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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO PROCESS VALUE-ADDED, HEALTHY FOODS FROM FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
2006 Annual Report


1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?
WHO and FAO recently instituted a global initiative to promote consumption of fruits and vegetables stating that low fruit and vegetable intake is a key risk factor for obesity, heart disease, and cancer. The WHO attributes at least 2.7 million deaths a year to insufficient fruit and vegetable intake. Americans pay a staggering $117 billion annually in health care costs associated with obesity related disease that results in 300,000 deaths annually. Today 85% of our nation's children and 60% of adults do not meet 5 A Day recommendations for fruits and vegetables. The USDA's Economic Research Service found that people who eat more servings of fruit each day have lower body mass indexes (BMI). The weak correlation between vegetable consumption and BMI was hypothesized to be due to the way most Americans eat vegetables: deep fried and topped with high fat dressings. Almost a quarter of all vegetables consumed by U.S. children are French fries. Ninety percent of Americans income spent on food goes to buy processed foods. Snack foods alone account for $80 billion in sales; whereas, apples, oranges and bananas are only a $4.5 billion industry. The American Dietetic Association states that one of the main barriers to consumption of fruits and vegetables is convenience. As school districts ban junk foods from vending machines, there is a serious need for healthy, convenient fruit and vegetable based alternatives.

Novel processing technologies offer tremendous potential to improve delivery of fruits and vegetables to consumers. The markets for fruits and vegetables are limited because traditional processing technologies are restricted to relatively few forms or styles. In addition high production costs are common due to inefficient use of energy during processing. Seasonal hiring in the farm industry is costly due in part to requirements to pay employee benefits year round. These new processing technologies will facilitate extension of the harvest season because the fruits and vegetables could first be processed into stable ingredient forms and then further processed into final restructured foods during the remainder of the year. Utilization of fruit and vegetable purees as starting materials for these products enables complete utilization and less waste of harvested fruits and vegetables. New value-added markets from fruits and vegetables are needed to maintain and improve the economic vitality of the U.S. fruit and vegetable production industries in both national and international markets.

The primary goal of this research project is to develop novel processing technologies to increase utilization and consumption of fruits and vegetables. This project will investigate and develop processing technologies that will permit year-round processing, by manufacturing value-added, convenient and healthful foods from bulk-processed fruits and vegetables and their co-products. Extrusion, vacuum forming, casting, and infrared blanching and dehydration will be explored to form novel foods and ingredients.

Potential Benefits * Availability of healthy, convenient fruit and vegetable products and ingredients will increase. * Consumption of fruits and vegetables in a variety of forms desirable to consumers will increase and the incidence of obesity will decrease. * Novel patentable technologies will be developed by ARS for the formation of convenient, healthful fruit and vegetable products and ingredients. * Enhanced value and increased demand for U.S. grown agricultural commodities will be created to raise farm income. * New opportunities for business development and employment growth in rural America will be realized. * The ability of American farmers to compete in global markets will be strengthened. Customers of this research include academic and government scientists, commodity organizations, as well as the food industry. The new fundamental knowledge learned is of scientific interest. The application of this knowledge is of significant importance to the food industry. Growers desiring adding value to their commodities and co-product streams, increasing profitability and increasing utilization are also customers of this research. U.S. consumers who desire convenient, healthful and safe foods are other beneficiaries, as are food processors who desire to broaden markets and realize revenues from value-added fruit and vegetable foods which are beneficial to human health. Finally equipment manufacturers, who produce and market novel and efficient processing equipment, will also benefit from this research.

This project's objectives mirror those of NP 306, "Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products", the objective of which is to provide knowledge and innovative technologies that lead to new and expanded market opportunities for United States agriculture. The activities proposed clearly fall within NP 306 Component 2, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods and Biobased Products". Problem Area 2a, "New Product Technology" will be addressed by obtaining fundamental knowledge, optimizing use of agricultural commodities and co-products, and using this new knowledge to develop and optimize alternative food products that prevent diet related diseases. Problem Area 2b, "New Uses for Agricultural By-Products" will be addressed through identification of low value coproducts of commodity processing as good sources of functional ingredients and final food products. Problem Area 2c, "New and Improved Processes and Feedstocks". The research will also contribute to NP 306 Component 1, Problem Area 1c, "Factors and Processes that Affect Quality" through the development of processes that result in improved final product quality for fruits and vegetables.


