Improving the safety, texture and taste of food stuffs

Published: 17-03-2016, | Member: Kaneka Corporation

Kaneka, from Japan, pioneers innovative solutions that can help improve food quality and food safety. Its innovations include an ingredient that protects the texture of frozen food, a rapid detection test for Listeria and other foodborne bacteria, and various seasonings.

Kaneka Corporation is a multinational corporation with headquarters in Osaka and Tokyo. Its activities are widely diversified and range from the development of high-tech materials to innovations in food ingredients, life sciences, and chemicals. Kaneka employs 8,500 people worldwide. The company’s R&D department is spread out across seven laboratories in Japan. Kaneka regards Food production support, Healthcare, Environment and energy, and Information and communications as its four strategic domains, and therefore generates a steady flow of innovations. In Europe Kaneka is now reaching out to new markets from its Belgium offices.

In food business the company is working on advanced fermentation and oil and fat modifying technologies. Some of the innovative products of the Japanese company are: margarine crystallized under high pressure, cacao butter substitute preventing chocolate from becoming sticky even during summer and cream substitutes with a natural taste.

Preventing the growth of ice crystals
A recent innovative introduction is ice-structuring proteins (ISPs) and polysaccharides. These products improve the quality of frozen food products by preventing the growth of ice crystals, which keeps the texture of food products intact. ISPs are naturally present in a variety of organisms, such as plants, fish, insects and fungi. Kaneka’s ISPs are extracted from radish sprouts and are 100% natural.

ISPs can be used in various applications. For example, ISPs can be added to cooked rice before freezing. Cooked rice-grains tend to lose stickiness when defrosted after frozen storage. When ISPs are added to rice while it is boiling, the rice-grains keep sticky and preserve taste even after frozen storage. A similar effect can be achieved in frozen noodles. Adding ISPs to Asian steamed egg dishes preserves their smooth texture during frozen storage.

Savory seasonings
Savory seasonings are another Kaneka’s product. In its own laboratories, Kaneka has developed a seasoning which contains a number of flavor components derived from the Maillard reaction during preparation. This seasoning can impart the cooked or mature flavor and aroma. It also provides a rich ‘koku’ aroma. The seasoning can be used in a wide array of food products ranging from curries, soups and sauces to pizza toppings.

Kaneka handles wide a range of herbs and spices. Recently, the company started an organic farm in Vietnam, called Kaneka Sun Spice Viet Nam, which grows certified organic pepper. All Kaneka herbs and spices meet strict Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs).

Food safety rapid test
Apart from food, health is another priority R&D domain for the Japanese multinational. Over the past few years, Kaneka’s Medical Device Development Laboratories has developed several food safety rapid test kits. One of these is suitable for detecting the infamous Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in and on food products.

Kaneka’s new test is based on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology. The test has reliably detected Listeria monocytogenes in cured ham, raw milk cheese, coleslaw and smoked salmon. The new kit has several benefits compared to standard detection methods, notably its sensitivity and selectivity. The limit of detection (LOD) of Kaneka’s Listeria monocytogenes test has been demonstrated to be 104 CFU/ml while LODs of immunoassays are generally 105-106 CFU/ml. In just a few hours, the test can establish the presence or absence of the pathogen. The method has proven to be extremely reliable.

Kaneka is working on developing a similar test for other pathogens, such as Salmonella spp.

Kaneka aspires to further expand its activities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its product range contains many more unique products, such as a Q10 food supplement containing natural ubiquinol, a lipid-soluble antioxidant. The effects of this supplement against oxidative damage to the body’s cells, including lipids is being studied. Another new ingredient is the licorice polyphenols that can be used for dietary supplement products.

Kaneka Corporation