Products and Process Development Services
To perform its functions, NFTRC has several purpose built and fairly equipped laboratories, operated by adequately trained personnel. The established laboratories include Food Chemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology, Food Processing, Nutrition Assessments, Food Texture and Rheology, Food Sensory and a Pilot Plant. The Centre also has an outdoor hybrid floor-pneumatic cereal malting mini plant for research work.
Tests provided for food quality assessments involve nutritional parameters such as proteins (and derived amino acids), carbohydrates, fats (and fatty acids), vitamins and minerals. Food safety-related testing focusing on physical, biochemical and microbiological contaminants in food, with routine analysis developed for mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin, xeralenone and fumonisins), residual pesticides (organophosphates and chlorophosphates) and GMO sequences. These analyses are achieved using internationally referenced methods and versatile analytical instruments such as Ultra High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (UHPLC), High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Gas Chromatography –Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS), and Molecular Techniques employing Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reactor (PCR).
The NFTRC Sensory laboratory conducts Descriptive Sensory Analysis and Consumer Sensory Tests, which are essential for positioning new products against competitor products in the market. The former test compares important sensory attributes of a product against competitor products, thus giving manufacturers insights into differences that exist between their new product and the established brands. The latter measures how well the new product could be accepted in the market.
NFTRC is also well equipped to offer nutrition-related services to corporate entities and individuals. The Centre has installed a gold standard non-invasive rapid and more accurate body composition measuring equipment (BOD POD). The Centre has also built capacity to for determination of body composition using stable isotope techniques. A collection of standard anthropometric and blood tests are also employed for nutritional screening and assessments. These tests are availed on request during group wellness functions, and their results are used as basis for providing advice on good nutrition and appropriate eating habits.
The Centre also has an FMC R&D pilot batch retort, complete with Ellab wireless temperature recorders, which provide capacity to conduct canning operations. This retort has a capacity to process 200 of 410g cans at a time, and permits a wide scope of thermal treatments, which include (i) Steam Water Spray with air overpressure, (ii) 100% steam process with pressure cooling, (iii) Single vessel full water immersion with air overpressure. These thermal processes can be performed in static or agitation modes. Coupled to this retort unit are steam jacketed kettles, exhaust box, manual can seamer, and a pouch sealer to complete process operations required for commercial canning. With this process line batch of canned products such as meat stews, vegetables and mushrooms (in glass jars, tins and flexible pouches) can be processed and tested for market acceptability.
Regarding food product and manufacturing process development the Centre has a state-of-the-art MicroThermics mini thermal processing plant for liquid and semi-liquid products. The plant offers thermal processing options of High Temperature Short Time (HTST) and Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) treatments, and is equipped with a laminar flow hood for sterile packaging. It permits application of direct steam injection and indirect tubular processing, the two common industrial processes. This thermal processing plant forms part of the unit operations of a complete entry-level beverage processing plant, which also has a Reverse-Osmosis bottled water plant (2000 L/hr), a semi-automated bottle filling and labeling plant (5-10 bottles/minute) and a manually operated PET bottle blow-molding unit. This liquid products line is available to the industry for product development and test-bedding purposes.
For cereal products NFTRC has a milling facility which provides operations of abrasive decortication, hammer milling, stone milling and roller milling. The mills are linked to a variable volumetric packing machine. Production capacities of 200-300 Kg/hr can be achieved in this facility. There is also a multi-purpose R&D fermentation vessel which permits development of fermented products.