Synchrotron plays key role in food sector research

The Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne is playing a critical role in research breakthroughs that benefit the food sector including biofortification of foods, assessing the effectiveness of food processing, and determining the nutritional impact of foods. Hartley Henderson writes.

This world-class facility uses accelerator technology to produce a powerful source of light (X-rays and infrared radiation) a million times brighter than the sun. The intense light produced is filtered and adjusted to travel into experimental work stations where the light beams reveal the innermost sub-microscopic secrets of materials under investigation.

Dr David Cookson at the Australian Synchrotron explains that basic ingredients in food are highly complex in nature – a ‘mish-mash’ of different proteins, starches, and fats, mixed together in a highly complex way.

“The Australian Synchrotron’s unique capacities and capabilities allow Australian researchers from across academia and industry to unravel these complexities by investigating materials at a molecular level to facilitate processing and production improvements. Longer-lasting products can be created, a better understanding of quality control can be generated, and certain nutritional characteristics can be boosted or reduced,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News.

“The reason the Australian Synchrotron is so important to any of these improvements is it provides highly accurate, objective data on any material modification, using the powerful X-ray beam to produce visualisations of unprecedented detail.

“For example, there is great opportunity in synchrotron food research related to dairy products. A team from CSIRO Food and Nutrition has used the Australian Synchrotron to examine the structure of casein micelles, which play a significant role in the ideal consistency and stabilisation of milk-based products.

“Understanding the nanostructure of micelles through the Small and Wide Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS/WAXS) beamline provided new understanding of how the size and number of micelles within a component of cow’s milk can affect how efficiently the milk is processed into products such as powdered milk and hard cheese.”

Rice projects

In a rice project currently underway, plant biologists have used gene technology to increase the amount of iron and zinc transported into the endosperm, the part of the rice grain that most people eat.

The Australian Synchrotron’s X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy (XFM) beamline was used to produce ‘metal maps’ that accurately track the diffusion of key nutrients such as iron and zinc at sub-micron resolution levels without damaging the rice grain’s internal structure.


Dr Alex Johnson from the University of Melbourne’s School of BioSciences, who is the Australian lead of the project, says that white rice is very low in iron and that some 2 billion people suffer from iron and zinc deficiency.“The aim of the project, which is in part funded by HarvestPlus, is to develop a biofortified rice that is high in iron and zinc, demonstrating that by manipulating rice plant genes, rice plants can translocate more iron and zinc to the endosperm,” he said.

“When rice is milled it loses the outer layers of the grain where much of iron and zinc is located, but the powerful synchrotron was able to show that the nutrients were translocated deeper in the part of the grain that is not affected by milling.

“The biofortified rice that we developed in the project has now been successfully tested in the Philippines and Columbia under highly controlled conditions. HarvestPlus is now seeking funding to further develop and de-regulate this transgenic rice for sale to farmers, possibly in Bangladesh, and possibly in five years from now if these research activities go well.

“Most staple crop foods have low iron content, so there are significant opportunities to further utilise the synchrotron to show the extent and location of nutrients in additional grain crops such as wheat.”

Director of HarvestPlus, Dr Howarth Bouis, recently won the World Food Prize for his team’s pioneering work in addressing the global problem of micronutrient deficiencies, known as hidden hunger, through biofortification.

He says malnutrition amongst poor people is a serious public health problem because they can afford to eat the basic food staples but do not have enough income to buy non-staple foods which have higher levels of minerals and vitamins. As a result, many suffer from inadequate intakes which cause serious health problems.

“It is cost-effective to breed nutrients into staple crops to address mineral and vitamin deficiencies. With respect to iron in rice, we were unsuccessful in using conventional breeding techniques, but we have been able to do this by using a transgenic approach to increase the iron in rice, with the bonus of also increasing the zinc content,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News.

“We have already released over 150 conventionally-bred varieties across twelve biofortified crops in 30 countries, and are testing these varieties in an additional 25 countries around the world. We are hopeful that as many as 1 billion people will benefit from biofortified foods by 2030. High iron and zinc transgenic rice eventually could contribute significantly to this ambitious goal.”

In another rice project, researchers from the NSW Department of Primary Industries have used the Australian Synchrotron to compare parboiling techniques, showing that longer parboiling processes at higher temperatures cause more micronutrients to migrate from the outer bran layer into the starchy core of the grain.

Dr Laura Pallas, Rice Chemist at the NSW DPI, says changing global rice processing and eating habits is an enormous task. “There are deeply entrenched expectations across various cultures around desired texture consistency and flavour, including different approaches to parboiling and cooking,” she said.

“Advances in this area are important because rice is the closest thing we have to a global dish and it is gluten free and a good source of complex carbohydrates.”

Meat quality

The quality of meat, such as tenderness and intramuscular fat in lamb, is currently graded by mechanical and chemical tests, but obtaining that information in a more timely way in the abattoir has eluded the meat processing sector.

Therefore, the Australian Synchrotron has been involved in a research project to provide information on meat quality aspects such as tenderness and intramuscular fat content.

The project was led by the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Agriculture Victoria Division (Dr Eric Ponnampalam), in collaboration with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (Dr David Hopkins), the University of Melbourne (Prof Frank Dunshea) and the Australian Synchrotron (Dr Nigel Kirby).

Drs Ponnampalam and Hopkins say the research is exploring new approaches to measuring meat quality that may have applicability within the processing sector, thereby providing rapid information on the suitability of meat to different sectors of the supply chain.

“The Synchrotron’s Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) beamline technology was used to investigate differences in muscle fibre and/or fat, which can influence the eating quality of meat,” they said.

“The project results demonstrate that these technologies could be powerful research tools in the future to determine not only the structural components of muscle, but also the composition of muscle relating to eating quality traits of meat.

“In addition, the synchrotron SAXS beamline technology presents a promising opportunity to determine carcase toughness or tenderness and relative fat content and could be a useful experimental tool, overcoming the need for destructive sampling techniques.” They said the method requires significant further development to be utilised in the processing sector.


