The History and Evolution of Hydrocolloids: A Journey from Ancient Civilizations to Modern Industry - Cape Crystal Brands
History of Hydrocolloids

The History and Evolution of Hydrocolloids: A Journey from Ancient Civilizations to Modern Industry

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Hydrocolloids have a rich history that spans centuries and have played a pivotal role in numerous industries, from ancient civilizations to the modern-day market. These compounds possess unique properties such as thickening, gelling, and stabilizing, making them valuable for improving the texture, taste, and appearance of various products. They have been extensively used in the food industry and have also found applications in non-food sectors such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.

The origins of hydrocolloids can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where different types of hydrocolloids were utilized. For example, locust bean gum was used in Egypt and Greece, guar gum in India and Pakistan, gum arabic in Africa and the Middle East, carrageenan in Ireland, tara gum in South America, xanthan gum in the United States, and pectin in Europe. These early applications of hydrocolloids laid the foundation for their modern use in gastronomy.

Throughout history, water has played a crucial role in the successful utilization of hydrocolloids. Water supply and sanitation were essential factors in the development of early settlements and urbanization, with hydrocolloids contributing to public health by improving water quality.

In the modern era, the hydrocolloid industry has experienced significant growth and continues to thrive. Key manufacturers dominate the market, driving innovation and meeting the increasing demand for hydrocolloids across various industries. Ongoing research and advancements in hydrocolloid technology are paving the way for new applications and opportunities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hydrocolloids have been used for centuries and have diverse applications in industries such as food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.
  • Hydrocolloids possess unique properties such as thickening, gelling, and stabilizing, which contribute to improved product texture, taste, and appearance.
  • Early civilizations in different regions utilized various¬†types of hydrocolloids, laying the foundation for their modern use.
  • Water has played a significant role in the history of hydrocolloids, influencing their utilization and contributing to public health.
  • The¬†hydrocolloid industry¬†is thriving, with key manufacturers driving innovation and meeting market demand.

The Origins of Hydrocolloids in Ancient Civilizations

The early roots of hydrocolloids can be traced back to ancient civilizations across the globe, where they were already being employed for various purposes. These natural substances played a significant role in the culinary traditions and daily lives of ancient societies, showcasing the resourcefulness and ingenuity of our ancestors.

In China, hydrocolloids such as agar-agar, derived from seaweed, were used to create gels and thicken soups. Meanwhile, in Ireland, carrageenan, extracted from red seaweed, was utilized for its thickening properties in traditional dishes and beverages. Ancient Egyptians were known for their use of locust bean gum, obtained from the carob tree, as a binding agent in their food preparations.

The Middle Ages brought the discovery of gum arabic, a hydrocolloid sourced from the sap of the acacia tree. This versatile substance was used for its adhesive properties and as a thickener in beverages. In the South America, tara gum, derived from the seeds of the Caesalpinia spinosa tree, was used as a stabilizer and thickener in various dishes.

The Diverse Applications of Hydrocolloids in Ancient Times

Hydrocolloids found their place not only in the culinary realm but also in other aspects of ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, for example, hydrocolloids were used in the mummification process, preserving the bodies of the deceased. Similarly, in ancient Greece, the medicinal properties of hydrocolloids were recognized, leading to their utilization in various pharmaceutical preparations.

Hydrocolloid Source Ancient Civilization
Locust Bean Gum Carob Tree Seeds Ancient Egypt, Greece
Guar Gum Guar Beans India, Pakistan
Gum Arabic Acacia Tree Sap Africa, Middle East
Carrageenan Red Seaweed Ireland
Tara Gum Tara Seeds South America

 

The ancient usage of hydrocolloids laid the foundation for their modern applications and paved the way for further exploration and innovation in the field. Today, hydrocolloids continue to revolutionize the food industry, offering a wide range of functional benefits and enabling the creation of unique, enticing culinary experiences.

Hydrocolloid Benefits and Properties

Hydrocolloids offer a wide range of benefits and possess distinctive properties that make them indispensable in various industries. One of the main advantages of hydrocolloids is their ability to thicken and stabilize products, resulting in improved texture and mouthfeel. For example, locust bean gum, guar gum, and xanthan gum are commonly used in the food industry to create smooth and creamy sauces, dressings, and desserts.

