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Tech Flash Vol 6, No. 8 -- Food Engineering's E-Newsletter

April 21, 2010
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Old building acquires new gold LEED certification

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Topeka, KS, facility was awarded the LEED Gold under the Existing Buildings (EB) certification from the US Green Building Council. LEED is the program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

“It’s only through the efforts of our associates and business partners that we were able to retrofit this nearly 30-year-old-building and make it more environmentally friendly,” said Allen Moore, technical manager, Frito-Lay Topeka. “Achieving LEED EB gold standards is another significant step on our company’s sustainability journey and solidifies our place as a leader in Kansas and in the US.”

To achieve LEED EB certification, Frito-Lay’s sustainability strategy included implementing a number of green design and construction features, water reduction technologies and practices, and improved waste management.

  • Waste reduction-the Topeka facility reduced its natural gas consumption by 39% per pound of product and its electricity usage by 27% per pound of product since 1999 by installing new technologies, including high-efficiency boilers and new lighting systems with sensors to turn off lights when rooms are not in use.
  • Water reduction-The facility reduced its water consumption by nearly 52% per pound of product since 1999 by implementing new operations and sanitation practices and piloting a company-wide initiative to reduce water usage used in its corn cooking and transfer process.
  • Recycling-As of September 2009, less than 1% of the facility’s waste goes to landfill. Several initiatives made this possible, including an employee-led recycling program, reusing cardboard shipping boxes multiple times and allocating waste product for use in animal feed.
The 600,000 sq.-ft. building occupies 188 acres of land in Shawnee County. Frito-Lay continues to invest in innovative technologies to reduce its environmental footprint. It expects to bring a biomass boiler online later this year.


Sandridge Foods installed a high-pressure processing system from Hyperbaric to pasteurize foods without any noticeable change to its products' appearance, taste, texture and nutritional value. The system can extend shelf life beyond 60 days for a variety of products. Source: Sandridge Foods.

Food processor puts on the pressure

Sandridge Food Corporation installed a high-pressure processing (HPP) system at its facility in Medina, OH. The unit was supplied by NC Hyperbaric (Spain) and installed by Gridpath Solutions (Stoney Creek, ON). HPP is a pasteurization process that uses cold water under high pressure rather than traditional thermal processes and preservatives to provide safe, minimally processed foods with superior appearance, taste, texture and nutritional value. HPP eliminates the need for chemicals such as benzoates and sorbates to preserve food and extend shelf life.

According to Mary Vaccaro, Sandridge senior marketing manager, using HPP can extend the shelf life of potato salad more than 60 days with no change in flavor and texture. “Additionally, we have seen over 60 days on a wide variety of protein salads [which] are usually the highest dollar item for the deli buyer. Any sort of shrink that they have is costly. HPP can really be their tool to combat that problem,” she adds. Another advantage to using HPP, according to Vaccaro, is less dressing can be used on a product, which creates a more made-from-scratch look and taste.

“We have committed to this technology, not only because food safety is our highest priority, but because we firmly believe that foods with fewer preservatives and clean labels are the right thing to provide to the consumers of today,” said Mark D. Sandridge, chief executive officer of Sandridge Food Corporation. “Consumers want to be able to read labels that contain simple ingredients. With HPP, we are able to deliver culinary products that the consumer can feel good about with recognized and trusted ingredients, while still maintaining the highest degree of food safety, taste and nutrition.”

With HPP, an equal amount of pressure is transmitted throughout a container of food in all directions, preserving the shape of the food and its container while killing harmful bacteria. Bacteria are inactivated at pressures from 58,000 to 87,000 psi and water temperatures below 45°F.


As industrial production begins to improve, machinery shipments are expected to pick up. Source: Institute for Trend Research, PMMI.

Economy sees mild recovery

The US is in the early stages of a mild recovery, says Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s Quarterly Economic Outlook. The industrial production index reached a low point in October, ending its worst economic downturn since 1946. Most industries are seeing increasing activity or at least the slowing of decline, says the report.

While 2009 was a year of recession, 2010 is showing signs of recovery. Markets with positive outlooks include beverages, coffee and tea production, food and food preparation production, pharmaceutical and medical devices and personal care products. The US leading indicator index has posted its 10th straight month of rise, taking it to a record high, says the report.

