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Elsewhere in Ag Innovations

Fueling up with bananas

Researchers from the Agro-Energy Group at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have assessed the potential use of the residual biomass of bananas produced in the province of El Oro (Ecuador) for bioenergy applications. Results show that the use of this waste could satisfy 55
percent of the electrical demand of the region and 10 percent of bioethanol demand nationwide.

Bananas are one of the most important fruit crops in the world. A total of 106 million tons of bananas were produced in 2013 mainly in Asia and America, although this fruit is consumed worldwide because of its availability throughout the year. Banana production is a tropical, herbaceous and perennial crop and belongs to the Musaceae family, which produces one huge flower cluster and then dies. The plant is cut to bring the crop down, thus the stem and leaves turn into lignocellulosic biomass. The ratio of banana waste and product is 2:1.

In addition to lignocellulosic biomass there is another residue, which is the rejected fruit that has failed to meet the quality standards for its commercialization. The rejection rate may vary between 8 and 20%. This residue is used for animal feed, but the majority of the producers prefer to leave these residues to decompose outdoors for economic reasons.

May 2016

Fermented functional dairy products

Anti-hypertensive fermented functional dairy products using novel lactic acid bacteria have a big future, a review has found. Fermented milk contains anti-hypertensive peptides along with minerals such as potassium and calcium which have demonstrated a positive effect on blood pressure.

The review, by the Center for Food Research and Development in Mexico, said there weren’t many heart health fermented milk products on the market and those that were tended to use the strain Lactobacillus helveticus. They encouraged research to find and evaluate new lactic acid bacteria that possess the ability to generate this bioactivity. In one study, authors conclueded that daily consumption of the fermented milk with Lb. helveticus and Sac. Cerevisiae product for at least eight weeks was required to statistically significantly reduce blood pressure. The peptide data will require more testing to win heart and other health claims from the European Union nutrition and health claims regulation.

May 2016

Soy shows promise as natural antimicrobial agent

Soybean byproducts can already be found in food products; such as oils, cheese and baked goods. The use of these isoflavones and peptides may inhibit the growth of microbial pathogens that cause food-borne illness, according to a new study. Researchers at University of Guelph found soy can be more effective antimicrobial agent than current synthetic options. The team found soy peptides and isoflavones limited growth of some bacteria, including Listeria and Pseudomonas pathogens and are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and non-toxic.

Peptides are part of proteins, and can act as hormones, hormone producers or neurotransmitters. Isoflavones act as hormones and control much of the biological activity on the cellular level. The next step is for researchers to conduct large-scale tests.

April 2016

High-Tech Vending Machines Will Dispense 3D-Printed Snacks In The Future

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd aims to develop advanced food manufacturing technologies by combining expertise in food, material science and 3D printing technology. Healthy snacks with great textures are in increasing demand among consumers. Researchers have the long-term vision of developing high-tech vending machines that provide customized purchases.

Today’s consumer expects healthy, nutritious food with added elements such as design, pleasure and even playfulness. Self-production would enable customization in addition to these. 3D printing technology offers new opportunities to realize such expectations. VTT is testing its 3D food prototypes that include starch and cellulose-based materials. The nonprofit is also seeking to develop plant protein (from oats and faba beans) and dairy protein (from whey) concentrates that could be printed.

May 2016