The overall goal of project is to develop, evaluate and optimize novel processes to improve food safety. The specific objectives are: <OL> <LI> Advancing the fundamental science and application of technologies to ensure safety and improve quality of food products <LI> Utilize innovative methods to characterize food materials <LI> Develop new and improved processing technologies <LI> Develop mathematical models to enhance understanding of, and, optimize food processes <LI> Develop pedagogical methodologies for improved learning of food engineering principles <LI> Develop outreach programs to disseminate best practices for enhancing food safety and quality to stakeholders. </OL> Activities will include understanding the mode of destruction of microorganisms by high-pressure processing and ultraviolet light. This project will result in novel processing technologies with optimum process conditions, mathematical models providing greater insight into various food process operations, and learning modules to teach food process engineering to food science and food engineering students. Various developed technologies and science behind these technologies will be shared with food industry stakeholders, resulting in increased knowledge and expertise of government employees, inspectors, trainers, etc.
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: With an increasing demand by consumers for fresh-like, healthy, nutritious and safe food, the US food processing industry is continually challenged. Furthermore, emerging pathogenic microorganisms, tolerant to conventional treatment methods, create a demand for improved and novel food processes. The industry must constantly redefine technology to assure wholesomeness in processed foods. 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 with appropriate skills, and a continuous dialog between academic researchers and industry practitioners. Collaborations among engineers, food scientists and other experts 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. The stakeholders impacted by this project will include the food industry, federal regulatory agencies, and consumers. Novel non-thermal processing technologies will be investigated for various food applications. These technologies include: high pressure processing, pulsed ultraviolet light, ozone, and electrolyzed oxidizing water. Also, processing parameters will be optimized to make the process more economical and less nutritionally destructive to the processed foods. Teaching modules to teach non-thermal technolgies will be developed. The overall outcome of the project will help in providing safe foods with highest quality for the consumers.
APPROACH: Novel non-thermal processes such as high pressure processing, pulsed ultraviolet light, ozone, and electrolyzed oxidizing water will be evaluated for production of microbially safe food products including fruits, vegetables, fresh and processed meats, dairy products. The mechanism of action of these processes will be elucidated. The processes will be optimized in terms of parameters such as temperature, contact time, pressure, etc. The currently core competencies and learning outcomes for Food Science and Food Engineering undergraduate students (as outlined by IFT) will be revisited. Inclusion of new topics and novel teaching approaches in Food Engineering and Food Processing Curricula will be looked into. Outreach plans include scientific presentations at national meetings, workshops and presentations to the industry and government agencies.