Food allergy innovation a hit at AIFST Awards

A new technology that detects allergens in food products has been awarded the Food Industry Innovation Award at the 49th Annual Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) Convention.

The Allergen Bureau was awarded the prestigious accolade at a ceremony on Monday night at the AIFST Convention at Brisbane’s Exhibition and Convention Centre for its VITAL Online platform, a web-based calculator that reviews the allergen status of all ingredients in a product and the processing conditions that could impact on the allergen status.

The technology gives the global food industry a standardised allergen risk assessment tool that both incorporates new allergen science as it comes to hand, and provides secure intellectual property data storage for manufacturers.

The VITAL program was developed by the Allergen Bureau as an initiative of the Australian Food and Grocery Council Allergen Forum and has been successfully commercialised through a subscription access service.

The prestigious innovation award recognises a significant development in a process, product, ingredient, equipment or packaging, which has achieved successful commercial application in the Australian food industry.

The Jack Kefford Award for Best Paper was the other major prize of the night, and was awarded to Divya Eratte of Federation University Australia’s Department of Food and Nutritional Science School of Applied and Biomedical Science.

Ms Eratte’s 2015 paper ‘Co-encapsulation and characterisation of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria in whey protein isolate-gum Arabic complex coacervates’ was published in the Journal of Functional Foods and documents the first attempt to develop a single microcapsule capable of delivering omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria together in one capsule.

The microcapsules are expected to have wider applications throughout the nutraceutical and functional food industry. AIFST CEO Georgie Aley commended the recipients on the groundbreaking, innovative work they had done to improve both Australia and the world’s food industries. “It really is pleasing to see innovation at work across the food industry, and innovative products or tools that are commercially viable too,” said Ms Aley.

“Food allergy is a becoming a major issue in our society – there are around 30,000 new cases in Australia each year which makes the Allergen Bureau’s calculator so valuable to Australian food companies.

The move towards functional foods is equally as strong, making the combination of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotic bacteria particularly exciting in terms of potential.”

The Convention is hosted by AIFST, the only national network for food industry professionals and this year, the Convention was co-located with FoodTech, a major trade event for Queensland food manufacturers.

For more information about the Convention, visit https://bit.ly/1pbPPJj

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