Australian Synchrotron

03 8540 4100

Here’s the clever chemistry that can stop your food rotting

A hotel in Reykjavík has on display a McDonald’s burger and fries, seemingly undecomposed after 2,512 days – and counting. It was bought on October 30, 2009, the day that the last McDonald’s in Iceland closed. But you don’t have to go to Reykjavík to see it: it has its own webcam so you can watch it from your armchair.

What makes this meal so long-lived? Well, I haven’t examined this particular burger myself, but chemical reactions cause food to decay – and understanding them can help us to keep food better and for longer.

Let’s start with uncooked rice – in many peoples’ minds it’s a foodstuff that will keep for a long while. Experts reckon that polished white rice will keep for 30 years when properly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place. This means in an airtight container with oxygen absorbers that remove the gas that can oxidise molecules in the rice.

Hotter food goes off faster; as you may remember from school science lessons, chemical reactions are faster at high temperatures because hotter molecules have more energy and so are more likely to react when they collide. It’s one reason we have fridges. But there is a limit. Above a certain temperature (approximately 50-100°C), the enzymes in a bacterium get denatured – their “active site”, where its catalytic activity happens and it binds to molecules to carry out reactions on them, loses its shape and can no longer carry out reactions.

Back in the 19th century, Louis Pasteur invented the process that bears his name. Pasteurisation kills the bacteria that make food go off and today this is applied mainly to milk. Milk that has been pasteurised by heating to just over 70°C will keep for two to three weeks when refrigerated, while UHT milk, made by heating to 140°C, will keep in airtight, sterile containers for up to nine months. Raw milk left in the fridge would last only a few days.

Living off the land

The short life of food was the reason that medieval armies “lived off the land” by scavenging, but in 1809 a Frenchman named Nicholas Appert won a prize offered by his government for a process for preserving food. He showed that food sealed inside a container to exclude air and then cooked to a high enough temperature to kill microbes such as Clostridium botulinum kept for a long time.

Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

He’d invented canning, which came into widespread use, and not just for feeding armies and expeditions – it was immediately taken up by the civilian sector, too. Tinned food certainly works. Sir William Edward Parry, for example, took 26 tons of canned pea soup, beef and mutton with him in 1824 on his expedition to find the Northwest Passage. One of these mutton cans was opened in 1939 and found to be edible, if not very palatable.

Conversely, cold slows germ growth. Keeping food at around 5°C in a fridge slows microbial growth – but it doesn’t stop it. People living in very cold areas like the Arctic discovered this sooner, of course, without the need for fridges. And watching the Inuit fish under thick ice gave Clarence Birdseye the idea of fast-freezing food; this creates smaller ice crystals than ordinary freezing, resulting in less damage to cell walls, so the food not only keeps for longer but also tastes better.

Sugar and spice and all things nice

Beginning with communities in hotter regions like the Middle East, dried food has been around for thousands of years – the earliest cases are thought to date back to 12,000BC. Drying food, whether using the sun (and wind) or modern factory processes, removes water from the cells of the microbes that break down food. This stops them reproducing and ultimately kills them.

An extension of this is the use of salt (or sugar) to preserve food. While salt beef and pork may conjure up thoughts of the Royal Navy in the days of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin – heroes of Patrick O’Brian’s Napoleonic novels – the process goes back much further than that.

Master and Commander: Aubrey and Maturin.

In the Middle Ages, salted fish like herring and cod were widely eaten in northern Europe, and fish was of course essential during Lent. The cells of microorganisms have walls that are permeable to water but not to salt. When the cell is in contact with salt, osmosis takes place, so water moves out of the cell in order to try to equalise the salt concentration inside and outside the cell, and eventually so much water is removed from the cell that it dies. No more bacteria.

Sugar has a similar effect, just think of fruit preserves, jam or jellies. Smoking also dries out food. Some of the molecules formed when wood is burned, like vanillin, will add flavour, while others, including formaldehyde and organic acids have preservative properties.

Freeze-drying is an up-to-date way of removing water from food, perhaps this is the kind of coffee that you use. Modern manufacturers are tapping into something that the Incas in the High Andes developed 2,000 years ago to prepare freeze-dried potatoes, known as chuño. The practice continues today. Potatoes are left out overnight, when freezing temperatures are guaranteed, then they trample on them, bare-footed, to mash them up. The blistering sun then completes the job – you have a food that will keep for months, food either for the Inca armies or the peasants of Bolivia and Peru.

Turmeric: hidden powers.

How about spices? Well, both onion and garlic have antimicrobial properties. There is evidence that the use of spices in warmer climates is linked with their antimicrobial properties, so adding them to food can help preserve it.

The antibacterial activity of some spices, notably cinnamon and coriander, is probably due to the aldehydes – reactive molecules containing a –CHO group, formed by oxidising alcohols and including hexenal, the molecule we smell when grass is freshly cut – they contain.

The spice that has got most attention is turmeric, made from the roots of a plant in the ginger family, Curcuma longa, and particularly a molecule it contains, called curcumin. Turmeric was used in food in the Indus valley over 4,000 years ago, as well as in medicine. Today, it may be a useful lead molecule against Alzheimer’s disease, as well as possibly interfering with various signalling pathways implicated in cancers.

So there is sound science behind the processes used to preserve food and some of these substances may have hidden benefits to our health. That hamburger in Iceland, however, remains a mystery. There certainly have been plenty of media stories trying to get the bottom of its apparent immortality – but the only way to be sure would be to subject it to rigorous scientific enquiry. Perhaps I’ll book my flight.

The Conversation

Simon Cotton, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, University of Birmingham

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Top image: Shutterstock


Sacmi beverage & packaging plans to conquer Asia

Sacmi Group, a plant engineering provider to Indonesian industry will be attending the Plastic & Rubber Indonesia (Jakarta, 16-19 November 2016) to show existing and potential customers its comprehensive solutions range, which has improved in terms of product versatility and process automation.

Thanks to decades of experience developed in the closures field, Sacmi is able to provide all the intrinsic advantages of a technology with outstanding productivity and the lowest energy consumption on the market.

It was, in fact, starting from this technology that Sacmi successfully developed applications such as the new high quality, ultra-light containers obtained with compression blow forming.

