May 2005 No. 2


Results and updates

First Delphi Expert Survey on organic food processing

Report on organic rodent control strategies

QLIF Congress 2005

Health in focus

Consumer issues

Product quality and health

Crop production system

Livestock production system

Processing strategies

Related projects

Organic HACCP

Blight MOP

QLIF Notes

Congress in DK 2006

PhD summer school

PhD seminar on soil quality



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Processing strategies

Processing principles and standards

Underlying principles in organic food processing

Perceptions and challenges in organic food processing - Delphi Expert Survey

Importance of organic food processing in Czech Republic

Processing to enhance nutritional benefits

Cheesemaking in Switzerland

Sensory training program for handcraft processing of organic cereal and milk products

Industrial baking of high quality organic bread

Replacing chlorine and nitrate preservatives

Production of reddend meat products without the addition of nitrite curing salt and Saltpeter

Processing principles and standards

Underlying Principles in Organic and “Low-Input Food” Processing

Alexander Beck et al.

The literature survey focuses on the underlying principles in organic food processing, which are quite different depending of different types of products, different processing standards and marketing concepts. Some of the principles are basic (e.g. the use of certified organic ingredients, a certified production chain and a minimised use of additives), others are shared broadly (e.g. more careful processing methods, naturalness) and some principles are in discussion mainly in the private sector (e.g. environmental management concepts, social requirements, regional focus).

The survey discusses current practices and challenges in general and with regard to different product groups (organic fruit and vegetables, cereals, milk and meat products). Such challenges, imposed by the tendency to go towards longer shelf life and higher food safety, should not be achieved at the expense of e.g. their freshness (e.g. milk). Apparently there is a lack of guiding principles and related criteria, which are needed to make a decision about specific processing methods in discussion.

The report shows that the EU-Regulation 2092/91 covers a number of consumer perceptions such as certification system, traceability, minimal use of additives, labelling concepts and the use of organic raw materials. However other consumer expectations are not fulfilled such as careful processing, freshness, healthy nutrition or fair trade. The future development of organic food processing should follow a more “fork to farm” approach. Consumer expectations should be better taken into account. Innovative solutions/technologies are needed using natural substances with more appropriate technologies and/or less critical additives and processing aids.

Schmid, O., Beck, A., Kretzschmar, U. (Eds) Underlying Principles in Organic and “Low-Input Food” Processing – Literature Survey. First publication within the EU IP Project “QualityLowInputFood” (www.qlif.org), Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. Frick, 112 p.

WORKSHOP 4: Processing principles and standards – views and developments in European countries, Talk 1

Related to QLIF WP 5.1

Perceptions and challenges in organic food processing – Results of the first round of the European Delphi Expert Survey

Ursula Kretzschmar & Otto Schmid

A Delphi expert study is conducted about organic food processing, involving more than 110 experts in 13 countries from September-November 2004. A second round will follow in February 2005. Challenges and possible solutions with respect to maintaining food safety, satisfying consumer demands, satisfactory shelf lives and wider societal issues are investigated. This Delphi survey should help to develop a better framework/code of practise for the design of “minimum” and “low input” processing strategies. It should improve the EU Regulation 2092/91 as well as private organic food processing standards

The focus of the first survey, conducted from September-November 2004, was focussing on the following key areas/questions:

  • Better clarification of terms such as “minimum processing”, “careful processing”, “freshness” and “authenticity”

  • Use of environment friendly techniques for the processing of organic foods?

  • Use of new technologies in use like microwaves, extrusion for cereal products, reverse osmoses?

  • Exclusion or stronger restrictions for the use of flavours or colours?

  • Restrictions for the use of antioxidants and preservatives, raising agents and anti-caking in bakery products, use nitrite/nitrate in meat products, Soya-lecithin (GMO risk),

  • Broader or more restrictive use of enzymes?

  • Requierements for micro-organisms like yeast, cultures for dairy or meat products?

  • Need and feasibility of more separated processing lines to reduce contamination risks?

  • More detailed labelling of processing methods

  • Use of the most environment friendly packaging?

The presentation will summarise the main findings and outline some topics for further elaboration and research.

WORKSHOP 4: Processing principles and standards – views and developments in European countries, Talk 2

Related to QLIF WP 5.1

Importance of Organic Food Processing in Czech Republic

Tom Vaclavik, Czech Republic

In Czech Republic at the end of the year 2003, 254 995 ha (5.97 %) of the Utilised Agricultural Area was cultivated organically. Nevertheless, arable land comprised only 19 637 ha (7.70 %), orchards and vineyards 928 ha (0.36%) and other land types 2 747 (1.08 %), while permanent grassland covered 231 683 ha (90.86 %). There were 810 organic farms with an average size of a farm of 315 ha. Most of the organic land is permanent grassland and pastures in mountainous areas designated for landscape maintenance.

The processing of organic products is considered as one of the weakest areas that has a crucial importance for the further development of organic farming in the Czech Republic. There are only 96 certified processors, and only about half of those are actually producing.

From 2004 on the subsidy payment per ha for organic arable land, permanent crops, fruit and vegetables will triple. This will result in a much higher amount of new products on the market in 2006 and 2007. There is a strong need for more market oriented measures: e.g.:

  • Support for small, local processing facilities and on-farm processing;

  • Education for farmers on all aspects of organic food processing, entrepreneurship and direct marketing;

  • Stimulating investments into processing of organic products;

Public education, stimulation of the national consumer demand and an improved market transparency will support the development of the organic food market.

In the presentation some strategies to overcome barriers for organic food processing will be outlined.

