Innovative and collaborative research
We are renowned for collaborating with other companies and research partners to deliver innovative and practical solutions to food industry challenges. The following examples, all funded through the government sponsored Innovate UK, demonstrate why.
INNOVBAKE is a low-energy two–step process with an accelerated conventional baking stage followed by a vacuum post-baking step. By introducing the vacuum post-baking step in which the bread is allowed to cool in a reduced pressure environment, the latent heat recovered from the residual moisture in the bread can be used to complete the baking process in the core of the bread product. This allows the first baking step to be reduced by, potentially, 20-25% (4–5 minutes) with a commensurate reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The reduction in specific energy content per baking product, as well as the potential more efficient use of baking equipment will reduce product cost.
The principal challenges addressed in the project were to demonstrate that the complex biological and chemical processes that occur during the baking process were fully completed in this accelerated process and that the food quality was not affected, and to confirm that the new process had significant energy and life cycle benefits when compared with conventional baking processes. This work was undertaken with C-Tech Innovation, Park Cakes, Frank Roberts, Jacksons Bakery and Greggs.
Bakery products for non-coeliac gluten-sensitive consumers
The study aims to produce a much more palatable alternative to gluten-free (GF) bread for gluten-sensitive people than is currently available. Gluten sensitivity is distinct from coeliac disease and is estimated to affect 6- 10% of the population; it represents a significant market opportunity both at home and overseas. It is speculated that wheat bread can be made more suitable for those sensitive to gluten by the removal of certain proteins from wheat using novel approaches. This is because certain wheat proteins are more important in creating the texture of bread, while others are believed to be linked to gluten sensitivity. This work is being developed through a joint programme involving Warburtons, DSM and Aberdeen University's Rowett Institute, who will be working with gluten sensitive volunteers to establish whether treatments are beneficial and desirable to them.
In-pack ohmic food processing
Ohmic heating techniques could enable enhanced food quality and safety. The principal objectives of this ongoing project are to confirm the effectiveness of pasteurising/ sterilising food products in-pack using this technique, and to confirm that the concept would be capable of scale-up to an industrial context. This work is being done in collaboration with C-Tech Innovation and Noon Products.
Cold plasma for microbial decontamination of fresh produce
Prepared produce decontamination is necessary to remove soil, foreign bodies and bacteria (potentially pathogenic) from the food surface, but is notoriously difficult to achieve. Moreover, the different decontamination techniques used so far are applied on the product before it is packed, meaning that recontamination can occur from further handling prior to packing. This project, being led by Sainsbury’s, is using a novel pulsed plasma system to inject plasma species into the food packaging at the point of sealing, thus providing a final decontamination hurdle directly in the pack without further recontamination risk.
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