Public Release: 

Researchers develop method for higher purity in wheat flour

Kansas State University

MANHATTAN, KANSAS -- Kansas State University researchers have developed a new testing method to help millers assure wheat flour purity that will meet baking industry standards and consumers' expectations.

The test introduces sophisticated molecular methods that focus on high, endosperm purity in flour extracted from wheat kernels.

"We are helping the miller by measuring the endosperm purity for flour streams coming from each stage of the milling process," said Mark Boatwright, a Kansas State University doctoral candidate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from Runnels, Iowa. "This will allow the miller to optimize settings on equipment and make decisions to meet the baker's specifications for quality flour."

When completed, the work being done at the university will allow the miller to exclude inferior flour streams from the final product.

"If a miller hasn't met the baker's specifications, the effort is wasted," said David Wetzel, professor of grain science and industry. "We are enabling the miller to meet purity specifications by giving him a selective analytical test."

The Kansas State University scientists analyzed 29 flour streams from a commercial wheat mill to determine the endosperm purity as it moves closer to becoming flour for bread or other products.

"The result is an endosperm purity profile that enables the miller to determine the point at which a cutoff is required to maintain purity for the baker and, ultimately, the consumer," Boatwright said.

Wetzel said that giving millers greater ability to optimize equipment settings for the milling process pays off with a higher yield of flour at the desired purity.

"In the economy of Kansas, the production of bread-quality wheat is a big deal," Wetzel said. "We have shown that by using recently developed technology, the efficiency in a mill can be improved without reducing the flour yield."


Boatwright is the lead author in the study "Profiling Endosperm Purity of Commercial Mill Streams Preceded by Debranning Using Quantitative Chemical Imaging,"published in Cereal Foods World, the official publication of the American Association of Cereal Chemists.

The research was supported by K-State Research and Extension. Chemical imaging of endosperm was completed in Wetzel's Microbeam Molecular Spectroscopy Laboratory.

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