Mars subsidiary Masterfoods has been awarded a US patent for its method of preparing puffed cereal cakes. The invention is intended to broaden the range of ingredients that can be incorporated into rice cakes, as currently most edible materials, such as vitamins or chocolate, are degraded by the high temperatures necessary to form them. As a result, rice cakes generally only contain rice and salt, with flavourings added to the surface after forming. Masterfoods claims this has resulted in limited consumer acceptance of rice cakes.

Protected under US patent number 6,248,379, the abstract reads:

The invention provides a process for the preparation of puffed cereal cakes, preferably rice cakes, comprising the steps of: providing a cereal grain, preferably a milled parboiled rice, wherein the cereal grain is impregnated with a non-mineral food ingredient such as a sugar; introducing the grain into a mould; and puffing the cereal in the mould under pressure to form a shaped impregnated cereal cake. The cereal grains impregnated with organic food ingredients can be used to make puffed cereal cakes having improved taste, texture and nutritional properties.

The first claim (of 61) is for:

A process for the preparation of a puffed cereal cake comprising the steps of:

· providing a cereal grain impregnated with at least one organic food ingredient;

· introducing said grain into a mould; and

· puffing said cereal grain in said mould under pressure to form a shaped flavoured cereal cake.

To see full details of the patent, please click here.