• Food & Food Processing

    The Indian food processing industry is on an assured track of growth and profitability, thanks to the rapid advances in developing food technologies that are essential for the conversion of farm produce into usable food items.


    The CSIR mandate in Food Technology Sector is: Food preservation, food processing, food security, food safety and development of human resource, keeping in view the nutritional and health factors for targeted segments of population such as infants, aged population, women and defence force.


    CSIR has developed, over the years, several novel food processing technologies, which have been widely commercialized. The contributions of CSIR institutions in this Sector mainly pertains to the following broad aspects:

    • Development of improved methods for preservation and storage
    • Development of new food products in various categories, such as traditional and health foods, specialty foods, ready-to-serve foods, nutraceuticals, beverages, etc.
    • Improved methods of food processing along with scale-up
    • Value addition of food products
    • Ensuring safe foods and food products
    • Byproducts/wastes utilization
    • Food processing machinery/equipment
    • Eco-friendly packaging
    • Development of environment-friendly processes with underpinning of food safety and quality
    • Biotechnological intervention in food processing for enhancing nutritional values

    The basic R&D efforts are in the following areas: biochemistry, nutrition, fermentation technology, bio engineering, flour milling, baking, confectionery, food engineering, food microbiology, food packaging, food protectants, infestation control, food safety, analytical quality control, fruit and vegetable technology, grain processing, lipid science, traditional foods, meat and poultry products, fish processing, plant cell biotechnology, plantation products, spices, flavour technology, protein chemistry and technology and sensory science.

    Laboratory-wise core competence is as follows:
    Labs Expertise
    Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI, Mysore) It exclusively deals in foods and food processing, and is today a major international player in this sector. It has the mandate to develop post-harvest technologies for efficient protection, conservation and processing of agricultural produce with focus on developing export-oriented value-added products from horticultural and plantation crops. Besides, its mission is to design and fabricate prototype food processing machinery and to assist food industry through consultancy, contract research and other technical support services. CFTRI has qualified for International Standards Organization (ISO) Certification. It has also achieved the distinction of getting the NABL accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, DST, in the fields of chemical and biological testing.
    Regional Research Laboratory(RRL, Thiruvananthapuram) Optimum utilization of regional / national resources. In food technology sector, it has undertaken agro-processing of and value- addition to spices, coconut, oil palm, cassava, etc.
    Regional Research Laboratory(RRL, Jorhat) Development of technologies based on the immense natural wealth of the North-Eastern region. It has developed agro-technologies for citronella, lemongrass and edible mushrooms.
    Regional Research Laboratory(RRL, Jammu) Developing post-harvest technologies that includes processing of regional produce, developed PCR-based methods for the detection of food-borne pathogens - a technology that would lead to the development of diagnostic kits.
    Regional Research Laboratory(RRL, Bhubaneshwar) R&D efforts are geared towards development of an ultrasonically-aided anaerobic reactor for biomethanation of agricultural/vegetable wastes and designing a solar distillation system for solar drying of kendu leaves, timber, etc. Has developed expertise for kewada production.
    Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI, Durgapur) Major R&D efforts have been focused on the development of appropriate machinery for productivity enhancement in the agricultural and the post-harvest processing sectors.
    Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT, Palampur) Agro-technologies related to tea processing and organic farming.Nationally recognized for pesticide residue analysis in tea and herbals. Nutraceuticals and nutrigenomics.
    Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC, Lucknow) Identifying the action mode of hazardous toxicants/pollutants and developing diagnostic techniques for food safety evaluation. Quality assessment of drinking water.
    National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI, Lucknow) Developed nursery technology for clonal propagation of difficult-to-root plant species besides tissue culture protocols for trees and medicinal plants. It has expertise in preparation of herbal health protective nutraceutical formulations, fruit-based herbal health drink and development of neem- based pesticides besides organic cultivation of vegetables and other economically important plants.
    Central Institute of Medical & Aromatic Plants (CIMAP, Lucknow) Post harvest processing of plants and value addition to extracted products for active formulations is an important area of ongoing research on medicinal and aromatic plants.
    National Institute of Oceanography (NIO, Goa) It has the mission of collecting and identifying marine flora and fauna for biological screening and processing of marine-based foods.


    Knowledge-based Products/Technologies Developed and Basic Findings

    The strong traditional ethos associated with the R&D work has resulted in designing several food-based technologies, and machinery/equipment for the bulk production of traditional food items, besides developing many novel specialty foods. A host of new scientific findings related to food technology further add value to CSIR’s overall contributions to this Sector.

    Specialty Foods/Drinks

    • An indigenous infant food formula, developed in the1950s, based on buffalo milk was the first such product in the entire world. Ever since ‘Amul’ was formulated at CFTRI, research work has been focused on different aspects and special needs of babies.
    • Production of low lactose milk has become a reality by using permeabilized yeast cells or specific enzymes that hydrolyse lactose to glucose and galactose. Low lactose milk is suited for lactose intolerant infants who cannot consume milk that contains lactose.
    • Specialty foods such as enteral food, food for burn patients, food for diabetic patients and geriatric foods.
    • ‘Lactulose’ containing infant formula has been developed. It is specially suited for babies fed on artificial baby foods, as they lack adequate growth of beneficial microflora, which is found in babies fed on mother’s milk.
    • New specialty products based on wheat include improver mix for yeast leavened bakery products, flour fortification and nutrient fortified wheat products, high protein upma mix, fortified protein rich vermicelli, sugar-free biscuits and low-calorie biscuits. Suruchi Meetha is a nutritious ‘burfi’-like product having a high protein content that can be used in school children feeding programmes. Other specialty products include onion biscuits and honey-based bakery products.
    • Energy foods such as Bal Ahar, weaning foods based on malted cereals/millets and germinated green grams have been developed, which have been used in nutrition intervention programmes in many States.
    • CIMAP’s ‘CIM tea’ is a value added beverage as it contains medicinally useful plant parts of Mentha piperita (sweet mint), Ocimum sanctum (tulsi) in combination with super sweet Stevia.
    • Supply of specially processed foods during Antarctica expeditions.

