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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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ARRA - Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania

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Link to ARS Recovery Act Info.

Link to USDA Recovery Act Info.

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Photo: Cold plasma treatment of almonds.
ARS researchers are experimenting with using cold plasma, which is created by introducing electricity into a gas until free electrons are liberated, to keep fresh produce like apples and almonds safe from Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli

Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania

  • Scope of work under Recovery Act

Amount: $20.1 million

Major renovation to Eastern Regional Research Center to address critical deferred maintenance including repair of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and incidental repairs.

May 2010 – Construction contract awarded for $13.2 million for major renovations to address deferred maintenance of critical mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and incidental repairs.

Construction Photos

Research at the Eastern Regional Research Center

The Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) does research that leads to better food safety at every step of food production, ensuring the microbial and chemical safety of our food. The center also develops new food products with more nutritional value, giving us more choices when it comes to food.

For example, scientists at ERRC developed Lactaid, a product that allows people who are lactose intolerant to eat dairy products. This product not only provided more healthy food choices to consumers, it expanded the consumption of dairy food products and increased profits.

ERRC researchers also came up with a mozzarella cheese with improved storage life and only 10 percent fat—half the normal fat content of mozzarella by modifying the network of the milk protein called casein. The resulting mozzarella cheese is relatively low-fat, while still retaining flavor and the desired stretchy texture. Pizza-eating students give the cheese a thumbs-up. Since the healthier, low-fat mozzarella’scommercial debut in 1995, nearly 39 million pounds—with an estimated value of more than $55 million—have been produced for School Lunch programs.

To cut down on microbial contamination during food processing, ERRC scientists have developed a package of computer models into a Pathogen Modeling Program that is used by food industries and risk assessors to predict the growth of pathogens in foods under various environmental conditions. The program also allows modeling of the impact of various interventions, such as cooking and food irradiation, on pathogenic bacteria. Models are now available for 10 pathogens, including Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. Each year, there are about 76 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. While the majority of these cases are mild, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to foodborne diseases occur annually. PMP is a key source now used by nearly 50 percent of U.S. food processing companies, reducing production costs and risk of foodborne disease.

In addition, scientists at ERRC do research to improve a broad spectrum of agricultural products by giving them higher value by developing uses for by-products, make producing the products more efficient or adding new traits that consumers need or want. They also look for ways to make production of products more environmental sensitive.

Engineers and scientists at the Eastern Regional Research Center are leading efforts to help biorefineries become economically competitive by increasing process efficiency, producing high-valued biorefinery co-products, and coming up with ways to use feedstocks that do not affect food prices. ERRC's studies have shown that the use of winter barley for fuel ethanol would allow production of 1 billion gallons of ethanol outside the Corn Belt, ease demand on the national corn supply, and protect the environment by preventing the loss of soil nutrients into watersheds.

They have also invented more consumer and environmentally friendly ways to finish wool, opening up new markets for wool fabrics. Among the new wool-finishing technologies is one that can be applied to wool fabrics and wool-rich blends to make them more flame-resistant. The treatment holds special promise as a value-added feature for uniforms and clothing for people such as firefighters and the military. It is also an environmentally friendly compound.

ERRC Research Units

  1. Dairy Processing and Products Unit
  2. Crop Conversion Science and Engineering
  3. Food Safety Intervention Technologies Unit
  4. Fats, Oils and Animal Coproducts Unit
  5. Microbial Biophysics and Residue Chemistry Unit
  6. Microbial Food Safety Unit
  7. Core Technologies Unit
  8. Engineering SUPER Support Group Unit

Selected High Impact Accomplishments

  • Instant Potato Flake Process (Instant Potatoes)
  • Lactose Reduction (Lact-Aid, Lactose-Reduced, Dairy Products)
  • Epoxidized Ester Plasticizers (Fats, Oils, Feedstocks)
  • Glutaraldehyde Tanning Agent (Launderable Leather)
  • Safer Curing Meats (Nitrosamines Reduction/Prevention)
  • Salmonella-Free Poultry Meat (Food Irradiation Technologies)
  • Escherichia-Free Ground Beef (Food Irradiation Technologies)
  • Computer Model/Simulated Process (Microbial Risk Assessment)
  • Lowfat-Reduced Salt Mozzarella Cheese (School Lunch Pizza)
  • Amaizing Oil (Corn Fiber Phytosterols for Nutraceuticals)
  • Listeria DNA Sequences (Genomics)
  • Enzymatic Corn Wet Milling (Environmentally-Safe Corn Processing)
  • Process Simulation (Cost Engineering) for Biofuels Processes
  • Healthy Dairy Whey-Based Products (Extruded Snacks)

Project Photographs Before Construction

Repairs to be done in Wyndmoor Repairs in Wyndmoor
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Project Photographs During Construction

Last Modified: 11/26/2015
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