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Food scientists, plant managers particpate in first advanced Asian noodle technology short course

As people around the world look for new and tasty foods, the splendid Asian noodle is quickly becoming an international favorite.

Witness eight wheat noodle manufacturing plant managers, food scientists, a chemical engineer, and a company president from South and Central America, all learning new techniques and honing skills recently acquired at the Wheat Marketing Center's new, week-long Advanced Asian Noodle Technology Short Course in Portland.

The course was directed by Dr. Gary Hou, world-recognized Asian noodle expert, and WMC's Technical Manager and Asian Foods Specialist. He was joined by speakers from across the U.S., including executives and R&D specialists from several ingredient companies, and a major noodle machinery manufacturer from China. Additional technical expertise and cooperation was provided by Oregon State University's Portland Food Innovation Center. The course was sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates.

"From wheat characteristics to new product development process and procedures, I can apply this new experience and learning right at the plant," said Veronica Jimenez, who has attended two previous WMC courses. Agreeing, another attendee said that "the scientific process covering the stages of new product development not only applied to my manufacturing plants but to my restaurant businesses as well."

Another commented that there was great "interaction, even though we are basically competitors. We covered theory to many practical applications, but most important for me was learning more about the multiple benefits of how different ingredients enhanced not only taste, but texture, too."

Jorge Viquez, company executive president from Costa Rica urged "continued contact with the Wheat Marketing Center is always important and necessary ...just to keep up with market changes and new consumer demands."

When asked what could be taken from the course to apply immediately on their job or company's business, one participant said "the process of going through various lecture/workshop sessions makes it easier to transfer to our working environment."

All agreed that wide coverage on various subjects related to food manufacturing, new product development, and problem solving will aid in lowering costs, improving product safety and quality, and increasing profitability at their plants.

Attendees started the course by learning the functional benefits of different ingredients in Asian noodle production, noodle plant quality control, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) programs. They participated in several hands-on lab workshops to experiment with various flour blends and new ingredients in three noodle types, developed new noodle products, and conducted sensory evaluation. The final session provided a noodle equipment update.

Efrain Olmedo, Guatemala City, described the course by saying, "This is not a short course; this is a complete course! It covered every aspect of food manufacturing; every speaker is an expert in their subject." Cary Seunath of Trinidad summarized the course: "These five days have opened my eyes to a whole new realm of partners in this industry, all united in effort, to continue bringing innovative wheat products to the consumers."

Participants came from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Trinidad, and Mexico.

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