    Food-based Technologies

    • Parboiling of rice: More than half of the paddy produced in India, and about one-fifth of the world’s production undergoes parboiling. The hot-water soaking process of CFTRI is focused on improving the quality of rice while keeping the process simple and cost efficient.
    • Drying of apricots and vegetables using solar energy, de-acidification of tart apple juice, canning of apple rings, industrial utilization of apple pomace-ensiled animal feed and fruit vinegar, bulk storage of cherries and Karonda and their processing, post-harvest technology of wild pomegranate and saffron, improved processing of traditional fermented cheese (Kalari) and technology for the production of bright white sesame seeds without dehulling.
    • Packaging for Ready-to-Cook Vegetables: Technologies have been developed for production and packaging of several popular Indian vegetables in sachets for retail marketing. Protocols have been standardized for modified atmosphere packaging and storage of minimally processed vegetables in ready-to-use form. The processing involves washing, peeling, trimming, cutting, treatment with appropriate and permitted preservatives, removal of surface moisture, packing in polymeric film pouches of suitable permeability and storage under refrigeration.
    • On-line Retort Control System: An on-line retort control system has been developed for optimum sterilization of foods packed in cans, glass jars and retortable pouches. The microprocessor-based system displays the accumulated sterilization value for easy monitoring.
    • Vermicelli Noodles: A range of technologies has been developed for manufacturing vermicelli noodles from many cereals including coarse grains. In the list are vermicelli from ragi, samai, jowar, maize, rice and wheat. These processes enable manufacture of vermicelli with low-fat content and good texture.
    • Continuous Popping Machine: A machine for large-scale production of popped products from several cereals has been designed. The unit consists of a popping chamber made of food grade stainless steel into which hot air, mixed with combustion products from LPG, is let in. The temperature inside the popping chamber is thermostatically controlled. The unit can pop about 20-25 kg of maize per hour.
    • Technology Model for Palm Oil Mill: It has been accepted by the industry as techno-commercially optimized model suitable for the large-scale palm oil mill. The technology has been licensed to five project-engineering companies for detailed engineering and project implementation.
    • Physical Refining of Rice Bran Oil: A novel process has been developed for degumming and dewaxing to meet the physical refining requirements of rice bran oil and licensed to five companies for commercialization. The edible grade rice bran oil retaining more than 80% of the micronutrients (oryzanol and tocotrienol) can be produced by this process, for direct edible use as health oil. Based on this process, rice bran oil refineries have been commissioned in Andhra Pradesh and Haryana and four more are under implementation.
    • Processing of Fresh Coconut: India is the largest producer of coconut in the world (12,000 million nuts per year). Processed coconut milk, low fat coconut and coconut vinegar from the edible parts and coconut shell charcoal are the products developed from fresh coconut at pilot scale and commercialized. Based on this technology package, a commercial plant to process 20,000 fresh nuts/day has been commissioned in Kerala.
    • Processing of Fresh Spices: Fresh spices lose their characteristic flavours on drying. A generic technology has been developed to process fresh spices such as ginger, turmeric, chilli and pepper to produce fresh flavours and oleoresins with recovery of active principles like curcumin, capsaicin and piperine. The technology has been licensed to three companies and one plant has been commissioned while another is under implementation.
    • Recovery of Phytochemicals from Oilseeds : Processes have been developed for obtaining lignans from deoiled cake, ferulic acid from deoiled rice bran, tocotrienols and sterols from deodorizer distillate, phosphatidyl choline, phosphatiadyl inositol, phosphatidyl serine and high purity wax from rice bran oil sludge.
    • Sugarcane Juice Processed Products: Studies have been carried out on preparation, packaging and storage of sugarcane juice both in liquid and powder form. Attempts have been made to vacuum dry/spray dry the sugarcane juice with a view to encapsulating its delicate flavour. Sugarcane juice has also been processed to prepare a jam like product.
    • Micropropagation of plants: Technologies have been developed for the micropropagation of vanilla, gardenia, Decalepsis, ginger and banana.
    • Flavour improvement in defatted soy flour: Four lipoxygenase enzymes have been isolated from soyabeans, which are the principal cause of the undesirable flavours associated with soyabean products. CFTRI has developed a process based on pre-germinated beans for improving soyabean flavour.
    • Flavour concentrates: Development of flavour concentrates for manufacture of orange, lemon and cola beverages has had a powerful thrust on the Indian soft drinks industry.
    • Mini dal mills: Replacing the age-old techniques of converting pulses into dal, CFTRI has developed mini dal mills, which have proved to be very useful for converting pulses into dals in rural areas.
    • Biosensor with Flow Injection Analysis System (FIA): Stabilization of immobilized enzyme for higher operational stability in biosensors has been done using solid matrices such as control pore glass and glass beads.
    • Technologies for handling, packaging and transportation of pineapple: Post harvest treatments to control spoilages have been standardized for long distance domestic transportation.
    • Technology protocols for shipment of fruits: This involves selection of appropriate pre- and post-harvest procedures including orchard management, pre-harvest care to control fungal and insect damage, packing in specially designed CFB boxes, etc. The development of Controlled Atmosphere Packaging (CAP) protocol for export of Alphonso mangoes by ship is an example.
    • Natural food colourants: The process of extraction of natural colours from kokum, beetroot, safflower, purple grapes, chilli, turmeric, and marigold flowers has been standardized. Processes have also been developed for production of several colourants from algae and microbes.
    • New analytical methods for food safety: These have been developed in many areas that include detection of animal fat in vanaspati, detection of tricesyl phosphates in edible oil, free fatty acid test kit, detection of brominated vegetable oils in soft drinks and development of simple analytical methods for the analysis of pesticides.
    • Rodent pest management: A number of protocols/processes have been developed for controlling rodents such as rats, mice, bandicoots and gerbils, which cause food losses, economic damage and public health problems.
    • Mushroom production and processing: CFTRI has developed and scaled up the production and processing technologies of oyster mushrooms. RRL, Jorhat has developed eleven technologies for the production of different species of oyster mushrooms, in addition to those on production of European white button mushroom, paddy straw mushroom and shitake. It has established mushroom germplasm bank containing more than 18 species of mushrooms in addition to mobile mushroom laboratory and mushroom spawn laboratory. RRL, Jammu, has developed technologies for production of fresh Morchella esculenta and for canning, pickling and dehydration of button mushrooms.

