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The Department of Food Science make an impact at the South Island Agricultural Field Day

Tuesday, 2 May 2017 1:33pm

The Department of Food Science showcased our research at the South Island Agricultural Field Day at Kirwee near Christchurch with Lab-in-a-Box.

Professor Indrawati Oey, Professional Practice Fellow Fiona Nyhof and Assoc. Professor John Birch hosted two activities: 'Packing in the Proteins' and 'Is this plant healthy?', the latter of which was hosted alongside Department of Botany.

Agricultural Field Day - South Island Photo 2

An area of research in our department is the development of nutritionally enhanced food products from fractionating and recombining flaxseed components.

Flaxseeds from the common European Flax plant (Linum usitatissimum L) are utilised in New Zealand principally for their omega-3 oil content obtained as a high value product by cold-pressing the oilseeds. However the co-produced flaxseed meal, despite having a unique nutritional composition linked to various positive health effects, is of low economic value and principally sold as animal feed.

Our research aims to formulate value-added food products containing flaxseed meal and other flaxseed fractions to enhance its nutritional properties with potential for possible health claims. To date a chocolate-flavoured flaxseed beverage has been developed using defatted flaxseed meal extract, high in soluble protein and soluble fibre. Incorporation of the flaxseed extract had a positive effect on viscosity and mouth-feel of the beverage and delivered enough protein and fibre to make nutritional content claims for ‘a good source of protein’ and ‘an excellent source of fibre’ in accordance with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

In another project we used the soluble protein/mucilage fraction to encapsulate the oil to produce nanocapsules for delivery, under simulated digestive conditions, of the healthful omega-3 fatty acids in a protective shell. Further products are planned with the insoluble portion, comprising 50% of the defatted oilseed cake, for high-fibre bakery and meat products. We are also using these initiatives with other oilseed products such as hemp and canola and to produce bioactive peptides.

The research meets the Innovation in Agriculture goals of adding value to primary industry products. It also meets diversification targets such as alternative protein sources to dairy and meat products and environmental management goals of lowering greenhouse gas emissions and damage to waterways through plant-based farming alternatives to dairying.

For more general information about the University if Otago's contribution to the Field Day then go to the news item 'Otago’s Agricultural expertise on display at Field Days'

The Department of Food Science is a research partner in the Agriculture at Otago (Ag@Otago) collaboration which aims to advance profitability and environmental sustainability of primary industry in New Zealand.