadian government to commercialize the application of Acryleast™ in the processed potato industry.

• GLG Life Tech Corp. and International Flavors and Fragrances have partnered to develop a rebaudioside C extract for use as a flavor modulator.

• Intralytix Inc. has received a Food Contact Notification clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for the use of its EcoShield™ ingredient on red meat parts.

• Kalsec® has named Aromati its exclusive distributor in Israel.

• NSF International has opened a testing laboratory in Shanghai, China.

• Ohly has acquired Bakon Yeast Inc.

• SensoryEffects® Flavor Systems recently won the Most Innovative Prototype Flavor award at the International Dairy Foods Association’s Annual Ice Cream Technology Conference.

• Synergy Flavors Inc. plans to open a new flavor development and manufacturing facility in Wauconda, Ill.

• Womick Foods announced an initiative to commercialize microwave-assisted thermal sterilization technology.


Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]