Sacmi’s modular labellers designed to work efficiently and in parallel across multiple technologies and labelling systems go hand in hand with a full range of solutions that ensure total quality control on the production line, at every stage of cap, preform, label and primary packaging production.

Designed and developed by the Group’s Automation & Service Division.

These systems are equipped with high-definition image acquisition devices and advanced software to ensure all-round high-speed product quality control, directly on the line.

Sacmi also provides an efficient parts service via its two companies in Indonesia.

High speed production camera

Fastec Imaging’s IL5 High-Speed 5MP Camera enables you to record any production equipment moving or turning at high-speed, such as drives, motors and bearings, and vibration or alignment problems.

It is also provides performance analysis or troubleshooting using slow motion replay. For analysis or troubleshooting using slow motion replay, so you can see what you have been missing with normal speed video.

With four models to choose from 2560 x 2080 @ 230fps to 800 x 600 @ 1650fps, there is an IL5 to fit your application needs.

All models record over 3200 fps at VGA resolution and more than 18,000 fps at smaller resolutions.

Built for flexibility and ease of use, the Fastec IL5 camera can be controlled over Gigabit Ethernet via Fastec FasMotion software on your PC/Mac or via the built-in web interface with your favorite web browser on your PC, Mac, tablet, or even your smartphone.

Using the (LR) FasCorder Mode, the camera can be operated as a regular camcorder to record and pause as needed and follow the action.

Then stop recording and review what you have. You can then append additional footage, even after a power cycle.

Food for thought: feeding our growing population with flies

Scientists have predicted that by 2050 there will be 9.6 billion humans living on Earth. With the rise of the middle class, we are expected to increase our consumption of animal products by up to 70% using the same limited resources that we have today.

The cost of producing agricultural crops such as corn and soy to feed these animals is also expected to increase and become more challenging with the onset of drought and rising temperatures.

While science is racing to develop more drought tolerant crop strains through genetic engineering, there may be a simpler alternative: flies.

Although people in some parts of the world have been eating insects for generations, the general population is opposed to introducing the crunchy morsels into their diet.

Since we might not be ready to eat insects ourselves, could we instead feed insects to our farmed animals to feed to growing population?

Introducing the nutritious black soldier fly

The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens, is a cosmopolitan species found on every continent in the world (excluding Antarctica).

You may have seen this species powering the compost bin in your backyard, as they are efficient decomposers of organic matter. The black soldier fly was first described in 1758 and we are only now discovering its true potential: scientists in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the United States have begun transforming black soldier fly larvae into a nutritious and sustainable agricultural feed product.

‘Hermetia illucens’ was first described in 1758 but we are only discovery its true potential now.
CSIRO: Dr Bryan Lessard

This species was specifically chosen because of its voracious appetite, with one larvae able to quickly process half a gram of organic matter per day.

In fact, the larvae can eat a wide variety of household waste, including rotting fruit, vegetables, meats and, if desperately in need, manure, and quickly convert it to a rich source of fats, oils, amino acids, calcium and protein.

Black soldier fly larvae are 45% crude protein, which in addition to its high nutrition profile, has gained the attention of the agriculture community.

Researchers have demonstrated that black soldier fly feed could partially or completely replace conventional agricultural feed. Moreover, studies have shown that this feed is suitable for the diet of chickens, pigs, alligators and farmed seafood such as blue tilapia, Atlantic salmon and prawns.

Preliminary trials have also indicated that there are no adverse effects on the health of these animals. Black soldier flies can also reduce the amount of E. coli in dairy manure.

A swarm of environmental benefits

There are myriad environmental benefits to adopting black soldier fly feed. For example, Costa Rica has been successful in reducing household waste by up to 75% by feeding it to black soldier fly larvae.

This has significant potential to be adopted in Australia and could divert thousands of tonnes of household and commercial food waste from entering landfill.

One female black soldier fly can have up to 600 larvae, with each of these quickly consuming half a gram of organic matter per day. This small family of 600 individuals can eat an entire household green waste bin each year.

Entire farms of black soldier flies could significantly reduce landfill, while converting the organic matter into a feasible commercial product.

Black soldier fly farms require a substantially smaller footprint than conventional agricultural crops grown to feed farm animals because they can be grown in warehouses or small farms.

We currently use more than half the world’s usable surface to grow crops to feed farm animals. If more fly farms were established in the future, less land would be required to feed farm animals, which in turn could be used to grow more food for humans, or rehabilitate it and return it to nature.

Another emerging economic venture in black soldier flies is the production of biodiesel as a by-product of the harvesting stage. The larvae are a natural source of oil, which scientists have feasibly extracted during the processing stage and converted into biodiesel.

With future research and development, this oil could be commercially developed to alleviate the pressure off limited fossil fuels and could become a reliable source of revenue for countries adopting black soldier fly farming.

Would you buy black soldier fly feed?

The limiting factor of the emerging black soldier fly farming practice is ultimately the consumer. Would shoppers be tempted to buy animal products fed on black soldier flies at the grocery store, or purchase larvae to feed their pets or farm animals?

Promising trials have shown that customers could not detect a difference in the taste or smell of animal products fed on black soldier flies.

One of the greatest challenges we will face in our lifetime is the need to feed a growing population. If we want to continue our customs of farming and eating animal products on our limited resources, we may have to look to novel alternatives like black soldier fly farming.

With the benefits of reducing household waste and sustainably feeding farm animals a nutritious meal, perhaps the future of eating insects is closer than we thought.

The Conversation

Bryan Lessard, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, CSIRO

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

New country of origin food labels are finally here

Australia’s new country of origin food labelling laws come into effect today, helping Aussie consumers find out more about their food.

The Australian Made Campaign’s (AMCL) famous Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) kangaroo logo will feature on most new labels, along with a bar chart showing what proportion of the ingredients come from Australia.

It’ll give shoppers a better understanding of how much of their food is sourced locally. The new system is compulsory for all food products produced for sale in Australia.

“The new system is compulsory for all food products produced for sale in Australia. Consumers will gradually start to see the new labels roll out, with a two year phase-in period to allow companies to redesign, reprint and apply the new labels before the 30 June 2018 deadline, when the new system will become mandatory.

