Frozen Food Discoveries Win National Science
Award By Marcia
December 11, 2002
ALBANY, Calif., Dec. 11Today's delightfully varied
selection of tasty, easy-to-prepare frozen foods results largely from
pioneering research conducted in Albany, Calif., by experts with the
Agricultural Research Service. Working
in the 1940s through mid-1960s, chemists, engineers and other specialists at
the agency's Western Regional Research
Center at Albany carried out detailed investigations of all the steps
required for taking a food from field to freezer to fork.
Their studies helped processors in the then-young frozen food
industry capture the appealing natural tastes, textures, aromas and colors of
foods. The work was invaluable in enabling these processors to create
convenient, freezer-friendly products for every meal of the day--and for
"By thoroughly exploring the complex chemistry of how to
properly prepare foods for freezing, these ARS scientists helped processors
overcome major difficulties and greatly improve the quality and variety of
their products," said Rodney J. Brown, deputy undersecretary for
Research, Education and Economics for
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "The
work led to top-quality frozen vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry and baked
The 17-year project--what became known primarily as the
Time-Temperature Tolerance studies, or T-TT for short--was today honored as a
Historic Chemical Landmark by the
Society, the world's largest scientific association. A bronze plaque
commemorating the researchers' discoveries was unveiled in a morning ceremony
at the Western Regional Research Center, located near Berkeley.
"Leading food processors around the globe still use the
science-based guidelines, techniques and recommendations that the Albany
researchers developed," Brown noted.
Hundreds of items in supermarket freezer cases--from hearty,
traditional fare to light, gourmet cuisine--were "made possible by the
knowledge emanating from the Albany studies of how to correctly freeze, store
and transport frozen foods," Brown said. "The Center's work has enabled
millions of Americans to conveniently and affordably get the nutrients they
need every day."
The Albany scientists devised mathematical formulas for
predicting stability--the length of time a given type of food would retain its
fresh qualities in supermarket or home freezers. The researchers then used that
information to help processors select the kinds of foods that could best
In studies of how to perfectly blanch field-fresh vegetables, to
prepare them for freezing, the researchers determined that the natural enzymes
in certain kinds of foods needed to be quelled, while in others, they needed to
be preserved. In addition, the scientists developed new, practical methods and
standards for objectively measuring a product's quality.
American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmarks
are selected by a panel of internationally known scientists and others.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief research