Food science students hit sweet spot

Nicholas Grobbelaar, Cenette Bezuidenhout, Carin-Marie Engelbrecht, Taryn Harding, Shannon Howell and Megan Kleyn.

A chocolate sandwich spread crammed with sweet potato and beans sounds like the perfect way in which parents can sneak more vegetables into their children’s food.

Food scientists from Stellenbosch University are also hoping that the nutritious spread they call S’coolBeans will see them winning an international product development competitions.

S’coolBeans is a low cost chocolate and hazelnut flav-oured spread made from fermented red speckled beans (also known as sugar beans) and sweet potato. It has been named as a finalist in the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) Food Science Students Fighting Hunger product development competition. It encourages undergraduate students to use their knowledge and skills to develop innovative food products to fight hunger. The winners will be announced during the IUFoST 18th World Congress of Food Science and Technology, to be held in Dublin, Ireland in late August.

S’coolBeans was developed by Cenette Bezuidenhout, Carin-Marie Engelbrecht, Nicholas Grobbelaar, Taryn Harding, Shannon Howell and Megan Kleyn in 2015, as part of product development, a final year BSc Food Science module.

Cenette, Shannon and Megan are furthering their studies this year as Master’s degree students at Stellenbosch University, while Carin-Marie, Nicholas and Taryn have started working in the industry.

According to Cenette, S’coolBeans is much more than just a way of stealthily incorporating vegetables into a tasty sandwich spread for children. It is high in protein and contains the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to ensure the development and growth of children, especially those from low-income environments. She believes it could be well suited to use in, for examle, school feeding schemes.

“S’coolBeans not only provides an affordable solution to fighting hunger but it also incorporates three of the current global food trends, such as new uses for fruit and vegetables, more prominence to protein and good fats, as well as carbohydrates,” said Cenette.

The product is not yet on the shelves. The team is currently working with Innovus, the technology transfer company of Stellenbosch University, to develop the concept further, in the hopes of attracting a manufacturer.

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