Analyzing flavor of cacao varieties
New cacao specimens with one-of-a-kind flavors discovered in northern Peru could result in specialty chocolates marketed by geographical provenance as wine is, according to researchers with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and the Instituto de Cultivos Tropicales, San Martin, Peru.

The scientists are studying 342 cacao specimens collected from the Amazon River Basin to determine the different flavor traits. One of the samples, called Pure Nacional, is a rare variety that has generated plenty of interest from makers of high-end chocolates, reported the scientists. Part of their mission is to help Peru create its own niche in the chocolate industry much like Ecuador and Venezuela.

Additive may cut vitamin’s benefits
Anticaking agents meant to protect vitamin C may actually accelerate the degradation of the nutrient, according to scientists at Purdue University.

To study how anticaking agents protect vitamin C from humidity, the researchers blended different anticaking agents with powdered sodium ascorbate and then exposed the samples to different relative humidities. Sodium ascorbate dissolves at 86% relative humidity and is stable below that level, but some of the anticaking agents added to sodium ascorbate in the experiment caused the sodium ascorbate to dissolve at lower relative humidities,according to the researchers. Vitamin C is no longer effective once it undergoes this change.

The researchers learned that the anticaking agents move and clump together, leaving some of the vitamin C exposed to moisture that can degrade the nutrient.

“Some of the agents act like little raincoats, covering the particles and protecting them from moisture,” said Lisa J. Mauer, Professor of Food Science. “Others will absorb the water themselves, keeping it away from the vitamin C particles. I really thought some of those anticaking agents would help, but they didn’t.”

The study, “Effects of Anticaking Agents and Relative Humidity on the Physical and Chemical Stability of Powdered Vitamin C,” appeared in the September 2011 issue of Journal of Food Science.

FDA releases food safety plan
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has introduced the Retail Food Safety Action Plan to help ensure the safety of the American food supply.

The Action Plan details the ways that managers and operators of food stores, restaurants, schools, and other foodservice operations can improve how they conduct food safety operations in their facilities as well as how public health agencies at the federal, state, and local levels can improve the oversight of these operations.

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FDA also formed a cooperative agreement with the National Association of County and City Health Officials to promote the use of best practices by local authorities, develop methods to improve the oversight of retail food safety, and implement FDA’s Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards.

Finally, FDA issued a supplement to the 2009 FDA Food Code that recommends retail food establishments employ at least one certified food protection manager responsible for maintaining safe practices and standards at the establishment.

Barley may enrich pasta
Pasta made from barley contains more fiber, β-glucan, and antioxidants than commercial semolina spaghetti, according to researchers.

The researchers from Italy and Spain produced barley flour from barley byproducts obtained by air classification and then formulated spaghetti with it. They measured the levels of different nutrients and antioxidants in spaghetti made with barley flour and commercial semolina spaghetti. The results showed that adding the barley flour to spaghetti increased fiber, flavan-3-ols, and antioxidant activity while the semolina spaghetti did not have flavan- 3-ols and had a greater amount of phenolic acids and tannins.

The study, “Development of Functional Spaghetti Enriched in Bioactive Compounds Using Barley Coarse Fraction Obtained by Air Classification,” appeared in the Sept. 14, 2011, issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Ensuring sprout safety
Improving sprout safety is the goal of a new food safety audit checklist released by the Institute for Food Safety and Health at Illinois Institute of Technology (IFSH IIT).

IFSH’s Sprout Safety Task Force, which produced the checklist, identified research needs and developed food safety guidance required for the safe production of sprouts. The information provided in the checklist document is for sprout growers to use when assessing their food safety practices and when requesting a sprout-specific third-party audit, according to IFSH. Members of the task force include the International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA), Jonathan Sprouts, Caudill Seed, Brassica Protection Products, and IIT and U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists. IFSH released in October 2011 the checklist document and on-site beta test results at the ISGA Annual Convention.

Coating helps reduce microbes
Antimicrobial agents incorporated onto starch-based films used in packaging materials inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and may reduce the risk of foodborne illness, according to a study published in Journal of Food Science.

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The researchers from Australia and Israel coated biodegradable starch-based films with linalool, carvacrol, or thymol, which are found in thyme, oregano, and basil essential oils and have demonstrated both fungistatic and antibacterial activity against a number of microorganisms. They inoculated the surfaces of Cheddar cheese samples with S. aureus, wrapped them with the control or an antimicrobial-coated film, and stored them at 15°C for 21 days.

All of the antimicrobialcoated films inhibited the growth of the bacterium, with the order of effectiveness being thymol>carvacrol>linalool. The effectiveness of the antimicrobial agents was dependent on the concentration of the agent coated on the film.

 The study, “Antimicrobial Activity of Natural Agents Coated on Starch-based Films against Staphylococcus aureus,” appeared online early in Journal of Food Science, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02344.x.

Food safety lab opens
A new food safety laboratory to provide resources to address global food safety challenges recently opened as a result of public–private collaboration.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, University of Maryland and its Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and Waters Corp. partnered to establish the International Food Safety Training Laboratory, which provides hands-on lab training on detection methods and classroom lessons on regulatory standards to government food safety officials and food exporters so that they can ensure the safety of food and help food safety standards rise globally.

The laboratory, a 4,600 sq-ft facility located at the University of Maryland, will train more than 200 domestic and international government and industry scientists every year.

What’s new with food companies
AB Enzymes has named Orkila the distributor of its food enzymes in the Middle East and Africa

.• ADM will expand its cocoa production operations at its facility in  Singapore.

• The American Council for Food Safety & Quality has named Blue Diamond’s Sacramento, Calif., manufacturing facility Plant of the Year of the Pinnacle Club.

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CP Kelco’s Keltrol® and Kelzan® lines of xanthan gum have received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Design for Environment Registration.

Dairy Research Institute® and Cornell University have partnered with the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center to focus on fluid milk and dairy ingredient research to develop the next generation of dairy ingredients.

Dannon Co. has opened a new research and development facility, Dannon Discovery & Innovation Center, at its headquarters in White Plains, N.Y.

Gruma Corp. has purchased the tortilla production business of Casa de Oro Foods from Plaza Belmont Fund.

Icon Group has launched a new weight management ingredient website at www.icongroupllc.com.

Kerry Group will acquire

Cargill’s global flavors business pending regulatory approval.

’s global flavors business pending regulatory approval.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas is expanding its Waukegan, Ill., facility to include a test kitchen and extra manufacturing, warehouse, and office space.

Robertet Flavors will install a high-efficiency solar energy system at its manufacturing facility in Piscataway, N.J.

Sensient Flavors & Fragrances has opened a carbon dioxide extraction plant in Indianapolis, Ind.

Synergy Flavors has acquired Sensus and Sethness Greenleaf.

Wright Group has purchased a new blending facility in Plain City, Ohio.


Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]