Getting to know your senses

I am pleased to share with you the wonderful and fascinating world of two of our most enjoyable senses: taste and smell. You can surely identify the multitude of experiences we undergo on a daily basis thanks to these two senses, which drastically affect the quality of our life.

 

Few people are familiar with the complexities of these two senses. As the person responsible for the analytical laboratory of the coffee company, I devote most of my time to researching the coffee components that activate the taste and smell senses. Althought most research is conducted analytically, such as with the use of scientific instruments, the research cannot be completed without a tight link to our natural senses, which are then expressed in scientific terms.

 

 

Why is it important to know our senses?

 

Coffee is one of the most complex food products in terms of its aroma. The aroma of coffee is made up of about 1000 different molecules identified today. Strauss’s unique labaratory was founded in order to deal with the complexities of coffee in achieving the richest

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aroma, maintaining maximum freshness, and insuring quality and consistency to our clients. A state of the art laboratory in the Israeli food industry, it is equipped with the best analytical instruments available on the market today. Expertise, knowledge, and passion are a standard ‘prerequisite’ for research and development in our analytical labaroties, which are dedicated to maintaining the quality and betterment of Strauss’s coffee products.

 

 

Sense of taste

 

The sense of taste is actually quite limited in range and experiences four major tastes; sweet, sour, salty and bitter. A fifth taste was recently announced: “Umami” (Japanese for ” delicious and pleasant taste”) which can be described as a combination of salty and sweet. It results from amino glutamate acid, which is found naturally in most foods, but some foods are particularly richer in it, such as tomatoes, mushrooms, fish , meat, and soy sauce. For example, Ketchup is naturally rich in Umami, and enhances the taste of meat. There are other sensations in the mouth, such as hot and cold, but they are associated with the sense of touch because they have no receptors. Spiciness is a sensation caused by the substance Capsaicin in the pepper family, which acts directly on the nerve cells on the tongue and the oral cavity. The ‘spiciness’ can be felt in other sensitive tissues such as the eyes and nose.

 

Sense of smell

 

In my opinion, the sense of smell is more fascinating, due to the endless variety of aromas we can experience. When eating, we feel the smell and aroma through the nose (inhalation) and through the mouth (chewing releases odor molecules). Most of our food eating enjoyment can be attributed to aroma.

 

 

Aroma is defined as the stimulation caused in the nose by evaporating substances. Aroma differentiates between various foods. Anyone can try a test in which they closes their eyes and nose with their fingers and ask someone to give them some foods to identify on the basis of taste and texture only. In most cases, it will be very difficult to make a correct guess without aroma.

 

 

Most smells we feel derive from mixing a large number of simultaneous signals to the brain, which, in turn, translates them into something resembling a unique “fingerprint” for each smell. Unlike humans, animals have a much more sensitive sense of smell, but despite conventional wisdom, our ability to distinguish and recognize a wide variety of odors is higher and more developed than animals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yair Bezman

Yair Bezman, married + 3.

He holds a Ph.D. in Bio-chemistry and food science from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and specializes in the contribution of flavorings to food quality.

 

Yair has headed the analytical lab since 2004. During this period he transformed this lab into an important element in the R&D and quality assurance processes of Strauss coffee production sites, both in and outside of Israel.

Water Management: Coping With a Scarce Resource

Water is essential for sustaining life. As such, evidence of water is the first thing people look for when searching for life in the universe. Evidently, civilizations from the dawn of history have risen and fallen depending on the water reserve available to them.

 

We live a time that highlights the importance of saving water in light of its scarcity. Water resources in both Israel and the world are dwindling, with pumping rates of subterranean water reserves exceeding their refilling rate from precipitation of rain.

 

 

Moreover, unfortunate water pollution incidents in various parts of the world have aggravated the situation and effectively reduced available water resources .

 

Given that water is an environmental, economic and social resource, it raises the moral question of who is entitled to use it: anyone who can pump water, ship it around the world and profit from it, or, perhaps those communities that live near its origins?

 

Since its inception, the State of Israel has been contending with limited water resources.

 

When discussing environmental management, the highest ranking practice in the hierarchy is prevention at the source. Consequently, effective water-saving is the most important item on the agenda.

 

As part of Strauss Group’s commitment to improve people’s quality of life, we have identified an opportunity in water treatment and, at the same time, are adopting responsible industrial activities for efficient and economical use of water.

 

One channel is Strauss water’s activity. The company has developed a sophisticated water filter and 10 registered patents that can be used in an in-home device, which facilitates purification of contaminated water, bringing them to the permitted level of drinking water. This device is designed to be sold in places where water supply is irregular, and available water is unsuitable for immediate drinking.

 

The second channel is water management at Strauss Israel, the company where I work as an Environmental Quality Manager, and here I will elaborate.

 

At Strauss Israel we defined water-saving as an important element in the organization’s environmental policy, setting a multiple-year water saving goal of 22% of water consumption per ton of product, by 2015.

 

We compiled a “Water Management Guide” in the Group, relying on external information sources, and on the experiences gained by our people in the various production sites. We are currently starting to implement this guide in some of our plants.

 

 

 

The Guide is comprised of “Four Steps”:

 

The first step: Establishment of Infrastructure. This step guides every Strauss Group plant to appoint a Water Consumption Administrator, keeping orderly documentation of the water network, location of water meters, water allocations for industry and how to calculate the true cost of water.

 

The second step: Control and Measurement. This step guides us to monitor information obtained from the infrastructure set under “the first step”, identifying deviations, reviewing their details, and adopting measures to prevent their recurrence. This step encourages employee participation in locating and treating the causes of deviation.

 

The third step: Prevention of Water Wasting. This step guides us to identify sporadic and chronic leaks, and how to treat them accordingly. This includes the compilation of a preventive maintenance plan for the water network.

 

The fourth step: Targeted Improvement in “Consumers”. The term “consumers” refers to devices in the production system that utilize water. This part of the Guide is based on a project carried out in the salty snacks plant of Strauss Group. By launching this project, the plant saved in one year approximately 38% of water consumption per ton of product.

 

The project phases are documented in the Guide:

 

 

• Identify major water consumers.

• Measure water consumption of these consumers.

• Examine the design data of these consumers, and check the water consumption difference between the design data and actual water consumption.

• Examining the annual savings potential.

Formulate the treatment of every consumer.

• Build and budget a work plan.

 

 

Proper use of natural resources in general and of water as a dwindling resource in particular, is essential and of paramount importance. Fortunately, The Guide we have compiled at Strauss and which I presented to you in this post, outlines a path that has already started to prove itself, and it includes additional measures to be taken in order to save as much water as possible. This is a long process that requires revision and strict implementation, and I hope that we will meet the challenging goals that we have set for ourselves, for the preservation of the environment and for the sake of all of us.

 

 

 

 

Ronit Shahar

Ronit holds an M.Sc in Natural and Environmental Resource Management from Haifa University, and a B.Sc (Eng.) from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology).

 

She joined Strauss in 2000 as Assistant Chief Scientist at Strauss Fresh Foods. Two years later she became food Safety and Environmental Protection Manager at Achihud Dairy.

 

In 2009, with the establishment of a Quality HQ, she was appointed Environmental Protection Manager of Strauss Israel, a position she still currently fills.

 

A mother of three children, Ronit lives in Kibbutz Eilon in the West Galilee. Her hobbies include a love for travel and skiing.

Environmental Responsibility and the Packaging Management Law in Israel

Hello,

 

“Earth Day”, which is marked today around the world, is an annual day which reminds all of us that we live on a living, breathing planet that needs nurturing in order to exist and develop. We at Strauss are aware of the environmental responsibilities incumbent on us at any given moment, and make a point of protecting the environment and minimizing the damage that may occur at every production stage and in all our spheres of business, as part of company policy.

 

Within our efforts to protect the environment and reduce pollution, I am happy to share with you in this post how Strauss is preparing to implement the new packaging law. I will also tell you about the legislative aspect of it and, of course, its effective implementation at Strauss.

 

 

In July 2011, the law for the regulation of packaging waste treatment “, which is officially entitled “Packaging Management Law “, came into effect.

 

Main provisions of the law:

 

• Type of packaging: The law applies to packaging from different materials and for a wide range of products (both household and industrial), including paper, glass, plastic, metal and wood.

• Recycling goals: Manufacturers and importers will gradually be required to recycle 60% of the total weight of the packaging of the products they sell or import each year. Producers will have to comply with annual recycling targets according to the type of material.

• Separation of waste: Residents will be required to separate household waste into components before discarding it. Local authorities will be required to make arrangements for the separation of waste into at least two streams (clean organic waste and dry waste)

• Fines and financial sanctions: The fines for non-compliance with the recycling targets isfines for non-compliance with the recycling targets are NIS 2,500 for every ton for which a violation is committed.

• Zero waste for landfilling: Landfilling of packaging waste will be prohibited by January 2020. At that time, packaging may either be recycled or used for energy production.

 

Various packaging laws have already been practiced around the world for more than 20 years, in keeping with the rationale that since manufacturers send packaging materials to the market (as product packs), they should be responsible for treatment of packaging waste.

 

From an environmental perspective, the waste management hierarchy runs as follows: preference to reduction at source, namely reducing the amount of waste, then reuse, recycling and restoring (producing energy from waste), and closing the list: landfilling. Packaging laws in the world, as well as the new packaging law in Israel, coincide with this hierarchy and encourage reduction at source in various forms.

 

In Belgium, for example, 12% of the waste are directed to landfills, 34% to restoring energy and 54% to recycling (OECD data, 2007).