Companies will still be allowed to sell products with the existing labels after 1 July, 2018 providing the labels were applied before the cut off date.”

Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison, said the scheme will greatly improve clarity and consistency for Australian consumers.

“A tighter system for food labelling, coupled with a better understanding of that system by consumers, will give Aussie shoppers more confidence in what they are purchasing and provide Australian farmer and manufacturers with a much needed leg up,” Mr Harrison said.

“It removes that old phrase which nobody liked, ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients.” AMCL believes the widespread use of the AMAG logo will also strengthen the logo’s connection to Australia and help boost sales of genuine Aussie goods in domestic and export markets.

Exported food is not required to carry the new labels so businesses wanting to use the AMAG logo on their products can do so under a licence with AMCL.

Shoppers will also continue to see the AMAG logo on all other types of Aussie products with AMCL to continue administering and promoting the logo as a voluntary country of origin certification trade mark.

Heineken invites Australians to open their world with new campaign

Heineken has today announced the launch of the Heineken City Shapers Festival, which forms part of the brand’s ongoing Open Your World platform.

The campaign will celebrate the cultures, people, music and entertainment, and experiences of the vibrant global cities shaping our top Australian cities and underlines Heineken’s status as a leading international premium beer brand.

The campaign will include the creation of a major festival event, which will take place in Melbourne on 4 August. The Melbourne event will see a secret, unexpected location transformed into an exciting activation space.

Guests will be taken on a worldly adventure, which will begin at an iconic Melbourne train station where guests will be transported by a private train, embarking on an evening of unexpected delights.

The festival will bring to life some of the world’s most dynamic cities with international food, music, art and entertainment all to be explored throughout the event.

Heineken will support the City Shapers Festival campaign with digital, PR and out-of-home media.

Impactful out-of-home activity will be created through a partnership with innovative street artists, Apparition Media, who will bring the campaign concept to life through a series of impactful murals.

Heineken will also take over the night skyline in high traffic areas across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth with impressive displays to be showcased over six weeks.

As part of the Festival celebrations, Heineken is releasing special City Edition packaging across its 6 and 24 packs, with 18 different global cities featured on the Heineken bottles. The packaging is available nationally throughout July.

Nada Steel, Marketing Manager, Heineken Lion Australia, said, “The Heineken City Shapers Festival is an innovative campaign that was created to celebrate the most energetic and vibrant cities…and enables Heineken to provide consumers with worldly experiences in their city…”

Australia’s drinking quantity decreases but quality increases

Australians say they are drinking less but better with our per capita spend on alcohol rising as we seek out more premium alcoholic beverages, according to a new report released today.

The emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) Alcoholic Beverages Trends & Insights Report* found that half of people aged 18 years and over say they are drinking less now than they used to.

There is also a move to premium beverages, with the dollar value of liquor sales rising 1.5%^ in 2015, which means Australians are spending more on their favourite drink. Australia is an overwhelmingly wine and beer drinking nation. Wine is our most popular drink, although men up to age 65 prefer beer, the emma data has found.

Cider is our third most popular drink, followed by scotch or whiskey, with other varieties well behind. Women opt for wine more than twice as often as other drinks, whereas men are more varied in their consumption patterns.

White wine edges out red as the most consumed at 43% of adults, compared to 41%, while 23% enjoy sparkling wine or champagne.

Alcohol is still very much part of Australian culture, with three quarters of adult men and women consuming an alcoholic beverage in the past four weeks.

“The trend towards drinking better offers growth opportunities to premium brands that can tap into the mindset of these consumers.

The move by Australians towards more premium beverages and spending more as a result, underscores the importance of effective brand positioning and marketing.”

Perceptions of quality and value change as people age and emma data shows that older people are more likely to believe that Australian wine is better than that from overseas.

They were also less likely to try foreign beers, preferring homegrown brands. There has been a shift in places and occasions where Australians prefer to drink, which changes by age and life stage. The majority of Australians prefer to drink at home, which was most prevalent among 30-32 years olds at 87%.

Venues where alcohol is consumed differ among various age groups. For example, among 24-26 year olds, 61% drank at a friend or relative’s house, while 19% of 18-20 year olds drank at a nightclub.

Among older people, 50% of 45-47 year olds drank at a restaurant or café, while 36% of 54-56 year olds drank at a bar or pub and a third of 66-68 year olds preferred RSLs, bowls or an AFL club.

According to Ipsos’s consumer segmentation, there are four key segments that represent 35% of Australia’s adult population who are the most likely to drink any alcohol more than once a week.

They are the ‘Educated Ambition’ (highest earners and most educated), ‘Social Creatives’ (young, affluent urbanites), ‘Serene Seclusion’ (people at or near retirement living in regional and rural areas) and ‘Conscientious Consumption’ (middle and upper class families) segments. *

The report draws on data from emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) to explore the changing mindsets, preferences and behaviours of Australian adults towards alcohol. emma interviews more than 54,000 people each year. ^ IBISWorld Liquor Retailing in Australia, March 2016

Asian food security a ‘threat to Australian industry’ says former minister

Industry experts warn the Australian food industry is missing out on potential commercial gains by failing to tap into our world-leading research facilities.

Not protecting our food and agribusiness sector from significant weather events could also place Australia’s export market into Asia in jeopardy.

Former Federal Minister for Industry and Science, The Hon. Ian Macfarlane, who officially opened the 49th Annual Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Convention, reinforced the importance of innovation in agribusiness and highlights Australia’s poor record of converting research and development (R&D) investment into commercial outcomes.

“The Australian food and agribusiness industry spends $541 million a year on R&D and, while ranked the 17th most innovative nation in the world, is listed very poorly at 116 out of 142 countries when it comes to converting those research dollars into innovation and commercial success,” said Mr Macfarlane.

According to Mr Macfarlane, the industry has a responsibility to commercialise innovation, grow the economy and provide long-term, well-paid jobs in Australia. Australian agribusiness currently includes 27,400 businesses and accounts for more than $55 billion of Australia’s international trade, making it the fastest growing sector in Australia. Our farmers export two-thirds of their produce and farm exports have grown by approximately 40 per cent in the last five years.

