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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

History and Accomplishments
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Photo of 4 Directors

ERRC's Past Directors:
Percy A. Wells (1939-1969)
Ivan A. Wolff (1969-1980)
Herbert L. Rothbart (1980-1984)
John P. Cherry (1984-2007)

The ERRC is home to the Nation’s leading scientists and engineers in agriculture solving problems facing the U.S. today and for tomorrow with fundamental, applied, and developmental research on agricultural commodities including milk, meat, poultry, hides, leather, wool, fats, oils, rendered protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, energy crops, and juices. New knowledge and technology that will ensure an abundance of high quality agricultural commodities and products at reasonable prices to meet the increasing needs and to provide a continued improvement in the standard of living of all Americans are obtained through the following research objectives:


  • Development of rapid methods to detect human pathogens and harmful chemicals in foods

  • Development of novel methods to characterize human pathogens in foods

  • Development of microbial predictive modeling for food safety risk assessment and management

  • Development of effective and innovative intervention technologies to reduce or eliminate human pathogens in foods

  • Sustainable production of biofuels and co-products from grains and biomass

  • Sustainable agricultural practices

  • Development of new crop-derived food ingredients and nutraceuticals with health-promoting ability

  • Development of new food and dairy products with improved functionality and health benefits

  • Development of valuable biobased products from agricultural byproducts for biomedical, industrial, and commercial applications

  • Utilize by-products, particularly potential pollutants

  • Open new and expand existing domestic and foreign markets

ERRC has six Research Units that conduct work to benefit producers of agricultural commodities, handlers and processors of food and nonfood products, federal action and regulatory agencies, and the consumer. They are Sustainable Biofuels and Coproducts; Dairy and Functional Foods; Biobased and Other Animal Coproducts; Food Safety and Intervention Technologies; Residue Chemistry and Predictive Microbiology; and Molecular Characterization of Foodborne Pathogens. Two work sites, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Delaware State University with microbial food safety programs report to ERRC.


Selected High Impact Accomplishments

  • Molecular model of collagen microfibril

  • New uses of surplus agricultural proteins as biopolymer fillers for leather

  • Non-sulfide unhairing processes

  • Nondestructive evaluation methods for leather

  • Developed technology for using poultry blood as a biobased

  • Rhamnolipid biosurfactant production by non-pathogenic organism in an energy-saving process

  • Novel oleochemicals and tailor-made functional fluids from
    renewable microbial biosurfactant

  • Biopolished Shrinkproof Wool

  • Union dye wool-cotton blends

  • Renewable flocculants from animal processing byproducts

  • Low-cost industrial fermentation feedstocks from animal processing byproducts

  • Instant potato flake process (instant potato products)*

  • Lactose reduction (lact-aid, lactose-reduced, dairy products)

  • Lowfat-reduced mozzarella cheese (school lunch pizza)

  • Healthy dairy whey-based products

  • Environmentally-friendly and sustainable milk and food protein
    fractionation and processing

  • Epoxidized ester plasticizers (fats, oils, feedstocks)

  • Glutaraldehyde tanning agent (launderable leather)

  • Pyrolysis of agricultural residues and waste for bioenergy

  • Salmonella-free poultry meat (food irradiation technologies)

  • Escherichia-free ground beef (food irradiation technologies)

  • Irradiation of beef, poultry, leafy greens, seeds for sprouting, and seafood for elimination of foodborne pathogens.

  • Pathogen Modeling Program/simulated process (microbial risk

  • Amaizing Oil (corn fiber phytosterols for nutraceuticals that reduce serum cholesterol)

  • Next generation sequencing, proteomic analyses, and molecular characterization of foodborne pathogens (E. coli, Campylobacter, Listeria)

  • Utilization of soil fungi in conventional and organic agriculture

  • Enzymatic corn wet milling (environmentally-safe corn processing)

  • Enzymatic dewatering process to reduce energy used during fuel ethanol production

  • Direct (in situ) esterification process for producing biodiesel directly from feedstocks

  • First publicly available process and cost prediction models for fuel ethanol and biodiesel

  • Winter "Energy" Barley Fuel Ethanol Initiative for Mid Atlantic States

  • Pectin composites in biomedical devices, controlled drug delivery particles and bioplastics

  • QuEChERS approach for chemical residue analysis of foods

  • Vacuum-Steam-Vacuum and Flash Pasteurization®, and SLIC®
    technologies for inactivation of Listeria monocytogenes

  • High pressure processing of oysters for inactivation of viruses

  • Methodologies for rapid detection and typing of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in food


    * Resulted in ERRC’s designation as a National Historic Chemical ­Landmark in 2007.


Last Modified: 9/1/2016
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