Online courses explore storage, discharge and handling of bulk materials

The issues surrounding the safe handling and storage of bulk materials is examined during 2 on-line short courses; one looking at the difficulties encountered when handling and transporting biomass materials; the other concentrating on general storage and discharge issues associated with the handling of a range of different powders and particulate materials. The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology invite you to attend: 22 – 26 March Biomass Operations and Handling Technology – an overview of handling and storage issues with different biomass materials 19 – 23 April Storage and Discharge of Powders and Bulk Materials – a basic level course covering the operation, design and specifications of hoppers and silos for reliable discharge Fees are discounted for multiple attendances. Who should attend? If you are involved in the handling, storage, discharge or transportation of bulk materials, these courses will help you understand why issues occur and how to prevent them happening in future. Click or tap here to register.

Integrated solutions for plant-based production

Understanding individual machines, coupled with how they integrate and contribute across a food production line, is a philosophy on which Interfood has built its reputation. Through the company’s Divisions-based approach, specific expertise is provided in a number of areas, backed by an understanding of how equipment integrates to optimise production. That reputation has thus far been built primarily around meat applications but, with the ever-increasing focus on plant-based foods, that same approach is being applied in this growing sector of the food industry. Richard Nethercot, Group Divisional Manager at Interfood, said: “If we take preparation and mixing, for example, it doesn’t matter if the ingredients are meat or plant-based. You need to consider the needs of a given process in selecting what machine is best placed to do the job but a good quality mix, with a consistent end result, is the goal whatever the starting point. “There are, of course, machines which are particularly suited to plant-based applications. A good example is the PowerHeater which is now being used in a number of plant-based production facilities throughout the UK. Fresh chilled vegan products are one of the biggest growth areas and are becoming an increasingly common feature on retailers’ shelves. “They are produced from chilled texturised plant-based components with meat-like characteristics, designed to offer a similar bite, succulence and flavour as chicken, pork, beef and even duck. The PowerHeater provides the perfect process for creating such products.” In addition to supplying individual machines, Interfood offers complete lines, with seamless integration. Nethercot recognises the importance of integration in a successful food production line. “Whether it’s meat or plant-based products, ensuring that machines work effectively together is crucial for efficiency and productivity. Cooking, grilling, slicing and end of line operations – including x-ray, metal detection and packing – are equally as important in vegetarian and vegan products as they are in meat,” he said. “A good example of how slicing and packing can be integrated is the wePACK thermoformer from Weber, specifically designed for slicing applications. When combined with a slicer and automated loading solution from the Weber range, seamless line control and performance is assured.”

Israeli foodtech start-up enters commercial production with chickpea isolate

Israeli foodtech start-up ChickP Protein is entering full commercial production of its 90% chickpea isolate. The company is simultaneously expanding its global activities, having kicked-off a venture in the US by sealing a joint market development agreement with Socius Ingredients. ChickP revved up consistent, stable production capacity to 20 metric tons per day, equating to more than 5,000 metric tons annually of its uniquely concentrated non-GMO, allergen-free chickpea protein isolate. The ingredient is designed to provide protein-infused functionality and a nutritional boost to an array of food and supplement applications, including dairy alternatives, baked products, and gluten-free foods. The company also is actively seeking new opportunities in the plant-based alternatives industry, especially in the thriving US market. “We have established a modern, BRC certified food facility, where we have applied proprietary technology for the production of high-value, clean-label chickpea protein,” explains Ron Klein, CEO of ChickP. “We’ve already attracted considerable interest from major food brands, and this month alone welcomed a number of production commitments from several new customers.” ChickP is currently partnering with several food companies on specialized projects to develop the North American market for plant-based innovations. “Socius has exemplary protein application expertise and, with a state-of-the-art technical center in Chicago, boasts strong connections to manufacturers of plant-based products,” explains Klein. “We’re strategising with Socius to explore the many creative possibilities for producing chickpea protein-based prototypes.” “ChickP’s offering sets a new standard for pure protein solutions through multiple beneficial attributes, including a dense nutritional profile, neutral flavor, and distinguished functional properties,” says Conor Buckley, Vice President of Socius. “These render it an excellent candidate for integration into a full spectrum of dairy analogs, including beverages, desserts, creamers, and more. We look forward to working with the ChickP team to bring the organoleptic and nutritional potential of chickpea to our customers.” ChickP has appointed Itay Dana as VP of Sales and Business Development to lead these activities. With nearly 15 years of experience in the food, supplement, agrotech, and life science industries, with a focus on plant-based proteins, Dana is a veteran in food engineering and biotechnology. He formerly served as the VP of Marketing and business development at Equinom, Director of New Technologies for Lycored, and was Head of Food Innovation at Galam.

