Department of Food Science
The results of this project will directly impact industries that handle foods most commonly implicated in foodborne disease outbreaks, including low-moisture foods (especially spices, nuts, and dried fruits); fresh, minimally, and shelf-stable processed produce; dairy; fresh and further processed seafood, meat, and poultry products (including fully cooked and ready-to-eat products subject to post-process contamination), as well as other multi-component and processed foods.
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.
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).