Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA at IFT in New Orleans last week, ConAgra said that there is strong demand for safer flour for use in food products that rely on the end consumer cooking them properly at home, such as cookie dough or pot pies, which need to be cooked thoroughly before consumption. However, although heat treatment of flour may kill pathogens, it can also affect the performance of gluten and the appearance of baked goods.
ConAgra’s new SafeGuard system for flour includes a ‘pasteurization-like’ all-natural heat treatment processing step to ensure it is safe to eat – but also includes checks and strict processes at every stage of the delivery chain, from milling, to post-treatment handling, to specially sanitized tankers, all the way through to delivery at a food manufacturer’s facility, the company said.
Senior director of quality at ConAgra Foods Kent Juliot said: “One of the things the food industry often chooses to ignore is that flour is a raw agricultural product. But the majority of flour goes through a baking kill step…We asked, how do we help that part of the industry where we are relying on the consumer to do the right thing, when often they don’t?”
President of ConAgra Mills Bill Stoufer added that with increasingly complex supply chains, how a product is delivered throughout that chain has become increasingly important to ensure food safety and prevent recalls.
“The cost comparison relative to a big problem is nothing,” he said – adding that it is also not expensive compared to other safety solutions – and testing for flour safety is a rising demand from major food manufacturers as they seek to ensure the integrity of their brands.
“You are always better off leading with disruptive technology than following with disruptive technology,” Stoufer said.
Juliot added: “Transportation is a big part of it. We work directly with customers to ensure delivery is a safe process too.”