Total US packaging machinery shipments continued to decrease along with the greater economy throughput in 2008. US industrial production is currently 8.8% below the year-ago level, but it has progressed to a sustainable recovery trend since the close of 2009. As US industrial production continues to improve in 2010, US packaging machinery shipments are expected to advance from 2009 levels, says the report.


Automation News



Green Garden Food Products uses Synergy 1000 SPC software from Zontec. Source: Zontec.

Processor keeps quality high, customers satisfied

Green Garden Food Products, Kent, WA, makes gourmet salad dressings, sauces and marinades for customers ranging from retail to private-label, co-packers, delis and food service. The more than 70-year-old company employs a finely tuned manufacturing process that creates, packages, and distributes its products as efficiently as possible.

Beyond its own Green Garden–branded products, it has developed a system exclusively designed to work with large-volume clients on custom formula duplication and product development. To meet these scaled-up demands, maintain high product quality and satisfy its customers, Green Garden upgraded its old, under-performing, Excel-based statistical process control (SPC) system with Synergy 1000 SPC software from Zontec. The new SPC software automates the time-wasting tasks that the QA lab had to perform manually.

According to Quality Manager Sam Samia-Kalantari, with the old system, reports of analysis required importing the data into Excel, performing statistical calculations and creating charts, which were basic bell curves and run charts. Now, data collection, charting and reports are integrated into the system. The new system allows Samia-Kalantari to select the data and create the corresponding chart. The system represents a big improvement in the ability to manage and report the data. It also has been an effective tool for communicating and satisfying acceptability levels with the processor’s co-packing clients.

The software records, monitors and reports quality characteristics including pH, titratable acidity, titratable salt, viscosity, product and equipment temperatures, fill weights and torque on jar lids-depending on each client’s unique requirements. As a co-packer, Green Garden must match precisely what the client has already achieved in its own facilities.

Green Garden uses Synergy 1000 as a rapid communication, feedback and problem-solving system for its clients. “We’re able to exchange information very easily,” says Samia-Kalantari. He can quickly document clients’ requirements with Ppk, and Cpk numbers, capability charts and control charts. Clients respond with changes or recommendations during the manufacturing of their product.

One client, who also uses Zontec SPC software, receives data from Green Garden over the Internet and supplements Green Garden’s tests with its own reports and analyses.

According to Samia-Kalantari, the software is very helpful, especially for new products. The system allows him-after the first couple of production runs-to see the upper and lower limits, the spec ranges, the capability of the machines in mixing operations and the goals or targets for the process.

The SPC system’s charts and graphs are valuable tools that Samia-Kalantari uses internally during management meetings to convey visually what’s happening with the process, rather than showing raw data to the staff. Using fill weights as an example, it’s simple to prove if the process is creating under- or over-weight packages. Corrections can then be taken to bring the weights on target, improving the processor’s profitability.

The system has improved customer satisfaction, provided quicker reporting times and reduced paper records. It provides a system for Green Garden’s recordkeeping for quality information.

For more information, visit Zontec.


Automation expenditures for food and beverage by region. Source: ARC Advisory Group.

Automation expenditures will grow

While 2009 expenditures for automation technology in the food and beverage industry were down due to the recession, expenditures are expected to reach $6 billion by 2013, according to a new study from ARC Advisory Group entitled, The Automation Expenditures for Food and Beverage Worldwide Outlook. Markets for automation in Europe, Africa and the Middle East make up nearly half of all automation expenditures.

The three major areas of focus in food and beverage manufacturing are cost management and margin protection, more sustainable manufacturing focused on energy usage and waste reduction, and the improvement of food safety. To stay competitive, processors are concerned about quality product, packaging and manufacturing innovation. Since most processors have similar business strategies, flawless and timely execution differentiates the leading companies from their competitors, says the study.

Key automation products to help processors get control of their processes include enterprise asset management, motion control, laboratory information management systems, plant asset management, AC drives, programmable controllers, distributed control systems, process safety systems, HMIs, field transmitters and valves, process engineering tools, real-time process optimization and production management.