WORKSHOP 4: Processing principles and standards – views and developments in European countries, Talk 3

Replacing chlorine and nitrate preservatives

The production of reddend meat products without the addition of nitrite curing salt and Saltpeter

Helmut Pöhnl, Aurapa würzungen GmbH, Germany

The application of nitrite in meat products exhibits a range of advantages that make it difficult to find an adequate alternative. Particulary so far no substance is known which possess all advantageous properties at the same time

1) colouring properties ("cured meat colour")

2) flavouring properties ("cured meat flavour")

3) preservative properties ("inhibiting effect")

4) antioxidant effect ("protection of fat against oxidation")

Nitrate curing salt and saltpeter are used due to their colouring properties.

The following reactions take place:

  • Bacteria form nitrite from nitrate.
  • This dispropotinates to Nitrate and Nitrogene Monoxide, which forms salpetric acid under acid conditions.
  • Nitrogene Monoxide reacts either direct with myoglobine or forms via several intermedia stages the instable Nitrosometmyoglobin, which converts to the stable cured meat colour Nitrosomyochromogen
  • This compound is colour stable during heating.

This paper will present results obtained with alternative curing protocols that are more acceptable to organic processing principles.

WORKSHOP 13: Replacing chlorine and nitrate preservatives, Talk 1

Processing to enhance nutritional benefits

Cheesemaking in Switzerland: Minimal processing, hygienic safety and innovations

H. P. Bachmann, Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux (ALP), Swiss Federal Research Station for Animal Production and Dairy Products, Switzerland

Traditional Swiss cheese varieties, e.g. Emmentaler, Gruyere, or Appenzeller are made from raw milk without the use of any adjuvants or additives. Despite this minimal processing the hygienic safety is ensured.

The ability of potentially pathogenic bacteria to grow and to survive during the manufacture and ripening of Swiss hard and semihard cheese varieties made from raw milk was examined. In Swiss hard cheeses, the inoculated pathogens beyond 1 day were not detected. At the age of commercial ripeness, also the semihard cheeses were free from the inoculated pathogens and their toxic metabolites, except for L. monocytogenes, which survived the manufacturing and ripening process.

Based upon these knowledge the Swiss dairy industry runs a monitoring program for Listeria for cheese and other dairy products. Since its introduction, the program has proven to be a suitable instrument for identification and management of L. monocytogenes contamination at every stage of cheese production, ripening, and distribution.

The decrease of the pathogens can be explained by the synergistic effects of a high milk quality, short milk storage (effect of active antimicrobial enzyme systems of fresh raw milk), antagonistic starter culture flora , fast acidification, antimicrobial effect of lactic acid, high curd cooking temperatures, intense brining, and the ripening at elevated temperatures for at least two months. All these factors are also important determiants of flavour and texture quality. It can be concluded, that there is no contradiction between minimal processing, authentic flavours and hygienic safety.

To improve nutritional and sensorial properties of low-fat cheese a new process was developed. Whey proteins are precipitated in the whey in a traditional procedure and added to the milk. Those cheeses had a softer texture and a more intensive aroma. The water content was distinctly higher, which resulted in a higher yield.

Bachmann H.P., Spahr U. 1995. The fate of potentially pathogenic bacteria in swiss hard and semihard cheeses made from raw milk. J.Dairy Sci. 78:476-483

Spahr U., Schafroth K. 2001. Fate of Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis in Swiss hard and semihard cheese manufactured from raw milk. Appl.Environ.Microbiol. 67: 4199-4205

Spahr U., Url B. 1994. Behaviour of pathogenic bacteria in cheese - a synopsis of experimental data. Bull.Int.Dairy Federation. 298:2-16

WORKSHOP 18: Production and processing to enhance nutritional benefits, Talk 1

Development of a sensory training program for handcraft food processing of organic cereal and milk products

Angelika Meier-Ploeger

Aim of this research project (October 02 – December 03) was to use sensory analysis in handcraft processing of organic cereal and milk products as an instrument for quality assurance, especially for the “in-process” sensory assessment and for the final “product control”. This enables the farmers and small scale processors of organic food to optimize their specific quality characteristics in bread and cheese for a better marketing of their produce.

This sensory project was conducted by the Department of Organic Food Quality and Food Culture at the University of Kassel and financed by the German Ministry for Consumer Affairs, Food and Agriculture.

The advantages of sensory analysis in the quality assurance are obvious: well trained human senses are cheap and always available. The capability to perceive and to characterize sensory properties in self-produced (hand craftet) food products is one of the most important skills in order to “measure” the variability of sensory quality with ones own senses. For this reason, a sensory training program was developed and evaluated to give an example for the products “Roggen-weizenvollkornbrot” (whole grain bread from wheat and rye) and “Bauernschnittkäse mit Rotschmiere” (semi-hard cheese) in cooperation with the Institut for Job-Training at Kassel University .

In the first two steps an analysis of critical points was conducted in order to point at actual problems and mistakes during the processing concerning the sensory quality of organic bread and cheese. Secondly, on the basis of this analysis, strategies to avoid mistakes during the manufacturing of bread and cheese were defined. The sensory training program was conducted successfully in workshops of the National Academy for small scale milk processors and bread processors and the National Academy on Job - Training with the responsible instructors. The knowledge transfer into practice is ensured by the integration of these programs in special courses of instruction for organic cheesemakers and for organic bakers. The results have shown, that further research in sensory quality assurance in the handcraft food processing is necessary for other cereal and milk products as well. The training courses were evaluated as very helpful for the small scale processors of handcrafted cheese and bread.

WORKSHOP 18: Production and processing to enhance nutritional benefits, Talk 2

Related to QLIF WP 5.1

Industrial baking of high quality organic bread

Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters Ltd, UK

Description of the challenge to industrial bakers of organic bread to take account of nutritional quality and how emerging evidence may support the relevance to organic baking of artisan methods based on long fermentations.

WORKSHOP 18: Production and processing to enhance nutritional benefits, Talk 3