Vietnamese scientists create safe alternative to toxic additive

A group of Vietnamese female scientists developed a harmless preservative to replace borax, a toxin substance used to texturize a Vietnamese meatloaf dish

The scientists from the Institute of Chemistry of Vietnam successfully formulated “PDP powder” from chitin, a polymer molecule found o­n the cell walls of many animals and fungi.

The powder, derived from shrimp and crab shells, is nontoxic and cheap, said team leader Associate Professor, Doctor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tu.

The chemical additive is currently o­n sale and being used in pork paste, meatloaf, sausages and rice noodles by manufacturers including Vissan, a leading food company and others in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

However, Vietnam’s cottage industry meatloaf producers still resort to the traditional method of borax and formaldehyde, which worries Tu.

“Successfully researching and manufacturing a scientific product is difficult enough. It proves more so to publicize it. Scientists are busy and cannot conduct research and market the product at the same time,” Tu said.

Tu shared the VIFOTEC award with another female colleague in 2004 for her innovative work o­n PDP powder.

VIFOTEC stands for Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations' Vietnam Fund for Supporting Technological Creations.

Thanh Nien Newspaper