Convention keynote speaker Phil Ruthven, futurist and founder of market research company IBISWorld, noted that long-term exports are in danger and may require a major rethink of how and where we produce food.

“Supplying food to 1.5 billion people in China and 1.3 billion people in India is a real challenge for Australia and one of the macro challenges we face over the next several decades,” said Mr Ruthven.

“It also brings a great challenge as to how we can have more reliable food supplies generated in Australia. Our country is infamous for its droughts, floods and lack of water. Rethinking agriculture and the way we value-add to our manufacturing – even relocating agriculture and manufacturing areas further north where there is more water – is something to be considered,” he says.

Experts at the AIFST Convention will also consider challenges such as catering for Australia’s increasing ageing and allergy-affected population by improving the allergenic profile and microstructure of foods, and the wide spectrum of industry-leading innovations that are contributing to Australia’s ‘ideas boom’.

Hosted at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, the 49th AIFST Convention is co-located with the FoodTech QLD Exhibition – the major trade event for Queensland food manufacturers.

As Australia’s largest food industry gathering for 2016, the overarching theme of the 49th AIFST Convention is ‘The Pulse of the Industry’, which demonstrates the current innovation and advanced technology employed by the industry.

Bringing Asian food to our homes

Eating fresher is easy with a new natural and gluten free range of FRESH WRAP kits from Marion’s Kitchen.

Each kit comes with a flavour-packed sauce for stir-frying fresh veggies and your chosen protein along with crunchy sprinkles like crispy garlic or sesame seeds wrapped up in fresh lettuce or cabbage leaves.

Marion Grasby spends all her time thinking about how to make products that people will love eating and sharing. ‘I care deeply about what I do and the products, ingredients and recipes I share. I want people to be able to easily create awesome Asian food at home with ingredients that are clean, fresh and super tasty.

Personally, I’ve been looking to find easier ways to include more fresh vegetables into my busy lifestyle and I think more and more Australians feel the same way. My new range aims to inspire fresher eating.’

The new range of FRESH WRAPS includes Malaysian Satay, Korean Chilli & Sesame and Cantonese Hoisin & Garlic which will be available in Woolworths in July. The Marion’s Kitchen full range includes:

Thai Massaman Curry, Singapore Laksa, Malaysian Curry, Pad Thai, Thai Red Curry, Thai Green Curry, and San Choy Bow.

For more information, visit:


Clean room differential pressure monitor

In order to monitor differential pressures in clean rooms, defined as a room in which the concentration of airborne particles is maintained within established parameters, ALVI offers a differential pressure transmitter; the DE21.

It is a compact, DIN Rail Mounted measuring instrument in 2-wire technology, serving to cover numerous measuring ranges in the low pressure area. Using capacitive measuring cells specially designed for nominal pressure ranges along with high overpressure safety, monitor ensures high precision, long term stability and drift free operation.

The measurement units, mbar, Pa, kPa and inWC, are selectable via the DIP Switch on the unit. It’s equipped with the 4 digit LCD display clearly indicating the measured differential pressure in selected pressure units.

Differential pressure is simply the measured pressure deviation between two points in different pressure systems.

If the pressure is too low, especially when a door is opened, contaminants can enter. If it is too high, energy is being wasted.

The top five trends in product ID for 2016

Product identification is an increasingly essential feature of logistics operations. Mark Dingley looks at how it will develop and evolve this year.

Product identification is continuously evolving. Sometimes the advances are small, sometimes they are quite obvious. Sometimes they are technology specific, and sometimes they relate to an entire production line, supply chain or industry. Here are the top five trends in product ID:

  1. Flexible lines, flexible ID Having agility on your lines means you can run products with different sizes and shapes. While making better use of your capital, the flexibility also allows you to be more responsive to the market and consumer trends. To do this though, you also need coding and labelling equipment that is flexible. For instance, you might need to code 50mm high now, but just a year or so down the track you might need 200mm high. Another example is a coder that adjusts the amount of solvent it uses according to what’s being coded, and yet another is a printer that can easily switch between intermittent and continuous printing modes. Such flexibility in the latest technologies opens up the market for contract packers and allows manufacturers to take advantage of consumer trends. Technology that can grow with a manufacturer’s needs also helps to ‘future proof’ them.
  2. Serialisation and authentication This topic has been hot in the news lately. Serialisation as a process is not new, but technologies have been developed that allow products to be authenticated by a consumer standing in the supermarket aisle on the other side of the world with their smartphone and instantly know if it is genuine. This has huge brand–protection implications for products (and entire industries) feeling the pinch from ever-more-clever fakes encroaching upon them — and of course, one of the biggest benefits here is health and safety. On top of this, the manufacturer can communicate with the end consumer in ways never before possible: they can build their brand story and engage in a relationship with that consumer, suggest recipes, or offer deals.
  3. Smarter technologies Technologies are becoming increasingly smart. Two great examples are self-cleaning and giving audible or visible warnings when attention is needed, such as if a service is due or fluid levels are low. Innovative ink-recirculation systems ensure no ink is wasted in print-head cleaning, while self-cleaning technology optimises uptime and ensures crisp print quality. On-board diagnostics, providing fault, warning and help messages are another way to optimise factory-floor productivity, while customisable on-screen prompts enable mistake-free editing, reducing coding errors. Other highly useful developments include simple on-screen prompts to set up new lines or messages, and being able to control multiple lines from the one unit. Smarter technologies such as these are very practical developments in coding technologies, saving manufacturers wasted time and unnecessary costs.
  4. Integrating ID & inspection Inspection technologies such as vision, check weigh and metal detection, are an important tool on production lines to inspect product quality in real-time. Integrating them with product identification improves the quality of products that go out the factory door. Software integration solutions give real-time data, which is vital in enabling managers and floor staff alike to make informed decisions about what is happening on the production line. Integrated ID and inspection systems help manufacturers make their packaging process leaner and more reliable, allowing them to drive a sustainable competitive advantage.
  5. Increased need for automation & data capture Automating processes clearly removes the possibility of human mistakes, speeds up output and can make products look more professional by being more consistently presented. Inspection is a big area where automating helps a business by vastly improving quality control. Automation also reduces costs and creates greater efficiencies, with better returns, helping manufacturers to remain competitive. Having the right data gives a business a better opportunity to make better decisions.

