A scientist from the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Gillian Eggleston, developed the process after examining operations in sugarcane factories and researching the difficulties encountered when bacteria damages the cane.
Bacteria feeding on damaged stalks of sugar cane produce dextran - a thick polysaccharide which interferes with the process of extracting sugar from the plant. Traditionally manufacturers have used enzymes to eradicate dextran but with variable success rates due to their unpredictable performance.
Now Eagleton has developed a test, the Eggleston titration method, to determine enzyme potency and how best to apply it during processing.
At those factories in which the method was trialled there was a 95 per cent reduction of dextran.
The test and findings are discussed in this month's edition of the Agricultural Research magazine, available online from the ARS website