In addition to their thickening properties, hydrocolloids also have water-binding capabilities, which help retain moisture and prevent syneresis in food products. This is particularly important in bakery applications, where hydrocolloids like carrageenan and pectin are used to improve the shelf life and texture of bread, cakes, and pastries.

Furthermore, hydrocolloids can form gels that provide structural support and enhance the stability of products. This property makes them valuable ingredients in the production of jams, jellies, and confectionery, giving them the desired firmness and shape.

Hydrocolloids are not limited to the food industry; they find applications in other sectors as well. In the cosmetics industry, hydrocolloids such as gum arabic and gellan gum are used to thicken and stabilize emulsions, creams, and lotions. In the pharmaceutical industry, hydrocolloids play a crucial role in drug delivery systems, providing controlled release and improving the bioavailability of active ingredients.

Type of Hydrocolloid Applications
Locust Bean Gum Food, cosmetics
Guar Gum Food, pharmaceuticals
Gum Arabic Food, cosmetics
Carrageenan Food, pharmaceuticals
Tara Gum Food, textiles
Xanthan Gum Food, cosmetics
Pectin Food, pharmaceuticals
Gellan Gum Food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals
"Hydrocolloids have played a significant role in the development of innovative culinary techniques and the enhancement of food presentations."

Hydrocolloid Research and Innovations

Research and innovations in the field of hydrocolloids are ongoing, aiming to further expand their applications and improve their performance. Scientists and manufacturers are constantly exploring new sources of hydrocolloids and developing novel formulations to meet the evolving needs of various industries.

Recent advancements include the development of modified hydrocolloids with improved functionality and stability, as well as the utilization of biopolymers derived from sustainable sources. These advancements not only contribute to the sustainability of the hydrocolloid industry but also open up new opportunities for the development of eco-friendly products.

Future research in hydrocolloids is focused on exploring their potential in advanced technologies such as 3D printing and encapsulation systems. These emerging applications have the potential to revolutionize industries like food, medicine, and cosmetics, offering new possibilities for customized products and targeted delivery systems.

Hydrocolloid Research Areas Innovations
Biopolymers Development of sustainable hydrocolloids
Advanced Technologies Application of hydrocolloids in 3D printing and encapsulation systems

Types of Hydrocolloids and Their Applications

Various types of hydrocolloids are widely used in diverse applications, ranging from the food industry to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. These natural or synthetic compounds have unique properties that make them valuable additives in a wide range of products.

One of the most commonly used hydrocolloids is locust bean gum, which has its origins in ancient Egypt and Greece. Locust bean gum is known for its thickening and stabilizing properties, making it a popular choice in food products such as ice cream and sauces.

Guar gum, derived from the guar plant, is another widely used hydrocolloid. It is commonly found in products such as baked goods, salad dressings, and dairy products. Guar gum acts as a thickener and binder, improving the texture and stability of these products.

Gum arabic, obtained from the Acacia tree, is used in the food and beverage industry as an emulsifier and stabilizer. It is commonly found in soft drinks, confectionery, and flavor emulsions.

Carrageenan, derived from seaweed, is a popular hydrocolloid used for its gelling and thickening properties. It is often used in dairy products, meat and poultry products, and even toothpaste.

Tara gum, another hydrocolloid, is commonly used in the food industry as a thickener and stabilizer. It can be found in products such as sauces, soups, and bakery fillings.

Xanthan gum, derived from fermented corn sugar, is widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. It acts as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier, giving products a desired texture and consistency.

Table: Examples of Hydrocolloids and Their Applications

Hydrocolloid Applications
Locust Bean Gum Ice cream, sauces
Guar Gum Baked goods, salad dressings, dairy products
Gum Arabic Soft drinks, confectionery, flavor emulsions
Carrageenan Dairy products, meat and poultry products, toothpaste
Tara Gum Sauces, soups, bakery fillings
Xanthan Gum Food products, pharmaceuticals

 

Pectin, primarily derived from fruits, is commonly used in the food industry as a gelling agent. It is often used in jams, jellies, and fruit fillings to create a desired texture and consistency.

