Friday, October 30, 2015

U-Pick Non-browning GMO Apples?

U-Pick Non-browning GMO Apples?
By Tara Okuma
Fall season brings about colder weather, rainy days, overcast skies, and swapping out summer tank tops and shorts for warm bundling winter wardrobes. The faint scent of the holidays is also near with apple-picking season. Although many apple orchards experienced a light apple-producing season and had to close their U-Pick season earlier than usual due to Southern California’s drought, unusual humid heat, and wacky El Niño weather, many of the apple orchards are still offering orchard farm activities, such as hayrides, pumpkin patches, and cider pressing. Many of which can be found in Oak Glen and Yucaipa, California.
Apple-picking season usually runs from after Labor Day to Thanksgiving weekend, but Southern California’s season was cut short leaving many without the opportunity to pick apples this year. Since we cannot be deprived of picking our own apples due to a short season, why not produce long-lasting, drought and environment tolerant apples? This would entail genetically modifying the apples and none are currently on the market, yet.
Although not drought or temperature resistant apples, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that they have deregulated two genetically engineered (GE) apple varieties as of February 2015, which will hit select markets in late 2016. Apples contain the enzyme, polyphenol oxidase (PPO) that mixes with polyphenols when an apple is cut or bruised. This oxidative chemical reaction leads to the unpleasant browning and mushiness of damaged or cut apples; however, the Arctic® apple has been genetically modified to decrease the amount of PPO being produced in the apple, which means less browning, waste, and unpleasant tastes and textures. It’s like hitting the off-button for unappetizing sliced apple browning.
According to The Packer, fresh-cut apples have been steadily increasing in sales and consumer demands over the past 10 years, and between 2011 and 2012, apples used for fresh-cut slices increased over 60%. Fresh-cut apples are quick and convenient for consumers, and consumer demands have contributed to an increase of more than 60% in fresh-cut fruit sales. The USDA patented a technology, NatureSeal®, which treats, coats, and packages cut apple slices and extends the shelf life of apples for up to four weeks in refrigeration; NatureSeal® is now used in apple processing facilities, food retailers, fast-food restaurants, and in schools through the National School Lunch Program. Fresh-cut apples are also found in 84% of supermarkets, making it convenient for parents to pack nutritious lunch snacks for their children.
The use of NatureSeal® provides the convenience of sliced apples, using a blend of added vitamins, minerals, and calcium salts to preserve the apples. In a market where consumer demands less preservatives and food additives in their foods, the Arctic® apple would help to decrease the use of preservatives, which may contribute to the off-taste and higher costs of freshly cut apples. The process used to prevent apples from browning is expensive, and one way to lessen those costs is to breed apples that produce little to no PPO. In addition, agro-industrial apple waste is a growing concern. Apples are one of the major fruits consumed globally, and apples that are not fit for the fresh market end up at the apple processing plants. Only 20% of the waste from processed apple products, such as apple juice and jam, get used as animal feed. The other 80% heads for the landfill, which has adverse side effects like producing greenhouse gases, causing dangerous microbial growth in landfills, and the cost to treat and transport the waste. In the near future, using the Arctic® apple for sliced and whole apples would not only lower over all industry costs and improve taste, it would also be a more convenient and viable option that keeps in line with the consumer market trend today. The long-term effect of the Arctic® apple as opposed to conventional apples is the potential to increase apple production and shelf life, minimize costs, and decrease pesticides use.
Agro-scientists have figured out a way to silence the four genes that produce PPO, similar to how a gun silencer mutes the sound it makes when the gun goes off. The apple still looks, feels, functions, and tastes the same, except there is less production of PPO, the enzyme responsible for apple browning. For those concerned, the Arctic® apple will not affect freshly baked warm apple pies because PPO is not responsible for the caramelized browning most are accustomed to. Malliard browning and caramelization are due to the chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar in the presence of heat. As for hot spiced apple cider made with Arctic® apples, it may appear lighter in color but will still retain the same delicious apple flavor.
Genes found in conventional apples were silenced to produce the Arctic® apple, but some consumers, such as the anti-GMO movement, fear the franken-fruit (i.e., the Arctic® apple) because the apple is genetically altered. There are pseudoscience-spewing food-mongers, such as Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has promoted his anti-GMO stance on his show and have posted videos about why the Arctic® apple is not safe; however The Slate reported that Dr. Oz had received at least three James Randi Education Foundation Pigasus Awards for his “refusal to face reality…and continued promotion of quack medical practices, paranormal belief, and pseudoscience.” The Arctic® apple will be the most researched and tested apple by the time it hits the commercial market. This recently deregulated fruit will not only help to lower costs, waste, and the use of preservatives and pesticides, but will also allow scientists to focus more on determining the optimal packaging, atmospheric environment, and storage temperatures to retain freshness and food safety without added off-flavors or food additives. And one day soon, you may be picking, slicing, or purchasing the convenient and delicious non-browning Arctic® apples.

