Category Archives: Development

Using Food Science and Technology to Improve Nutrition and Promote National Development

This is an interesting and detailed paper presenting detailed information on the processing of traditional foods.

Chapter from an IUFOST publication

from: IUFOST
(click image for full story online)

The paper concludes that the existing small scale processing is important to food supply, food preservation and employment.

It finds that the expansion of the production of these traditional foods would make business sense, this has been hampered by the normal culprits – access to technology, poor management, lack of funding and low profit margins.

The paper presents information on the mechanization of gari, the production of instant yam flour and flakes and the production of traditional products including soy-ogi, dawadawa, kilishi and cheese.

The article has a detailed list of references.

The International Network on Post-harvest Operations – Information Sources.

The INPhO network of the Food and Agricultural Organisation is one of the more comprehensive sources of processing information for small enterprises.

INPhO of the FAO

from: FAO
(click image for full story online)

The information is comprehensive and has a commodity as well as an equipment focus. The equipment and individual databases of the past seem to have been removed, but compendiums and toolkits seem to supply useful information. These however seem to require a bit of digging to find. There is also some business information although this seems to only include the Agriventure programme developed some years ago.

I must admit to being a bit out of touch with this information, so would ask anyone who has recommendations on how to optimize its value, to leave them in the comments.

Some Good Data on Sun and Solar Drying

I have always been a promoter of sun and solar drying, because they allow people to convert perishable fruit, often available at low or no cost during the season, into a stable product that can be stored until the next season at almost no or low cost. All of this is to minimise the costs of electricity in domestic houses, which also have a significant impact on reducing the business gas prices of a particular household.

This article provides some good information on the drying process, that helps in deciding how to actually dry.

The article is an in depth one and gives some really interesting data on drying rates. It compares theoretical with measured rates and is then able to model the progress of drying with this data. The graph below is a really clear indication of the main difficulty of solar powered systems – they only work for a part of the day.

This is particularly important in drying, were it means that sun drying carries on for 3 days. This is because, as the graph shows, drying actually only carries on for a fraction of the day. This fraction depends on the location. This is obvious, but for me only really became clear when I saw this graph!

This has implications for how you run your drying. First of all, it’s no good having a nice social day picking, transporting, washing, selecting and preparing your fruit and getting it out into the sun in the late morning or even worse the afternoon. If you do you are going to need four days to dry. More importantly the fruit will be wetter at the end of drying on the first day and therefore more likely to spoil overnight. So rise early and get the fruit ready for the moment when drying can start. Secondly, because the whole drying period until your fruit is shelf stable is many times longer, the cleanliness and hygiene of the plant become more important to avoid spoilage and loss.

The two images in this post are from the online journal at http://www.ajfand.net/Volume12/No7/Mercer11020.pdf

 

Unilever

If you are looking to do some contract research for serious players in the food industry, here is an opportunity.

click the image to visit the website

It's exciting when the third-largest consumer goods company in the world and one that has a serious focus on Africa and on sustainability calls for assistance. They put it like this

We're looking for new designs and technologies that help us improve the way we make our products. There are a series of challenges which we're already working on, and where we'd like to work together with partners. We call these our ‘wants’.

These wants, such as preserving foods naturally, better packaging, sustainable washing and natural red colourants are listed on the webpage along with a link for potential suppliers to develop their ideas.

I believe this is really worth following up, it might lead to a relationship where your science backed by local knowledge are of great benefit to Unilever.

Royal Society Names Most Significant Inventions in Food and Drink

This as an interesting list that deserves thought.

click the image to visit the website

Too often the food technology lists are uninspiring coming up with the old faithfuls of convenience, ethnic and health or else looking at a weird niche like the trends in Timbuktu's fas food!

This one looks at the most significant inventions in the food industry, ever! It was executed by none other than the Fellows of the Royal Society assisted by leaders from the food industry.

The twenty inventions they came up with we're:

1. Refrigeration

2. Pasteurisation / sterilisation

3. Canning

4. The oven

5. Irrigation

6. Threshing machine/combine harvester

7. Baking

8. Selective breeding / strains

9. Grinding / milling

10. The plough

11. Fermentation

12. The fishing net

13. Crop rotation

14. The pot

15. The knife

16. Eating utensils

17. The cork

18. The barrel

19. The microwave oven

20. Frying

Of course it's the press who came up with the “you fridge” attention grabber. It's really refrigeration or more precisely the cold chain which is the significant invention.

What would you add or remove from the list? What about another list – The 10 Things That Most Degraded The Pleasure of Eating?

 

PROCESSING PINEAPPLE PULP INTO DIETARY FIBRE SUPPLEMENT – FREE ONLINE PAPER

The article by N Ackom and K Tano-Debrah in the latest edition of AJFAND Online presents a well explained and investigated process to produce a pineapple fibre for use in food formulations. The study at University of Ghana, Lagon was practical and produced fibre products that were used to produce muffins and biscuits which were acceptable to consumers. The corresponding author can be contacted at newusie@yahoo.co.uk.

click the image to visit the website

This process addresses the fourth level in the EPAs Food Recovery Heirachy, ie develop an industrial use for the waste food. The EPAs Food Recovery Heirachy puts feeding animals as third after reduce loss and feed people, the first 2.

Packaging in Small Food Businesses

This is a simple essay on packaging for small food businesses in West Africa that helps broaden ones picture of packaging which is often a real constraint on business.

Packaging, Africa, box, small business

West Africa Trade Hub Webpage

click the image to visit the website

The essay focusses on the potential of the cardboard box in areas where packaging suppliers are limited. It gives a few examples of real experiences and is enjoyable to read.

 

Minnie’s Dried Fruit and Vegetables – African Business

Here is a nice story that shows how easy it is to establish an operating fruit and vegetable drying business.

click the image to visit the website

Menar Meebed of Egypt, has used a commercially available solar dryer and a simple Internet blog to set up a business selling dried fruit and vegetables. Her product is of a higher quality than the traditional products because of the fruit she selects and the fact that the solar dryer reduces the drying time.

The commercial success of the business of course depends on how well she sources her produce, whether the market demand for her product is big enough and how she manages the business but the basis is in place.

 

Eco-Efficiency Issues

This document from a Queensland (Australia) initiative to improve eco-efficiency covers a number of emerging issues in Food Manufacturing.

ecoefficiency factsheets foodprocess general ecofoodgen fsg4 pdf

click image to visit site

 

Some of the topical issues discussed are Food miles, Virtual water, Life cycle assessment, Supply chain management and Food eco-labelling.

The site also contains case studies and manuals that provide implementable information for food processors.

Medical Research Council Likely to Stop Research on Food Safety

It seems that the MRC will be refocusing its research efforts into the top ten causes of death in South Africa. Their work on nutrition and carcinogens is likely to be effected by this change.

click the image to visit the website

This has already eliceted response given the existing malnutrition and food security problems in poorer communities. However, the needs here probably call for more focus on the implementation of existing technology and the addressing of socio economic issues than scientific research.

One of the main focusses of the MRC's work is aflatoxins which are a particular problem in rural areas and in food and feed safety. Again the first requirement is probably the transfer and effective implementation of existing technology.

In both areas the level of scientific research required can probably be reduced without immediate detriment to the efforts to improve nutrition and safety, so long as the the transfer and implementation of existing technology is properly handled.