About 1% of the world population, approximately 600-700 million people, suffers from celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by consuming gluten. Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye which are basic ingredients in food products, especially baked products such as bread, pies and cakes. Common symptoms include bloating, excess gas, diarrhea, vomiting, migraines and numbness or in the hands and feet. Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is adherence to a gluten-free diet.
BIOTEC research team, led by Dr. Kuakoon Piyachomkwan and Dr. Sunee Chotineeranat, and Kasetsart University successfully developed the cassava flour manufacturing technology, a mechanized process of which bitter cassava containing high levels of toxic cyanide can be processed into high quality cassava flour with less than 10 ppm cyanide content. Since cassava contains no gluten, cassava flour is therefore an ideal substitute for wheat in baked products. The technology has been licensed to Chorchaiwat Industry, and the company became the first company in Thailand to manufacture and distribute gluten-free all-purpose flour under the tradename SAVA.
To diversify the use of cassava flour, Dr. Chaiwut Gamonpilas, an MTEC researcher, employed knowledge in materials science to modify the viscoelasticity and rheology properties of cassava flour to make it suitable for bread baking. This new gluten-free bread flour is made from unbleached cassava flour and contains flaxseed, a good source of fiber. It is a perfect product for people suffering from celiac disease or consumers prefering healthy food products.