Tag Archives: Food Processing

Another Source of Free Online INformation

My previous post on sourcing free online information omitted the in house information of major public organisations.

EPA technical Information on Breakfast Cereals

from: US EPA
(click image for full story online)

The flowsheet is an extract from a document by the Environment Protection Agency on Breakfast Cereal Processing. The 11 page document describes raw materials, products and 6 processes in detail. It has a short section on what emission controls are required.

The information is prepared as background for it field officers and is downloadable from their website.

I have seen similar information on useful food processing information from organisations such as USDA, US FDA, Shipping Associations, Firefighters and Equipment Suppliers. Its well worthwhile identifying these sources.

National Mission on Food Processing – Free Online Information

The National Mission on Food Processing is an Indian web site that provides very detailed information for food processing entrepreneurs on a wide range of food products.

A webpage offering detailed food processing business information

from: National Mission on Food Procesing
(click image for full story online)

The site provides wide ranging information including product and process descriptions as well as costing and financial analysis. It is focused on the needs of smaller and start up entrepreneurs, although the information would be valuable to any processor. Some 110 product are covered in this manual.

Unfortunately, the information and especially the suppliers and costing is developed for application in India. However, it is still a useful source of information for any entrepreneur.

DIGIVU Offers Free Technology Information Searches.

I have for many years been closely involved in extracting free technology information from the INTERNET. I believe I have developed a real skill at this and want to offer to do free searches for all the users of digivu.co.za. Either leave a comment or email me – unless you request otherwise, I will publish the result as it will surely interest others. Note that for more complex technology information and evaluation you could use the Food Industries Information service.

Normally there is all sorts of information available – as an example I searched on extrusion and came up with the following:

WIKIPEDIA

There are obvious places to look, like WikipediaStart of Wikipedia's webpage on food extrusion.

click image to visit site

 

The interesting thing about Wikipedia is that it seems to be as reliable as any other encyclopedia. A study by Nature of Wikipedia and Britanica found that there were only 8 serious errors in the entries evaluated. Four of these from Wikipedia and four from Encyclopedia Britannica. They also found that while Wikipedia articles had 162 less serious errors Britannica had 123. These results were disputed and the measuring of the reliability of Wikipedia information is ongoing, but seems to indicate Wikipedia is a legitimate source of information.

RECOGNISED SOURCES

In any field such there are always a number of websites that are recognized as suppliers of information e.g. FAO, Practical Action, Unido, CTA, GTZ for smaller scale food processing. Sometimes for a specialised technology these are not as useful and more attention needs to be paid to other sources. In this case only Practical Action, amongst the above sources, seems to have any information at all.

Extrusion of Foods Practical Answers Practical Action

from: Practical Action
(click image for full story online)

However, these sources are often sufficient to provide whatever is required.

SEARCH FOR PDFs

Using a knowledge of how to search and your understanding of the industry you are searching, allows you to find all types of useful information. For example searching for pdf documents only, gets you into areas where your chance of finding something useful is larger – for instance academic reports. As an example this one presents 30 pages of pretty broad and clear introductory information on extrusion.

University Lecture on Extrusion TechnologyScreenshot 12 07 2013 3 48 PM

from: Asharya N G Ranga University
(click image for full story online)

Universities, government departments and associations are often good sources.

COMMERCIAL INFORMATION

Never forget that the equipment suppliers have excellent information on food processing technology and business. They are often prepared to share it openly in an effort to attract customers. As an example (and not a recommendation) Clextral offers some useful information on extrusion.

Clextral images expanded snacks

click image to visit site

 

This type of information needs to be used with caution because its actually advertising and needs to be evaluated like any advertising.

VIDEO

A picture being worth a thousand words, indicates the value of seeing a piece of equipment in operation. The fact that 48 hours of video are downloaded to YouTube every minute of the day, means that there is more than likely something of value to watch. Like this video from Buhler on making an expanded snack:

Running a twin screw extruder making a puffed snack

click image to visit site

 

SEARCHING SKILLS

Search Engines make searching too easy! Whatever word/s you enter are going to yield many results, possibly too many! Which is likely to make you worry about finding the useful information in amongst all that is generated by the search. Alternately you may miss information if your search is not accurate.

Take time to learn how the search engine works and learn the features that make your search more effect and efficient – things like searching by time, searching particular web domains, searching via images, excluding results, literal searches, boolean mechanisms etc.

BUILD A LIBRARY

Avoid the temptation to print and file the information you collect. Use read it later services, downloading, databases, structured storage and purpose designed software like Apple’s iBooks to sort everything you find. Then use searches to find the information when you need it.

QUESTIONABLE SOURCES

The above information has all been legitimately posted on the internet. It is also possible to source information illegally, much like pirating music, which I do not recommend.

Often a legitimate search with identify information posted on a legitimate website which seems rather suspect, which the user could legitimately used assuming that the site had made sure this information could be shared legally.

Extrusion cooking technology manuakl

For example, although the book above shows up on a GOOGLE search and is downloadable from a legitimate university website, I suspect downloading and using it would be breaking the copyright. As to reading it online, I am just not sure, although this is the equivalent of reading the book in the university library.

