Over the years, the FFR unit has successfully developed new and improved technologies for transfer and commercialization to the private sector. Some of these technologies are highlighted below.
New Healthy Functional Foods; Trim Products for Good Health: Creation of a series of highly effective method to increase the soluble fiber content in foods has resulted in four hugely successful technologies known as Oatrim, Nutrim, Z-trim, and C-trim. Each has contributed to improve foods and greater global health as a food ingredient that can replace fats in food and/or deliver dietary fiber. An industrial partner has licensed this ARS-patented functional food from oats for the production of Calorie-Trim, and Nutrim. Z-Trim is licensing this product for expanded markets including USDA‟s school lunch program.
Native cedar wood oil repellant to several insect pests: The oil from the American native cedar tree, Juniperus virginiana, is an effective repellent to several species of ants and houseflies, two cockroach species, and a tick. ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, developed a method to extract cedar wood oil (CWO), a safe, natural, native, renewable and underutilized agricultural resource, and demonstrated its potential use as an insect control agent. In outdoor tests, several species of ants were repelled by smearing CWO on a pole leading to a sugar-water solution. In laboratory tests, invasive, imported red fire ants were repelled by CWO separating them from a food source. Blacklegged tick nymphs were killed by CWO, and more than 90% of adult houseflies died after contact with CWO. The crude carbon dioxide-derived CWO extract showed some repellence toward both German and American cockroaches. Read about it here in ARS magazine. Read about it here at AOCS Inform.
Sesamol for Oil: In an effort to develop natural antioxidants for frying oil that can replace synthetic antioxidants, ARS scientists discovered that sesamol, extracted from sesame oil, effectively protected soybean oil from oxidation during frying French fries. Read about it here in ARS Magazine.
A new imitation butter without trans- or saturated-fats. Many food products require structured fats, such as those provided by either trans- or saturated-fats for their desired melting characteristics, acceptable tongue-feel, sensory, and shelf-life. However, due to recent regulatory changes that eliminated trans-fats from foods, companies are under pressure to replace hydrogenated oils with saturated fats from imported palm oil. This has created an additional health problem: replacing trans-fats with saturated fats is not a healthful long-term solution. ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, have found a solution through the development of organo-gels, inexpensive, edible plant gels (waxes) that provide a solid structure to vegetable oils. To achieve the desired firmness in spreadable imitation-butter (margarine), the scientists were able to substitute the organo-gel for partially hydrogenated (trans-fat) soybean oil, resulting in the same spreadable firmness without any added saturated or trans fats. This technology can be used to replace expensive imported palm oil with soybean oil or other U.S.-produced plant oils, benefiting both the U.S. farmer and food-oil processing companies. Companies that make margarines and shortening have shown interest in using organo-gel in their products. Read about it here at AOCS Inform.
Wild Grape: A Domestic Source of Gum Arabic? A new polysaccharide similar to gum arabic from a North American frost grape species. A new polysaccharide was isolated from the North American frost grape species, Vitis riperia, a wild grape that is typically found in woodland across the United States, and grows up to 50 feet in length. Because it is resistant to the phylloxera pathogenic aphid, the frost grape is used agriculturally as a root stock for grafting of commercial edible grapes. Agricultural Research Service researchers in Peoria, Illinois, have found that the cut stems of frost grape produce large amounts of a viscous, transparent polysaccharide gum, similar in structure to gum arabic, which is a commercial food emulsifying agent. Like gum arabic, the Frost Grape polysaccharide forms viscous solutions and gels, is also an excellent non-oily emulsifier of various food-grade oils. We anticipate that this research will be of interest to the U.S. food and beverage industries as it provides a possible local source of a product similar to gum Arabic. Read about it here in ARS magazine. Read about it here in the Peoria Journal Star.
Incorporating bioactive lipids into fried foods. Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family of lipid compounds, but they are not as well-known as the main vitamin E form: tocopherols. Interest in the benefits of tocotrienols has recently surged, as they have been shown to have antioxidant activity, cholesterol lowering and cardio-protective effects, neuroprotective effects, and to have anticancer and antitumor activities. However, tocotrienols are not prevalent in the typical western diet. Agricultural Research Service researchers at the USDA in Peoria, IL incorporated tocotrienols from a natural source into frying oil, and were able to show that the tocotrienols were absorbed by fried tortilla chips. In addition, due to their antioxidant effects, the fried tortilla chips with added tocotrienols had better shelf stability and had better flavor after storage. This research is of interest to oil processors and food manufacturers interested in incorporating tocotrienols into food products as functional food ingredients and for extending shelf-life of fried foods using natural ingredients. Read about it here in ARS magazine.
Analytical support for soybean and other oilseeds. Soybean breeders are dependent on rapid, standardized, and accurate chemical genetic markers to guide their breeding efforts. ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, performed oil, protein, and moisture content determinations on 30,601 soybean samples by near infrared and fatty acid profiles on 15,089 soybean samples. The compiled data were published in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual “Coordinated Soybean Analysis.” All these data, which are critical to the development of improved soybean varieties, have been provided to breeders throughout the United States. The Peoria scientists also analyzed 100 Camelina accessions for free acid content and percent oil for breeders in Nebraska and 1,000 Brassica accessions for free acid content and percent oil in a collaborative study with the ARS Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa. In addition, more than 140 Jojoba accessions were analyzed for free acid content and percent oil for the ARS National Plant Germplasm System. The continued analysis of accessions provides breeders with the needed information.