Consumer demand is rising for nuts and seeds, and food processors have to process more volume and ensure that food is safe to eat. Neo-Pure from Agri-Neo is the only organic, non-thermal pasteurization solution for low-moisture foods that provides a 5-log reduction of Salmonella while maintaining the natural nutrition and germination ability of seeds, nuts and grains.
"Most pasteurization methods currently used by food processors compromise the nutrition of food during the process," said Amir Hamidi, PhD, food safety science leader at Agri-Neo who led this research study. "Seeds are one of the fastest growing healthy food choices, and it's important that food processors are producing safe food and maintaining the full nutrients and shelf life consumers expect."
The study demonstrates the efficacy of an organic, non-thermal pasteurization solution and its impact on four critical components to food processing. The objective of the research was to analyze the Neo-Pure pasteurization method and assess its impact and effectiveness on pasteurizing chia and flax seeds. The study analyzed the following processing concerns: pathogen reduction, germination ability (sprouting), nutritional value, and rancidity levels.
"Most food safety research studies focus solely on the efficacy to eliminate microbes and not its impact on food quality," added Hamidi. "This study validates a safe, organic solution for consumers and food processors that effectively pasteurizes low-moisture foods and that maintains the high-value nutrition people want."
Researchers tested samples of raw un-sprouted black chia seeds and un-sprouted brown flax seeds. They infected the seeds with harmful Salmonella bacteria and then pasteurized them with the Neo-Pure Food Safety System to test its efficacy for eliminating pathogens. Lastly, the researchers evaluated the seeds' ability to germinate as well as the seeds' nutrient content and rancidity.
The Neo-Pure organic, non-thermal pasteurization process achieved a 5-log reduction of pathogens, meeting industry-wide food safety standards. Data confirmed that the Neo-Pure solution produced more than a 5.31 average log reduction of pathogens for flax seeds and 5.17 for chia seeds.
Results indicated that the Neo-Pure pasteurization process did not significantly impact the natural ability of chia or flax seeds to germinate. Researchers compared the nutritional value of raw seeds to the treated seeds. Both of the seed variations maintained natural levels of the key nutritional and sensory characteristics consumers desire after treatment and showed no significant change from the raw state.
Agri-Neo will present the research at the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) 2019 Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky on July 23 at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Three accredited labs collaborated to conduct the study, including the Agricultural and Food Laboratory of the University of Guelph, AGAT Laboratories and Illinois Crop Improvement (IL Crop).