The Food Chemistry Division serves as a focal point for food science research in the Institute with technical thrust on Agriculture Biodiversity, Food Composition, Indigenous Foods (Neglected underutilized species), Food Processing, Food Biochemistry, Food Flavour, Bioactive substances and feedstuffs. The Division also offers professional advice on the establishment of Food Chemistry Laboratory including choice of appropriate equipment and training of personnel.
- The Food Chemistry Division has been generating a database on Nutritive Values of Indian Foods and updating the same from time to time in order to provide accurate nutrient data. Recent additions in the NVIF include iron, dietary fibre, β-carotene and fatty acids in commonly consumed Indian foods.
- The Food chemistry Division has generated nutrient composition data for 120 neglected underutilized species (NUS) consumed by the indigenous population in Northeast India.
- Eri silkworm (Samia ricinii) is a traditional source of food in northeast India, where it is grown primarily for silk and food uses. Nutrient analysis showed it is a source of good quality protein with Protein digestibility corrected amino acid score of 86. It is also a good source of fat with high α-linolenic acid nutritionally equivalent to edible oil such as sunflower oil.
- In view of the prevalence of iodine deficiency disorders in the country, data was generated on iodine content of food and water samples from different goitre endemic and non-endemic areas of the country in order to evaluate the extent of environmental iodine deficiency. Studies were undertaken to investigate the stability or retention of iodine from iodized salt under normal cooking conditions when added to a selection of the most commonly used Indian recipes.
- Cultivar specific nutrient data of important food crops consumed in the country have been developed. Cultivar specific nutrient composition of 250 Mango varieties, 20 pearl millet, 24 sorghum, and 44 minor millets have been completed.
- Nutrient composition data has been generated for 250 most popular hybrid rice varieties grown in different ecological zones in the country. Popular rice cultivars with high Iron and Zinc content have also been identified and their stability across environment and soil types is being tested.
Traditional landraces are important reservoirs of valuable traits possessing unique qualities which are still being used by the indigenous population in the country. Nutrient composition of 137 rice landraces collected from the North-eastern states of India was carried out. Generally it was observed that the Glycemic index of landraces were much lower than the high yielding hybrid cultivars.
Present Research Activities
- Indian Food Composition Database Project: The Food Chemistry Division is presently engaged in generating the Indian National Food Composition database. In all 82 nutrients will be analysed in each food item that have been drawn up through a nationwide sampling plan. Several key nutrients present in foods that are missing in the NVIF are being generated. Database for glycemic Index/load of Indian foods will be added. The new food Indian food composition database will be hosted at the NIN website in the future with open access to the public.
- National Agricultural Innovation Project on Value chain on food products from small millets of Bastar region of Chhatisgarh - A collaborative project with Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Raipur: The overall goal of the project is to increase profitability in millet cultivation through increased production and productivity by increased adoption of technology, primary processing and value addition. We are presently engaged in evaluating the food products from small millets for its nutrient composition and glycemic index/load.
Nutritional profiling of high yielding popular rice varieties and hybrids of different ecological zones – a collaborative project with the Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad: To determine the nutrient composition of rice, evaluate the processing losses and determine the glycemic index of important cultivars.
Thrust areas for future
- To develop the present Food Chemistry Division into the National Food and Nutrient Data Canter which will be responsible for authoritative food composition databases and state of the art methods to acquire, evaluate, compile and disseminate composition data on foods and dietary supplements available in India
- Generating data on bioactive substances in foods and bio-efficacy studies on the active principles in important crops. This will result in precise interpretation of nutritional and epidemiological data of the different populations in the country.
- New data on the indigenous foods will be added to the National food composition database which will help in assessing the health and nutritional status of the 80 million tribal populations in the country.
- Bioavailability studies will be conducted to arrive at the most accurate conversion factor from β-Carotene to Vitamin A.
- Data will be generated on various processing losses and nutrient retention in various foods, which will be helpful accurately determining the actual intake and availability of nutrients.
- Nutritional equivalence and safety studies of genetically modified foods.