Duck fat used to power vehicles

Some clever farmers in a rural French village have found a novel use for duck fat, using it to power vehicles including tractors.

In St Aquilin, a rural village in the southwestern region of Dordogne, a farm co-operative has found a way to turn duck grease into biodiesel and biogas now being used to power a tractor and two other vehicles, according to

Duck fat has long been used as a key ingredient in cassoulets and confits, and there is no shortage of the animal, with two million birds raised in the region each year.

"We’re really doing this out of activism, to recognise that we have to do something to help save the planet,” Jules Charmoy, who raises russet-hued Limousin cattle on his organic farm, told

“We should stop the big speeches and start with little acts."

The 50-farm cooperative collects the duck fat from nearby restaurants and food businesses weekly.

"We also have frying oil and fat from pigs and calves. There’s a little bit of everything in there but the dominant thing is duck because we’re in the Dordogne," Charmoy said.

They heat the fat to 49 degrees Celsius to remove water before reducing the heat and adding alcohol and potassium hydroxide.

The mixture has to be shaken and when settles the biodiesel is separated below a layer of glycerol.

To comply with French law, it is then mixed in a 30 to 70 per cent ratio.

Last year the cooperative produced 20 000 litres of the biodiesel.

The mixture costs about 20 per cent more than the discounted diesel that farmers can buy, but the group says the environmental benefits are significant.

The experiment is not the first of its kind, with US poultry giant Tyson Foods recently transforming millions of gallons of chicken and pork fat produced at its operations each year into biodiesel.

The duck fat from the French cooperative will be used to fuel a biogas plant being constructed in the nearby town of Bergerac.

The plant will process between 9000 and 10,000 cubic metres of waste per year and generate about 360 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, according to Cadalen.
"Also, for the farmers, it’s another revenue source.

“To sell energy – it’s another thing besides food production, it permits us to protect ourselves.”

Nestlé partners with UK researchers to find food, gene links

Posted by Rita Mu

Nestlé has partnered with a UK university to investigate how changes to diet and exercise may affect human gene expression and health over time – an area also known as nutrigenomics.

The six-month research project between the Nestlé Research Centre in Switzerland and King’s College London is set to begin later this year.

According to Nestlé, details of the research project will include looking at how our genes and their encoded proteins determine bodily functions, such as metabolism and immunity.

King’s College Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics academic, Dr Franca Fraternali, and colleagues, will have access to the Nestlé Research Centre’s bioinformatics facilities in Lausanne, Switzerland, while Senior Scientist, Dr James Holzwarth, of the Nestlé Research Centre, will spend time in the King’s College laboratories learning new techniques used to analyse protein-protein interactions developed at the university.

Dr Holzwarth said academia-industry partnerships were critical for innovations in the food and public health sectors.

“No one can work in isolation. Industry might be more advanced in one area, while academia might be more advanced in another. By pooling relevant resources, we can help to guide each other’s work,” he said.

The partnership is funded by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Interchange program.

Image: A scientist at work at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, Source:

Sprouts to blame for Europe’s E coli outbreak

Posted by Rita Mu

Raw sprouts have been blamed for the E coli outbreak in Europe that has so far killed 35 people and left more than 3000 others sick.

Last Friday, epidemiological investigations by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the Robert Koch Institute and the Federal Agency for Consumer Protection and Food Safety revealed sprouts from a horticultural farm in Lower Saxony had been contaminated with the same E coli strand found in victims. 

According to Lothar Beutin, head of the national E coli lab at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin, the E coli most likely got into food via human faeces.


Aussie beef could be linked to E coli outbreak

Posted by Rita Mu

A new E coli outbreak in Japan, which has left 15 people ill, is suspected to have come from beef imported from Australia.

According to ABC News Online, 20 people were reported sick in the Toyama prefecture on 6 May, with 15 of them falling sick from O157, a strain of E coli.

The victims were affected after eating at the Korean-style barbeque restaurant chain, Gyukaku, according to ABC News Online. REINS International, the operator of the Gyukaku chain, said it suspected the infections might have been caused by Australian beef imports.

The company reportedly changed its Australian supplier, but a public health inspection found no traces of E coli bacteria in the affected restaurant. 

The incident in Japan follows a recent E coli outbreak in Europe. Last week, Food Magazine reported that more than 300 people in north Germany fell ill after an outbreak of E coli, which was initially suspected to have come from Spanish cucumbers. Health officials have now rejected the cucumber claim and are investigating other potential origins of the outbreak.

The food-borne bacteria, which is a different strain to the one in Japan, has also been detected in other European countries including Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.

According to the World Health Organisation, the E. coli strain in Europe is rare.

ABC News Online reported that a toll compiled by AFP from national health authorities revealed more than 2,000 people across Europe have fallen sick from E coli since the attack in Germany.

More information about E coli is available HERE.


