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Food & Beverage Technology

The Food & Beverage Technology Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about Processing, Packaging/Storage/Preservation, Materials Handling, and Inspection/Quality. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Clear coffee? But how? And why?

Posted April 20, 2017 12:39 PM by lmno24

It seems on any given day, there’s a new trend in coffee from cold brew, K Cups, various sweeteners, brewing styles, etc. But this company is making a product that’s truly out of the caffeine consuming norm.

Two Slovakian brothers have introduced CLR CFF, or clear coffee. It’s sold in a glass bottle and it’s completely transparent. They say they were bothered by tooth stains from drinking regular coffee, so they made one without any color at all. Crystal Pepsi flashbacks anyone?

Image credit: Instagram.com/clrcff

The acidity in foods and drinks can also discolor teeth, so coffee’s color may not be the only culprit to tooth damage. But the creators say they couldn’t find anything on the market that fit their needs, so here’s their first shot.

Personally, I think I would have to try this blindfolded because I don’t know if I could get past it being so different from what I’m used to. I also can’t seem to find specifically what they do to make it clear, which is a little strange to me. The website says “based on physical processing” but uses no added sweeteners, additives, or preservatives. Nutritionally, it’s nearly identical to regular coffee as well, less than five calories in a serving and no carbs or sugar (unless you add to it).

So while the throwback drink Crystal Pepsi threw people for a loop, it was simple enough for manufacturers to leave out the coloring when creating a totally unnatural product. Such is not the case with clear coffee.

It’s described as a super potent cold brew, so I believe it’s meant to be consumed cold, and it’s ready to drink off the shelf (or out of the box if ordered online). In most marketing materials, it appears to be consumed as a cold drink right out of the bottle.

Reviews show a mix of approvals and disapprovals. Some say it’d be great mixed in a cocktail, but not alone, while others describe the taste as "Water…but an aftertaste of coffee.”

So, would you try it? I’m also curious if anyone has an idea of how this is made. I’m thinking it may be similar to how decaf coffee is made, but I’m not sure.

Sources:

http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/13/in-case-you-didnt-know-you-can-now-get-colourless-coffee-6572239/

https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/clr-cff-is-a-new-coffee-brand-thats-completely-clear

http://www.foodandwine.com/news/clear-coffee-beverage-trend-you-didnt-know-you-needed

https://www.instagram.com/clrcff/

http://clrcff.com/

64 comments; last comment on 04/24/2017
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Will Plastic Food Cans Become a Clear Choice?

Posted April 07, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

This can consists of a multilayer plastic substrate that allows consumers to see the product inside while incorporating an easy-open metal lid and metal bottom. You'll be able to see what's inside of cans before buying them at the grocery story with this technology.


Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Food & Beverage Technology eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox.

21 comments; last comment on 04/11/2017
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The War on Milk

Posted March 10, 2017 4:30 PM by lmno24

It seems like everywhere we look lately almond, cashew, or soy milk is among the ranks of coffee creamer options at the local café, among the dairy aisle, and the subject of debate for what to add to cereal in the morning.

For people with trouble eating dairy, or those who choose not to consume animal products, these “milks” are likely a welcome addition to the supermarket or coffee bar. But for the dairy industry, they’re becoming the subject of a serious debate – and even being considered imposters.

These products, marketed as “milk,” have dairy farmers heated. In fact, the U.S. Congress has introduced a bill, called the DAIRY PRIDE Act, which is self-explanatory but also stands for “defending against imitations and replacements of yogurt, milk, and cheese to promote regular intake of dairy every day.” Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Democratic Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont introduced the bill, not surprising considering their respective states yield a significant amount of dairy products each year.

The bill’s summary explains that these nut and soy milks calling themselves milk “hurts dairy farmers that work tirelessly to ensure their dairy products meet FDA standards and provide the public with nutritious food. It has also led to the proliferation of mislabeled plant-based alternative products that contain a range of ingredients and nutrients that are often not equivalent to the nutrition content of dairy products.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been lax about enforcing federal standards that enforce that milk has to be an animal byproduct, which has resulted in a surge of non-dairy milks hitting the market by storm. The DAIRY PRIDE bill hopes to make the FDA simply do its job, not eliminate these products from the market.

Due to these unenforced standards, consumers are misled into thinking these highly processed products are nutritionally equivalent to dairy milk. These products are often made by taking a bunch of pulverized nuts or seeds, mixing them with water, emulsifiers, whiteners and sugar, add some vitamins, and then pouring the result into a carton and inappropriately labeling it “milk.” While some do contain vitamins and minerals, they are added back in after processing, unlike how they’re naturally found in dairy products.

Popularity of these drinks has skyrocketed in the last few years; I think it’s safe to say it’s a combination of good marketing and lack of federal enforcement on these products. Sales of almond milk alone grew more than 200% from 2001 to 2015.

The FDA seems to side with the dairy farmer though, however lax the standards may be. By their definition – a product can be labeled milk if it fits there guidelines.

“Milk is the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows. Milk that is in final package form for beverage use shall have been pasteurized or ultrapasteurized, and shall contain not less than 8 1/4 percent milk solids not fat and not less than 3 1/4 percent milkfat. Milk may have been adjusted by separating part of the milkfat therefrom, or by adding thereto cream, concentrated milk, dry whole milk, skim milk, concentrated skim milk, or nonfat dry milk. Milk may be homogenized.”

But supporters of “alternative milks” are both defending the right to the use of the word milk; saying allowing them not to be is a violation of free speech, as well as defending the use of the word at all.

