Food Industry Innovations
Every day, manufacturers and researchers are working on ways to make food and eating more interesting and profitable. Here are some of the recent and most intriguing inventions.
BioLume® is trying to use natural bioluminescence to make your food glow, just like a firefly, squid, or jellyfish. These are the sources of bioluminescence researchers are using. Bioluminescence is “cold” light produced by a chemical reaction within a living organism. Anyone who eats fish also consumes trace amounts of bioluminescence. So far, glowing whipped cream, bubble gum, lollipops, and beverages have panned out, but if BioLume has its way, these glowing foods and drinks will become common.
According to the company’s Web site, “The food, beverage and cosmetic applications will be regulated as a food additive by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), and thus require no human testing for safety or efficacy. BioLume will have to conduct toxicity testing in several relevant animal models at several “doses” to support a pre-market approval (PMA) petition.”
Programmable food will allow you to make your food work for you. Researchers say that they are well on their way to inventing foods that can adjust to individual tastes, allergies, and nutritional needs. For instance, Kraft Foods is already designing a drink that you could buy in a colorless, flavorless state and then determine its nutrients, color, and flavor once you bring it home. Basically, these foods will contain many different flavors, colors, and nutrients, each encapsulated until the consumer decides which ones to release to their liking.
Some researchers are trying to invent packaging to slow food spoilage, and many of these applications include metal. However, some people are concerned that metal could contaminate the food itself, possibly making it dangerous. Self-cleaning and antibacterial cutting boards also are under consideration.
Just the good stuff
Researchers also are studying nanotechnology to try to create foods that will allow you to absorb only the healthiest components of foods, while allowing you to excrete the less healthy parts.
Healthier fried food
As disgusting as it might sound, batter for fried foods might soon come from discarded fish parts in an effort to make these foods healthier. The muscle from certain fish parts lock in taste and moisture, while preventing the absorption of fat from the oil used for frying. Researchers state that the finished product has 25%-75% less fat. Plus, the added protein cuts down the total carbohydrate content by 15%. To date, tests are complete on the batter used on fish filets, chicken, and potato chips. This process has received approval from the FDA.
No more icy ice cream
A tasteless protein, gelatin hydrosylate, prevents ice crystals from forming when added to frozen desserts, such as ice cream. Called the “edible antifreeze,” this protein could dramatically increase the shelf life of ice cream, and make it creamier and more enjoyable for consumers. The product does not require FDA approval.
A company already has created a prototype of a chewing gum that tricks the mouth and brain of consumers into believing that they are actually eating chocolate.
Cholesterol blocking oil
A company from Israel has created Canola Activa Oil, a rapeseed cooking oil that actually prevents cholesterol from entering the bloodstream.
Lower sugar without artificial sweeteners
Slim Shake Chocolate is a powdered drink that uses nanotechnology to cluster the cocoa cells, reducing the need for sugar to sweeten the beverage.
References and recommended readings
Biolume. Natural glowing chemistry for broad consumer & medical applications. Available at: http://www.biolume.net/index.htm. Accessed February 5, 2010.
Renton A. Welcome to the world of nano foods. Available at: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/foodmonthly/futureoffood/story/0,,1971266,00.html#article_continue. Accessed February 5, 2010.
ScienceDaily. Could nanotechnology make an average donut into health food? Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090214162746.htm. Accessed February 5, 2010.
ScienceDaily. Edible antifreeze saves ice cream: food chemists use ‘edible antifreeze’ to make smoother ice cream. Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2008/0702-edible_antifreeze_saves_ice_cream.htm. Accessed February 5, 2010.
ScienceDaily. Low-fat fried food? Food chemist develops protein-based batter for healthier frying. Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2006/0111-lowfat_fried_food.htm. Accessed February 5, 2010.
Review Date 3/10