2.List by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress)
Year 1 (FY 2005) Test thermomechanical properties of fruit/protein mixtures. Complete CRADA with industrial partner on bars, expand bars to other commodities. Begin work on vegetable bars and co-formed bars and sticks. Scale up and patent process to manufacture fruit and vegetable sheets for 'nori' sushi applications. Optimize process conditions and formulation for production of infrared dried and blanched products. Pursue patent protection on the technology and product.

Year 2 (FY 2006) Scale up production of fruit liquid delivery vehicles, publish results and commercialize product. Begin work on microwavable pellets. Publish results on bar formation studies. Fortification experiments on bars. Perform sensory evaluations on nori alternatives. Introduce fruit films into the marketplace in pocket-pak form. Identify and begin collaboration with a commercial cooperator interested in infrared dry blanched fruits and vegetables. Perform consumer studies on the products.

Year 3 (FY 2007) Evaluate effects of coating on microwave pellet expansion. Compare expansion of similar formulations upon exiting extruder. Publish results. Begin extruding blown films of fruit/protein.

Year 4 (FY 2008) Transfer microwaveable snack technology to a commercial partner. Publish results of blown film studies. Form blown casings. Transfer co-forming technologies into commercialization. Begin work on products formed in fruit-based edible casings. Commercialize sushi products using fruit and vegetable films. Publish research on film production and mechanical properties. Scale up commercial production of infrared dry blanched fruits and vegetables.

Year 5 (FY 2009) Transfer blown film extrusion technology into marketplace. Publish effects of hydrocolloids on final product properties – unique fruit hydrocolloid interactions effects on flavor and texture. Introduce edible wraps that can be used as alternatives to synthetic packages – sandwich baggies. Complete technology transfer through the commercial introduction of the infrared dry blanched fruits and vegetables into the marketplace.


4a.List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006.
Commercialization of Fruit and Vegetable Films. New processing technologies are needed to increase utilization and consumption of fruits and vegetables by American consumers. In FY06, researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit, Albany, CA, worked with an industrial CRADA partner to commercialize the patent-pending, fruit and vegetable based films in a variety of final food product applications. One of these applications is the use of the films as healthy, colorful alternatives to the seaweed wrap 'nori' in a novel line of 7-day sushi-like fusion rolls on sale at Costco supermarkets. This year, the films were also introduced commercially on a wide variety of up-scale restaurant entrees, as well as a healthy, flavorful glaze for hams and turkeys. This research contributed to NP306, Component 2, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".


4b.List other significant research accomplishment(s), if any.
Applications of Nanoscience to Foods and Films. By understanding the chemical, physical and functional characteristics of food components at the nano level, new and novel, value-added foods can be developed with properties that are important to consumers. In addition, overall utilization of agricultural commodities and their co-product streams can be increased. During the past year, researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit, Albany, CA, have begun to explore the potential of this technology to improve food products. Specific areas of investigations include development of novel nanocomposite edible films. Through inclusion of cubosomes, nanoemulsions, nanoparticles and microfibrils into the films, their barrier and mechanical properties have been improved, as have their ability to efficiently deliver nutrients and flavors. Collaborations with researchers from the University of Massachusetts and the Brazilian research agency EMBRAPA have already begun on this new research project and two invention disclosures have been filed in support of NP 306’s Component 2 objectives.

