The Institute for Food Science and Engineering seeks to strengthen existing partnerships and develop new partnerships and alliances with the food industry, government, and academic institutions, while providing an appropriate balance of fundamental and applied research in program areas that are critical to the food processing industries in Arkansas and cooperating states. <P>New production, processing, and packaging technologies are developed and/or promoted to enhance product quality and ensure safety throughout the food chain from production to consumption. Technology transfer efforts assist the food industry in developing value-added, high-quality products that are safe, appealing, and healthy. Appropriate technology transfer methods are used to communicate research findings, developing a nationally and internationally recognized industry outreach program.
Non-Technical Summary: Food processing is the leading industry in Arkansas, supported by a strong and diverse agricultural production base. Because the marketing of raw farm products rarely maximizes economic returns to producers, the future growth of agriculture in Arkansas, and in most of the other southern states, lies in adding value through further processing of products. Food industry employment and income both can increase dramatically with the important growth catalyst provided by a strong research and technology transfer program in food science, food engineering, food safety, nutrition and functional foods. The Institute for Food Science and Engineering is a successful regional research center that provides research excellence, successfully partnering with regional, national and international companies, and which continues to provide multi-disciplinary value-added research and technology transfer to benefit its stakeholder groups. <P> Approach: The Institute's three interrelated Centers, the Center for Food Processing and Engineering, the Center for Food Safety and Quality, and the Center for Human Nutrition and Functional Foods, soften disciplinary lines in order to facilitate cooperation and team building among research and extension faculty. An integrated, well-equipped infrastructure enhances the ability of affiliated scientists to provide research assistance to industry. Interdisciplinary teams of scientists conduct research working in partnership with industry. Pilot plant facilities support laboratory scale processing runs and new product development. The professionally-trained Descriptive Sensory Panel provides it services for researchers and external companies. Technical assistance is provided for all stakeholder groups. Technology transfer efforts support processing and value-added products, food safety and functional foods.