Although U-Pick season is over this year, you can still head over to some of Southern California’s apple picking orchards for other fun-filled activities and get a head start on what to expect next year.

Chocolate Covered Bugs: A Scary Halloween Treat

                                                                                        Allie Corvese and Sudeshna Yadav

Chocolate Covered Bugs: A Scary Halloween Treat

       Halloween is just a few days away and for all you chocoholics out there, it is the best time of the year. Chocolate is one of the most popular products on the market and there is hardly anyone who hasn’t been tempted at least once by the countless types of chocolates available. The top ten confectionary cocoa companies had total sales exceeding 82 billion dollars in 2014 according to the International Cocoa Organization and Halloween accounted for $217 million dollars, which was up 12 percent from the year before. Now that’s a lot of chocolate being consumed! Since chocolate is in such a high demand and with sales being at an all-time high, manufacturers are constantly adopting new combination of flavors and fillings. So if you really are a chocoholic, then you’d have no qualms about trying some of the most unusual types of chocolate out there in the market.
         Chocolate manufacturers have made some strange combinations including chocolate that tastes like curry, salt, absinthe and some chocolates covered with super fruits such as goji berries, cherries and acai. Moreover, Hershey has introduced Almond clusters with Sea Salt and boutique companies have begun adding more unique ingredients such as chia and quinoa.  But now with Halloween fast approaching, the online website Entomarket, Amazon ,   Candycrate has combined our favorite chocolatey treat with a frightfully fun Halloween surprise: Chocolate Covered Insects! These festive treats not only come in a variety of different flavors but also a variety of insects.                               
Now I know chocolate insects might seem like an unusual idea but chocolatiers have been pushing the envelope on new flavors trying to improve the nutrition, fun and overall appeal of their products. Al Nassma has developed chocolate with camel milk in the UAE and has claimed the camel milk lowers the content of fat making it healthier than traditional chocolate. Another innovative and fancier chocolate ingredient out in the market is black truffle chocolate, developed by Rick and Michael Mast, this chocolate is one of the most expensive and rarest foods on the market. It is comprised of 74% cocoa, a pinch of sea salt and black truffles, a prized mushroom which cost over $2000 a kilo. A more Americanized chocolate candy that has seen its way on the shelf is chocolate with bacon. The Chicago-based company Vosges Haut-Chocolate successfully managed to combine two of America's favorite products - bacon and chocolate, into a treat called "Mo's Bacon Bar". The milk and dark chocolate bars the company produces contain pieces of smoked bacon and grains of salt. Finally for a more adult treat, there is chocolate with absinthe a product of the Swiss company Villars which has been in existence for more than a century. While all of these products are unique, nothing screams Halloween spirit like creepy crawly bugs covered in chocolate.


What Bugs are on the Market Today?
Some of the variations that are on the market today include chocolate covered crickets, toasted crickets with chile and lime flavor, ant wafers, chocolate mealworms and more. The chocolate covered crickets are oven toasted crickets hand dipped in semisweet dark chocolate similarly with the chile and lime flavors which are great for people who are lactose intolerant or gluten free since they have no dairy, eggs or wheat. There are ant wafers which are made with real farm ants and coated in tasty chocolate giving it an extra crunch. Also many of these products are organic and the insects are farmed raised and fed natural diet which is similar to chicken feed but insects require far less feed. These products use no artificial colors or preservatives and are a safe alternative to many of the flavored chocolates on the market today.                   

The Nutritional Value of Eating Insects
   Along with being a fun treat, insects have many nutritional benefits as well.  A research team led by Xiaoming showed that insects are rich in protein (20-70 percent), fat (10-50 percent), carbohydrate (2-10 percent), mineral elements, vitamins and other activated elements that promote human health. Six commercially available types of insects had been tested and it was found that 100 grams of bugs (roughly 200 crickets) is actually packed with more protein, energy, calcium and vitamins than a 100 gram serving of chicken, steak, or other meat.  Edible insects also provide many vitamins which cannot be synthesized in the human body and therefore must be constantly supplied by food. Insects contain vitamin A, carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B6, D, E, K, and C. The bug Macrotermes annandalei Silvestri has a vitamin A content of  2 500 IU/100 gram, vitamin D content of 8 540 IU/100 gram, vitamin E content of 116.5 mg/100 gram and vitamin C content of 15.04 mg/100 gram. Edible insects are also rich in trace elements such as potassium, sodium, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, manganese and phosphorus. Among which most of the edible insects have high calcium, zinc and iron content according to Hu & Rong,.

