Technology Snapshot: Agri-Neo is introducing Neo-Temper, the first-ever organic, non-thermal food safety technology that eliminates harmful pathogens in flour. Neo-Temper seamlessly integrates into the standard tempering process during milling and provides a validated >99.9 percent microbial reduction for both hard and soft flours while maintaining their nutritional and functional qualities. To date, Agri-Neo has completed four commercial validations of Neo-Temper in major commercial flour mills in both the U.S. and Canada, and has a waiting list for additional North American millers interested in validating the solution within their facilities.
“Flour is a top-three food staple in our daily lives, yet to date the industry has not had a commercially viable solution to address the recurring number of flour recalls we are seeing due to E.coli and Salmonella contamination within this highly consumed ingredient,” said Rob Wong, president of Agri-Neo. “We are excited to stop these unfortunate and unacceptable incidents by offering millers a scientifically-proven solution that will finally protect flour and the health and well-being of consumers.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there have been 11 flour recalls in 2019 alone due to the presence—or potential presence—of pathogens including E. coli and Salmonella. As a result, thousands of bags of flour were removed from grocery stores nationwide, costing brands an average of more than $10 million per recall to cover activities such as communicating across the supply chain, retrieving and handling the recalled product, investigating the event and implementing corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence. The more damaging results, however, have been the breach of trust in the brands and worst – the sickness and hospitalization of consumers who ingested the tainted flour.
While some companies have tried to combat pathogens through heat treatment of flour, this process has remained a niche solution due to several factors, including the associated high costs and manufacturing footprint of equipment, additional steps required in the milling process and negative effects on flour’s visco-elastic gluten properties, which is needed for baked goods, like bread, to rise.
The Neo-Temper process starts by mixing an organic liquid solution with the water deployed during the tempering process. This technique uniformly destroys pathogens, such as E. coli and Salmonella on the wheatberry’s surface and in cracks and crevices that can harbor pathogens. Since the process does not use heat, it also preserves the natural nutrition, integrity and functionality of flour. Once the process is complete, the liquid solution completely biodegrades, so it is approved by regulators as a processing aid, with no labelling requirements.
“An importat part of Neo-Temper’s value proposition is that it can be done on a mass scale,” said Wong. “It seamlessly operates in any milling environment and provides a low-cost, logistically viable solution.”
With the Neo-Temper validation program, flour millers do not need to commit to significant capital expenditures. In four simple steps, millers can validate that Neo-Temper is effective at controlling pathogens, and can be integrated seamlessly into their existing operation.
Additionally, Neo-Temper is certified organic to the standards of the U.S. National Organic Program and Canada Organic Regime, and meets Kosher and Halal guidelines.
Agri-Neo has a proven track record in food safety technology with its Neo-Pure organic, non- thermal pasteurization technology for nuts, seeds and grains that provides increased throughput, efficiency and cost-savings for food processors.