 

The law regulating management of packaging waste treatment in Israel sets a number of mechanisms that have already come into effect and been applied, and also a number of future mechanisms that should be built .

 

The first challenge facing the industry is establishing a reporting infrastructure.

 

As described above, the law determines recycling goals calculated from the total packages sent to market, ie, accurate figures are required about the types of packaging according to categories provided by the law (different types of plastic, glass, paper, wood, etc.), as well as the weight of these packages. This information has not been addressed by the industry to-date, and when it comes to a big company, the collection of such data requires its assimilation in existing IT systems within the organization.

 

 

Strauss established a multidisciplinary team, which includes finance, environmental, procurement, information systems and infrastructure people. Since March 2011, this team has engaged in establishing the reporting infrastructure required by law.

 

Today we are able to obtain accurate information about the weight and type of packaging sent to the market by the entire organization, as well as by each individual business unit. Receiving and monitoring information are made possible by the new work processes that were introduced and still continue to be built today.

 

Information about the amounts and types of packaging waste will be periodically reported to the Recycling Corporation, and audited by Certified Public Accountants. The Corporation will coordinate all the information about the quantities of packaging waste in the Israeli market, and issue a periodic report to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which, in turn, will examine compliance with the provisions of this law.

 

Manufacturers, including Strauss, are compelled to transfer payment to the Corporation in respect of packaging waste treatment. Payment is based on the forwarded rate of each packaging material, multiplied by the weight of this packaging type as reported by the manufacturer. Consequently, Strauss will pay millions of Shekels annually in respect of its product packaging.

 

This mechanism actually provides an incentive for manufacturers to pursue “pursue “prevention at source”, namely reduce the weight of product packaging and hence gain a reduced fee.

 

An essential and revolutionary component of this new Packaging Management Law is the dependency on each and every citizen.

 

Although these law provisions apply to the industry and local authorities, their goals will only be achieved ifachieved if, indeed, citizens separate waste at source and throw it in designated recycling locations.

 

In conclusion, it is important to remember that environmental responsibility rests with each and every one of us, both as inhabitants of the Earth and as an industrial production organization. While our journey to save the environment is long and requires considerable efforts and investment, every step we take brings us closer to the achievement of our supreme goal: protecting the place in which we live, for us and for generations to come.

 

 

The taste does matter

Hello!

 

My name is Ira Metzger, and in this post I will tell you how we, as a group, include the company’s employees in the product development process, so that every employee can effectively impact on the various products we manufacture.

Of course not every employee can be included in each development phase, but every person can certainly be provided with the opportunity to have an impact through the internal research that we perform.

 

 

What are sensory tasting tests all about?

 

Sensory research examines and analyzes the reaction of our senses (taste, smell, sight, hearing, and touch) as a result of various stimuli.

Stimuli may result from many sources, although the implementation of sensory research usually focuses on the study of sensory stimuli arising from consumer products among consumers. From the findings of this sensory research we can carve out the technological improvements required

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to improve the attractiveness of the product in the eyes of the target audience.

Sensory research has many uses, in both the development of new products and in marketing existing products, and it serves as a research tool that facilitates efficient and effective decision making for marketing, development and food engineers.

 

 

Internal tasting tests at Strauss

 

Intra-organizational sensory tasting research started at Strauss about five years ago. Up until then, internal tasting tests were carried out at a more limited scope, mostly outside of the organization at a relatively high cost.

 

Consumer studies inside the organization replace the need for external tests at the early development stage and enable us to examine whether the early versions of a product are, indeed , the “right direction”, namely a GO / NO GO – a basic filter in early product development.

In addition, the process facilitates quick and immediate activities, and of course confidentiality.

 

 

 

Some facts about our tasting tests:

 

• They are carried out in the following sites: Petach Tikva, Ahihud, Nazareth, Zerifin and Karmiel.

• 2 – 3 studies are conducted every week.

• These studies test our products, products under development and products of competitors.

• Most products submitted for tasting tests don’t bear the brand name, in order to neutralize any preferences or brand loyalty.

 

In my job, I am responsible for all internal research process: from setting the date of the study, writing a questionnaire according to research purposes, the actual running and summary results.

After the research I summarize all the answers provided, and in accordance with the conclusions I formulate recommendations for the development teams who commission the studies. According to the findings of the research I can tell whether they should reduce the sweetness of a product, enhance the strawberry flavor, etc..

 

Internal tasting research enables the organization to save about NIS 1 million a year.

 

Ira Metzger

I am 33, married +1 and I live in Upper Nazareth (so please next time please do not say “Why didn’t you come earlier,” I have a bit of a ride in the morning).

I hold an MBA, a BA in Organizational Sociology and I am also an industrial and management engineer. I have

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been working at Strauss for seven years, five of which as the person in charge of intra-organizational sensory tasting research.

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