    Other significant technologies: These include the leaf cup and papad production technologies, making of plastic pouches used for packing of milk and edible oils and technology for the manufacture of plant growth hormones from agricultural wastes.

    Machinery for Bulk Production of Food Items

    • For bulk production of traditional Indian foods such as dosa, idli, vada and chapati, considerable R&D efforts of CSIR have resulted in translating the basic kitchen technology to large scale production by the design and development of novel machines.
    • Chapati making machine: This machine hygienically produces baked, ready-to-eat chapatis, at the rate of 600 chapatis per hour. The design know-how has been commercialized.
    • Dosa making machine: This machine is the first of its kind for large-scale production of dosa. It can produce 400 dosas per hour. The design of the machine has been transferred to three firms engaged in the fabrication of food processing machinery.
    • Idli and vada making machines: With these machines, hygienic and large-scale production of idlis and vadas is possible.
    • Agro-Equipment/Machinery: CSIR has developed a host of equipment and machinery leading to productivity enhancement in the agricultural and the post-harvest processing sectors which include tractors, sugarcane harvester, tea-leaf plucking machine, rotiller, power tiller, twin screw press for palm oil extraction, honey processing plant, decorticators for sunflower and groundnut, dryers for processing agricultural produce, machinery for decortication and extraction of oil from apricot seeds etc. CSIR is well known for ‘Swaraj’, the first indigenous tractor developed in its early years. The journey from ‘Swaraj’ to ‘Solanika’ represents CSIR’s commitment to continual improvement.
    • Continuous infrared heating system: The continuous combined infrared and hot air heating system has been designed for the dehydration of vegetables. Carrot samples dehydrated under combination mode have been shown to retain higher carotenoids as compared to hot air dried samples.
    • Dry maize milling plant: Dry milling of maize to recover pure grits and oil-rich germ has a tremendous potential in our country. Main product of the process viz. grits is used commercially in extruded snack food manufacture, beer manufacture, corn flakes etc.

    Products/Technologies Commercialized

    • Over 300 products/processes/designs of equipment have been developed. Nearly 1600 licensees have availed 160 technologies for commercial exploitation. Requests from countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America for know-how and human resource development have been met by CSIR.

    Basic Findings

    • Identification of carrot juice as an alternate promising additive for promoting the growth of bifidus bacterium in infants and in experimental animals.
    • The presence of w3 fatty acids in human milk has been thought to be very vital for the development of brain functions as well as visual acuity in infants. Incorporation of w3 fatty acids in milk formula is, therefore, an important finding.
    • The healing effects of various spices are due to specific active constituents, many of which have been today isolated. For example, ‘curcumin’, the active principle of turmeric, has been shown to lower serum cholesterol levels.
    • The importance of w3 fatty acids from fish oils have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties in carrageenan induced edema model and adjuvant-induced arthritis model in rats.
    • Ghee, which is a prized dietary fat in India, has been shown to function as hypolipidemic agent at higher intake levels. This is achieved by increasing bile flow and eliminating cholesterol and its metabolites.
    • Various newer oils such as rice bran oil, palm oil have been tested for their influence on brain and other tissue lipid composition. Studies have revealed that these oils are very safe for consumption.
    • Dietary fibre has gained a lot of importance, as health foods, in the prevention of colon cancer. Studies at CFTRI have revealed that dietary fibres also beneficially influence glycoconjugate metabolism, which is altered in diabetes.
    • R&D activities in sensory science are focused on systematic sensor analysis of indigenous raw materials for development of new specialty foods. Sensory analysis is used as a tool for high degree of market success of new food items.

