Bakers Journal

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Food scientist to increase protein, fibre in food products


October 28, 2014
By Bakers Journal

Oct. 28, 2014, Brookings, SD – A South Dakota State University food science professor has received a four-year grant geared toward getting corn
co-products to the food market.

Oct. 28, 2014, Brookings, SD – A South Dakota State University food
science professor has received a four-year grant geared toward getting
corn
co-products to the food market.

With a $576,000 project budget for
the Minnesota Corn Growers Association grant, Padmanaban Krishnan will work with
the food and ethanol industries with the goal of bringing food-grade
dried distiller’s grain (DDG) to the commercial marketplace, said a news release.

Both
industries will need research data on food ingredient quality
standards, commercial processing steps, scale-up production and
cost-effectiveness. Regulatory aspects of such an ingredient will also
be pursued. Much of the research will focus on providing answers to
research questions posed by the industry.

Krishnan’s work over the
past 20 years laid the pathway for the grant when the concept of DDG
use in food received national attention in 2012 and 2013. Following
that, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association board of directors invited
Krishnan to make a presentation at their meeting. They then invited a
proposal from Krishnan.

Adding health value to food

“There
is intrinsic nutritional value in something that is 38 per cent protein
and 40 percent dietary fibre,” said Krishnan in the release. “Everywhere in the world
someone needs protein for nutrition and someone needs dietary fibre for
health and disease prevention.”

According to Krishnan, other grant
outcomes will include gaining new knowledge on developing low-glycemic
index ingredients in diabetic diets, isolation and recovery of
high-value nutraceutical substances from corn pigments, high protein
supplements for international feeding programs and gluten-free products.

Krishnan’s
work is not only in adding health value to baked foods, but also in
increasing corn’s economic value to farmers and the marketplace.

DDG
comes from the ethanol-making process. Currently, one third of the corn
bushel, which is 56 pounds, is made into distiller’s grain, one third
is made into ethanol, and the other third is released into the air as
carbon dioxide. This co-product, CO2, can be trapped and used as a
solvent in the processing steps for DDG. Under certain conditions of
pressure and temperature, CO2 becomes a powerful solvent. This
phenomenon is called supercritical fluid extraction. “Not different than
using spritzer or club soda to remove stains from linen,” Krishnan
said.

Baked food items, ready-to-eat cereals

Krishnan
wants to create a food-grade product for use in baked food items and
ready-to-eat cereals. Krishnan grinds the DDG into flour and sterilizes
it. The DDG is then food-grade and ready for use in the test kitchen.
“There isn’t a food item yet on the market containing DDG, but the
research is geared toward getting us there,” said Krishnan.

DDG
can then be substituted for flour or added into baked goods, tortillas,
pizza crust, noodles and more to increase fibre and protein content,
while reducing calories.

“The trick is to add modest amounts in a
whole range of foods as opposed to large amounts being added to select
foods,” said Krishnan. Flat breads, for example, can easily handle up to
20 percent DDG, while cookies and bread can handle 6 to 10 percent.

When substituting DDG in baked goods, taste is a crucial, along with shelf-stability and sensory characteristics.

Krishnan
has baked many different food items using DDG, and the taste-test
results almost always come out favorably. He has faith in the science
behind it, and plans to produce a nutritional food product that
consumers trust and enjoy.

“DDG is currently priced at $95 per
ton. It used to be sold at $269 per ton not too long ago,” Krishnan
said. “At the current cost of 5 cents per pound for the raw material, it
represents a product that shows immense potential for economic
improvement.

“We are sitting on gold mines. DDG could be used to solve the world’s food problems as well as increase farmer profitability.”