Capturing data both on the production line (such as the number and cause of rejects and downtime) and at the consumer end is a vital part of this. From everything we have seen, all these five trends will continue to grow in 2016.

Australian Institute of Packaging

07 3278 4490

Mövenpick expands range with Blueberry Cheesecake flavour

Swiss ice cream brand Mövenpick has launched a new Blueberry Cheesecake flavour into the foodservice category.

Mövenpick Blueberry Cheesecake is a delicious interpretation of the original dessert with a curd ice cream enriched with an intense blueberry ripple and chunky biscuit pieces.

The new flavour is available in 2 x 2.4L cartons and joins the brand’s 24-strong range of ice creams and sorbets purchasable for wholesalers nationwide from Mövenpick distributor, RoyalCDS.

Created by chefs for chefs, the Mövenpick Maîtres Glaciers have crafted their own ice cream version of an iconic dessert made with naturally sourced ingredients with no artificial additives or colours including delicious seasonal blueberries.

Mövenpick ice cream is made so each scoop is consistent in taste thanks to evenly distributed ripples, sauces and pieces, and its low melting point means it will always stand strong on the plate.

The new flavour is available in 2 x 2.4L cartons and joins the brand’s 24-strong range of ice creams and sorbets purchasable for wholesalers nationwide from Mövenpick distributor, RoyalCDS.

Charlie’s Cookies takes to the skies with Qantas

Qantas’ in-flight snack offering has been elevated to new heights since Charlie’s Cookies launched its Proud to Call Australia Home campaign in late March.

Long known for its grass-roots values and innovative approach to business, Australian made and owned Charlie’s has developed a delicious new line of specially curated in-flight snack boxes with heart.

“Through our on-going relationship with Qantas we discovered a shared vision for wanting to get behind great Australian organisations. Charlie’s set about developing this exclusive program of philanthropic support via Qantas’ complimentary in-flight snack menu, which naturally taps into a huge captive audience. It’s a real win-win all round”, says Ken Mahlab, Managing Director of Charlie’s Cookies.

Each Proud To Call Australia Home snack box includes portions of Delre International Black Jack Aged Cheddar Cheese, Tucker’s Natural Rosemary Lavosh, Beerenberg Caramelised Onion Dip and a 2-pack of Charlie’s very own Gingerbread Hearts, making the perfect mid-flight pick-me-up.

Also launched on March 29th, the new Proud To Call Australia Home snack boxes highlight the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation, Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Long known for its grass-roots values and innovative approach to business, Australian made and owned Charlie’s has developed a delicious new line of specially curated in-flight snack boxes with heart.

Bangarra Dance Theatre Executive Director Philippe Magid says, “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Charlie’s Cookies on their innovative new campaign supporting Australian initiatives and organisations. We’ve been fortunate to have a long and meaningful association with Qantas, so this is great opportunity for us to deepen our relationship and grow brand awareness with their customers via the Charlie’s Cookies snack box.”

Charlie’s Cookies Proud To Call Australia Home snack boxes will be a complimentary offering on selected Qantas domestic flights from 29 March 2016 to 30 September 2016.

NSW IGA supermarkets win top industry awards

Leading IGA stores in New South Wales are celebrating after winning at the annual IGA Awards of Excellence held on the 10 April 2016.

Three exemplary stores, IGA Ainslie, Ashcroft’s SUPA IGA Summer Centre and IGA X-press Circular Quay Plus Liquor were recognised after taking out the key awards for IGA Store of the Year, SUPA IGA Store of the Year and IGA X-press Store of the Year, respectively.


We’re proud to support independent supermarkets across the State that deliver a great retail experience to our local community…”


The IGA awards represent the highest example of Retail Excellence and demonstrate the store’s ability to grow in challenging competition-driven environments. Keenly contested between the stores in NSW, the awards are a chance to formally recognise and celebrate the achievements of independent retailers.

Not only the IGA stores but also the team who work in the stores who put the heart and soul back into supermarkets, and set the benchmark for other IGA supermarkets across the retail network.

New South Wales General Manager of Metcash Food and Grocery Mark Garwood representing the NSW IGA Retail Council presented the awards to the store teams and said, “We’re proud to support independent supermarkets across the State that deliver a great retail experience to our local community. We acknowledge the hard work and commitment our stores have demonstrated throughout the year across all categories awarded tonight.”

“Congratulations to IGA Ainslie, Ashcroft’s SUPA IGA Summer Centre and IGA X-press Circular Quay Plus Liquor for being recognised as leaders in independent retailing. These stores and their teams represent retail excellence – going above and beyond to demonstrate excellence in teamwork, customer service and quality in their respective store offerings.”

Patties finds no link between Hep A outbreak and Nanna’s berries

Patties Foods has completed its microbiological and viral testing and found no Hepatitis A or E.coli on recalled products.

The testing follows the recent Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) outbreak which has been linked to Nanna’s Mixed Berries 1kg but results of these tests on samples of recalled and non-recalled Nanna’s Mixed Berries 1kg have come up negative. No detection of HAV or E.coli was found in any sample.

To date, the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) has advised that 31 HAV cases have been linked epidemiologically to Nanna’s Mixed Berries. At a meeting held yesterday between Patties Foods and DHHS, DHHS advised that as a result of the number of new cases reducing and the completion of the 50 day HAV incubation period, the risk of further cases is low.

Patties Foods MD & CEO, Steven Chaur, said the company is working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Farming & Food (DAFF), DHHS and its suppliers globally on now concluding the investigation.

The company has recently recommenced supply of all its non-recalled Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet berries varieties, other than Mixed Berries, back onto the Australian supermarket shelves under a ‘positive release’ regime for every batch, only after local external laboratory tests for both E.coli and HAV confirm the product is negative to these markers.

“Extensive microbiological and viral testing conducted by Patties Foods shows no evidence of systemic failure of Patties Foods’ quality assurance programs.

