FOOD scientists were encouraged to use creative inventions and methods in visionary food development at the Food Conference on Innovation and Advancement last Nov. 11.

Spearheaded by UST Food Technology alumnus Richmond Victor Ejanda, the conference highlighted innovations in food manufacturing, retail and services,such as reverse food engineering, deformulation, and the use of nano-encapsulated flavors.

“[Reverse food engineering] is an interesting field that is booming right now [to the point] where companies hire food technologists to disassemble their food products,” Ejanda said. “It can divide food in different ways to obtain substantial (physical, chemical and nutritional characteristics) information about the product.”

Non-alcoholic beer with a 30-percent chance of inebriation, chicken nuggets made out of what chickens eat instead of pure chicken and pizza dough without the use flour, oil, water and eggs were some of the innovative products presented.

“This means we can create [products] and adapt [to trends] at the same time,” Ejanda said. “Innovation happens when we get to create exciting new products from the ones we already see out in the market.”

Ejanda also said deformulation aids food manufacturers to compete with each other by producing similar yet innovative products.

“The process is a [back step] where you may be able to learn everything on the existing products and then you [move forward for improvements] and future developments” he added.

New age of gourmet

UST Food Technology alumna Kristine Villaruel, now a technical account executive of McRitz International Corporation, and nutrition and dietetics professor Jess Adaya of the Technological University of the Philippines also shared new trends in food science and the Philippine food manufacturing industry.

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Villaruel focused on gourmet sauces, condiments and dressings, reintroducing enhancers such as hydrolysed vegetable protein from plants such as soy and corn, autolyzed yeast extract that can create buttery mouthfeel for chicken and beef, and disodium guanylate that can intensify flavor without using much salt.

Stevia, a sugar substitute, was featured for its efficiency as a sweetener and its potential anti-carcirogenic properties. It is extracted from leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana, and is getting popular for being 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.

“We only place five grams of Stevia in a liter of soft drinks and it’s just as sweet as a liter of soft drinks with the usual sugar content,” Ejada said, adding that mastery of flavor optimization using different enhancers will unlock a food product’s potential.

Adaya focused on the importance of proper usage of tools and research to ensure the stability of nutritional content of food products.

“One must be able to use the tools around him in order to be effective in work,” he said. “Tools and methods such as visual inspection, texture and viscosity measurements aid subjective analysis and help determine what can make a certain food product better.”

The conference was attended by food technology students from several colleges and universities along with professionals from different food and flavoring companies.

“This is to help me adjust on the advancement in food industry, especially in baking where my forte is,” said entrepreneur and UST alumna Winifred Gonzales in attending the conference. Julius Roman M. Tolop

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