According to the study, the outlook for the food and beverage industry in 2010 will be moderate due to the global recession, changing consumer purchasing patterns and tightening budgets. The industry has been one of the least affected by global recession. However, the industry expects growth in consumer spending to remain at reduced rates into the foreseeable future. Information tools will help the consumer be selective in product purchases, and processors will need to use these tools to reach consumers.

“The information architecture is extending its reach all the way to the consumer by way of social networks and a new generation of truly virtual on-line shopping product customization tools,” says John Blanchard, principal analyst for the CPG industries. “It is becoming an important solution in the drive toward mass customization and has begun to change the way consumer-facing business is conducted,” he concludes.

The study also looks at new regulations and global standards, emerging markets, urbanization, the Wal-Mart effect, new information architectures, ISO 22000/PAS 220, packaging and the supply chain, productivity initiatives, portfolio optimization and market and channel expansion. For more information, visit the ARC Advisory Group Web site.


Manufacturers who adopt formula best practices aren’t doing one thing differently; instead, they adopt a number of strategies to improve the performance of their product development process. Source: Aberdeen Group.

Manage formulas, maximize profit

For processors, the key to profitability is spurring top revenue growth and controlling the bottom line cost of ingredients, and this can be accomplished by managing a product’s recipe or formula, according to a study entitled The State of PLM for Process Goods from Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen found those companies who employed best practices in a structured approach to developing and optimizing formulas, termed formula best practices (FBP), achieved 15% greater net change in year-over-year revenue growth, 5% greater percentage of revenues coming from new products, 3% greater margin advantage on new products and 13% greater likelihood of achieving cost-of-goods targets.

Survey results showed that the FBP process manufacturers demonstrating these characteristics shared common capabilities, which include:

  • FBP companies are 28% more likely to employ a formal process to assess product concepts and 21% more likely to use a structured development process (e.g., phase-gate or waterfall).
  • FBP companies are 25% more likely to generate characteristic calculations, 42% more likely to automatically generate specifications and 64% more likely to automatically notify the formulator of the use of banned substances.
  • FBP companies are 17% more likely to manage centrally material lists and 22% more likely to manage formulas.
  • FBP companies are 119% more likely to build and 60% more likely to manage formulas with product lifecycle management (PLM) tools.

According to the study, those processors that have not yet adopted procedural practices to build formulas in a structured manner and optimize them should define and implement those best practices. Those who still use heavily customized spreadsheets and desktop tools to manage formulas should invest in a solution such as a PLM or ERP-with-a-PLM module that integrates formulation management and the automated management of the product development process.

For more information, visit Aberdeen Group.


Food Safety News



Relative rates of laboratory-confirmed infections with Campylobacter, STEC* O157, Listeria, Salmonella, and Vibrio compared with 1996–1998 rates, by year - Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), United States, 1996–2009†
Where: * Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli.
† The position of each line indicates the relative change in the incidence of that pathogen compared with 1996 to 1998. The absolute incidences of these infections cannot be determined from this graph. Data from 2009 are preliminary.
Source: CDC.

E. coli O157 incident rates down, Vibrio up

There is good news and bad news on the food-borne bacteria front, according to the latest research from Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Collected through CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), data show the incidence rate of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)-otherwise known as E. coli O157-decreased over the 10-year period from 1999 to 2009 (see graph), and met the national 2010 Healthy People target in 2009 (less than one case per 100,000 population).

However, the incidence rate of Salmonella has remained about the same over the 10-year period, and the rate of Vibrio infections-typically caused by eating raw shellfish-shot up 85% compared with the first three years of CDC surveillance. Vibrio infections, however, represent a small portion of the overall total of foodborne illnesses.

The only significant decline in incidence in recent years other than for E. coli O157 was for Shigella infections. Although some Shigella infections are transmitted by food, most are probably transmitted directly from one person to another, often among children in child care settings, rather than through food, says the study.

FoodNet conducts active surveillance for nine pathogens commonly transmitted through food, and it leads studies designed to help health officials understand how foodborne diseases are affecting Americans. The nine diseases include infections caused by Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC O157, Shigella, Vibrio, Yersinia, Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora. While the 2009 rates of most of the nine illnesses that are tracked through FoodNet sustained declines since FoodNet began in 1996, most have shown little change since 2004.

