Cigi staff showcase project work, connect with industry at AACCI conference

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Cigi technical staff had an opportunity to showcase project work from the past year and share their knowledge and expertise in pulses, pasta, baking, analytical testing, and Asian products at the American Association of Cereal Chemists annual meeting held in Minneapolis Minnesota in October.

Peter Frohlich, Project Manager, Pulses and Special Crops, who manned a Cigi booth at the conference, says he had about “50 solid conversations” with scientists, students, and representatives from ingredient and food processing industries. The booth featured information on Cigi and its technical work as well as samples of product developed during Cigi pulse projects such as breakfast cereals made with pulse ingredients and pulse flours produced by different milling methods.

CAAP Project_Pulse Cereal_Peas_Flour150723_03_Web“Visitors asked about characteristics of pulse flours such as protein and fibre content, and starch damage,” Peter says. “Ingredient suppliers, for example, wanted more detailed information on the composition of pulses. This was a great conference for in-depth discussions on specific pulse issues that can assist in the marketing of Canadian pulses.”

Peter says one researcher from Europe was interested in doing collaborative work with Cigi involving the testing of extruded products, adding that the conference provides Cigi an opportunity to connect with current and potential industry partners face-to-face.

“Every year there are more pulse-related symposiums and posters where people know more, and want to know more, about pulses,” he says.

Heather Maskus, Project Manager, Pulse Flour Milling and Food Applications, gave a presentation on a current project entitled ‘Future in Food Formulations: Why and how to balance cereal and pulse proteins in food applications’ for about 125 representatives from the food processing industry, government, and universities.

The presentation included references to media articles that are sounding the alarm about health risks related to eating breakfast cereals and instant noodles, she says. Breakfast cereals especially are encountering increasing consumer pressure with diminishing sales. Reports show a 19% decrease in the U.S. over the past decade.

“We are positioning our work with the perceptions of processed foods such as breakfast cereals and instant noodles as consumers are questioning their nutritional value more. Some cereals, for example, contain large amounts of sugar and are low in protein and fibre.”

She says the current project is focused on using pulses in selected product applications to increase protein levels, fibre, vitamins, and mineral content, and also determine how the glycemic response for some of these applications can be affected. The work additionally aims to build an understanding of functionality of the products regarding the quality of taste and texture.

Pulse area staff displayed two posters at the conference: Gina Boux, Technologist, Pulses, presented the ‘Influence of Infrared Heating of Pulses on the End Product Quality of Spaghetti’ and Lindsay Bourre, Technical Specialist, Pulses, presented ‘The Addition of Pulse Flours in Gluten-Free Bread Formulations and their Effect on Bread Quality.’

They both agree there was significant attention given to pulses and pulse ingredients at the conference. “I stood at the poster session for two hours and people were talking to me the entire time which I have never had before,” says Lindsay. “So I think there was a lot of interest both in pulse ingredients and in gluten-free. There were questions about flavour which is always an issue, and about formulation, nutrition, and health.”

Gina says more people than ever also discussed her poster with her. “There was more interest in pulses and higher protein foods from researchers from different universities including many from Mexico, mainly because they are into beans, as well as food companies, students, and others interested in health.”

PF_Pulse Pasta_140204_01_plates_raw_microGina’s poster highlights a study of how infrared heated, or micronized, pulses milled into flours in a spaghetti formulation compared to spaghetti made with untreated pulse flour. The spaghetti was processed with a blend of 30% pulse flour and 70% durum semolina. Micronization is one method of thermal treatment that has been investigated to treat pulses to improve nutrition, functionality, and palatability.

Lindsay’s poster reflects the challenges associated with producing high-quality breads without gluten in the growing gluten-free food sector. Her work investigated the inclusion of pulse flours in bread formulations to improve nutrition and end-product quality.

Technical committees and presentations an opportunity to gain information

Yulia Borsuk, Technical Specialist, Baking Technology, says participation at an international conference such as AACCI gives Cigi technical staff an opportunity to meet with professional industry people and scientists, and learn more about technological developments from around the world. “Top people, top industries, are always present there. And it’s also a great opportunity for Cigi to present what we are doing here to support our entire value chain.”

This year Yulia represented Cigi on the Bread Baking Methods Committee which concentrated on development of new methods including those related to the testing of crumb structure and whole wheat bread baking. “I think it’s important for Cigi to be involved in the development of new baking methods, to provide our input, because we’re very focused on flour baking quality testing and we have a lot of experience in this area.”

Whole Wheat and Yellow Pea Bread_PB_140327_14Yulia says she also attended a workshop on new advances made with enzymes in baked goods. “A number of different presentations from different countries were shared on enzyme technology in the food industry, including the baking industry. It’s not new but there are so many different approaches because the new demand for a clean label (natural ingredients) is growing. A good example would be replacement of some flour additives or baking processing aids with enzymes, which would give you the same functionality. So this is one of the areas where enzyme technology is very successfully used.”

Other areas of interest, she says, included the use of sprouted or ancient grains in bread baking which not only improves bio-availability of nutrients in digestion but also may help extend the shelf life of bread, use of pulse crops to improve nutrition in bread production, egg substitutes in baking, the reduction of sodium in processed food, and replacement of trans-fats with baking emulsifiers.

“It’s very important to attend this conference, to be aware about what’s going on, what are the new trends in the baking industry, and in cereal science in general,” Yulia says. “It’s all under the same roof and you can talk directly to people who are working in a particular area. This is great for networking and may be very good for future collaboration as well because it’s a two-way interaction. I’m asking about what they do, but I’m also talking about what we do at Cigi.

“Another big advantage for myself is that we travel extensively to different countries promoting wheat and field crops, and customers ask what’s new. So it’s a great opportunity to collect all that information to have on hand for them.”

The AACCI conference was a first for Shona Fraser, Technologist, Analytical Services, who sat in on discussions at technical committees and attended sessions ranging in subjects from pulses and baking to GMOs. She also had an opportunity to network, particularly with lab equipment manufacturers. “This is a big conference for the Analytical Services area. I connected with representatives from companies we already deal with and listened to what is coming forward. It’s good to find out about what’s related to the lab, but also about things I normally would not have a chance to see.”

Also attending the conference were Esey Assefaw, Head, and Paul Ebbinghaus, Technical Specialist, in Asian Products and Extrusion Technology.

Cigi staff sit on the following AACCI approved methods technical committees: Approved Methods Technical Leadership, Asian Products, Bread Baking Methods, Methods for Grain and Flour Testing, Pasta Products Analysis, Physical Testing Methods, and Pulse and Legume.