Special FeatureⅠ Food Production Support
Preserving the Quality of Frozen Food
Anti-freeze Protein Discovered in Antarctic Fish
In subzero temperatures, water freezes in the bodies of ordinary living organisms and destroys the cells. Fish, plants, insects, mushrooms and other life forms living in the Antarctic and other cold regions can survive because they have anti-freeze proteins in their bodies that protect them from freezing. Anti-freeze protein was first discovered in an Antarctic fish in 1969.
Exploring uses in frozen noodles, processed egg products, cooked rice, fish paste products and desserts
There are many benefits in applying anti-freeze protein to food products. For instance, “freezing damage,” which leads to a decline in the food’s taste and texture, does not occur, and the quality of the frozen food after thawing is maintained since it can inhibit the growth of ice crystals during storage. Moreover, products that were once difficult to freeze can now be stored frozen, which lengthens their shelf life and reduces food waste.
The challenge was determining which organisms have anti-freeze protein that can be extracted and how to extract it. A stable industrial production method for anti-freeze protein did not exist. Kaneka Group began communicating with one of the world's foremost authorities on ice crystals, Professor Hidehisa Kawahara of Kansai University's Department of Life Science and Biotechnology.
New Business Planning Group
Strategic Planning Department
Successful Natural Extraction and Mass Production with Open Innovation
In 2008, Kaneka Group collaborated on R&D with a joint venture company and Kansai University, which was promoting open innovation; in 2012, anti-freeze protein was successfully mass-produced from radish sprouts. Since it allows defrosted food to be savored without losing its taste, smell and physical properties by just adding a tiny amount of 0.02% - 0.2% to the food, our product has earned an excellent reputation from many food manufacturers of frozen sushi, udon noodles, kamaboko (steamed fish paste), rolled eggs, gyoza (fried ground meat dumplings) and others so far. In 2015, we launched another new product: anti-freeze polysaccharide extracted from enoki mushrooms. It is tolerant to heat and acid as it is not a protein, and is used with hamburger and deep-fried chicken. Kaneka Group currently has over 100 products using anti-freeze ingredients.
“I think Kansai University chose us as its partner in open innovation because, as a B2B company dealing with many food manufacturers in Japan, they believed that we can make anti-freeze ingredients more widespread. For this project, Kaneka Group facilitated the commercialization of the university’s research seed.” (Atsushi Takaragawa, Manager, New Business Planning Group, Strategic Planning Department, Foods Division)
Research on New Ingredients to Reduce Global Food Waste
In April 2015, our anti-freeze protein was awarded the 2015 Commendation for Science and Technology Prize by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Development Category). This prize honors the achievements of those who have invented or researched and developed groundbreaking work that is actually used or applied to improve people's lives, society and the economy.
“I believe reducing food waste is a really worthwhile project for society. Shelf life will be extended dramatically if all kinds of food can be frozen. This will allow us to get closer to nearly zero waste.” (Atsushi Takaragawa)
“A long time ago, people used to throw food out.” We believe the time will surely come when we will look back and say this. Kaneka Group will continue exploring and spreading the use of new anti-freeze ingredients.
With the growing need for frozen foods, we are developing simple products for the expanding market
"The new frontier in Japanese confectionery.
Freeze while still delicious; enjoy by natural thawing."
Kagetsudo makes and sells Japanese confectionery, such as freshly pounded soft rice cakes and sweets using finely ground green tea powder, named after Sakai,
the birthplace of the famous master of the Japanese tea ceremony, Sen no Rikyu.
We sell soft rice cakes using Kaneka's anti-freeze ingredient. Japanese confectionery such as rice cakes are best eaten fresh, as their flavor quickly deteriorates. However, when they are frozen with the anti-freeze ingredient, they retain their freshly made flavor, and our customers can enjoy this fresh taste after the natural thawing process. And because it is a natural ingredient, I can proudly inform the customer, “This is the new frontier in Japanese confectionery.”
Our first product using the anti-freeze ingredient is the One Charge S, which was developed for athletes. We wanted to create a product that can easily supply energy to people participating in sport, who lead busy lives with work and so forth. With this product, people can stock up when they have time. While playing sport, they can then easily get their supply of energy just by thawing the product naturally.
With such safe ingredients provided by Kaneka, we hope to devote all our efforts into expanding and introducing new rice cake desserts in the future.
The rice cake dessert One Charge S