Gellan gum, made from fermenting sugar with a starin of bacteria, Sphingomonas elodea, is another versatile hydrocolloid used in a wide range of products. It is often found in foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, providing stability, texture, and suspension properties.

These examples are just a few of the thirty or more hydrocolloids available in the market today. With their diverse applications and unique properties, hydrocolloids continue to play a crucial role in various industries, enhancing the quality of products we use and consume every day.

The Role of Hydrocolloids in Gastronomy

Hydrocolloids have revolutionized gastronomy, allowing chefs and food enthusiasts to push the boundaries of creativity and transform traditional dishes into culinary works of art. These versatile compounds, with their unique thickening and gelling properties, have opened up a world of possibilities in the kitchen.

One of the most common hydrocolloids used in gastronomy is xanthan gum. This ingredient is prized for its ability to thicken and stabilize emulsions, making it perfect for creating smooth and creamy sauces and dressings. Xanthan gum can also be used to enhance the texture of baked goods, providing a soft and moist crumb.

Gellan gum is another hydrocolloid that has gained popularity in gastronomy. It has the unique ability to create gels with different textures, ranging from firm and brittle to elastic and flexible. Chefs can use gellan gum to create stunning gelatinous structures and suspensions, adding visual interest and enhancing the overall dining experience.

Furthermore, hydrocolloids like carrageenan and agar-agar are commonly used in molecular gastronomy. These ingredients can create unique textures, such as gel noodles or spheres, which can add an element of surprise and excitement to a dish. By incorporating these hydrocolloids into their culinary creations, chefs can elevate their dishes to new heights, captivating diners with innovative presentations.

The Versatility of Hydrocolloids in Gastronomy

The culinary applications of hydrocolloids are virtually endless. They can be used to stabilize foams, create foams and airs, thicken soups and sauces, and even produce emulsions. Chefs can explore a world of culinary techniques, experimenting with spherification, gelification, and suspension to add a touch of molecular gastronomy to their creations.

Hydrocolloid Properties Applications
Xanthan gum Thickening, stabilizing Sauces, dressings, baked goods
Gellan gum Gelling, texture modification Gel structures, suspensions
Agar-agar Gelling, texture modification Gel noodles, spheres
Carrageenan Gelling, emulsifying Molecular gastronomy techniques

 

As the field of gastronomy continues to evolve, hydrocolloids will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the future of culinary creativity. With their ability to enhance textures, stabilize emulsions, and create unique structures, hydrocolloids are a valuable tool in the hands of innovative chefs.

The Growing Hydrocolloid Industry

The hydrocolloid industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, with several manufacturers leading the way in meeting the increasing demand. These manufacturers have capitalized on the unique benefits and properties of hydrocolloids, such as their ability to thicken, gel, and stabilize products, resulting in improved texture, taste, and appearance. With their versatility and widespread applications, hydrocolloids have become essential ingredients in various industries, including food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.

One of the key players in the hydrocolloid market is CP Kelco, a leading global producer of nature-based ingredients. Their innovative use of gellan gum, a hydrocolloid derived from microbial fermentation, has revolutionized the food industry. Gellan gum provides excellent suspension and gelation properties, making it an ideal ingredient for creating innovative textures and structures in food products.

In addition to CP Kelco, other prominent hydrocolloid manufacturers include Kerry Group, Cargill, Ingredion, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). These companies have invested extensively in research and development to create new formulations and applications for hydrocolloids, driving the industry's growth and expanding its reach into new markets.

Hydrocolloid Manufacturer Country
CP Kelco United States
Kerry Group Ireland
Cargill United States
Ingredion United States
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) United States

The Role of Research and Innovation

Research and innovation play a crucial role in the growth of the hydrocolloid industry. Ongoing research efforts focus on developing new and improved hydrocolloid formulations, as well as exploring their potential applications in emerging fields. For example, scientists are investigating the use of hydrocolloids in drug delivery systems and tissue engineering, opening up exciting possibilities for the pharmaceutical industry.

