Department of Food Science
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.
There is a critical need in the meat processing and raw vegetable processing industries for the development of a rapid method for detection of infectious bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in such products well before shipping, so as to prevent infectious outbreaks and costly recalls.
Both adult-onset obesity and childhood obesity pose real health risks, with childhood obesity known to be associated with increased risk of chronic diseases. With current rising trends of overweight and obese children, there is great need to develop additional practical approaches to target the obesity epidemic. The objective of this proposed research is to develop a feasible and practical food-based approach to help reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and overweight children.
Seafood is increasingly consumed in the United States. The ability of a particular foodborne pathogen to grow on raw seafood will be determined as will the process leading to the production of a toxin responsible for foodborne illness.
The quantitative aspects of microbial inactivation and growth, and of chemical and biochemical changes in foods, play an important role in food safety, quality, stability and nutritional value. These aspects have become even more important now, as new preservation technologies are being developed and concern about the safety of foods in the United States is growing. Safety, nutrition and quality issues also strongly affect the economics of food production, processing and handling.
Cancer is a leading cause of human death around the world. It was estimated that 30-70-percent of all cancer cases might be preventable by dietary modification, depending on the dietary components and specific type of cancer. Epidemiological evidence indicates that a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer in some individuals, and this effect has been attributed to bioactive components present in these foods. Many bioactive food components have been studied intensively for possible cancer preventive effects.
The profile of dietary lipids in humans has changed dramatically as agricultural practices have advanced. This change has resulted in major changes in the consumption of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Our ancestors ingested concentrations of these two classes of fatty acids in a 7:1 ratio (comparing dietary omega-6 to omega-3). In Western cultures, the ratio in currently 25:1. This change in dietary lipids is problematic since humans are not able to interconvert (convert from one to the other) omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.