Innovations to Be Unveiled at Foods, Materials Conference

June 08, 2009 - News Release

Baked goods with zero trans fat. Processed foods that taste salty but contain little sodium chloride. Environmentally friendly fibres based on how deep-water hagfish produce slime. These are just some of the latest innovations in food, nutrition and biomaterials that will be unveiled this week at the fifth annual scientific conference of the Advanced Foods and Materials Network (AFMNet). The event runs June 11 to 14 at the Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre.

"In these tough economic times, our team of researchers and partners is reinforcing our commitment to create and bring to market healthier, more affordable products for Canadians," said Rickey Yada, a University of Guelph food science professor and AFMNet's chief research officer.

The U of G-based network connects leading researchers across Canada in areas such as food science, law and ethics, biomaterials and health, and facilitates research on scientific, social and health aspects of food and materials.

More than 20 research projects will be showcased at the four-day event, including:

• A healthy alternative to butter and other fats that can be used to make baked goods with zero trans fat. Guelph food science professor Alejandro Marangoni and Gianfranco Mazzanti of Dalhousie University have found that full hydrogenation of locally-grown crops such as canola and soy produces a healthier fat product that is pliable enough to bake "puff" pastries and other bakery products.

• Using the concept of controlled release — similar to that found in over-the-counter timed- release capsules — to simulate the experience of a “salt hit” so that using less salt will have the same impact on taste using a larger amount. This project is headed by Ryerson University professor Dérick Rousseau.

• Making ecologically friendly high-performance textile fibres by replicating the process hagfish use to create slime. The slime secreted by hagfish contains protein fibres that are renewable, strong and stretchy — ideal for for textiles. The research led by Guelph integrative biology professor Doug Fudge has the potential to replace petroleum-based materials that rely on harmful solvents.

Launched in 2003, AFMNet is part of the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence program, which is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and Industry Canada.

More information about the conference is available online.

For media questions, contact U of G Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982

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