RMIT researchers look to commercialise “invisible fibre” food technology

R&D by RMIT University and Microtec Engineering Group has resulted in a way to convert starches – including from food waste – into a smooth, tasteless fibre that can make foods healthier when used as an additive.

According to a statement from the university on Wednesday, “FiberX” can resist digestion in the gut, like normal fibre, and can be used in fortifying low-calorie and low-GI foods and making low-fibre foods healthier.

“We can now add extra fibre to foods like white bread and other staples without changing the taste or texture, which has been one of the main issues with many commercially-available fibre supplements to date,” said Associate Professor Asgar Farahnaky from RMIT’s Food Research and Innovation Centre.

Farahnaky compared it to a parent hiding vegetables in a child’s meal to make it more nutritious.

His team carried out taste tests and texture analysis on bread and cakes and found they could include as much as 20 per cent fibre to food without impacting the original taste and texture.

According to the statement, “advanced starch modification technology” could also be used to create value from food waste, giving the example of 30,000 tonnes per annum of waste created in Australia to make 5,000 tonnes of pulse protein.

Over 80 per cent of starch could be made into dietary fibre using the FiberX process. Instead of discarding this pulse waste, it could be made into dry pulse starch and converted into fibre on a large scale.  

“Not only will this partnership help reduce food waste on a massive scale, but it will lead to creating new premium food products that are high in dietary fibre,” explained Farahnaky.  

Microtec and RMIT are now attempting to commercialise their technology “for large-scale production of dietary fibre.”

Picture: Associate Professor Asgar Farahnaky and co-researcher Dr Mahsa Majzoob (supplied)

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