Infrared Dry Blanching of Fruits and Vegetables. New efficient processes for blanching and dehydrating fruits and vegetables are needed to expand markets and add value to these healthy foods. A novel infrared dry blanching technology that does not require addition of steam or water in the blanching process was invented by researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit at WRRC, Albany, CA. A patent was filed on this invention which can be used to produce many kinds of value-added dried, refrigerated, frozen and dehydrofrozen fruit and vegetable products in an energy-efficient method which preserves the nutrition and quality of the final products. Ultimately these novel products can assist consumers in meeting the USDA dietary guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption. A CRADA with an industrial partner is ongoing to test this technology's potential as an alternative to freeze-drying for dehydrated and partially-dehydrated strawberries and bananas for inclusion in breakfast cereals and snacks in support of NP 306’s Component 2 objectives.

Commercialization Of A New Line of Fruit Bars High in Anthocyanins. To meet the need for new processing technologies to increase utilization and consumption of fruits by American consumers, researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit, Albany, CA, developed and licensed a technology for forming 100% fruit health bars from fruit to add value and create new markets for pears and other fruits. During the past year, a new bar formulation was developed in collaboration with a small company that enabled production of a new line of 100% fruit bars that high in anthocyanin and flavonoid compounds. The bars are made from cherries, blueberries and pomegranates. This research increased grower profits while assisting consumers around the globe in meeting their daily requirements for fruits through the development of healthy, convenient 100% fruit bars, contributing to NP 306 Component 2, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".

Fruit-Based Obesity Prevention Bar. American citizens are becoming increasingly obese and there is a great need to develop healthy food products that can combat this growing trend. Researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit, Albany, CA, in collaboration through a CRADA with a world renowned non-profit research institute and hospital are developing the first obesity prevention bar. The bar will be fortified with a wide range of nutrients, fibers, fats, proteins and other health-promoting components. Processing and formulation research is nearing completion, after which the human clinical trials will begin. This research also supports NP 306, Component 2 "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".

Fruit-Based Liquid Delivery Vehicles. Consumers desire new ways to consume fruit in their diets. In addition, environmentally-friendly packaging is increasingly desired. The development of edible fruit straws addresses both of these needs. The first edible fruit straws were developed by researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit, Albany, CA, in collaboration with a non-profit institute and an industrial partner. The straw production is currently being optimized and it is anticipated that the product will be commercially introduced into the marketplace in the next year. This research supports NP 306, Component 2 "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".

Microwavable Fruit Snacks. The market for new, healthy forms of microwavable snacks is large, offering a value-added product opportunity for American fruit growers competing in the global marketplace. Researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit, Albany, CA, have begun on microwave processing of fruits and vegetables, as well as extrusion processing of expanded snacks using breadfruit as the starch source. Initial tests were performed on the development of fruit-based pellets to be coated and later expanded into microwave snacks in support of NP 306, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".


4c.List significant activities that support special target populations.
The first accomplishment in 5 has impact on rural employment in that the plant operates in an area where there is 34% unemployment. Expansion of this business over years has continued positive impact on this rural area. Forty jobs have been created. All of these accomplishments also impact children's nutritional status by providing alternatives to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.


4d.Progress report.
None.


5.Describe the major accomplishments to date and their predicted or actual impact.
Commercialization of 100% Fruit Bars. To meet the need for new processing technologies to increase utilization and consumption of fruits by American consumers, researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit at WRRC, Albany, CA, developed and licensed a technology for forming 100% fruit health bars from pears and other fruits to add value and create new markets for pears and other fruits. Through a CRADA collaboration with ARS, the industrial partner is has now been commercially producing the bars in a plant in North Bonneville, WA, an area of high unemployment since late in 2002 and forty new jobs have been created. The impact of this grass roots effort of pear growers has recently expanded by the introduction of a line of apple-based bars which this past year expanded into the production of a new line of bars high in anthocyanin and flavonoid compounds. This research increased grower profits while assisting consumers around the globe in meeting their daily requirements for fruits through the development of healthy, convenient 100% fruit bars, contributing to NP 306 Component 2, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".

