Faculty members in the Department of Food Science conduct research in several areas critical to the quality, safety, and economic value of our food supply, while minimizing environmental and energy costs. Among the important areas of research:
Developing New Products and Processes: non-thermal technologies including high pressure and radio-frequency processing; high temperature and aseptic thermal processing; recovery of used frying oils; by-product recovery and utilization; improved marination/ injection technology; nanotechnology; role of water in foods; NMR, laser-based, x-ray and ultrasound process sensors; minimally processed foods; functional beverages; computer modeling of processes; artificial neural networks for process prediction; improving freezing and cold storage; extrusion cooking; active packaging.
Ensuring Food Safety: microbial survival in processed foods and processing plants; resistance of microbial biofilms; process factors that influence pathogen growth; stress adaptation by microorganisms; detection and prevention of food parasites; microbial genetics; molecular detection and characterization of food borne bacterial pathogens; probiotic/competitive exclusion bacteria to reduce/ eliminate pathogenic bacteria.
Enhancing Food Quality: new methods for analyzing flavor and color of fresh fruits and vegetables; sensory analysis and consumer testing; polysaccharide-protein interactions in beverages; enhancing colloidal stability; simulated supermarket testing; correlating physical and sensory properties through texture measurement, GC, or electronic nose.
Maximizing Nutritional Content: methods for analyzing food nutrients; role of Vitamin E and folic acid in healthy diets; processing effects on nutrient quality; techniques for measurement of trans fats; developing high protein foods from novel and underutilized sources.
Discovering New Health-Promoting Food Compounds: fat substitutes and healthy structured lipids; extracting antioxidants and bioactive compounds from fruit and vegetables; computational chemistry of bioactive compounds; incorporating health-promoting ingredients into common plant and muscle foods; processes that limit breakdown of nutraceuticals and phytochemicals; bioactive peptides
Lipid Biotechnology, Chemistry, and Phytochemicals Laboratory: principal laboratory research interests include lipid biotechnology, chemistry, biochemistry, and phytochemicals. Our primary focus involves chemical and enzymatic modification of lipids for various food applications such as infant formula, trans-free margarines, shortenings, and cocoa butter substitutes. Visit the LBCAP website.