Lessons from other industries

The retting process (Meijer et al., 1995) demonstrates the role of fermentation in the food industry, albeit that the fermentation is uncontrolled compared with many food industry applications. For bast fibres such as hemp and flax, dew retting is the main process currently used for separating the fibres from other plant tissues. The plant stems are left in the field to 'weather' until the fibre-matrix bond is broken down; a fibre mass is obtained, which is then broken up in a decorticator, a procedure that results in severe damage to the fibre structure. A technique that has more potential use for food waste is enzyme retting (Akin et al., 2000); this allows improved fibre extraction, while reducing the penalty of mechanical deterioration and limiting chemical treatments. Large quantities of many types of enzymes are used in leather processing; low-temperature washing powders usually only contain one type of enzyme, although some have two or three to target protein, starch or fat.

Cutting, chopping and attrition actions are common to many industries for the use and disposal of various materials - from ceramics to plastics to wood. The paper industry has a rich heritage in the study of plant polymers

800700"

600-

Chufa Chufa CWC CWC Potato Potato raw/turgid raw raw/turgid raw raw/turgid raw

Chufa Chufa CWC CWC Potato Potato raw/turgid raw raw/turgid raw raw/turgid raw

700600 500400 300 200 1000

700600 500400 300 200 1000

Chufa Chufa raw boiled

CWC CWC CWC raw -20 canned

Potato Potato Potato Potato Beetroot Beetroot suger suger raw -10 -20 -30 raw steamed beet raw beet steamed

Fig. 8.4 Cutting toughness (R) of plant tissues showing effects of (a) turgor; and (b) boiling/steaming. Boiling times are given in minutes (based in part on Parker et al. (2000), with unpublished data from A. J. Harvey, 1996). CWC, Chinese water chestnut.

Chufa Chufa raw boiled

CWC CWC CWC raw -20 canned

Potato Potato Potato Potato Beetroot Beetroot suger suger raw -10 -20 -30 raw steamed beet raw beet steamed

Fig. 8.4 Cutting toughness (R) of plant tissues showing effects of (a) turgor; and (b) boiling/steaming. Boiling times are given in minutes (based in part on Parker et al. (2000), with unpublished data from A. J. Harvey, 1996). CWC, Chinese water chestnut.

(Back and Salmen, 1982) and the use of enzymes (Kenealy and Jeffries, 2003) for fibre and lignin treatment.

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