Recent advances in food technology are making inroads to expanding healthy food choices. But these products are not yet widely known much more commercially available locally.
These dining staples, minus the risks, are taking a big bite in the market Down Under. Behind an Australian company's innovative product line is Dr. Eufermio Barcelon, a Filipino who has extensive training and experience in food science, technology, and engineering.
Barcelon is a research scientist in food innovation of the Australia-based Manildra Group. He visited the country in the latter
part of 2007 under the Department of Science and Technology's Balik-Scientist Program.
"I want to share the technology behind these innovative products and conduct more research on innovative and functional foods for the local market," says Doc Fem, as he prefers to be called. "That is why I availed of the Balik-Scientist program."
The BSP invites Filipino scientists and technicians based overseas to return or even live in the Philippines to share their
expertise and help accelerate the scientific, agro-industrial, and economic development of the country. It was originally established in
1975, and revived in 2001.
During a three-month stint, Doc Fem conducted seminars, trainings, and demonstrations on quality test, sensory evaluation. food safety evaluation, and pack aging of functional foods. He focused on no cholesterol mayonnaise, dressings and sauces for food ilmovation, non-dairy alternatives, cheeses and coffee creamer for alternative foods; and protein fortified products (seafoods, baked goods, beverages, and sports drinks) for functional foods.
He also identified research and training needs on functional foods using local ingredients such as dragon fruits, barako and other
coffee products, and pineapple. Many participants to Doc Fern's activities came from food-based entrepreneurs, researchers,
technologists, and institutions such as DOST's Food and Nutrition Research Institute, and Industrial Technology Development Institute, University of Sto. Tomas, and Cavite State University.
Doc Fem's innovative food products currently sold by the Manilda Group impressed local food researchers and connoisseurs, which include:
No-egg mayonnaise. Cholesterol-free substitute for mayonnaise that's also available in banana flavor.
Salad dressings. In soy or wheat protein for protem enrichment, emulsificauon, and stabilization.
Dips and pourable sauce. Value added with soy or wheat protein.
Non-dairy cheeses. Milk-and cholesterol-free cheese substitutes that come in cream cheese, vegan cheese, and soy cream cheese variants.
"These cheese-substitutes are low fat and high protein, so they are preferred by health enthusiasts," Doc Fem explained. "Vegans and those with lactose intolerance likewise opt for them."
There are several charatteristics of cheese substitutes, he said, that give them advantage over conventional counterparts, such as:
• made without milk (for those watching their diet or with lactose intolerance)
• do not require ripening
• cost half of the conventional cheese
The secret lies in the formulation of the substitute cheese. "For every 100 kg cheese substitute, water comprises 47%; coconut oil 22%; protein, soy or wheat 20%; cassava starch 7%; and salt 2%. Other ingredients such as trisodium citrate, citric acid, and color and cheese flavor make up the rest," he discloses.
No-egg mayonnaise, according to Doc Fem, is very similar with conventional mayonnaise in taste, quality, and texture. What sets it
apart is its higher hutrition content and lower cost.
"Conventional mayonnaise easily gets spoiled because of its egg content. It also has risks for salmonella," Doc Fem pointed out. No-egg mayonnaise replaced egg with wheat or soy flour. He clarified that consumers have the option - arthritics can choose mayo with wheat protein while aceliacs can opt for mayo with soy protein. (Soy has high uric acid content that is not good for arthritics, while wheat protein has high glutamme content that is not good for aceliacs.) Moreover, wheat has very low pH, unlike eggs.
There's the dough
Aside from being good for health and environment, Doc Fem's functional foods can actually bring in the dough for the enterprising.
"These products are great in the food industry, particularly those that produce pizza, cheese snacks, sandwiches, and cheese burgers. They actually have very high market potential in non-cheese producing countries," he says.
For entrepreneurs, they can start small scale cheese business and even home business using soy and wheat protein ingredients, he advises.
"Innovation", he says, "is the key to survival in a competitive world such as the food business industry."
As a Balik Scientist, Doc Fem wants to impart his knowledge and training to Filipinos interested in functional food technology and its associated business opportunities.
He demonstrated a very simple procedure in making non-dairy cheese using only a cooker.
Water - 48%
Coconut oil - 22%
Soy or wheat protein - 20%
Salt, starch, additivies - 10%
Mix all ingredients. Cook and stir continuously at 80 C.
