Characterize multi-scale physical, chemical and biological properties of food, biological and engineered materials Develop new and sustainable technologies to transform raw materials into safe, high quality, health enhanced and value added foods through processing, packaging and preservation Develop mathematical models to understand, predict and optimize for safe and improved quality of foods, and to enhance consumer health Disseminate knowledge developed through research and novel pedagogical methods to enhance student and other stakeholder learning and practice
With continual food recalls due to contamination of foods (eggs, lettuce, spinach, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, peanuts, pistachios, milk, etc.) by foodborne illness microorganisms and allergens, there is an increasing demand by consumers for safe, fresh-like, nutritious, quality food. These factors continue to challenge the US food processing industry. Emerging pathogenic microorganisms and allergens, tolerant to conventional treatment methods, create a demand for improved and novel food processes. Consumers expect foods to be safe, so that they can concentrate on the quality, nutritious, and healthy aspects of their food supply. The industry must constantly redefine technology to assure wholesomeness in processed foods. Thus, new and existing technologies must meet the challenge and play a pivotal role in improving the quality of value-added food products. Without extensive research, it would be difficult for the industry to meet these demands. To effectively compete in the global markets, the US food industry requires ready access to the scientific knowledge, well-prepared personnel, and a continuous dialog between academic researchers and industry practitioners. Collaborations among engineers, food scientists and other experts within the university setting, and across the nation can effectively address these needs of the industry by advancing technologies through research, preparing our future work force through educating the students, and bridging the gap between research and implementation through outreach. This project will provide safety and improve quality of food products via utilizing innovative methods to characterize food materials and packaging, develop new and improved processing technologies (such as high pressure processing and temperature assisted high pressure processing, irradiation, cleaning/sanitation of fresh fruits and vegetables prior and during processing), develop mathematical models to characterize quality and safety changes, develop pedagogical methodologies for improved learning of food engineering principles, and develop outreach programs to disseminate best practices for enhancing food safety and quality to stakeholders. The stakeholders impacted by this project will include the food industry, federal regulatory agencies, university curricula (students and faculty), and consumers. The research outcomes of this project will be used to enhance education and outreach programs for students and stakeholders. In addition to publishing refereed journal articles, book chapters, books, and conference presentations, there will be a number of active workshops, and demonstrations of advances in technologies to stakeholders. The expected output/impacts will cause a change in knowledge, actions, and a change in condition. New knowledge about existing and new technologies that will improve the safety and quality of foods will be developed. Students will have improved skills, and be better able to apply their knowledge in problem solving/decision-making. The results of this project will improve the both old and new technologies that will be adopted by the food industry. These improvements will help the industry to produce a safer, high quality, and nutritious food supply.