New wheat identification process developed

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wheat varieties, Wheat, Flour

A new wheat verification process
that identifies proteins is faster than other methods,
its developer claims.

UK research group Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA) and the National Association of British and Irish Millers (Nabim) jointly designed the new method. It is designed to provide wheat growers, grain traders and the milling industry with a cheap and effective varietal identification based on protein profiles. The industry uses protein identification to stop cross-contamination of wheat varieties. Millers buy a variety of wheat and each type is used for specific purposes, CCFRA researcher Dhan Bhandari told BakeryandSnacks.com in an interview. Wheat is classified into four groups. Groups one and two produce hard wheat flour, and are used for breadmaking, while group three is used for biscuits and cakes. Group four is used mainly for animal feed. Any accidental mixing of wheat varieties ruins the batch of flour, impacting on a baker's reputation as well as his wallet. Bhandari said that the new technology will save the milling industry both time and money. Wheat varieties are often currently identified using the acid polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (acid-PAGE) technique. This process seperates proteins on the basis of electric charge and size. However this process is unsuitable for use at mill intake as it is time-consuming, expensive and requires the use of hazardous materials. In response to commercial demand for a quicker and cheaper system, CCFRA perfected the use of the Agilent Bioanalyzer protein assay system and the Phoretix computerised pattern recognition software. The system involves a lab chip that produces different protein profiles for various varieties, so any rogue grains will be spotted immediately. If one grain of wheat has a different visualisation the technology will spot it, indicating that the batch needs to undergo further testing. Bhandari said that the new lab chip is suitable for millers because it provides confident wheat analysis results in less than 50 minutes. "The chip is also less than 2cm squared, and can hold up to 10 samples, so takes up very little sample,"​ he added. "Furthermore​ two operatives now have a better chance of producing similar results, so millers can be more certain that the results are correct." ​ The CCFRA hopes that system will eventually enable millers to make more confident decisions in accepting grain consignments, and could become widely adopted by the grain industry. The system has already been accepted by some UK millers, and others in the US and Australia have indicated an interest in the technology, Bhandari said. The CCFRA also developed a protein wheat library, and in a subsequent trial 90 per cent of wheat varieties were identified within the top three matches of the library, according to the organisation's website. CCFRA is a UK organisation that carries out research and development for the food and drinks industry. It aims to provide industry with technical and advisory services in the areas of product safety and quality, process efficiency and product and process innovation. Nabim is the representative organisation for the UK flour milling industry.

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