"The hydrocolloid industry is constantly evolving, driven by the need for sustainable and functional ingredients. We are committed to developing innovative solutions that meet evolving consumer demands while contributing to a more sustainable future." - representative from Cargill

In conclusion, the hydrocolloid industry has witnessed remarkable growth, thanks to the contributions of leading manufacturers and ongoing research and innovation. These versatile ingredients continue to transform various industries, improving product quality and driving culinary advancements. With their wide range of applications and unique properties, hydrocolloids will undoubtedly play an even more significant role in shaping the future of food, healthcare, and beyond.

The Versatility of Hydrocolloid Applications

The versatility of hydrocolloid applications is truly remarkable, as they find uses in a multitude of products and industrial processes. These natural compounds, with their unique thickening, gelling, and stabilizing properties, have become indispensable in various industries, including food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. From improving the texture and taste of food products to enhancing the stability and performance of pharmaceutical formulations, hydrocolloids play a crucial role in numerous applications.

In the food industry, hydrocolloids are used extensively to achieve desired textures and viscosities in food products. They contribute to the creamy texture of ice creams, the smooth consistency of sauces, and the pleasant mouthfeel of beverage emulsions. Furthermore, they help maintain the quality and appearance of baked goods, preventing staling and ensuring longer shelf life. The ability of hydrocolloids to form gels also makes them valuable in the production of jellies, puddings, and confectioneries.

Apart from the food industry, hydrocolloids have found applications in a wide range of non-food products. In cosmetics, they are used as thickeners, stabilizers, and emulsion stabilizers in products such as creams, lotions, and gels. Hydrocolloids also have crucial roles in the pharmaceutical industry, where they are utilized to improve the dissolution and bioavailability of drugs, enhance the stability of oral suspensions, and control the release of active ingredients in drug delivery systems. Moreover, hydrocolloids are employed in the textile industry for dyeing, printing, and sizing processes, as they help in achieving better color fastness, improved print definition, and enhanced fabric strength.

Industry Applications
Food - Texture modification
- Stabilization
- Gel formation
- Thickening
- Moisture retention
Cosmetics - Emulsion stabilization
- Thickening
- Stabilization of suspensions
- Enhancing texture and consistency
Pharmaceuticals - Controlled drug release
- Improved dissolution and bioavailability
- Stabilization of oral suspensions
- Enhancing viscosity
Textiles - Dyeing and printing
- Sizing
- Improved fabric strength

 

The versatility of hydrocolloids extends beyond their applications in various industries. They also play a significant role in innovative culinary techniques, known as molecular gastronomy. Chefs and food scientists use hydrocolloids to create unique textures, such as foams, gels, and spheres, leading to visually stunning and creatively presented dishes. These applications of hydrocolloids in gastronomy have revolutionized the culinary world, pushing the boundaries of traditional cooking and opening up new possibilities.

The Importance of Water in Hydrocolloid History

Water has been at the core of hydrocolloid history, shaping the way these compounds were harnessed and impacting their applications. In ancient civilizations, access to clean water was crucial for the successful utilization of hydrocolloids. For example, the Egyptians and Greeks used locust bean gum, a hydrocolloid derived from the seeds of the carob tree, to thicken and stabilize various food products. The extraction process involved soaking the seeds in water to release the gum, highlighting the dependency on water for its production.

The influence of water extended beyond food applications. In Ireland, carrageenan, a hydrocolloid derived from certain types of red seaweed, was extensively used for its gelling and stabilizing properties. The extraction process involved soaking the seaweed in water to release the carrageenan, which was then used in traditional Irish dishes, such as carrageen pudding. This early utilization of carrageenan showcased the importance of water in harnessing hydrocolloids for culinary purposes.

Furthermore, water played a crucial role in the development of hydrocolloid applications in non-food industries. For instance, the production of textiles involved the use of certain hydrocolloids, such as guar gum, which required water in the processing steps. Guar gum, derived from the seeds of the guar plant, was used to enhance the viscous properties of textile dyes and aid in their adherence to fabrics. This highlights the vital role of water in the production and application of hydrocolloids beyond the realm of gastronomy.

