TNO Quality of Life - Articles and news items
Issue 1 2009 • 20 February 2009 • Erik Hoornstra & Jacques Kastelein, TNO Quality of Life
Hygiene is a key focal area among food industry companies. At a time when producers are beset by a whole range of issues, this area demands investment. Ideally, the required level of hygiene should be adjusted in respect to the other requirements in the area of product quality and preservation. TNO’s quick scan helps achieve improvements in hygienic production and demonstrate that there is profit in the investments!
Issue 1 2009 • 20 February 2009 • William D. van Dongen, Leon Coulier, Leo van Stee & Sander Koster, Analytical Research Department, TNO Quality of Life
Small organic molecules migrating from packaging or other food contact materials (FCM) may result in unwanted changes of the composition of the food. These molecules can be the ‘usual suspects’, i.e. starting materials (non-reacted monomers) and additives but also by-products, reaction products, impurities, degradation products of additives and conjugation products, also called non-intentionally added substances (NIAS). A recent example of NIAS originating from packaging materials is the migration of semicarbazide formed as a toxic decomposition product of azodicarbonamide used as a blowing agent for plastics. This example clearly shows that for safe packaging materials it is necessary to apply analytical methodologies and concepts that are capable to address the issue of unlisted substances.
Issue 4 2008 • 3 December 2008 • Leon Coulier & William van Dongen, TNO Quality of Life and Emma Bradley & Laurence Castle Central Science Laboratory, York
Many new developments in analytical chemistry are driven by needs for life science applications. Examples are the various –omics technologies, i.e. genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics and the use of isotope labelling. Food analysis is often thought to be less complex when one thinks of the determination of specific contaminants or nutrients in food, for example. However, there are cases when highly advanced analytical technologies are necessary.
TNO Quality of Life is one of the five core areas of the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research. TNO carries out research aimed at providing concrete solutions to problems encountered by industry and government bodies in six areas of activity: Work and Employment, Chemistry, Innovation Policy, Prevention and Healthcare, Pharma and Food and Nutrition.
Food legislation is a complex matter. Since the publication of the White Paper on Food Safety in 2000, a considerable number of Regulations, Directives and Guidelines on the safety of food and feed – including ingredients – have been published. For companies involved in food and feed and ingredients production, trade and transport, it is not always easy to keep information about food and feed legislation up to date. Moreover, it is not that simple to apply and to interpret this legislation.
Recently the General Food Law (Regulation 178/2002/EC), shortly GFL, entered into force. This regulation lays down (among other points) the general principles and requirements of food law.
Micro-organisms are the main cause of food spoilage (spoilage organisms) and food-borne diseases (pathogens).Traditional methods to control the growth of micro-organisms include heating (blanching, pasteurisation and sterilisation), freezing and the use of preservative agents. However, consumer demands are changing and they are now asking for fresh, healthy food combined with an extended shelf life. For this reason much work has been carried out in recent years on new (mild) preservation techniques,which can be an alternative for thermal pasteurisation and sterilisation.
In this, the final article resulting from the HYFOMA project, Jacques Kastelein and Hilde Cnossen of TNO outline the reasons why equipment certification is essential to the food industry.
Need for hygienic design
Good hygienic design of process equipment has a tremendous impact on diminishing the risks of contamination of food during production, resulting in an extended shelf life of food products. Process equipment with poor hygienic design will be difficult to clean. Therefore, good hygienic design and preventive maintenance of production systems are essential prerequisites for high quality and safe products.
The food industry is assisted optima forma when a clear and rapid insight could be given into the presence and behavior of microorganisms in ingredients, processing, final product and health. A clear insight regarding the microbiology of food products and production is essential for prediction and management of food quality and safety.
State of the art
Insight into microbial issues is – to date – dependent on culturing, genetic typing and PCR detection. However, the information collected with these methods is highly restricted, yet inherent to the setup of methods for detection. The methods of detection are generally directed towards groups of microbes such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts etc. It is obvious that really important information such as virulence and resistance to preservatives, low water activity and heat is ignored by this rough way of grouping. Such information only becomes available after isolation and subsequent physiological studies. The time needed for collecting the limited amount of information is enormous and does not meet the required response for quality management. Even PCR detection, which is rapid in itself, still needs a time consuming pre-culturing step in order to meet the need for sensitivity.
Research continues in the area of hygienic engineering and design, particularly in innovative techniques using safe construction materials to develop functional as well as easily cleanable equipment for handling, processing and packing foodstuffs. This is the motivation behind the work of the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG), which regularly publishes detailed guidelines and guidance on engineering aspects of food production.
ABF Ingredients ANDEROL EUROPE BV Avantes Berndorf Band GmbH BIOTECON Diagnostics GmbH Bruker BioSpin Cargo Oil AB Elea GmbH Engilico FUCHS LUBRITECH GmbH GLOBALG.A.P. Foodplus GmbH InS Services (UK) Ltd IONICON Analytik GmbH JAX INC. JBT Corporation LUBRIPLATE Lubricants Company NETZSCH Pumpen & Systeme GmbH NSF International Ocean Optics PCE Instruments UK Ltd R-Biopharm Rhone Ltd Sandvik Process Systems Stancold SteriBeam The Tintometer® Group Thermo Fisher Scientific TOMRA Sorting Food Uhde High Pressure Technologies GmbH Verner Wheelock Vikan UK Ltd