Food Studies Journal – Free Online Information

This Journal is worth signing up to and watching. While it does not appear to be large and also covers a wide range of topics it is already a source of useful information.

click image to visit the site

ISEKI_Food Association, is an international peer-reviewed open-access journal featuring scientific articles on the world of Food in Education, Research and Industry. This journal is a forum created specifically to “improve the dissemination of Food Science and Technology knowledge between Education, Research and Industry stakeholders.” Core topics range from raw materials, through food processing, including its effect on the environment, to food safety, nutrition and consumer acceptance. To enrich this forum the journal is also open to other food-related topics such as food policy and food anthropology.

 

Enzymes in Food Processing – Free online information

The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) publishes high quality Scientific Information Bulletin on various topics in Food Processing.

click on image to read bulletin

This 10 page bulletin published In March 2010, covers the range of enzymes and their application in Food Processing. It covers new production technologies and the more novel processes in greater detail and outlines the needs of the industry. It concludes with a detailed list of references and some suggestions for further reading.

New Practical Action Website Boosts Information Sharing.

Practical Action has a long history as a quality supplier of technology information for small scale food processing as well as other fields such as irrigation, sanitation and energy which match rural development focus.

Over time they have gone through many changes from their hands on origins as Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) founded by Schumakker the father of the Appropriate Technology movement to their IT strong position of today.

 

Practical Action Food Processing Archive site link

click on the image to visit the site

The image above is of the food processing information available on the site – each subject links to a number of papers from over the years. All this information is of a high standard and scientifically rigorous.

As well as this information the site offers an expert question answering service, case studies and a mechanism for users to share their experiences and information.

This site really deserves a visit and probably real support to make it a valuable resource to those active in small scale food processing.

Equipment Suppliers Information For Small Scale African Food Processors

In the recent posts on Indian and an American Food Processing Enterprise Manuals it struck me that an important part of their value was the lists of potential equipment suppliers.

Closeup of screw conveyor

One of the well known directories is “Small-Scale Food Processing: A Directory of Equipment and Methods”. WHile it still provides very useful information on methods, it is rather focused on Indian and British suppliers and was last updated ten years ago.

This illustrates the difficulty of directories – it is expensive to collect complete information for all user’s particular needs and to keep them up to date.

Probably the best way to solve this problem is through a crowd sourcing approach using social media, but I think this is for a bit later.

For now I am going to send the following email to equipment suppliers I know and find.

I am planning to write a report on potential suppliers of processing equipment to small scale food processors in Africa.

I am aware that your company operates in this area and would like to ask if you can add any information to that on your website. In particular information on what you have supplied to enterprises especially in Africa along with some information on the progress of the enterprises would be great. Your thoughts on this sector and any advice you might have would also be interesting. As would information on how your support remote enterprises with assistance and spare parts.

I realise thats a big request and maybe its better if you supply anything particular you think would be useful in such a story.

This is not advertising and doesn’t depend on the responses I get to this query. I will in any event be using information from websites and providing contact details for companies, I already know and which I can identify. This stems from the hundreds of times I have been asked “where can I get equipment” and the many lists of constraints that feature a lack of equipment near the top. I will publish it on my website www.digivu.co.za, Food Processing Africa and other similar publications and websites. I will also, depending on what I am able to collect, implement some kind of managed directory focussed on African users.

I will of course let you know when and where the article is published and would like to thank you for whatever information you are able to supply.

I will then publish the results providing contact details of potential equipment suppliers to small scale processors in Africa. If I have a sufficiently positive response I will develop and maintain a directory.

But to be worthwhile we will need inputs from all those with appropriate information. So please respond with your suggestions for inclusion, forward this post to others who won’t see it or email me contact details and I will approach potential suppliers directly.

A Technical Guide for Food Ventures – Free Online Information

This is quite a different manual for food entreprenears when compared to the one from India posted several days ago.

Penn State University
(click image for full story online)

Where that was business focussed this one is product or even food science focussed. This is evident in the contents:

 INTRODUCTION
I. BUSINESS & MARKETING ISSUES
II. FOOD SAFETY & SANITATION
III. ACIDIFIED & LOW ACID PRODUCTS
IV. DAIRY PRODUCTS
VI. MEAT & POULTRY PRODUCTS
VII. FISH PRODUCTS PROCESS MODELS
VIII. OTHER PRODUCT TYPES
IX. LABELING
X. PROCESSING FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
XI. RESOURCES

The Resources section is particularly useful and provides the following:

I. Partial List of Laboratories Providing Food Analysis Services
II. Partial List of Equipment Suppliers
III. Overview of Pertinent Federal Regulatory Agencies
IV. USDA Rural Development Offices in the Northeast
V. State Agencies/Universities Pertinent to the Small Scale Food Producer in the Northeast
VI. References for the Small-Scale Food Processor
VII Glossary

This is the advantage of free online resources, in that you can use many and select the bits that are best suited to your business. The only downside is there are few of this type of manual written for African countries so the contact list are seldom really useful.