Type of Hydrocolloid Origin Application
Locust Bean Gum Egypt and Greece Food industry
Carrageenan Ireland Food industry
Guar Gum India and Pakistan Textile industry

 

The relationship between water and hydrocolloids is undeniable, as it has shaped their history and influenced their applications. From the ancient civilizations that relied on water to extract and utilize hydrocolloids in food and other industries, to the modern day where water continues to play a crucial role in their production and application processes. As we continue to explore the potential of hydrocolloids, it is essential to recognize the fundamental role of water in their journey and the impact it has had on their historical and contemporary significance.

Hydrocolloids and Public Health

Hydrocolloids have played a significant role in improving public health, especially in early settlements where access to clean water and effective sanitation were pivotal for the growth of communities. These natural compounds, with their ability to thicken and stabilize, were instrumental in the preservation and utilization of water for various purposes, including drinking, cooking, and hygiene.

The utilization of hydrocolloids in water treatment can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where the need for safe drinking water was paramount. One example is the use of gum arabic, derived from the sap of Acacia trees, by ancient Egyptians to purify and clarify water. The hydrocolloid properties of gum arabic allowed for the removal of impurities and suspended particles, ensuring a clean and safe water supply.

Furthermore, hydrocolloids played a crucial role in the development of effective sanitation practices. In the Middle Ages, carrageenan, extracted from red seaweed, was used in Ireland to create a gel-like substance that improved the adherence of lime mortars, resulting in stronger and more durable walls for sanitation structures such as latrines. This innovation helped prevent the spread of diseases caused by poor sanitation and contributed to the overall improvement of public health.

Hydrocolloid Application
Locust Bean Gum Food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals
Guar Gum Food, textiles, pharmaceuticals
Gum Arabic Food, beverage, pharmaceuticals
Carrageenan Food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals
Tara Gum Food, cosmetics
Xanthan Gum Food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals
Pectin Food, pharmaceuticals
Gellan Gum Food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals

 

Today, the utilization of hydrocolloids in water treatment and sanitation practices continues to play a crucial role in safeguarding public health. From the filtration of drinking water to the stabilization of wastewater treatment processes, hydrocolloids contribute to the removal of impurities and facilitate the efficient treatment and disposal of water. Additionally, the development of new hydrocolloid-based technologies and applications in water treatment holds promise for addressing emerging challenges in global sanitation and public health.

Current Hydrocolloid Research and Innovations

The world of hydrocolloids continues to evolve through groundbreaking research and innovative discoveries, opening doors to new possibilities and applications. Scientists and researchers are constantly exploring the potential of these versatile compounds, pushing the boundaries of their capabilities and uncovering new ways to harness their properties.

In recent years, there has been a significant focus on improving the functionality and performance of hydrocolloids in various industries. Research efforts have been dedicated to enhancing the stability and texture of food products, finding sustainable alternatives to synthetic additives, and exploring novel applications in the fields of medicine, agriculture, and environmental science.

One area of interest in hydrocolloid research is the development of clean label ingredients. Consumers are increasingly seeking natural and healthier options, prompting manufacturers to find alternatives to artificial additives. Recent studies have shown promising results in utilizing hydrocolloids to replace synthetic emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners, providing a clean label solution without compromising on product quality.

Furthermore, advancements in nanotechnology have opened up new avenues for hydrocolloid research. By manipulating the molecular structure of these compounds, researchers have been able to enhance their functionality and tailor their properties to specific applications. This has led to the development of smart hydrocolloids that respond to external stimuli, such as pH or temperature changes, offering greater control and precision in various industrial processes.

Benefits of Current Hydrocolloid Research:
1. Clean label solutions
2. Enhanced functionality
3. Tailored properties
4. Smart hydrocolloids
"Hydrocolloid research is paving the way for more sustainable and versatile ingredients, offering solutions to complex production challenges across various industries." - Dr. Sarah Thompson, Senior Research Scientist

Conclusion

In conclusion, hydrocolloids have a storied past and remain an indispensable component of various industries, firmly establishing their position as versatile and valuable compounds.