    Milestones in Plant Biotechnology

    Some of the key achievements of CSIR in plant biotechnology related to Food Technology Sector include:

    • Isolation and characterization of seed proteins, increased activity of potential enzymes such as papain and polygalactorinase amylase
    • Bio-transformation of low value compounds to high value products especially flavours, microbial agents, immobilization of cells and enzymes
    • Production of enzymes through solid state fermentation
    • Submerged cultivation of microbial and plant cells for production of valuable products such as food colours, flavours, and chemicals like lactic acid and alcohol
    • Development of biosensors for speedy determination of products of fermentation, utilization of substrates such as glucose and estimation of pesticide residue
    • Development of ELISA for detection of aflatoxin, pesticide residue, improvement of microbial strains for the production of value-added compounds
    • Algal biotechnology for the value addition such as colours, flavours, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants in the production of health food. Algal cultivation for human consumption and for animal feeds. Different drying method such as drum drying, cross-flow drying, spray drying have been adopted for rural applications.
    • Safety evaluation of biotechnology derived products through test organisms or using appropriate cell lines
    • Characterization of anti-fungal and anti-bacterial proteins and their hyper expression in select microorganisms
    • Microbial degradation of food industry waste for treatment of effluent and production of bioenergy
    • CFTRI has developed Eco-friendly biopesticides, which constitute a class of insecticides known as insect growth regulators.

    Technologies Under Development

    Nutraceuticals and Nutrigenomics: CSIR seeks to utilize its knowledgebase on bioinformatics, food science and herbals for breaking new grounds in the field of nutrigenomics. The idea is to develop commercially viable technologies for diverse nutraceuticals.

    Health and Convenience Foods: New products based on cereals/legumes beneficial for health are being explored and their evaluation carried out.

    The project contemplates the development of processes for:

  • Designer/functional foods with special properties such as cardio-protectiveness
  • Low calorie, diabetic-friendly food
  • New products from cereal sources
  • Ready-to-eat products from pulses
  • Ready to cook products based on meat and poultry
  • Safety protocols for traditional and convenience foods
  • Modified starches to improve the functional, textural and sensory properties of convenience foods and beverages
  • Fruit juices and other products from non-traditional fruits
  • Identifying New Biomolecules: Research is being undertaken for achieving the following:

  • Biotechnological applications of peptides for food and pharmaceutical industries
  • Production of microbial bioactive metabolites through fungal fermentation
  • Production of food colourants and their use in foods and beverages
  • Identification of new biomolecules from Nature for food-based applications
  • Screening of new bioactive compounds for example, biofumigants and biopesticides
  • Value Addition to Spices and Plantation Crops: As spices and plantation crops are export products, efforts are geared towards developing niche flavours and colourants that could find new market abroad. New and innovative biotechnological processes are being developed aimed at value-addition of plantation products.

    Post-harvest Protocols for Horticultural Crops: There is growing demand for tropical fruits and vegetables in the export market. Besides establishing cold chain infrastructural facilities, development of technology protocols for these crops is essential to improve the shelf life. Packaging material for exports of fresh fruits and vegetables and salads in modified atmosphere packaging is being developed.

    Fruit Ripening: Different fruits and vegetables have definite characteristics with respect to their storage temperature and humidity requirements. Besides, due to their differences in ethylene production, storage requires segregation. This aspect is being studied in depth. Processing of fruits such as mangoes is currently done by Benomyl or Pro-chloraz treatment. As most countries have now discontinued the use of these chemicals, alternative treatments are being identified.

    Improvements in Onion Storage Systems: The storage of onions requires very specialized technology. Indigenous technologies based on providing proper aeration facility are being developed for long-term storage of onions.

    R&D on Spices: Focused research in this area is poised to promote high value products, like exotic blends and spice mixes. Research efforts being aimed at processing of spices and manufacturing of value added products, having export potential. For modernizing the packaging system, new packaging and labeling rules are being looked into that encourage the usage of biodegradable and ecofriendly packs for preservation of the flavour profile.