The Plant Based Foods Association, which represents companies like Tofurky, says standards of identity were created to prevent companies from passing off cheap, low quality ingredients on customers. But the group says that’s not what soy, almond, and rice milk makers are trying to do.

The Good Food Institute, which is a nonprofit advocating for plant-based foods, filed a petition with the FDA defending the products continued use of the word milk, citing the First Amendment.

So, what do you think? Should we consider these products milk? Or something else?

Sources:

https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/dairy-pride-act

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/fake-milk-at-center-of-food-fight/article_c24e2213-25d0-525f-84ce-8bc0ca6dd145.html

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/03/143550/almond-milk-dairy-pride-act

http://www.wisfarmer.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/02/24/buyer-beware-not-all-milk-created-equal/98384854/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/venessawong/should-almond-milk-be-allowed-to-call-itself-milk?utm_term=.qflPDKpXl#.lvJqBj4AO

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=131.110

41 comments; last comment on 03/15/2017
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3D Printed Pizza? Now We've Gone Too Far

Posted March 09, 2017 1:29 PM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: 3d print food NASA space

When food and tech collide, it typically results in a happy union. See online ordering. Burritos by drone. Grocery delivery, like with Amazon Fresh.

Yet, something about the next collision of food and tech, I just cannot support. It’s pure blasphemy.

Of course, I’m talking about the pizza 3-D printer. Look, I live in a Mecca of pizza, and too often I take it for granted. But sometimes, I’m reminded that the quintessential pizza shop is almost exclusively a northeastern U.S. institution. Each time I travel to the American south or Canada, I’m empathetic to those who must suffer at the taste of fast food pizza (Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Boston Pizza, etc.).

The pizza 3-D printer came about from the pit fires of Hell research done by Systems and Materials Research Consultancy of Austin from a $125,000 NASA contract awarded in 2013. However, funding was pulled from the project, and SMRC engineers formed their own startup, Beehex, to innovate 3-D printed foods.

As NASA plans to extend humanity’s space exploration range to Mars and possibly farther, many life support systems on current spacecraft won’t be suitable. Refrigeration won’t be feasible and supplies must be as modular as possible to optimize storage space. Another variable is the fickle taste of astronauts. Currently, all food supplies are planned months in advance and it can be tough for astronauts to modify meals to meet their preferences.

In late February, Beehex completed initial funding of its Chef 3-D printer, which can be adapted for space but is currently better suited for Earth. The printer features three nozzles to layer dough, pizza sauce and cheese. Other ingredients will still need to be manually added. The printer can build a pizza in any shape, and from first jettison of dough to a baked pie will take about six minutes.

Apparently the Chef 3-D is set for introduction into amusement parks, sports stadiums and other niche applications later this year.

It’s true, that a customizable 3-D printer would be a morale boost for astronauts facing a multi-year absence from Earth. Italian coffee company Lavazza delivered an espresso machine (dubbed ISSpresso) for ISS astronauts in 2015, and besides being the first extraterrestrial fresh-brewed coffee, it also offered a chance to experiment with fluid dynamics in microgravity.

But I think that ultimately 3-D printed pizza is little more than a novelty. Printed foods might be a real solution one day, but, right now, the Chef 3-D’s pizzas look quite unappetizing.

I’ll just call one of the dozens of Gino’s around me instead. Pizza is something that doesn’t need improving.

31 comments; last comment on 03/10/2017
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Can Genetic Sequencing Bring Back A Tastier Commercial Tomato?

Posted March 09, 2017 12:00 AM by Hannes
Pathfinder Tags: food genetics taste tomato

As much as it’s totally illogical, it’s easy to get caught up in the concept of the “Good Ol’ Days.” Certain older relatives of mine reminisce about the days when kids could play out in the streets until dark and careen down winding roads on brakeless bikes, and watch good cowboys fight bad cowboys every Sunday night on their monochrome TV. Heck, as a member of the last generation to grow up sans internet I sometimes long for the days of answering machines and Super Nintendo. Of course, everyone’s Good Ol’ Days shifts when they hit middle age, and if anything these are probably better ol’ days than anything that’s come before us.

Apparently, there’s some truth to the Good Ol’ Days theory in an unusual area: the taste of tomatoes. The hybrid tomatoes found in most grocery stores have been selectively bred to give preference to their size and firmness for shipping purposes. But for the last several decades selection for flavor has slipped, resulting in large, firm, red fruits that sort of taste like eating water. Tomato flavor more or less drifted out of commercialized fruits, but has stayed constant in non-hybrid heirloom varieties. Consumers might consider heirloom tomatoes as less desirable, though: they’re typically softer and somewhat oddly shaped, and grow in an array of colors from deep apple red to green.

A team of researchers—whose research was published in the January 27th issue of Science— has undertaken to restore tomato taste via genomic analysis. The group analyzed the flavor-associated chemicals in almost 400 varieties of hybrid, heirloom, and wild tomatoes, then evaluated some of the varieties using a consumer panel. The group identified 13 chemical compounds associated with “good” flavor and matched them with genetic sequences, or alleles.

The researchers set out to “understand and ultimately correct” the tomato taste deficiency, so the next step is to selectively breed tomatoes using molecular markers to try and move the tasty alleles back into the hybrid fruits. An individual desiring a tasty tomato sooner could simply wait until summer and buy a locally produced heirloom tomato, which has likely retained most of the tasty alleles. I’ll admit that I’ve personally used fresh tomatoes as little more than the buffer between the lettuce and bacon in a BLT, or as filler in a salad. But after researching this blog I’m inclined to give heirlooms a shot to see if I can tell the difference.

Image credit: See-ming Lee / CC BY-SA 2.0

5 comments; last comment on 03/11/2017
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