Danone boosts plant-based portfolio with Earth Island acquisition

Danone is bolstering its portfolio of plant-based brands with the acquisition of Earth Island, the US company behind the egg-free mayonnaise brand, Vegenaise. Founded in 1988, Earth Island also produces plant-based salad dressings and VeganEg® within its Follow Your Heart portfolio. As part of the Danone family, Earth Island will be able to accelerate the growth of the brand nationally and internationally alongside some of Danone’s best-known plant-based brands, including Alpro, Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free. This partnership will enable Danone to enhance and expand its plant-based offerings to provide consumers with plant-based alternatives for even more occasions throughout their day, while also contributing to its goal of increasing plant-based sales worldwide from more than €2 billion in 2020 to €5 billion by 2025. Shane Grant, EVP and CEO of Danone North America, said: “We are delighted to welcome Follow Your Heart’s team to our amazing team at Danone. Follow Your Heart family shares our commitment to producing high-quality products that delight consumers while contributing to the wellbeing of People and Planet. “Consumers are increasingly eating flexitarian diets, and we look forward to working with the Follow Your Heart team to offer our consumers even more choices. “This partnership will build on our success in plant-based beverages, yogurt alternatives and creamers, further accelerating the growth of our North American plant-based business.”

Givaudan launches AI tools for next-gen product development

Givaudan Taste & Wellbeing has launched of its Advanced Tools for Modelling (ATOM) which use state-of-the-art AI to optimise food and flavour formulation and facilitate co-creation and collaboration with customers. Aligned with the company’s 2025 strategy and intent on leading the way in digitalisation, these tools open new doors to creative development and are able to dramatically cut the time to market for new products. ATOM is the latest addition to an ecosystem of digital and AI tools that allow Givaudan teams in all regions of the world to streamline the end-to-end creation process from conception to rollout. Building on over two decades of research, ATOM uses AI and data science techniques to minimise trial and error in the process. The tools identify positive and negative flavour drivers and explore ingredient synergies, to generate new options and insights aligned with consumer preferences. The results are then displayed in graphically rich and interactive dashboards that allow Givaudan to co-create with its customers, enhancing creativity and delivering game-changing new food experiences. Fabio Campanile, Givaudan’s Head of Global Science & Technology, Taste & Wellbeing, said: “ATOM strikes the right balance between AI and human intuition, complementing the work of our expert flavourists and developers. “Tools such as ATOM enable us to help our customers to go beyond consumer expectations, using insight, collaboration and innovation. “Implementing what we call ‘wide-eyed thinking’ allows us to use these insights to leverage our curiosity and deep ingredient knowledge to accelerate new product development and create the food experiences of the future.” Early projects using the tools have been highly successful, the company said. ATOM was recently used in a project to reduce salt in cheese snacks. Narrowing down the perfect blend of ingredients would normally take extensive trial and error, but the team was able to quickly identify the ideal recipe, delivering a 33% reduction in salt, from a much smaller range of options predicted by ATOM. In blind taste testing the reduced salt recipe scored as highly as the original full-salt snack, making it just as tasty, with 33% less salt. The process has also proved highly successful for sugar reduction, vanillin replacement, and meat alternative projects.