Industry reports indicate the global market for functional foods continues to be a "dynamic and growing segment" of the food industry. By year 2010, it is expected to represent five percent of total global food market. Current global functional foods market is estimated at US $7 to 61 billion depending on sources and definitions, covering Asia, North America, Western Europe, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand.
In developing functional foods, Doc Fem says that soy or wheat protein can be used in various food products as these are very good emulsifiers, stabilizers, and binders. Some of the products that use soy or wheat protein as substitute ingredients include:
• seafood analogue
• surimi for fish sausage
• fish cake used in Kamaboko seafood salad
• protein emulsified meat products (sausage, beef patty, hotdog)
• protein enriched bakery products (less cholesterol leche flan, protein enriched pandesal, less egg cake, muffins)
• high-protein sports drinks, chocolate, and fruit smoothie.
When used in mayonnaise, wheat protein is a much cheaper alternative. "The cost is 65% lower," shares Doc Fem. "With eggs at P1000/kilo, milk at P900/kilo, and soy at P500/kilo, wheat costs much less at P200/kilo."
"I am really looking forward to further development in the area of wheat protein." he says. He also shared recipies of less chotesterol leche flan and protein enriched pandesal that could serve as start-ups for entrepreneurs willing to try the market for functional foods.
"Dr. Barcelon's visit came at a time that the FNRI is undertaking projects to answer the 'double burden of malnutrition," says a FNRI
representative. "We learned so much from him, especially in the area of combating micronutrient deficiencies."
Other participants said that Doc Fem's seminars are very practical and "can be done at the household level and encourages
business opportunities for functional foods."
Doc Fem intends to be back again soon to start several projects under DOST. "I am preparing a book on product development with Dr. Sonia de Leon of the UP Diliman College of Home Economics, which should be out in October 2008," he reveals.
To gain interest in food safety among the younger sector of the public, Doc Pem will come up with comics on food safety in anime format. He has also lined up activities on basic food engineering and dragon fruit processing in 2009.
He's expected to do more reseaches and trainings on using local products such as dragon fruits, barako and other coffee products, and pineapple as ingredients for functional foods.
But for starters who would like to try functional foods as a business venture, Dr. Barcelon shares recipes on two of the Filipino's
favorite fares, leche flan and pandesal.
Less-cholesterol leche flan
Ingredients Usage level (%)
Condensed milk 24%
Egg yolks 21.2%
Full cream milk 20%
Wheat protein 10%
Mix all ingredients. Mix at a very low speed to prevent aeration of the product. Prepare caramel sugar by mixing sugar and water in a sauce pan. Caramelize in high heat. Line loaf tin in caramelized sugar. Be sure to line the sides of the pan. Pour mixture in a loaf tin lined with caramelized sugar. Cover with aluminum foil. Place tin in a larger baking pan half-filled with water. Place pan in a pre heated oven (190 C) and bake for one hour or until custard is firm.
Wheat protein is inexpensive alternative for dairy and eggs. It also contributes to the development of slightly brown color during
baking as a result of interaction of amino group of proteins with ingredients.
Ingredients Usage level (%)
Bread flour 24%
Wheat protein 3%
Instant yeast .05%
Bread flour 16%
Whole wheat flour 10%
Wheat protein 3%
Bread crumbs 5.5%
MiX all sponqe ingredients until blended. Round up the dough, place in a bowl, cover with lanp cloth, and ferment for three hours. Mix all dough ingredients except the bread crumbs. Add the sponge mixture gradually until fully developed. Divide dough into equal portion of about 600 grams per piece. Flatten douqh. Make a "baton" shape with approximate length of 30 inches. Roll in bread crumbs. Rest dough for one hour. Cut each dough into equal portions of about 29-31 grams per piece. Roll in bread crumbs and arrange on baking tray in in cut side up manner. Proof until double in size in warm and moist proofing cabinet (about 32-34°C
WIth 85% relative humidity). Bake in preheated oven at 175°C for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Benefits of using wheat protein
Wheat protein helps bread attam standard loaf volume when baked. It also increases protein and lowers thebread's carbohydrates contents. Wheat protein helps in attaining the slightly brown color during baking, which results from the interaction of amino acids of proteins with the rest of the ingredients.
Dr. Barcelon has shown that food can really be one of life's little pleasures as we enjoy the taste and flavor, revel in good health,
and bask in good business it brings.
- S&T Post, 2008 4th Quarter
Interviewed by: Framelia V. Anonas