Tetra Pak launches Tetra Evero Aseptic

Tetra Pak has launched the Tetra Evero Aseptic 1 litre, the first aseptic carton bottle for milk.

“Tetra Evero Aseptic is a new carton shape that delivers ease of use, high impact branding and cost effectiveness,” said Charles Brand, Tetra Pak Vice President of Marketing and Product Management. “This is a unique packaging concept that brings benefits to producers, retailers and consumers.”

Tetra Evero Aseptic is initially aimed at the ambient white milk market, including non-oxygen sensitive milk enriched with calcium, proteins, fibres (inulin), vitamins A and D and some minerals. This will soon expand to cover a wide range of beverages, including flavoured milk, cream and oxygen sensitive milk, such as Omega 3, Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin C.

“For our most strategic project, we knew we had to have Tetra Evero Aseptic,” said Pedro Astals, President and CEO of Corporación Alimentaria Peñasanta (CAPSA), Spain’s largest dairy. He explained that CAPSA chose the Tetra Evero Aseptic for its move into the value- added ambient dairy segment.

“This package expresses evolution, a very advanced step in comparison with today’s packages. Tetra Evero Aseptic is the perfect match of a high value-added product with a highly developed package. To me this is doubtlessly a winner,” said Astals.

Another European dairy, Weihenstephan, one of Germany’s largest traditional dairies, plans to introduce the Tetra Evero Aseptic from the end of May 2011 to a select number of retail outlets in its first market test of the package. 

Among the new packaging solution’s key attributes are:
Functionality: An ergonomic cylindrical shape with flat side panels means it’s easier for big and small hands to hold. The shape also provides the ideal angle for better pouring than other bottles, according to independent consumer research conducted in several European markets.

The new carton providing maximum branding impact, with printing possible across the whole surface of the package. There are two distribution solutions for Tetra Evero Aseptic — an open cardboard tray and film-shrink with a handle.

Customer system cost: The Tetra Pak® A6 iLine™ for Tetra Evero Aseptic brings dairy producers a cost effective and efficient packaging solution for ambient white milk in a bottle. In fact, Tetra Pak A6 iLine, with a capacity of 10,000 packs/hour, takes up to 50 per cent less space and requires 30 per cent less investment than other aseptic bottling lines. It also offers 25 per cent lower operating costs and requires half the electricity consumption than other aseptic bottling lines.

Environment: The Tetra Evero Aseptic combines the easy handling and pouring of a bottle with the environmental advantages of a carton. It is recyclable andmade from FSC™-certified renewable paperboard.

Innovative technologies: Innovative technologies combined with market insight and processes have driven the creation of this pioneering packaging system. The Tetra Evero Aseptic and the Tetra Pak A6 iLine are covered by 14 design and application patents, with advances that include an industry-first ‘gas phase’ sterilisation technique and advanced injection moulding technologies to fuse the top, carton sleeve and capped neck into a ready-to-fill package.

Michael Grosse, Tetra Pak Executive Vice President, Development and Engineering said: “Tetra Pak has committed its industry leading engineering resources and market insight to develop Tetra Evero Aseptic and the Tetra Pak A6 iLine. It has led to a unique packaging solution that delivers value to our customers and the consumers that buy their products – with functionality, cost and environmental performance never before seen in a bottle form.”

The Tetra Pak A6 iLine will first be available in Europe and South America.

Beer PET bottles to reach 7.7 billion by 2015: Study

Posted by Rita Mu

Global PET beer bottle consumption is forecast to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.3 per cent to reach 7.7 billion bottles by 2015, according to a new study by market research group Pira International.

The Future of Beer in PET Packaging study, conducted for beer brewers, packaging manufactures and suppliers, provides quantitative market sizes segmented by barrier technology, bottle size, region and country. The study also provides technology and market forecasts to 2015.

One of the main drivers for the increased use of PET bottles for packaging beer will be market penetration into areas not suitable for glass, according to the study.

While Central and Eastern Europe are currently the dominant markets for PET beer bottles, the study also shows good growth for beer in PET bottles going forward, but at rates lower than the 2003-08 pre-recession era. This is a result of higher taxes on beer in Russia and Ukraine, according to the study.

PET beer bottle consumption in Western Europe, North America and South and Central America, is forecast to grow as well in the next five years until 201, but at a relatively low rate.

In Asia-Pacific, China will lead demand for beer in PET bottles.

"PET is showing increased demand from a number of different categories including juices and nectars, ready-to-drink (RTD) teas, functional drinks, flavoured waters and beer. PET bottles are convenient, practical, lightweight and unbreakable," Head of Editorial at Pira, Adam Page, said.

"However many brand owners remain reticent when it comes to using PET packaging for beer. Despite not taking off on a large scale in many traditional beer-drinking countries, there is still a huge amount of interest in the potential for beer in PET due to the perceived advantages. New technologies are helping challenge some negative perceptions and create opportunities for brewers, brand owners, packaging converters and suppliers."