Vegetable Bars. New processing technologies are needed to increase utilization and consumption of fruits and vegetables by consumers in the U.S. Researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit at WRRC, Albany, CA, developed and patented forming technologies to produce 100% vegetable and vegetable/fruit bars and scaled up the production process to manufacture these bars through a CRADA. During FY05, several 100% vegetable and 100% vegetable/fruit bars have been developed and numerous producers of vegetables and fruits are considering licensing this technology from ARS. In addition, a new process was developed to enable the formation of coextruded bars, for example bars with a tomato center and a potato exterior. This will result in increased utilization and consumption of fruits and vegetables, not only improving the American diet, but also adding value to the growers.

Fruit Snacks. New technologies are needed to increase utilization and consumption of fruits. Researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit at Albany, CA, completed a CRADA with a grower-owned, industrial partner on the development of a soft, shelf-stable fruit snack. A novel hurdle technology was used to manufacture the product, one that combines direct steam injection cooking with forming to produce a particularly soft-textured, high fruit content (75%) snack. This research contributed to NP306, Component 2, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".


6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
Invention of a novel combined process to produce up to 100% fruit bars and snacks. The patent on this process was licensed to an industrial partner in late 2002 who worked with us on a CRADA to scale up the process to commercially manufacture 100% fruit, pear bars. The plant used to manufacture these bars is located in North Bonneville, WA, an area of high unemployment and has been in operation now over two years. Sixty new jobs have been created. This research has resulted in numerous awards including a Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer and a USDA Secretary's Honors Award. This grass roots effort of pear growers has recently expanded beyond pears and into other fruits, such as apples, from the Western States to enhance grower profitability and assist Americans in meeting their daily requirements for fruits through the development of healthy, convenient 100% fruit bars. The bars are now being exported, thus providing value-added export opportunities to U.S. growers and impacting consumer health around the globe. They are also distributed in school lunch programs in several states.

Developed casting technologies for the formation of 100% fruit and vegetable films and wraps to increase shelf-life, quality and nutritional value of foods. Successful implementation of these technologies was achieved through two CRADAs to scale up the production process for these films. This research not only generated an extraordinary amount of national and international press interest in the past several years, including a story on ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings; but also won a Best of What's New Award from Popular Science magazine. Presently we are involved in a CRADA with a cooperator who has introduced these unique fruit and vegetable films into the marketplace recently as healthy, colorful alternatives to the seaweed wrap, nori, that is used in sushi products. This research is expanding markets for growers, enhancing profits for farmers and improving consumer nutrition.


7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Pomegranate Bars Capture Fun Fruit's Flavor, Nutrients. Agricultural Research Service Daily News Service. June 28, 2006. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2006/060628.htm

Cooking Up Tempting, Fat-Fighting Foods and Ingredients. Agricultural Research. March 2006. 54 (3).

Delicious Apple Bars. Medicine World. March 4, 2006. http://medicineworld.org/news/news-archives/health-news/March-16-2006.html

Breath Strips Just the Tip of Edible Film Uses. Institute of Food Technologists. June 27, 2006. http://www.am-fe.ift.org/cms/?pid=1000355

It’s On the Tip of Your Tongue. Business Week. July 31, 2006. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_31/b3995059.htm

USDA Says New Apple Bars Equal Nutrition of Two Apples. Senior Journal. Feb. 24, 2006. http://www.seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Nutrition-Vitamins/6-02-24-USDASaysNewApple.html

Avena-Bustillos, R., Olsen, C.W., Olson, D.A., Chiou, B-S., Bechtel, P.J., McHugh, T.H., Krochta, J.M. Oxygen Permeability of Mammalian and Fish Gelatin Films, 2006 IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo, June 24-28, 2006, Orlando, FL. Log No. 189977.

Olsen, C.W., Avena-Bustillos, R.D., Friedman, M., Henika, P.R., Martin-Belloso, O., McHugh, T.H. Effect of Anti-Microbial Plan Essential Oils and Oil Compounds on Physical Properties of Apple Puree-Alginate-Based Edible Films and Coatings. 2006 IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo, June 24-28, 2006, Orlando, FL. Log No. 190291.

Hernandez, V.M., McHugh, T.H., Berrios, J.DeJ., Olson, D.A., Pan, J., Krochta, J.M. Glycerol Content Effect on the Tensile Properties of Whey Protein Sheets Formed by Twin-Screw Extrusion. 2006 IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo, June 24-28, 2006, Orlando, FL. Log #190955.

