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We all know that the prevalence of chronic diseases is an issue of rising importance today and treatment is expensive,” says Ene Tammsaar, Chair of the Board of BioCC. There are various ways to promote and maintain health and prevent the onset of disease; innovation in the food industry is one example. “I am talking about developing quality functional foods which help to maintain good health,” says Tammsaar, who adds that, in contrast to the treatment of chronic diseases, consuming functional foods helps to lower the risk of disease development and boost the physiological functions of the body. “However, creating functional foods is not just about dairy plants starting to produce better milk; it begins with animal breeding, monitoring their health and developing better feeds and feed additives. The other direction is adding probiotic bacteria to dairy products and creating functional foods, as well as creating new feed additives and animal probiotics.”

Ene Tammsaar

One such bacterium, which BioCC studies and which is already present on the market in various products, has the scientific name Lactobacillus plantarum E-98 NCIMB 30236, or simply E-98. “Hay silage is the main fodder for cattle, but it is difficult to guarantee high quality,” says

Who makes up BioCC? • • • • •

Estonian University of Life Sciences University of Tartu Dairy cooperative E-Piim Estonian Cooperative of Breeders Starter ST Plc

Tammsaar. This is where the Lactobacillus E-98 isolated by BioCC scientists comes into play, as it improves the fermentation of silage. “We have discovered that E-98 quickly produces a lot of lactic acid, which helps to create an acidic environment in silage faster and preserves the fodder so that there are fewer butyric acid-producing bacteria (clostridia) and, therefore, the silage has better value as feed,” explains Tammsaar. It may sound complicated. Suffice it to say that the bacterium studied by Tartu scientists has received the green light from the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), and it is listed in the European Union Register of Feed Additives in the category of technological additives, under functional groups of silage additives. This means that feed additives containing E-98 may be sold in the European Union member states without further testing. “In the case of the bacterium E-98, we can claim that it is the greatest achievement in agricultural innovation in Estonia and the Baltic states,” Tammsaar states proudly. The bacterium E-98 is today also part of production. BioCC has signed a license agreement with Starter ST LLC, which carried out product development and developed NordSil, a silage additive containing E-98. “It is currently available on the Estonian market, but we hope to take the Estonian product to our neighbouring markets: Russia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus,” says Tammsaar. E-98 has received the Gold medal in the field of biotechnology in KIWIE 2013 and a special recognition at the 4th Bi-Annual International EUWIIN Exhibition, Conference & Award Ceremony.

BioCC has signed a license agreement with Starter ST LLC, which carried out product development and developed NordSil, a silage additive containing E-98.

"There are especially high requirements for the ingredients of baby food: it has to be produced totally naturally, without colourants or additives,” says Jaanus Murakas, Manager of E-Piim.

Estonian company to supply food for Chinese babies 

 At the end of 2013, the Estonian dairy producer E-Piim started a new whey processing line, which will enable the company to start exporting high quality whey powder to China in the near future. Whey powder is mainly used in breastmilk substitutes for babies.
“It is interesting that today the global lack of protein has led to a situation where whey, the leftover liquid from the cheese production process, is a more valuable product than cheese, which has always been a product with high added value,” says Tiina Saron, Head of the Estonian Dairy Association. “Nobody wanted whey before and now everyone wants whey, more than cheese,” she explains. 
E-Piim is the only producer in the Baltic states with technology based on electrolysis, which separates salt from whey and makes it possible to produce pure whey protein. Thus, E-Piim is able to create a very high quality protein which is one ingredient in breast-milk substitute.  Of course, the most attractive market for whey powder is China, the biggest country in the world, where millions of babies are born each year. “There is huge demand for baby food in China and, once all the administrative obstacles have been removed, we will have the opportunity to export whey powder to China,” says Saron. 

WINTER 2013 / 2014

I LIFE IN ESTONIA

17

Life in Estonia, Winter 2013/2014  

Biotech and Functional Food

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