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Thursday, 19 November 2020

Department of Food Science and Technology exhibits new food products

INVENTION: The Department of Food Science and Technology annual New Product Launch gives a platform for students to showcase their creative projects. INVENTION: The Department of Food Science and Technology annual New Product Launch gives a platform for students to showcase their creative projects.

On the recent 32nd anniversary of the New Product Launch, Head of Department of Food Science and Technology, Prof Jessy Van Wyk expressed her contentment with the students’ proficiency in producing new food products from insects essentially for poor communities.

The annual event gives a platform for students to showcase their projects and the subject knowledge of the students are evaluated by industry experts. Van Wyk says the students’ products are safe for human consumption, “but they are not ready for the market yet”.

She says: “More development will be needed (4 weeks are not enough). Three of the products, Flyer Cracker, Crunchy Rusks and Amasoja cookie have excellent prospects of making a success in the market, should we be able to find a company or an SME who would want to take it further.”

The full list of the products which were assessed by the industry experts were:

  • Amasoja cookie – Chocolate cookies with black soldier fly flour, increasing the protein content.
  • Bite Cookies – a chocolate-flavoured cookie with mealworm flour.
  • Cheesy Bug Bites – savoury biscuits with black soldier fly flour.
  • Flyer Crackers – Savoury crackers with black soldier fly flour.
  • Pasta Al Manjo – pasta made with mealworm flour, also with increased protein content, compared to commercial products.
  • Spin-A-Cracker – Savoury crackers made with mealworm flour with a spinach and tomato flavour.
  • Vanilla Rusk – buttermilk-flavoured rusks made with mealworm flour.

Food Science and Technology third-year student, Megan Mulholland, says before the event they were nervous about the assessors because they only had one month to prepare, however, the assessors were, “very approachable and not too scary”. Megan states that the food they produce (from insects) is aimed at addressing poverty in poor communities and that normally foods from insects are consumed in rural areas and the third world countries. The students’ aim is to introduce this type of food to urban and first world countries.

“Insects are cheap and nutritious, basically it’s the future for the third world countries because they’re high in Omega 3 and 6, and high in protein. They are a good source of energy which is perfect to provide food in rural areas… We had to make it tasty, safe and appealing for consumers and we also want to make it popular in the urban areas and the first world countries”

“The student is absolutely correct,” Van Wyk quips.  She says insects are still considered, “a poor man’s food to a large extent, so our aim at the moment is to develop products for the top-end of the market.”

She adds: “We believe that once the idea is established that it is considered a gourmet or rich man’s food, we would also develop healthy, tasty food products for lower-income groups. In this way, we would be able to contribute to the supply of food products for the poor communities while avoiding the stigma of ‘poor man’s food’ for products made with insect protein.”

Van Wyk adds that this can be a solution to food security challenges to the global community. “The cultivation of insects requires a fraction of the resources (land, water, feed, other energy, etc.), hence it is and will progressively become a more sustainable source of protein to feed the population of our country, the continent and the world.”

She adds that the product has to be developed using the scientific method and integrate all relevant sub-fields in Food Science & Technology, such as Food Quality Assurance, Food Microbiology, Food Analysis, Food Chemistry, Sensory Evaluation, Food Legislation, Food Packaging, Food Engineering and many more.  Van Wyk confirms that all the staff members in the department and many staff of the Agrifood Technology Station are also involved in the project, “true example of teamwork makes dream work”.

“The industry assessors also commented on the professionalism and how well prepared the students were in terms of their subject knowledge. One of the assessors indicated that there is a strong possibility that one of the products would have a good chance to compete next year at an international Food Innovation Awards platform in the UK.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce


Provides coverage for the Engineering and the Built Environment and Applied Sciences Faculties.