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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

Location: Healthy Processed Foods Research

2007 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Investigate and develop new processing technologies that will permit year-round processing, by manufacturing value-added, convenient, healthy foods from bulk-processed fruits and vegetables and their coproducts.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The markets for fruits and vegetables are limited because traditional processing technologies are restricted to relatively few forms or styles. A variety of processing technologies will be investigated to form novel foods and ingredients. Emphasis will be placed on the development of novel shelf-stable, convenient foods. Extrusion, vacuum forming, casting and infrared blanching and dehydration will be explored to increase utilization and consumption of fruits, vegetables and their coproducts in a variety of nutritious, value-added forms. Development of novel processes and products using these technologies will result in improvements in the nutritional status of consumers through increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. It will also improve the economic viability of U.S. fruit and vegetable growers by providing new outlets for their crops and co-products, and increasing their ability to process year-round. Numerous collaborations with a variety of stakeholder organizations support this research program, as well as the ultimate transfer of these technologies into the marketplace. Formerly 5325-41000-038-00D (1/05).


3.Progress Report
None


4.Accomplishments
Commercialization of Fruit and Vegetable Edible Films. New processing technologies are needed to increase utilization and consumption of fruits and vegetables by American consumers. In FY07, 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 Sunny California rolls on sale at Trader Joe’s supermarkets. Films were also sold commercially to a wide variety of up-scale restaurants, as well as a healthy, flavorful glaze for hams and turkeys. Our CRADA partner received a large loan from the San Joaquin Valley Revolving Loan Fund to build the film manufacturing plant in Stockton, CA, an area of high unemployment and we are working together to begin production in this new location within the next year. This research contributed to NP306, Component 2, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".

Commercialization Of A New Line of Organic 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, 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 are organic, called Bear Bars. This research increased grower profits while assisting consumers around the globe in meeting their daily requirements for fruits through the development of healthy, convenient organic 100% fruit bars, contributing to NP306 Component 2, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".

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. Two CRADAs with industrial partners are investigating this technology's potential as an alternative to freeze-drying for dehydrated and partially-dehydrated strawberries and bananas for inclusion in breakfast cereals or as snacks in support of NP 306’s Component 2 objectives.

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 is fortified with a wide range of nutrients, fibers, fats, proteins and other health-promoting components. Processing and formulation research has been completed and initial mini-pilot human studies have been performed. We are about to begin Phase II human clinical trials. This research also supports NP 306, Component 2 "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".

Apple- and Tomato-Based Natural Antimicrobial Containing Edible Films. American citizens are increasingly concerned over the safety of their foods. Researchers in the Processed Foods Research Unit, Albany, CA through a USDA, CSREES funded NRI grant are developing novel natural antimicrobial containing films from apples and tomatoes. Incorporation of natural essential oils from oregano, thyme, cinnamon and lemon grass into apple- and tomato-based films and coatings were found to be active against E. coli 0157:H7. Natural antimicrobial compounds were also found to be stable during storage of films and coatings. This research 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. Research offers new and novel way to process and market healthy snakcs. This research supports NP 306, "New Processes, New Uses, and Value-Added Foods".


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
The first two accomplishments in 4 have impact on rural employment in that these plants operate in areas of high unemployment. Many jobs have been and will continue to be created as a result of the support ARS provided in building these two small businesses. All of these accomplishments also impact children's nutritional status by providing alternatives to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of new CRADAs and MTAs2
Number of active CRADAs and MTAs6
Number of invention disclosures submitted5
Number of patent applications filed2
Number of web sites managed1
Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings18
Number of newspaper articles and other presentations for non-science audiences21

Review Publications
Rojas-Grau, M.A., Avena Bustillos, R.D., Friedman, M., Henika, P.R., Martin-Belloso, O., Mc Hugh, T.H. 2006. Mechanical, Barrier and Antimicrobial Properties of Apple Puree Edible Films Containing Plant Essential Oils. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 54:9262-9267.

Rojas-Grau, M.A., Raybaudi-Massilia, R.M., Soliva-Fortuny, R.C., Avena Bustillos, R.D., Mc Hugh, T.H., Martin-Belloso, O. 2007. Apple Puree-Alginate Edible Coating as Carrier of Antimicrobial Agents to Prolong Shelf-Life of Fresh-Cut Apples. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 45(2):254-264.

Gabel, M., Pan, Z., Amaratunga, K., Harris, L.J., Thompson, J.H. 2006. Catalytic infrared dehydration of onions. Journal of Food Science. V71(9):E351-E357.

Zheng, Y., Pan, Z., Zhang, R., Jenkins, B.M., Blunk, S. 2007. Particleboard quality characteristics of saline jose tall wheatgrass and chemical treatment effect. Industrial Crops and Products. 98(6):1304-1310.

Chiou, B., Avena Bustillos, R.D., Shey, J., Yee, E., Bechtel, P.J., Imam, S.H., Glenn, G.M., Orts, W.J. 2006. Rheological and mechanical properties of cross-linked fish gelatins. Polymer. 47(18):6379-6386.

Rojas-Grau, M.A., Olsen, C.W., Avena Bustillos, R.D., Friedman, M., Henika, P.R., Martin-Belloso, O., Pan, Z., Mc Hugh, T.H. 2007. Effects of Plant Essential Oils and Oil Compounds on Mechanical, Barrier and Antimicrobial Properties of Alginate-Apple Puree Edible Films. Journal of Food Engineering. 81(3):634-641.

Dogan, N., Mc Hugh, T.H. Effects of Microcrystalline Cellulose on Functional Properties of Hydroxy Propyl Methyl Cellulose Microcomposite Films. Journal of Food Science. January/February 2007. 72:(1)E16-E22.

Salleh-Mack, S.Z., Roberts, J.S. 2006. Ultrasound pasteurization: The effects of temperature, soluble solids, organic acids and pH on the inactivation of Escherichia coli ATCC 25922. Ultrasound Sonochemistry. doi:10.106/j.ultsonch. 2006.07.004. 14:323-329 (2007). .

Y. Zheng, Z. Pan, R. Zhang, B.M. Jenkins, S. Blunk, 2006. Particleboard quality characteristics of saline jose tall wheatgrass and effect of chemical treatment. Bioresource Technology. V 04.036:1-7.

Zheng, Y., Pan,Z., Zhang, R., Jenkins, B.M., Blunk, S. 2006. Properties of medium-density particleboard from saline athel wood. Industrial Crops and Products. 23(3):318-326.

Zheng, Y., Pan, Z., Zhang, R., Labavitch, J.M., Wang, D., Teter, S.A., Jenkins, B.M. 2007. Evaluation of Different Biomass Materials as Feedstock for Fermentable Sugar Production. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology. V136-140:423-435.

Zheng, Y., Pan, Z., Zhang, R., Jenkins, B.M., Blunk, S. 2007. Particleboard Properties of Saline Jose Tall Wheatgrass and Effect of Chemical Treatment. Bioresource Technology. 98:1304-1310.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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