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The French line.

Small and mid-sized food industry suppliers from France are making a special effort to enter the U.S. market.

As the Americans say: If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. Or, as the French say: La faim fait sortir le loup du bois. (Hunger drives the wolf from the woods.)

French suppliers to the food industry are hoping to make U.S. customers so hungry for their equipment and ingredients that they'll be willing to cross the Atlantic.

Twenty-one small and mid-sized French companies will be coming to Chicago next month to promote their products before potential U.S. clients. Billed as "The 7th Annual French-American Technology Meetings," the event will take place Oct. 28-29 at the Chicago Athletic Association, 12 S. Michigan Ave. It is timed to precede the Worldwide Food Expo in Chicago's McCormick Place, Oct. 30-Nov. 2.

The Technology Meetings will include presentations by the French companies, opportunities for one-on-one meetings with interested potential clients, and a presentation on doing business in France. The event is sponsored by ANVAR, the French Agency for the Development of Industrial Innovation.

Five of the companies that will participate in the Technology Meetings recently played host to industry trade journalists, under the auspices of CFME-ACTIM, the Agency for the International Promotion of French Technology and Trade. Let's take a lock at what they have to offer.

It's in the can

Compiling reliable data about heating profiles in retorted containers has always been a challenge for canneries and other food plants. Data-gathering in continuous retorts is especially tough, because the sensor inside the sample container cannot be wired to a data logger.

Montpellier-based TMI-Orion offers a series of self-contained data loggers for use inside retorted containers and in other process segments. These devices can gather data on temperature, pressure and other physical parameters, and display them - tabulated over time - after downloading to a PC.

TMI-Orion's newest products, which will debut at the Worldwide Food Expo, include extra-small sizes of its NanoVACQ data-loggers. The new sizes include a cylindrical two-channel model for bottles; the NanoVACQ/1T extra-flat model, with a total volume of less than 0.73 cubic inch; and the Nano/VACQ/PT-T, a three-channel model with dimensions of 1.2-by-1.6-inches.

In addition to data-logging in retorts, TMI-Orion sensors have been used to determine thermal profiles inside the augur of a coffee roaster, in continuous fryers, in beer-pasteurization lines and in many kinds of ovens. The three-year-old company, started by former IBM executives, has about half its sales in the food industry.

The rise of yeast

The use of microorganisms to create flavors is one of the fastest-growing technologies in the ingredients sector. A leading French manufacturer of industrial yeast is hoping to interest U.S. food companies in its microorganism-derived flavors.

SAF-ISIS is working on about 60 biosynthesized flavors, including organic acids, alcohols, aldehydes and esters. Products available for market include a hexanal-based essence that lends a "green note" to such products as iced tea and fruit punches. All SAF-ISIS products can be declared as natural flavors under both U.S. and European Union label regulations.

Based in Soustons, SAF-ISIS is a subsidiary of the Lesaffre Group, a leading producer of yeast for fermentation and other industrial uses, and ISIS, a division of the French Petroleum Institute. SAF-ISIS USA in Minneapolis represents the company in the United States.

Truffles in a bottle

Truffles are among the most subtle - and expensive - components of French cuisine. Now Pebeyre, the leading French packager of truffles, is introducing a truffle flavoring that can impart the taste of genuine truffles at a fraction of the cost.

Truffle production has dropped precipitously in France over the past 30 years, in part because truffles cannot be cultivated. They grow underground, near the roots of oak and other trees, and must be sniffed out by trained dogs or pigs. The amount of land whose owners will dedicate it to this purpose has declined, cutting production and driving up prices.

Pebeyre's Trufarome truffle flavorings are an effort to fill the gap, They are made from garlic and other common vegetables, with volatiles extracted and chromatographically matched to the aroma of genuine truffles. They come in the form of vegetable oil-based essences that can be used either to enhance the flavor of canned truffles or as stand-alone flavoring. Trufarome comes in different concentrations for use in both hot and cold dishes. Another Trufarome product is a canned butter that includes both bits of genuine truffles and the flavoring. Pebeyre is looking for an almost even split between industrial and foodservice/retail sales for Trufarome.

Headed for success

Slaughtering has always been one of the most labor-intensive food operations, especially where larger animals are concerned. Variations in carcass size and shape make it hard to automate slaughtering and evisceration steps while keeping quality and safety at acceptable levels.

Durand international has come up with a pair of machines that, with the help of photoelectric sensors, can increase throughput and reliability while reducing labor.

Durand's head cutter reads the line of the pig's ears to make deep, reliable incisions through the base of the spinal cord. (It can also be set to remove the head entirely.) Operating downstream from the singer, it can handle more than 650 animals per hour.

Durand's splitters use photoeyes to position the cutter, which can be either a flat blade or a circular saw, precisely between the hanging animal's legs. A pair of Durant splitters in operation at Bernard Co., a pork processor based in Locmine in Brittany, handles up to 850 carcasses an hour, compared with 120 an hour by a five-worker team (many of whom developed back pain). Other abattoir equipment from Durand includes carcass coders/branders and lard pullers.

Coming out in the wash

In many plants, reliable washing and destoning of vegetables and other products is a requirement for high throughput. F.A.I. (Freeze Agro Ingeniere) has introduced the Polywash Series 1200 washing/conveying system to handle high volumes of product with relatively little water.

In the Polywash, product is conveyed and washed in a trough via turbine agitation in the rear half. The agitation carries product forward into a calmer zone, and it travels over a spinning, perforated drum and out of the trough. Spray jets impinge on the product as it goes over the drum, giving it a final rinse. The conveying water falls through the drum's perforations into a holding tank, from where it is pumped back into the trough. The length of the trough ranges from about 12 to about 38 feet. Several modules can be combined to perform a series of cleaning operations in succession, such as prerinsing, sanitizing and final rinsing.

A fish cannery, Conserveries Wenceslas Chancerelle in Douarnenez, Britanny, is conducting tests on the Polywash as a way to defrost 55-pound blocks of frozen sardines. A barrier between the agitated and calm zones of the trough allows the sardines through only when they are sufficiently thawed to be detached from the block. The plant foreman reports that the Polywash saves up to 30 percent of the time required with spray defrosting and delivers a cleaner product.

F.A.I. also makes quick-load horizontal centrifuges for produce dewatering and fluidized-bed IQF deep freezers.

Smart smoke

Salted, smoked fish have long been a delicacy in France and other countries. Arbor Technologies, based in Landevant, has patented a turnkey processing line that improves both quality and efficiency in the salting/smoking process.

Fish is placed on wire-grid trays, which can be stacked, and sent on a chain conveyor under a line of 15 spray nozzles. The system uses preprogrammed instructions to activate as many of the nozzles as required to give the product the optimal contact with brine spray. The brine contains some sugar, to draw moisture from the product by osmosis.

After pressurized air removes the surface moisture, the trays enter a smoke chamber. Smoke from friction generators enters both sides of the tunnel and is spread throughout. A grid across the top of the tunnel gives the vapor components of the smoke - which contain the flavor - a positive electrostatic charge. Since the trays holding the product are negatively grounded, the smoke vapor is attracted to the product, allowing it to be imbued with smoke flavor and color in six to 13 minutes (compared with about four hours for conventional smoking). The system automatically stacks and destacks trays, and recovers, cleans and regenerates the brine.
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Title Annotation:food processing machines from France
Author:Demetrakakes, Pan
Publication:Food Processing
Date:Oct 1, 1997
Previous Article:Making sense of sensors.
Next Article:Flush with the walls.

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