The safety of the food supply is a continuing issue for agriculture, with an estimated 81 million instances of food borne illnesses in the USA annually, with an estimated cost of $152 billion dollars per year to the US economy. The Center for Disease Control and prevention estimates that 46% of these illnesses were due to produce - thus food safety is very much an agricultural issue.
Department of Food Science
There is a strong association of chronic inflammation with various types of diseases.
Plants are capable of producing a great diversity of relatively small organic chemicals that are called “secondary”, or, more recently, “specialized” metabolites, because they are not involved in central metabolism (Gang, 2005; Weng and Noel, 2012). Currently, well over 200,000 distinct molecules are known to be produced by plants and found to serve many important roles. As pigments, scents, and flavors they attract pollinators and seed dispersers (Gang, 2005).
Some food oils, such as those containing omega-3 fatty acids, are nutritionally beneficial and yet largely under-consumed in the United States. These oils can be very unstable causing the formation of strong off-flavors that result in consumer rejection of omega-3 fortified food products. This project will develop new technologies that can stabilize omega-3 fatty acids so they can be incorporated into a wide variety of foods. Production of omega-3 fatty acids fortified foods could have significant consumer health benefits especially for heart and mental health.