Western Views on Eating Bugs
Entomophagy, or eating insects, has not been seen as a viable food source in the United States and is thought to be disgusting and unsafe due to some insects can be transmitters of disease. But few people realize that most insects are beneficial and that very few are actually damaging. However, a growing number of Americans are now ready to sample insects that are prepared in the manner of other foods, and with the use of chocolate or similar coatings. Entomophagy has been growing in the general culture. While advocating entomophagy means fighting the momentum of American food practices, there are good reasons to be optimistic. In nearly every week of the year, an edible insect event is taking place somewhere in the United States, and people – especially children – are opening their eyes to the logic of entomophagy. Most of all we can witness entomophagy on reality TV shows (Survivor, Fear Factor) although most of these contestants are not thrilled at the prospect of eating insect and only do it to try to win money. However Bear Grylls eats bugs on his Man vs Wild TV show all the time and seems to enjoy it! So whether or not participants on these shows enjoy eating bugs, the practice still exposes entomophagy to the public and catalyzes conversations on the subject. Negative representations are still better than none at all, for they stir a sense of curiosity in some viewers.                                                          
Chocolate edible insect are not only fun and different but can provide a significant source of protein. A blog written by Lexie Beswick stated that one hundred grams or about 3 1/2 ounces of crickets contains 121 calories, 5 grams carbohydrates, 13g protein, and 76 milligrams iron. They are organic and despite western civilizations critical view, they are safe for consumption. So instead of going with the boring chocolate bars this year, bring some excitement to the trick or treaters and scare them with this delicious treat! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Stop Worrying About the Wrong Things!

Stop Worrying About the Wrong Things!
by Ann Enverga 

Propylene glycol is present in many foods that are consumed daily, such as frostings, candies, baked goods, alcoholic beverages, sweeteners and many more. It helps make food taste good as it distributes the flavor evenly in the product and allows the flavor to last for a long period of time.  It also absorbs water that helps food products maintain their moisture.  In addition to food products, propylene glycol is also used in pharmaceutical, cosmetic products and vehicles. It has been proven to be safe to use for more than 50 years. But 50 years of proven safety doesn’t seem to be enough to silence the voices of those who want to ban propylene glycol. Since it is used in cosmetics and vehicles, many fall under the impression that it is dangerous and should not be consumed. Is this also saying that since water is used in motor vehicles or cosmetic products, it shouldn’t be consumed as well?                       
Various websites have deemed propylene glycol as unacceptable.  Food Babe believes that it makes logical sense to add it on the list of unacceptable ingredients. Saveourbones website placed propylene glycol in their “worst offenders” ingredient list due it being present in motor vehicles as antifreeze, which prevents vehicles from freezing during the winter.  This antifreeze property can also be applied in food. For instance, propylene glycol is used in ice cream to prevent it from being too icy when stored in the freezer. Saveourbones website claims that with Americans eating ice cream 5 times more than they did 50 years ago, the long term effects of propylene glycol can kill a person slowly.  Moreover, the Healthy Home Economist website claims that propylene glycol causes heart, kidney and brain damage. It is also contaminated with ethylene oxide, which causes development delay and cancer.                          
The Environmental Protection Agency states that propylene glycol is a type of antifreeze that is less toxic compared to ethylene glycol, which can damage the internal organs when inhaled. The LD50 (dose to kill 50% test sample) of ethylene oxide is 4.7g/kg body weight in rats while propylene glycol is 20g/kg body weight in rats. These values can be compared to the LD50 of table sugar, which is 29g/kg body weight in rats.  Propylene glycol has a closer value to the LD50 of table sugar than ethylene glycol. Since ethylene glycol is a toxic antifreeze, it made some people to believe that all antifreeze products are toxic. The FDA categorizes propylene glycol as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredient. This means that the risk of propylene glycol toxicity is very low.  It takes about 6g per kg body weight to cause acute toxicities in the body. This means that a 70kg person will need to consume about 420g of propylene glycol, an amount that does not even exist, since it is added in very small amounts in food products. Furthermore, once ingested, it is quickly removed from the body and does not accumulate.                       
Despite the proven safety of propylene glycol, many believe that it is harmful since it is used in cosmetic products and motor vehicles. Just because it is used in a non-food product doesn’t make a substance toxic. It is the dose that makes a substance toxic, similar to medicine.  In reality, when is the last time one has heard of propylene glycol poisoning? There are more important issues to be concerned about instead of an ingredient in a food product that actually makes food taste good. How about foodborne diseases? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 out of 6 Americans get ill from foodborne diseases. 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from these diseases. Most of these were caused by improper handling or cooking preparations, such as undercooking food, that lets disease causing microbes, called pathogens, survive in the food. In fact, a co-worker of mine was absent for a week due to salmonella from eating unwashed grapes. Isn’t this a more important issue to be concerned about? Besides pathogens, food allergies cause more than 300,000 visits in ambulatory care for children under 18 years of age (CDC).  How about malnutrition (over and under nutrition), poverty and hunger? Poor areas around the world don’t even know or worry about propylene glycol because they are busy worrying about their next meal in order to survive. We need to focus more on the important things in life that affect our health.  There is a need for re-examining what the real concerns are in the food industry as well as the need to increase the trust of the organizations that safe guard the food system.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

