What is meant by wastage-less food extraction technology? A new terminology seems to have been coined by an Indian scientist but it makes no sense to a trained food technologist. It could have been understandable if it was wastage-free but wastage-less is famously "vague". A close look at the claims by the scientist gives an impression that his technology involves macerating the raw material before drying while normally raw material is dried before grinding to get the final product. While such a process will save on energy as the surface area increases on maceration, how far it will affect the quality of the final product has not been brought out. How this can revolutionize the food industry is not clear as powdered dehydrated fruits and vegetables form a minuscule portion of the industry, probably accounting for less than 5% of industry turn over. Here is the report compiled by a journalist about the so called "innovation".
"Mumbai food technologist patents wastage–less food extraction technology. Think of orange powder, mango powder or garlic powder. A new food processing technology where the extraction is increased by nearly 90 per cent resulting in minimal wastage promises all that. Mumbai-based food technologist Dr Sailen Ghosh has made a breakthrough innovation, which is likely to revolutionalise food processing industry in the country. "The technology is versatile in application and will benefit the industry as almost 30-35% of our produce gets spoilt due to inadequate storage facilities," says Dr Ghosh. Elaborating on the process, Dr Ghosh says, "It is simple in operation. Firstly, fruits/ vegetables/ spices/ herbs etc are cleaned and then treated as per the protocol. After this, it's dried in a conventional sun drier to make powder of the particular produce. Dried product is then packed and sealed." Generally fruits/vegetables/herbs are dried and then powdered before packing. In Dr Ghosh's process it's the other way round: first the fruits/vegetables/herbs are powdered and then dried. Since the surface area of the food increases manifolds, the process of drying is quick. Reduction in exposure to heat while drying leads to the retention of nutrients, colour and flavour of the food item".
The above report reminds one of the earlier efforts in processing coconut to obtain oil through wet milling for which a patented process is available but not practiced by the industry, the traditional drying and extraction process still dominating the industry. Similarly wet processing of spices like ginger to extract oleoresin did not succeed because of the tendency of fresh agricultural materials to form emulsions which are difficult and costly to process. How far the above reported "innovation" has been able to overcome these practical difficulties is not clear in the absence of any technical details. Techniques like spray drying, roller drying, vacuum drying and freeze drying are already being widely practiced to get dry products from ground materials with some pre-processing steps and whether the new process is superior to them is also not known.