QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 77 - Page 16

Microwave experts revolutionise global food processing Scottish food companies are benefiting from a revolutionary new food processing method which has the potential to transform global food manufacturing. The new microwave technology is not only highly energy efficient, it is able to extend the shelf life of food without destroying nutrients and changing taste. A AMT machine “ is the a game-changing piece of technology with companies transforming their processing and reaping the rewards. ” novel collaboration combining both commercial and academic expertise to explore the application of microwave technologies to the food and drink sector, has already transformed the way some small Scottish food and drink companies are developing their businesses. The project draws on the technical expertise of QMU researchers in dietetics, nutritional and biological sciences and is led by the commercial firm Advanced Microwave Technologies Ltd (AMT). The ability for companies to add shelf life to their products while preserving flavour and nutrients has resulted, for some, in major business expansion plans and a new supply route to the global export market. The technology is the brainchild of Dr Yuriy Zadyraka and Douglas Armstrong from AMT, which is emerging as one of the world’s most innovative u s e r s o f m i c ro w a v e technology. With expertise in nutritional analysis, the initial product validation work was undertaken by QMU which helped AMT establish a route to market in the food and drink sector. Trials involving commercial food businesses helped researchers prove that 16 QMYOU / Knowledge Exchange the new technology is a very gentle process of pasteurisation and can extend the shelf life of food and drink without destroying nutrients and antioxidants and without altering taste. D o u g l a s A r m s t ro n g , Director of AMT explains: “We have developed a unique way of using microwaves to heat liquids, suspensions and semi solids on a continuous basis. It was initially developed for use in the waste industry however, we were keen to explore its use within the food and drinks industry. Following an introduction by Interface*, we began working with a team of QMU experts.” Douglas continued: “We conducted a trial with fresh raspberry juice and discovered that we could very gently pasteurise the juice and retain all of the goodness of the fresh product. ‘Get Juiced’ a small Scottish supplier of high quality fresh fruit drinks, then approached QMU with a problem. With only an eight day shelf life on its fresh orange juice, the company was looking to extend shelf life but maintain the integrity of its product as a healthy, nutritious, flavoursome, fresh juice. By putting the juice through AMT’s gentle pasteurisation process, the product life was extended from eight days to four weeks. In addition, research has shown that the AMT process kills micro-organisms more efficiently than conventional thermal processing but doesn’t diminish any of the antioxidants or nutritional content of the product. Importantly for the company, the gentle heating process did not affect the taste of the juice.” Processing trials with o t h e r f o o d p ro d u c t s have generated not only promising results in relation to taste, but are offering significant technical benefits. QMU and AMT have looked at how the system can be used to reduce salt in certain foods whilst also retaining full flavour and extending shelf life. Douglas said: “Results from this work are extremely encouraging and we are looking forward to producing the research report. This important work will allow manufacturers to capitalise not only on the economic benefits of the system, but on its ability to produce healthier foods.” The work carried out by AMT and QMU has sparked enormous interest in the food industry. AMT is now in discussions with a large number of major companies and has rapidly progressed from trials to confirmed orders with a number of organisations. Miriam Smith, Business Development Executive at QMU, said: “This has been *Interface is a central hub connecting businesses to Scotland’s 24 higher education and research institutes.