McHugh, T.H., Dogan, N., Rossman, J. Recent Technological Advances in Edible Films. IFT Annual Meeting, June 24-28, 2006, Orlando, FL. Log #193023.

Avena-Bustillos, R. DeJ. Lecture: Development of Novel Value-Added Uses for Fish Processing Co-Products. 8th ARS-Mexico Workshop, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, 4/24/06, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, MX. Log #196313.

Avena-Bustillos, R. DeJ. Lecture: New Technologies to Process Value-Added Foods from Fruits and Vegetables. 8th ARS-Mexico Workshop, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, 4/24/06, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, MX. Log #196316.


Review Publications
Mc Hugh, T.H. 2005. Development of Healthy Foods to Prevent Obesity and Obesity-related Diseases. UJNR Food & Agricultural Panel Proceedings. Sym. 950-1010 Paper #5:1-4.

R. Sothornvit, C.W. Olsen, T.H. Mc Hugh, J.M. Krochta. February 2007. Tensile properties of compression-molded whey protein sheets: Determination of molding condition and glycerol-content effects and comparison with solution-cast films. Journal of Food Engineering. 78(3):855-860.

Bower, C.K., Avena Bustillos, R.D., Olsen, C.W., Mc Hugh, T.H., Bechtel, P.J. 2006. Characterization of fish skin gelatin gels and films containing the antimicrobial enzyme lysozyme. Journal of Food Science. 71(5):141-145

Glenn, G.M., Klamczynski, A., Ludvik, C.N., Shey, J., Imam, S.H., Chiou, B., Mc Hugh, T.H., Orts, W.J. 2006. Starch gel matrices used for controlled release of volatile liquids. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 54(9):3297-3304.

R.J. Avena Bustillos, C.W. Olsen, D.A. Olson, B. Chiou, E. Yee, P.J. Bechtel, T.H. McHugh, 2006. Water Vapor Permeability of Mammalian and Fish Gelatin Films. Journal of Food Science. Vol 71(4):E202-E207.

Pan, Z., Thompson, J.F., Amaratunga, K., Anderson, T., Zheng, X. 2005. Effect of Cooling Methods and Milling Procedures on the Appraisal of Rice Milling Quality. Transactions of the ASAE. 48(5):1865-1871.

Pan, Z., Cathcart, A., Wang, D. 2005. Thermal and Chemical Treatments to Improve Adhesive Property of Rice Bran. Industrial Crops and Products. 22:233-240.

Z. Pan, A. Cathcart, D. Wang, 2006. Properties of particleboard bond with rice bran and polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate adhesives. Industrial Crops and Products. 23(1):40-45.

Zhongli Pan, Ragab Khir, Richard Lewis, Larry Godfrey, Adel Salim, James F. Thompson, J. 2006. Simultaneous rough rice drying and disinfestation with infrared radiation. Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International (ASABE). Paper No. 066087:1-18. St. Joseph, Mich.:ASAE.

Ragab Khir, Zhongli Pan, Adel Salim, 2006. Drying rates of thin layer rough rice drying using infrared radiation. Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International (ASABE). Paper No. 066011:1-16. St. Joseph, Mich.:ASAE.

Zheng, X., Jiang, Y., Pan, Z. 2005. Drying and Quality Characteristics of Different Components of Alfalfa. American Society of Agri Engineers Special Meetings and Conferences Paper No. 056185:1-11.

Bauguo Li, Zhang Wujie, Zhongli Pan, 2006. A novel method for microencapsulation of protein using high-voltage electrostatic field system. Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International (ASABE). Paper No. 067098:1-8. St. Joseph, Mich.:ASABE

Baoguo Li, Wu Yaqing, Zhongli Pan, Z. 2006. Experimental study on preparation of microparticles using supercritical co2 spray drying. Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International (ASABE). Paper No. 066204:1-16. St. Joseph, Mich.:ASABE

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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