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.
Department of Food Science
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.
Dietary factors are important predictors of long term health and the incidence of chronic disease. Laboratory methods will be employed, primarily in vitro models, such as in vitro digestion and tissue cultures, which will be used to evaluate the bioactivity of nutrients and other food bioactives to understand the mechanisms. The investigator will seek to advance the science of defining the role of bioactive dietary constituents for optimal human health. This will provide fertile grounds for ongoing collaborations and future collaborative research and grant proposal development.
Accumulating evidence suggests that, due to possible synergistic interactions, the intake of combined bioactive dietary components may provide enhanced cancer preventive effects relative to the intake of an isolated pure compound. Thus, utilization of combinations of bioactive dietary components is an attractive strategy for cancer prevention. However, there is currently only relatively limited understanding of the interactions among different bioactive dietary components and their collective manifestations on bioactivity.
A recent study has shown that the annual cost of foodborne illness in the Unites States is approximately $152 billion. This is a result of the estimated 76 million food-related illnesses which occur annually including approximately 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations. Coast-to-coast and international distribution by megaprocessing plants puts potential outbreaks on a national and international scale. Therefore, monitoring of pathogen counts on processing surfaces is critical in maintaining low or zero counts in food products.