NOVEMBER 22, 2003 (STAR) R & D NOTES By Rudy A. Fernandez - When it comes to kisses, give it to Bucarez.

That is, peanut kisses, a nutritious candy primarily made of ground peanut and sugar, a favorite Boholano delicacy.

And thanks to government technological interventions the Bucarez Food Processing Corp. in Tagbilaran City (Bohol) is now producing export quality peanut kisses.

Expert from the DOST-Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) and DOST Region 7 improved the plant layout. Technical people from the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) coordinated with a DOST 7 point person to carry out the project components under the packaging technology program.

The firm began operation in January 2002 using the improved plant layout and the packaging and manufacturing processes it had learned from DOST.

Elizabeth Igancio of DOST reported that production volume of Bucarez peanut kisses increased from its initial 51,800 kilograms to 86,400 kg. Sales posted a 70-percent increase – from P10 million to P17 million. UPLB Develops Diagnostic Kit To Detect Aflatoxin

There is now a rapid, safe, and cheap method of detecting aflatoxin, a toxic substance, in food and food products.

It is the use of a diagnostic kit for this carcinogenic metabolite developed by researches of the UP Los Baños National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (UPLB-BIOTECH).

The kit was the product of a research titled "Efficacy of BIOTECH Diagnostic Kit for Aflatoxin B1 Detection in Food and Food Products" conducted by Dr. Teresita Espino, Joselette Reyes, Fidez Tambalo, and Enrico Francisco Mercado.

Funded by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), the study won the top National Research Paper Award in Agriculture and Natural Resources at a symposium held last Nov. 10 on the occasion of the 31st anniversary celebration of the Los Baños-based Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).

Intake of aflatoxin-contaminated feed can cause liver cancer and suppression of immune system, said Dr. Espino, BIOTECH director who presented the results of the study at the PCARRD-sponsored National Symposium on Agriculture and Resources Research and Development (NSARRD) at the Manila Hotel.

Aflatoxin is one of the highly carcinogenic mycotoxins produced by fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasitcus in foods and feeds.

Agricultural products easily contaminated with aflatoxin are peanut, corn, copra, soybean, tubers, millet, serghum, and their by-products.

Dr. Espino reported that in the study, selected purified antibodies (those that neutralize toxins) that were specific and had antibody activities were used in the development of the diagnostic kits.

The BIOTECH kit’s efficacy was compared with the commercial method of detection, high performance liquid chromatography (MPLC), and with the commercially available diagnostic test kit, AFLASCAN. Fruit-Ginger Drink Now In The Market

And now, Ginja.

Ginja Twist is a unique, refreshing drink that combines the health benefits of ginger (luya) and the natural goodness of fresh fruits.

Now touted as an economical alternative to sugar-based drinks, Ginja Twist was developed by the Tri-Tea Food Products with technological assistance from DOST-ITDI.

The Quezon City-based company, through its general manager Marites Sy, introduced the bottled product to agriculture/science journalists at a recent forum at the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

Ginja derives its name from its main ingredient, ginger.

Studies show that this pungent aromatic rhizome has beneficial effects to the body.

For instance, it is known to relieve indigestion and flatulence and prevents nausea and vomiting. It also reduces joint pains and muscle spasm, improves blood circulation, and prevents sore throat and bacterial infection.

However, for the hot-blooded, particularly males, it increases heart beat strength and invigorates sex drive.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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