Deaths from food allergy declining in the UK, study shows

Deaths from serious allergic reactions due to food have declined over the past 20 years, despite an increase in hospital admissions for food-induced anaphylaxis over the same period, an analysis of UK NHS data had found. The analysis – conducted by scientists from Imperial College London and published in the BMJ – also found that cows’ milk is the commonest single cause of fatal food-induced allergic reactions in school-aged children. Around two million people are thought to live with a food allergy in the UK. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include an itching sensation inside the mouth, ears and throat, an itchy rash, and swelling of the face. In anaphylaxis, which can sometimes be fatal, a person can develop breathing difficulties, trouble swallowing or speaking. However, deaths from anaphylaxis are rare. It is estimated that there are less than 10 fatalities due to food per year in the UK. Dr Paul Turner, lead author of the study from Imperial’s National Lung and Heart Institute said: “This study raises two important points. The first is that despite hospital admissions increasing, the number of deaths from food-induced anaphylaxis has fallen. “However, the second, more worrying point, is that cow’s milk is now the single most common cause of fatal allergic reactions in children. “There is now a lot of awareness of allergies to peanut and tree nut, but many people think milk allergy is mild, perhaps because most children outgrow it. “However, for those who don’t, it remains a big problem because milk is so common in our diet, and people don’t realise how dangerous it can be.” The study, funded by the Food Standards Agency and Medical Research Council, analysed UK hospital admissions for food-induced anaphylaxis between 1998-2018, and how these compare to fatal anaphylaxis events. Food Standard Agency ’s Head of Policy and Strategy for Food Hypersensitivity, Sushma Acharya, said: “These important findings help us understand the trends of severe food induced allergic reactions, like who is most at risk and which foods are responsible. “This research is part of a wider study we have commissioned to support our ambition for the UK to be the best place in the world to be a food hypersensitive consumer. “We want to improve the quality of life for people living with food hypersensitivity and support them to make safe informed food choices. “We note that young adults are most at-risk from severe and fatal allergic reactions to foods. Our upcoming promotion to encourage young people to ask for allergen information when ordering food is one example of how this valuable data will be used to inform our campaigns and policy making.” The team at Imperial are now investigating why some people may be more susceptible to severe allergic reactions, and whether factors such as genetics may play a role. During the study period from 1998 to 2018, hospital admissions for food-induced anaphylaxis increased by 5.7% per year, or three-fold (from 1.23 to 4.04 admissions per 100,000 population per year). Over the same time, the case fatality rate (number of fatalities compared to hospital admissions) for food-anaphylaxis more than halved, from 0.7% in 1998 to 0.3% in 2018. This may be due to better awareness of food allergy, and how to quickly recognise and treat serious allergic reactions. Deaths from food-induced anaphylaxis are rare. The study also assessed food-related anaphylaxis fatalities, recorded since 1992, when data first became available. There had been 187 fatalities since 1992 where the cause of death was likely to be food-induced anaphylaxis. At least 86 (46%) of these were due to peanuts or tree nuts such as almonds, cashews and walnuts. Sixty-six deaths were reported in children, of which 14% were caused by peanuts, 9% by tree nuts and in 12% of cases, the nut could not be identified. However, the most common single cause of fatal anaphylaxis was cows’ milk, responsible for 26% of cases. Furthermore, there was a trend towards a greater proportion of reactions being caused by milk since 1992. The research team add that cow’s milk is quite protein-rich, meaning a small amount of cow’s milk can result in a significant exposure. There was also a four-fold increase in prescriptions for adrenaline auto-injectors (such as Epipen and Jext devices) commonly used to treat anaphylaxis over the same time period. However, the research team are unclear what effect this has had on the number of deaths from severe reactions.

Manufacturers must prepare for increased nutritive scrutiny, says safety certification specialists

Food manufacturers should prepare for increased scrutiny over nutritive claims according to global food safety certification specialists, Lloyd’s Register, following growing commitments from retailers to move towards selling healthier products. It follows a growing trend being seen in major UK retailers making commitments to sell healthier food and drinks and taking the lead in supporting the fight to tackle obesity. With retailers looking to seek healthier options, Lloyd’s Register is warning food manufacturers that they should prepare for added pressure to rethink how they approach nutritive and functional claims in their products. According to the World Health Organisation, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, with more than 38 million children under the age of five overweight or obese in 2019.  The commitments from retailers are not exclusive to the UK, either. The promotion of healthy lifestyles is a key health and nutrition policy objective for both the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in Germany. Kimberly Carey Coffin, global technical director at Lloyd’s Register, said: “Governments and consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with health and nutrition, due to rising statistics around obesity and diabetes across the world. We can therefore expect to see more retailers commit to selling healthier foods, and manufacturers must be prepared to adapt. “As part of this, manufacturers will need to meet the challenge to prioritise nutrients and potential health benefits in future product development. “However, they must be alert and ensure that any nutritive or functional claims, such as lowering cholesterol or boosting immunity, can be substantiated. If processes for evidence-based validation of claims are not in place, brand reputation may be at risk.” Research from Lloyd’s Register highlighted that food issues impact brand trust, with one in five UK shoppers having changed brands following reports of a food safety incident or product recall. Ms Coffin added: “Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about their dietary decisions, selecting foods that deliver health and wellbeing, and it is reasonable to assume that scrutiny will grow in the area of nutritive and functional claims. “Manufacturers must do all they can to ensure that healthy alternatives are authentic and can be substantiated.”

