The CSIRO Food Futures Flagship has developed an automated instrument for accurately predicting glycaemic index (GI) and resistant starch (RS) in food products. The prototype device is an in vitro (bench top) robotic machine that acts as an 'artificial gut' to process large numbers of food samples for a fraction of the time and cost required by the standard in vivo (human) method.
The device has been validated as a rapid and reliable predictor of the GI and RS content of foods. Its principal purpose is to help food manufacturers develop a wider range of healthy food products far more cheaply and quickly than possible previously.
The CSIRO validation program for the instrument has involved the testing of a broad range of commercial foods with a wide spectrum of GI and RS values. The results have been benchmarked against 'gold standard' human-based tests on the same foods.
Dr David Topping, a chief research scientist with the CSIRO's Food Futures National Research Flagship, said the device is being commercialised to help address the growing global demand for foods with defined health benefits through low GI and higher RS content.
'This instrument will be a valuable tool for manufacturers as they develop new formulations and processes to make the products which consumers need,' Dr Topping said. 'The new device will make preliminary testing quicker, easier and more cost-effective, thus accelerating the path to market for these new foods.'
Associate Professor Jonathan Shaw, Associate Director of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, said the Institute's research team has been working with CSIRO to validate results obtained from the device.
'With the growing epidemic of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both in Australia and around the world, there is increasing demand for low GI and high RS foods. Consumers really need greater access to products with appropriate health benefits, and we believe this new GI and RS predictor will help achieve that goal,' Professor Shaw said.
'The CSIRO's device looks promising in predicting GI and, once commercialised, it could play an important role in making a wider range of health-promoting foods available.'
CSIRO will release an international Expression of Interest (EOI) on 14 November 2008 seeking proposals from suitable companies to commercialise the new technology.