    Safer Pest Control Technologies: As all fumigants are toxic to human beings such as, carbon disulphide, HCN and ethyl formate, studies are required to develop new types of eco-friendly fumigants. Efforts are on to take up survey and surveillance programmes for various pests and diseases in horticulture crops in India.

    Pesticide Residue Analysis Kits: There is a need to develop immunoassay kits for quick analysis of pesticide residue, as the current methods are time consuming and can be performed only in analytical laboratories.

    Protocols for Processing and Storage of Livestock Products : Research in this area is being aimed at abattoir designs suitable to Indian conditions; protocols for hygienic processing of meat, fish, poultry and eggs; cold chain systems; packaging and preservation method; technologies for traditional kitchen-based products; and convenience products. These programmes would result in the effective utilization of livestock for production of good quality meat, fish and poultry products both for domestic and export markets.

    Value Addition to Pulses: Processing techniques like chemical detoxification, fermentation, soaking, roasting, extruding and autoclaving are being standardized to make some pulses more palatable and less toxic.

    Establishing Food Parks: The focus of these food parks would be to create incubator and manufacturing facilities using modern technologies with common infrastructure, such as pilot plant, water treatment, uninterrupted power supply and training centers.

    Establishment of Centres of National Importance:

    • Pilot scale food irradiation plant
    • Centre for inspection, certification and clearance for safety of high yielding genetically modified crops and organic foods
    • R&D on rice, development of prototypes and demonstration plant for minimizing breakage and optimal polishing
    • Mycotoxin research and certification centre
    • Prototype development for dehulling of sesame seeds Establishing demonstration plant for manufacture of protein hydrolysate from oilseed meals
    • Centre for research and certification of pesticide residues in food and food products
    • R&D on spices for their nutritional and health values, higher value-addition and development of exotic blends
    • Development of value-added products from goat, sheep, pig and buffalo meats
    • Improvements in extraction and further processing of guar gum

    Secondary Metabolite from Plant Sources: Biotechnological production of secondary metabolite is being considered for enhancement of productivity in cell cultures and their extraction for commercial purpose.

    Use of Rice Bran as Food Ingredient: Bran is obtained as an important by-product in rice milling industry during conversion of paddy to milled rice. As the majority of the nutrients are concentrated in the outer layers of the rice grain, bran contains significant quantities of bioactive compounds of high nutritional value. Rice bran dietary fibre has been shown to possess hypo-cholesteremic, hypo-glycemic and laxative properties. Possibilities of preparing protein concentrates and milk-like or beverage-like products, by suitable extraction methods, have been shown.

    New Products Under Development

    • Natural food colourants
    • Pungent spice principles
    • Saffron analogue
    • Food flavours
    • Textured proteins
    • Microbial carotenoids
    • Total technology for many enzymes

    Nourishing Ideas for the Future

    CSIR technologies have been at the forefront for bringing sustainability of food security in our country. For augmenting growth in the Food Technology Sector, efforts would be continued to develop newer technologies aimed at improving food productivity, quality, safety and affordability to serve the Indian masses.

    It is envisaged that a new Centre for Inspection, Certification and Clearance for Safety of Genetically Modified and Organic Foods would be started in CFTRI. This centre would develop inspection and certification systems, review ongoing international guidelines including those of Codex Alimentarius, device principles of organic food production, finalize the list of permitted substances for the production of organic food, evolve minimum inspection requirements and precautionary measures under the inspection and certification system, formulate labelling forms, evaluate labelling claims and develop appropriate methods for processing of organic foods. In case of GM Foods, it would be the certification centre for the safety and nutritive quality attributes.

    Some other interesting new possibilities include:

    • Engineered functionally-improved proteins
    • Natural colourants, flavours, additives and preservatives for quality products
    • Modified fats for superior food products
    • Engineered carbohydrates and enzymes
    • Ensuring food safety by monitoring contaminants (microbial and chemical) and remedial measures