With its specialized divisions, the DIL covers the entire spectrum of food technology expertise. Issues in the pre-competitive as well as commercial sector can thus be managed from the perspective of materials science and process technology. The institute’s interrelated research platforms bring together fundamental know-how. The DIL’s business divisions implement this know-how for their partners in the form of industry-ready solutions.
In particular, food producers and processors often find themselves in a volatile and highly competitive business environment due to the strong positioning of the industry and saturation of the markets. Those who want to emerge as winners in this competition must ensure maximum production efficiency and high quality with consistent hygiene standards. The development activities in the DIL’s Robotics and Process Analysis divisions resulted in numerous new automation solutions. In the fields of vacuum gripping technology, sensor technology and slicing, existing methods were optimized and made ready for the market, but entirely new approaches were also created.
The two divisions Robotic and Process Analysis that have been integrated into the new Automation Technology division – due to the high demand from industry – now offer manufacturers from all segments a broad repertoire of proven and patented optimization options.
This is the promise of the DIL’s Product Innovation division. Convenience, nutritional value, taste and safety – knowing the markets needs and being able to meet them is the basic requirement for food manufacturers when developing and establishing new products. By working in a targeted and efficient way high-quality products with exceptional sensory properties are developed which now can be found in almost all supermarkets.
While recipe design is carried out on a laboratory scale, a number of test laboratories with modern machines and facilities are available for manufacturing product prototypes. In-house sensor technology in conjunction with the expert DIL panel and comprehensive analysis create the conditions for developing marketable products. As an approved food production establishment in accordance with the applicable EC regulations, DIL can produce sensitive products such as meat and dairy products as well as samples for a test market.
The work of the microbiological analysis division is based on studies of food and feed as well as drinking water and trough water in accordance with statutory regulations or for in-house company inspections. In addition, there are modern molecular biological detection systems and a wide range of quality assurance measures. Significant progress has also been made, particularly in genetics. In addition to cultural methods for the detection of multi-resistant bacteria such as MRSA and ESBL, molecular biological and immunological methods have been established for strain-typing, among others. This makes it possible to understand the epidemiological spread of individual pathogen strains.
A method for the relative quantification of apple allergens was also developed. In the field of GMO determination, screening methods can be used to detect agricultural biotechnology elements – so-called GMO events – in food.
In the field of chemical analysis, food and drinking water are routinely investigated for residues of pesticides and other degradation products. Since degradation products are increasingly being found instead of pesticides, the scope of testing was expanded to include new metabolites. The method for determining dietary fiber in foods was also revised and simplified so that all fiber determinations can now be performed at the DIL.
A supervisory audit was conducted last year by the German Accreditation Body (DAKKS). Various new investigation parameters were reviewed and newly incorporated into the DIL’s testing range as accredited methods. The investigation procedures involve the determination of acrylamide in food, crude protein determination according to the Dumas method, the determination of veterinary drugs (coccidiostats, tetracycline’s, and chloramphenicol) in tissue as well as the determination of heavy metals in drinking water using ICP-OES technology.
DIL and the University of Vechta have together developed an analytic concept for the Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA), which allows companies to create reliable and objective data on the sustainability of their own production. As part of the close cooperation between DIL and the University of Vechta, advice and assessments for industrial value chains are offered.
Tests, adapted to each individual situation, can be developed for the industry using the professional LCSA software SimaPro 8 and the ecoinvent database. The assessment concept (based on ISO standards 14040:2006 and ISO 14044:2006) can be applied to new processes, technologies and products.
The challenges food producers face during the development of a new process or product do not end in the lab. In order to maximize the chances of success on a market, product novelties need to be optimized and tested with regard to their formulation and sensory characteristics. The services of the DIL pilot plant hall covers a broad range of opportunities such as application tests, prototype development and the production of test batches for the market entry.