Creating Novel Foods and More From Agricultural Products
In a modern pilot plant at
the Eastern Regional Research
Center in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania,
food technologist Charles
Onwulata works on development
of processed foods and creation
of unique biopolymers with
and an injection molding machine.
The Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania,
recently announced the opening of the Center of Excellence in Extrusion
and Polymer Rheology (CEEPR).
The goal of the new center is to create value-added, novel foods, food
ingredients, and nonfood or industrial biodegradable products from underused
agricultural materials such as whey or corn byproducts. Current research
projects cover a wide range of products, including snack foods, cheeses,
meal replacement bars, pet foods, texturized proteins or meat substitutes,
aquaculture feed, and nonfood materials such as films.
Scientists at ERRC work to create processes for converting corn and other grains into food and nonfood products. The waste streams from these processes will provide working materials for CEEPR projects.
Whey-protein enriched corn curls.
ARS scientists have developed a
method to modify whey proteins,
making them more compatible
with starch and therefore
easier to puff.
The center features a modern pilot plant where new products can be
developed from concept to prototype and eventually to full market production
through technology-transfer collaborations. For example, they will develop
processed foods and create unique biopolymers with production-scale
extruders and an injection molding machine at ERRC.
Extrusion is a process of converting raw materials into new forms.
The materials are first made into a semisolid mass, then forced through
a die's restricted opening to create new shapes. According to Charles
Onwulata, a food technologist in ERRC's Dairy Processing and Products
Research Unit and CEEPR's coordinator, the food industry uses rheology
equipment, which helps determine the form, deformation, and flow properties
of melted materials and the texture of resulting products. As Onwulata
says, "The rheology of the product in the extruder affects the
structure and texture of the finished product."
Knowledge of polymer rheology is essential in maintaining uniform textures
in molded products such as, for example, an ice cream sandwich. ERRC's
polymer work will use injection molding to create bioplastics from agricultural
Onwulata says they are forming partnerships with industry, other research
agencies, and universities. In the past, Onwulata has collaborated with
two sister agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He worked
with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to develop an insect
feed and with the United States Agency for International Development
to develop an extruded instant emergency food product needing no further
cooking. Onwulata is also developing new ways to use whey proteins in
enhancing the nutrition content of extruded crunchy snack foods.By
Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
This research is part of Quality and Utilization of Agricultural
Products, an ARS National Program (#306) described on the World Wide
Web at www.nps.ars.usda.gov.
"Creating Novel Foods and More From Agricultural Products" was published in the March 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.