Chadwicks’ mirror print a first for Symington’s debut plant based-brand

Market leading pre-cut lid manufacturer, Chadwicks of Bury (a Clondalkin company), has produced a versatile lidding solution using mirror print technology for the launch of Symingtons’ new plant-based brand, Bloomin Good Food Co. Four different designs, printed using 8 colours on polyester material, have been produced for the vegan-friendly snack pot range which comes in four varieties: Warming Tomato & Lentil Dahl, Banging Black Eyed Bean & Vegetables, Hearty Sweet Potato & Lentil Curry and Smokey Sweetcorn & Green Beans. With mirror print technology the lids are printed on one side only, allowing both sides of the material to be viewed for additional pack information. Ideal for added branding or promotional information, marketing, competitions, and loyalty programmes. Symington’s brand manager Neil Burke-Thompson said: “Mirror printing has allowed us to better communicate our brand message through the packaging without compromising the integrity of the contents.” Alastair Bearman, Sales and Marketing Director at Chadwicks, added: “All the print is on the surface of the lids to ensure the printing ink does not come into contact with the product. Mirror print technology offers brands a versatile and cost-effective packaging solution.” Chadwicks of Bury is a leading supplier of flexible packaging solutions in the food, dairy, beverage, personal care and household sectors. With over 70 years’ experience, it has developed a reputation for leading the way in the manufacture of pre-cut lid and shrink sleeve packaging solutions. Chadwicks of Bury is one of six companies operating throughout Europe under Clondalkin.

Astell Scientific release a range of wastewater-sterilising sinks

Astell Scientific is proud to announce the new BioSink range. These small-scale thermal batch Effluent Decontamination Systems (EDS) are capable of automatically sterilising contaminated wastewater before dispatching it to the sewer. With the capability to deactivate biological agents in hazard groups up-to-and-including level 3, the BioSink can be used across a range of containment levels. The Flagship of the range is the BioSink & Autoclave Combo (pictured), which combines the BioSink with the popular AMA440 Compact Top-loading Autoclave to create a versatile sterilisation station. As with all Astell Autoclaves and AstellBio EDSs, the BioSink is customisable to the end-user’s requirements. “The BioSink provides an excellent self-contained unit for all laboratories looking to enhance their biosafety credentials,” said  Astell’s Sales and Marketing Director, Paul Birchmore. “Everything that goes down the sink is thoroughly sterilised using the most effective sterilant that there is – heat.”

Aldi removes 2 million pieces of plastic from Easter range

Aldi is removing two million pieces of throwaway plastic from its Easter confectionery range. As part of this, the supermarket is giving some of its Easter eggs a square-shaped bottom so they no longer need to be supported with inner plastic packaging, eliminating the need for plastic entirely. These products are among the six Easter lines the supermarket is altering to make 100% plastic-free. Other plastic-saving changes include replacing plastic windows from the outer packaging of several products with compostable cellulose film made from wood fibres. Aldi will also launch a fully-sustainable chocolate box, with an insert made from recycled potato skins. When taken together, the supermarket’s changes will remove 29 tonnes – equivalent to two million pieces – of plastic from its Easter range. Richard Gorman, Plastics and Packaging Director at Aldi UK, said: “We’re committed to eliminating plastic wherever possible, and the changes to our Easter range are a great example of removing unnecessary plastic that we can all do without. “We know our customers want to protect the environment, and it is changes like this that make all the difference.” The reduction of plastic in Aldi’s Easter range follows on from the supermarket’s removal of more than 5.5 million pieces of plastic last year, including successful changes to its Christmas range. The supermarket is on track to have all product packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by the end of 2025.