Bestfoods, now to be merged with Unilever, has been granted US patent no. 6146682 for "wet toasted Pasta having improved hot water pour-over rehydration properties......".

The abstract states that these wet toasted pasta products are quick cooking and have the appearance and texture of regular pasta. The products are partially pre-cooked and they have a unique internal porous structure that provides a low density and quick cooking characteristics.

The products are also characterized by excellent cooked yield properties. The method of making the products involves sheeting or extrusion under no vacuum or low vacuum followed by toasting under controlled conditions to obtain partially pre-cooked pasta.

Other players who have been granted patents in this field in the last decade are Nestec, Campbell Soup, Ishigaki Foods, Designer Snacks, tuterri's, General Mills, Borden and Kraft.

By Navroz Havewala, just-food.com correspondent