FSNSA Oktoberfest
Sophia Pollack
FSNSA President 
A couple of weeks ago, Straub Distribution Company graciously hosted FSNSA's first fundraising event of the new school year and it was a great success!  We had a fantastic group of food science students, MBA students, friends and family! The evening starting off by welcoming everyone into the tasting room, followed by a short information session given by Budweiser's Director of On Site Operations, Howard.

Do you know what the difference between lagers and ales are?  Or what does IPA stand for?  Or what are the four main ingredients in beer? Theses are just some of the fun facts that our guests learned the answers to!  Howard began by teaching our guests the four main ingredients in beer: yeast, water, barley, and hops.  The participants were able to taste various grains, each roasted to a different degree, providing a variety of flavors to beers, and have hands on exposure with hops, which Howard explains, provides the bitterness and some floral notes to beers.  Did you know there is a correct way to pour a beer that allows you to actually drink more beer?! Well, there is!! If you pour a beer into a "beer-ready" glass straight down the middle, it is a better pour than if you were to pour it down the side of the glass, as many people think is the correct way to pour a beer.  This was demonstrated by Howard by pouring a beer the right way in one glass, and the wrong way in another glass.  Next, he put a piece of a paper napkin into the each of the glasses, to represent what happens to the beer when it is in your stomach.  The beer that was poured correctly, did not foam over the sides when the napkin was added to the glass; however, in the glass that had the beer poured incorrectly, immediately began foaming over the side and did not stop when the napkin was added in.  This shows how beer poured correctly does not expand in your stomach like a beer that is poured incorrectly does!

The Venue

After the short educational session, it was time for dinner to begin! The menu was designed by me, Sophia, and Howard, Cord and the Budweiser team paired the beers to go with them.
Kelly, Cord, and Jim

The Kitchen Crew: Kevin, Tony, Sophia, Hunter and Jill
The courses were served tapas style.

The first course was a charcuterie platter consisting of a variety of cured meats, Terrine "Paul Bert," Seaweed butter, Delice de Bourgogne cheese, and accoutrements paired with a Stella Artois Pilsner 
First Course: Charcuterie Platters

A trio of bruschetta were served next (kalamata olive tapenade, roasted eggplant, and conserva) paired with Goose Island 312 Wheat American Wheat.
Second Course: Bruschetta trio

Next was a Spanish style tortilla with chorizo with a sofrito.  This was paired with Ninkasi Noir Milk Stout with Coffee (Not Pictured). 

The fourth course served were latkes with creme fraiche, house-cured gravlax and chives.  This course was brilliantly paired with Bootlegger's Lemongrass White.

Fourth course: House cured salmon, latkes, creme fraiche
Following the salmon was shredded chicken in a lime salsa verde sauce on a fried potato garnished with red onion and cilantro.  The flavor of the coriander brought out the wonderful flavors of the Black Market Deception Blonde with Lime and Coconut beer it was paired with.
Fifth course: lime chicken
To finish off the savory dishes, a BBQ pulled pork sandwich with house pickled onions and jalapeños on a sweet roll which was paired with a Spaten Oktoberfest.  
Sixth course: Pulled pork, pickled onion, jalapeños.                                  

And to finish-chocolate three ways paired with Karl Strauss Peanut Butter Cup Porter


                                                                                                  Av with two of our wonderful alumni Tamar and Erin!

Vice President Emma with Joele, Jess and Fior

Sophia the President of Food Science and John the President of MBA

Kevin, John, Jason and Stefani enjoying the beer pairings


 Thank you for all those that donated to our program, and a special thank you to Cord, Howard, Jim and Kelly at Budweiser for helping us organize the event, for the space, beer and all your help and support; Coosemans LA for donating the produce; Alan, Toni and Nick Pollack for their donations; Tika Muslin for the conserva; my wonderful sous chef's Hunter, Kevin, Jill and Tony; and our FSNA executives Emma, Vyom, Adam and Alex.  We could not have done this event without the help and support of all that donated and came out to the event! Thank you!!!