“The interventions begun in the late 1990s were successful in decreasing some of these foodborne diseases, but we haven’t seen much recent progress,” said Chris Braden, MD, acting director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases. “To make additional strides against these diseases and ultimately better protect the American people from foodborne illness, CDC, our federal and state partners, and the food industry will need to try new strategies.”

To optimally prevent foodborne illness, the routes of exposure to these pathogens must be better understood so additional targeted control measures can be developed. While known associations between illness and undercooked foods have been studied, recent outbreak investigations have identified novel food and non-food vehicles, including jalapeno peppers, peanut butter-containing products, raw cookie dough and direct contact with baby chicks, turtles and African dwarf frogs.

Following the 1993 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, the federal government declared O157 an adulterant. It then implemented HACCP production systems, established FoodNet and PulseNet and set a goal of cutting O157 illness in half by 2010. PulseNet is run by the CDC and brings together public, state and local health and food regulatory agency laboratories in the US.

For more information on the study, “Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food - 10 States, 2009,” contained in MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report dated April 16, 2010 (Volume 59, No. 14, p418 (document page 6)), download the publication from CDC.


Listeria finds easy way into new plant

Incoming raw poultry is the primary source of Listeria monocytogenes contamination in commercial cooking plants, says a 21-month study conducted by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and at the University of Georgia.

Led by ARS microbiologist Mark Berrang, a research team conducted tests for the presence of Listeria in a brand new commercial cooking facility before and after processing began. Starting with a clean slate made it easy to track sources of contamination for the team from the Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Research Unit at the agency’s Richard B. Russell Research Center in Athens, GA.

Potential sources of Listeria were tested by taking samples of soil and water around and near the plant’s exterior, and by testing heavily-traveled floor surfaces following personnel shift changes. In addition, samples were collected and tested from incoming air vent filters and from monthly swabs of incoming raw meat. The facility was free of Listeria when it was first built. Floor drains in the plant were sampled monthly to determine when the plant would become colonized with Listeria.

Within four months of operation, Listeria was detected in floor drains, indicating that the bacteria had been introduced from some outside source. Of all the samples taken in the plant entryways, locker room, cafeteria and air vent filters, no Listeria was found. The only source that tested consistently positive for Listeria was the incoming raw poultry meat.

Quality assurance in the test plant was exceptional and included an extensive, proactive sampling plan to assure food safety. Sanitation, biosafety and product sampling protocols are in place to prevent shipping contaminated product.

For more information on the study, Tracing Listeria monocytogenes in a Commercial Chicken Plant, visit the Journal of Food Protection.


Visual color and turbidity changes of gold nanoparticles resulted from different concentrations of melamine (decreasing from left to right). Source: Fang Wei, University of California, Los Angeles, and Na Li, University of Miami.

Gold nanoparticles detect melamine in milk

Melamine detection has required the use of expensive spectrophotometric equipment, and until melamine was first suspected in contaminated pet food and dairy products in 2007 and 2008 respectively, no procedures existed for finding its presence using lab equipment and software.

A new method of melamine detection, developed by University of Miami College of Engineering Assistant Professor Na Li and her colleagues, reveals the presence of melamine in a product visually in solution as the color turns from red to blue. Spectrophotometric equipment can also be used to verify the test, which takes seconds.

Li’s new method, which has been published in Applied Physics Letters, is entitled “Rapid Detection of Melamine in Whole Milk Mediated by Unmodified Gold Nanoparticles.” The study develops a facile and accurate approach to detection of melamine using gold nanoparticles and a dual-color precipitation test. The complete detection method can be performed in less than 15 minutes.

The fist step is to separate the casein-based milk component, which can interfere with melamine detection. Next, gold nanoparticles are added to the solution. The interaction between the gold nanoparticles and melamine causes a dramatic color change of the solution within seconds, from red to blue, indicating the presence of melamine. Melamine can be measured both by visual inspection and spectrophotometry.

“Our method provides not only an alternative method to the current lab based detection, but also a way for early screening of milk, especially for field work and for developing countries,” says Fang Wei, staff research associate in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, at the University of California, Los Angeles and first author of the study.

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