“Our microbiological and viral testing does not confirm any link between Nanna’s Mixed Berries and HAV. However, we are guided by the epidemiology provided by the DHHS and accordingly have taken proactive and collaborative measures to ensure public safety. If our Nanna’s product was the source, the lack of laboratory findings from the testing conducted by Patties Foods for the presence of E.coli, Coliforms or HAV indicates there has been no systemic failure. Regardless, Patties Foods has significantly increased protection measures to ensure that any risk is further minimised in future.

“Since the potential link between our products and HAV was first notified, we have recalled all potential source product, ceased importing from possible sources of the potential contamination, and increased our testing regime to 100 percent of all containers of our imported frozen berries from all countries, not just China.

“As well, we have introduced tighter sensitivity tests of E.coli from <3cfu/g to now a maximum limit of 1cfu/g on ALL fruit batches. This level of E.coli testing is the most sensitive possible. No detection of E.coli has been found in any sample. E.coli is a marker for poor hygiene, faecal matter and potentially HAV, and is readily identifiable in laboratory testing.

“Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet brand berries are amongst the most rigorously microbiologically tested berries now sold in the market.

“Patties Foods has also re-tested as a precautionary measure all batches of frozen berries not subject to the recall in our Australian warehouses. This includes berries and fruits from Chile, Vietnam and Peru. No evidence of HAV or E.coli has been detected in any batch,” Chaur said.

“Patties Foods has now adopted a ‘positive release’ protocol on all its frozen berry products, which means every batch will be tested in Australia for HAV and E.coli, and are only released to market when negative test results are provided. All Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet berries now being released to supermarkets have passed this test with nil detection.”

Patties Foods has since the recall ceased all supply of its Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries to the Australian market taking into account DHHS's epidemiological results until further notice while it evaluates new sources of global supply.

“The health and safety of consumers is our primary concern and we want to give consumers full confidence that when they buy a packet of our product, they can enjoy a quality product, produced to Australian Food Safety Standards. Consumers have told us they want the Nanna’s range back on shelves, and we will keep working hard to ensure consumers can enjoy and trust our products,” Chaur said.

Patties Foods sent approximately 360 packs of frozen berries for HAV testing at laboratories in Europe, North America and Australia. This testing took longer than initially anticipated because of the significant logistics program required to maintain the integrity of a large number of frozen product samples in transport to the leading accredited laboratories around the world. No HAV or E.coli was detected in any of the packets of various batch codes.

DHHS tested two opened sample packs recovered from consumers who had contracted HAV:

  • For one of these samples, HAV was not detected.
  • One sample from the opened pack tested positive for HAV, however DHHS noted that as this sample was from an opened packet it may have been open to contamination.

DHHS also tested eight random sample packs purchased from supermarkets including in Victoria:

  • For seven of these samples, HAV was not detected
  • One sample detected a trace amount of HAV:

    • SARDI reported that a trace amount of HAV was detected in one of the duplicate neat sample RNA’s. It added however that quantification at such low levels was not precise.
    • Microbiological testing of this sample returned negative results for Coliform and E.coli.
    • DHHS noted that the detection of HAV, under the testing protocol, only demonstrated the virus was or is present. It did not allow for a determination of whether the virus is viable (i.e. whether the virus is alive and will cause infection).

"Frozen berries are a very popular product in Australia, with over 24 million packs sold in supermarkets each year. Consumer demand for frozen berries has grown at over 40 percent a year over recent years,” Chaur said.

“The overwhelming majority of frozen berries consumed in Australia are imported, and Patties Foods is one of about 30 companies which import frozen berries. Patties Foods is the only frozen berry importer which has achieved Food Import Certification Agreement (FICA) compliance from the DAFF for frozen berry and fruit imports. This compliance operates to much higher standards than regular importers, and it documents and regularly audits Patties Foods for Australian food safety compliance.

“Patties Foods is keen to engage with local berry growers in Australia on the development of a locally sourced berry range. This will require investment in specialised freezing technology and development of commercial crop volumes required to meet consumer frozen berry demand. It could take some time to develop the infrastructure and crops, given long seasonal lead times. In the meantime, the company will continue to source berries from China, Chile and other global regions where producers specialise in frozen berry production.

“This category is one of the fastest growing in supermarkets at around +40 percent per annum due to the popularity of smoothies. Frozen berries have grown so strongly because of convenience, year round availability and price. Frozen berries sell for about $10 per kilo versus $35-45 per kilo for fresh, so fresh berries are still a very expensive proposition short term for consumers. Until local producers can meet volume, technology and cost requirements, consumer demand in supermarkets is likely to continue to be met through global sourcing, with rigorous safety testing standards and consistent labelling requirements. Patties Foods wants to be an active participant in further developing the local industry.

“Now the testing has been completed with no systemic quality failure, the company is working with its major supermarket partners to actively re-engage consumer confidence in the frozen berry category,” Chaur said.

The Federal Health Department stated on 25 March, “The risk of contracting hepatitis A from eating frozen berries is estimated to be very low noting there have been only 28 cases to date despite berries being a commonly consumed food”.

The Federal Health Department advised on 10 April that there were a total of 79 cases of Hepatitis A in Australia this year, 14 fewer than at the same time last year.


Could a lab-grown beef burger change the cattle farming industry?

One Dutch scientist says "cultured meat" could spell the end of traditional cattle farming within decades.

Maastricht University Professor Mark Post, who served up the world’s first laboratory-grown beef burger got everyone talking at the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association’s annual conference in Darwin, ABC News reports.

"I do think in 20, 30 years from now we will have a viable industry producing alternative beef and there will be a growing market for it and eventually a really large market," Post said.

Professor Post said traditional meat sources would not be able to satisfy the world's growing demand for protein, and that cattle, in particular were "very inefficient animals in converting vegetable proteins into animal proteins".

"We lose a lot of food by giving it to animals" as part of the production process, he said.

By contrast, it takes just three months to create a lab burger using thousands of muscle fibres grown from stem cells taken from cow muscle.

The process is not cheap, but the costs are falling.