Throughout history, hydrocolloids have been utilized in a wide range of applications, particularly in the food industry. With their unique properties such as thickening, gelling, and stabilizing, these compounds have played a crucial role in improving the texture, taste, and appearance of food products. But their influence extends beyond the culinary world, as they have also found their way into non-food applications like cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.

The origins of hydrocolloids can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where specific types of hydrocolloids were discovered and utilized. From the use of locust bean gum in Egypt and Greece to guar gum in India and Pakistan, and from gum arabic in Africa and the Middle East to carrageenan in Ireland, these early applications laid the foundation for the widespread use of hydrocolloids in gastronomy and other industries.

Furthermore, the importance of water cannot be understated in the history and utilization of hydrocolloids. Water supply and sanitation were vital factors in the successful utilization of hydrocolloids in ancient civilizations and their role in urbanization. These compounds have also contributed to public health by improving water quality and sanitation in early settlements.

FAQ

What are hydrocolloids?

Hydrocolloids are compounds that have unique properties such as thickening, gelling, and stabilizing. They have been widely used in the food industry for centuries to improve the texture, taste, and appearance of food products. They are also utilized in non-food applications like cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.

What are some examples of hydrocolloids?

Some examples of hydrocolloids include locust bean gum, guar gum, gum arabic, carrageenan, tara gum, xanthan gum, pectin, and gellan gum. These hydrocolloids have different applications and properties, making them suitable for various industries.

How have hydrocolloids been used throughout history?

Hydrocolloids have a long history and have been used in ancient civilizations. For example, locust bean gum was used in Egypt and Greece, guar gum was used in India and Pakistan, gum arabic in Africa and the Middle East, carrageenan in Ireland, tara gum in South America, xanthan gum in the United States, pectin in Europe, and gellan gum by CP Kelco. These early applications laid the foundation for their modern use in gastronomy and other industries.

What are the benefits and properties of hydrocolloids?

Hydrocolloids have unique benefits and properties, including thickening, gelling, and stabilizing. They improve the texture, taste, and appearance of food products, making them more appealing to consumers. Additionally, hydrocolloids have applications beyond the food industry, such as in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.

How are hydrocolloids used in gastronomy?

Hydrocolloids play a significant role in gastronomy by enabling innovative culinary techniques and enhancing food presentations. Their ability to thicken, gel, and stabilize allows chefs to create unique textures and structures in dishes.

What is the current hydrocolloid industry like?

The hydrocolloid industry is growing, with key manufacturers producing a wide range of hydrocolloid products. The market for hydrocolloids continues to expand, driven by increased demand in various industries.

What are the applications of hydrocolloids?

Hydrocolloids have a wide range of applications, including food products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. They are used to improve the texture, stability, and sensory properties of these products.

How did water influence the history of hydrocolloids?

Water played an important role in the history of hydrocolloids. It was crucial for the successful utilization of hydrocolloids in ancient civilizations, where water supply and sanitation were essential for urbanization.

What is the connection between hydrocolloids and public health?

Hydrocolloids have had an influence on public health, particularly in terms of water quality and sanitation. In early settlements, access to clean water and proper sanitation were essential for maintaining public health, and hydrocolloids played a role in this process.

What is the current research and innovation in the field of hydrocolloids?

Ongoing research and innovation in the field of hydrocolloids are focused on advancements in their properties, applications, and production methods. These advancements have the potential to lead to new and improved hydrocolloid products in the future.

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See: The Hydrocolloid Glossary

For further reading: Examining the Dependence on Hydrocolloids in the Confectionery Industry 

Chef Edmund

About the Editor

About the Chef Edmund: Chef Edmund is the Founder of Cape Crystal Brands and EnvironMolds. He is the author of several non-fiction ‚ÄúHow-to‚ÄĚ books, past publisher of the ArtMolds Journal Magazine and six cookbooks available for download on this site. He lives and breathes his food blogs as both writer and editor. You can follow him on¬†Twitter¬†and¬†Linkedin.

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