When Professor Post gave the world its first taste of his laboratory grown beef a year-and-a-half ago, he estimated the cost of producing a "cultured" burger was more than a $250,000.

Using economies of scale, he believes beef could now be produced for $80 a kilogram.

So how is meat ‘cultured’?

There are several crucial steps in the development of ‘cultured meat’:

The first step is to extract muscle stem cells from animals, usually cows, pigs or chickens. This project uses stem cells obtained from little pieces of fresh cow muscle for instance obtained through biopsy.

The cells must then multiply, which requires a growth medium. This project uses/experiments with commercially available media, supplemented with calf serum. In the next stage, researchers at the University of Amsterdam work with synthetic mediums or simple and efficient nutrient sources such as algae extracts.

The isolated stem cells must then develop into muscle cells. Because the stem cells are designated muscle precursor cells this process largely happens automatically.

As with natural muscle cells, the cultivated muscle cells ‘bulk up’ into solid muscle fibres/bundles. To do so, they are affixed to a soluble polymeric sugar scaffold and trained by building tension between two anchor points in the bioreactor. This also largerly occurs spontaneously.

As soon as the muscle cells grow in size, it is important that the tissue is continuously supplied with nutrients. For the small, newly formed muscle strands, regularly changing the culture medium suffices. Creating larger slices of meat, however, requires the creation of soluble polymer (sugar chain) duct systems through which a medium can flow, similar to the way blood flows through our veins.

To make the tissue edible, taste and texture must be just right. This should be achieved by recreating the natural consistency of meat (in terms of protein composition, fat tissue, etc.). If this does not produce the desired result, accepted food technology methods are used to improve the taste and texture of the meat.

At the end of this process, the final result is edible muscle tissue that can be ground to create minced meat and, ultimately, a hamburger.


Researchers simplify beverage quality control analysis

The Fraunhofer Institute has developed a new method for investigating beer and other beverages for infection by pathogens.

In collaboration with the company GEN-IAL from Troisdorf, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam have developed a polymer powder that significantly simplifies quality control tests and shortens the time that they require.

With a new polymer powder, monitoring the production process for quality will be able to be faster and simpler in the future.

Manufacturers can also test drinks such as milk, juice, cola and red wine with the quick check.

Until recently, beer has been filtered in special equipment, where the bacteria remain on a membrane and is cultivated in a special culture medium before they can be examined microscopically. The new polymer powder from the IAP replaces this process: The powder is added to the liquid sample. The powder’s functionalized surface binds the bacteria efficiently. The pathogens adhere to the 100 to 200 micron powder particles. These can be easily removed along with the microbes in a specially developed system and analysed directly using various microbiological methods. The time-consuming enrichment in a nutrient medium is no longer necessary.

With the new method, food experts can investigate beer and other beverages for infection by pathogens.

“Membrane filtration is not suitable for the quality control of beverages such as fruit juices, milk, cola and red wine. They contain so much solid or suspended matter that the filter clogs quickly,” said Dr. Andreas Holländer, scientist at the IAP.

Breweries have also only been able to examine small sample volumes of up to one liter via membrane filtration. With the polymer powder, tests with 30 liters or more are possible.

“Wherever a small amount of microbes has to be extracted from a large amount of liquid, the new technique can be useful,” Holländer said.

“Through the use of the powder, food safety is increased, since it is more likely to find trace contaminants in large volumes of the beverages,” says Dr. Jutta Schönling, managing director of Gen-IAL.


Fat-burning beverage on the cards for Nestle

A team of eight scientists at the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences in Lausanne, Switzerland say that they have identified how an enzyme in charge of regulating the metabolism can be stimulated by a compound called C13 which mimics the fat-burning effect of exercise.

The scientists say that their task now is to look for natural substances that can act as triggers to stimulate the C13 compound, Bloomberg reports.

Fruit and plant extracts are currently being examined to identify which ones could modulate the enzyme known as AMPK which facilitates the body’s use of sugar and fat. Kei Sakamoto, a scientist who oversees research on diabetes and circadian rhythms at Nestle, says that the goal is to create a product that has the ability to mimic the effect of exercise for those that are less mobile.

“The enzyme can help people who can’t tolerate or continue rigorous exercise,” Sakamoto told Bloomberg. “Instead of 20 minutes of jogging or 40 minutes of cycling, it may help boost metabolism with moderate exercise like brisk walking. They’d get similar effects with less strain.”

Sakamoto said that testing of the product on animals will not occur for at least the next few years.

The development of a fat-burning beverage is in line with Nestle’s new strategic direction which involves selling off weak food brands in favour of scientific lines.

Nestle recently sold its PowerBar business as well as the bulk of its Jenny Craig business, stating that further divestments of other underperforming brands could also take place.


Low-cost electronic tongue developed to ensure food safety

Researchers have developed a new low-cost electronic tongue designed to ensure quality in food and beverage products.

S.V. Litvinenko and his colleagues say that they have developed a low-cost and environmentally friendly “e-tongue” with a silicon base that could be easily incorporated into existing electronic systems of the same material.

Via the ACS Applied Material & Interfaces journal, S. V. Litvinenko and colleagues explain that the electronic tongue is an analytical instrument that mimics how people and other mammals distinguish tastes. The tongue consists of tiny sensors that detect substances in a sample, and send signals to a computer for processing – just as taste buds sense and transmit flavour messages to the brain.

A number of similar devices have already been developed and employed throughout the food and beverage industry where they are used for everything from authenticating Thai food to measuring beer quality. In September this year, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark announced they had developed an artificial tongue that uses a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) based nanosensor to measure the dryness of wine.

Litvinenko’s team however say that many existing devices are limited in how they can be used and as such decided to make an improved instrument that could have applications in medical diagnostics, pharmaceutical testing and environmental monitoring, as well as food testing.

The researchers have tested the tongue on Armagnac, cognac, whiskey and water, and say that they were able to establish precise signatures for each.

The researchers believe that their work serves as a first step toward a novel tasting instrument with potentially diverse applications.

The report titled, Might Silicon Surface Be Used for Electronic Tongue Application? has been published in the ACS Applied Material & Interfaces journal.