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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: New Sustainable Processing Technologies to Produce Healthy, Value-Added Foods from Specialty Crops and their Co-Products

Location: Healthy Processed Foods Research

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Objective 1: Develop vacuum forming and casting technologies that can be implemented to increase utilization and consumption of specialty crops and their co-products, while improving the health and safety of foods. Objective 2: Develop sustainable infrared technologies that can be used for process- and energy-efficient blanching, dehydration, pasteurization, and peeling of specialty crops. Objective 3: Develop sustainable microwave processing technologies, both alone and in combination with other processing methods, for specialty crops and their co-products. Objective 4: Develop ultraviolet light processing technologies to enhance nutritional quality and add value to specialty crops and their co-products. Objective 5: Develop solar, ultrasonic, and pulsed-electric field processing technologies to be used alone or in combination with other common processing methods to improve quality, add value, and ensure food safety to specialty crops and their co-products.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Research is needed to increase utilization and consumption of specialty crops and their coproducts. The development of new processing technologies can add value to specialty crops through the development of new foods containing up to 100% specialty crop based ingredients with enhanced healthfulness, convenience, and overall consumer appeal. Increased consumption of nutritious fruit, vegetable, nut and mushroom based foods will improve the American diet and reduce the prevalence of obesity in our nation. This research will also improve profitability for U.S. growers and processors by increasing demand for specialty crops and their coproducts and by developing new value added products with high potential for export. Development of sustainable processing technologies which result in energy and water savings is another benefit of this research. Food safety will also be improved. Forming, casting, infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, solar, ultrasonic and pulsed-electric field processing technologies will be explored, alone and in combination, to form novel value added food systems. Ultimately effects of processing on final product properties will be characterized and processing methodologies optimized to maximize final product quality, safety, and nutritional value. An extensive network of collaborators from universities, research institutes in other countries, commodity organizations, medical research labs and the food industry, as well as sizable grants from Federal and State agencies, will be used to support and insure a high degree of impact resulting from the research proposed in this project plan. Scientific impact will ultimately be achieved through scientific publications, patents, new mathematical models and transference of these technologies into commercialization. Replaces 5325-41000-062-00D (6/10).

3. Progress Report
This report documents progress for Project Number 5325-41000-063-00D, which started in July 2010 and continues research from Project Number 5325-41000-062-00D. Excellent progress was made on all objectives and subobjectives related to this project. Efforts to support previously developed and commercialized vacuum forming and casting technologies continued as markets for fruit bars and fruit and vegetable films expanded. Collaboration with Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Center to develop the world’s first fruit based obesity prevention bar continued and Phase II a, b and c human clinical trials were completed. Sustainable infrared technologies were further developed to support ultimate technology transfer. The California Energy Commission funded a three year demonstration project to transfer the infrared dehydration and dry blanching technologies into commercialization. Infrared peeling technologies for tree fruit were developed through a CRADA and for tomatoes through a trust agreement with California League of Food Processors and an agreement with Precision Canning Equipment. Efforts to commercialize these technologies are underway. Further studies on infrared pasteurization of nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts) were completed. Sustainable microwave processing technologies were pursued to dehydrate olive and grape pomaces and also extract valuable phytonutrients from these waste streams. Microwave peeling was also investigated through a CRADA. Further research on UV processing was completed. Human bioavailability of UV generated vitamin D2 in mushrooms was tested through a collaboration with the Western Human Nutrition Research Center, thanks to support from the Mushroom Council and Monterey Mushrooms. UV treated mushrooms are now available commercially throughout the United States thanks to ARS research. Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funding supported studies on effects of UV on other specialty crops to enhance their nutritional value. Increased antioxidant levels in carrots were observed and various forms of carrots were compared in terms of these benefits. Further studies were recently begun to investigate sensory properties of treated carrots. Screening studies of a wide range of specialty crops indicated little enhancement in antioxidants in any specialty crop other than carrots. A new program on solar assisted processing of foods was initiated. A solar drier is being built at Western Regional Research Center (WRRC) and we have partnered with UC Solar on this research. Ultrasonic extraction of pomegranates was investigated and a pulsed electric field processing line was set up. We continued our CRADA on development of natural antimicrobial treatments for specialty crops and completed a trust agreement with the Highbush Blueberry Council where we developed a novel blueberry placebo powder that was desperately needed for use in human trials. We also continued to work with the Washington State Potato Commission on un-fried French fries.

4. Accomplishments
1. Novel infrared peeling technology. ARS research scientists in the Processed Foods Research Unit in Albany, CA, completed research with a large fruit processor to develop sustainable peeling processes for tree fruit, namely peaches and pears. Concurrently, they worked on research with the California League of Food Processors and a commerical partner to design a pilot scale infrared peeling apparatus for tomatoes. Current peeling processes use large amounts of water and caustic chemicals to achieve acceptable peeling rates and product quality. A joint patent application was filed in May on infrared dry peeling and licensing discussions are underway. When implemented, this sustainable peeling process is estimated to eliminate the use of more than 10 million gallons of water and the treatment of more than 10 thousand tons of high-pH water material during each fruit processing season.

2. New blueberry powder placebo. ARS research scientists in the Processed Foods Research Unit in Albany, CA, completed research with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to develop a new placebo that would match the sensory properties of freeze dried blueberries for use in human nutrition trials. Prior to this research there was no acceptable blueberry placebo powder for use in human studies. A natural placebo powder was developed for the first time that looks, tastes, smells and feels exactly like freeze dried blueberries. The placebo is being used in blueberry human nutrition trials now with elderly volunteers to determine the effects of blueberries on counteracting age-associated changes in brain function and will be used in additional human studies in the future.

Review Publications
Du, W., Olsen, C.W., Avena Bustillos, R.D., Friedman, M., Mchugh, T.H. 2011. Physical and antibacterial properties of edible films formulated with apple skin polyphenols. Journal of Food Science. 76(2):149-155. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.02012.x.

Milczarek, R.R., Dai, A.A., Otoni, C.G., Mchugh, T.H. 2011. Effect of shrinkage on isothermal drying behavior of 2-phase olive mill waste. Journal of Food Engineering. 103(4): 434-441.

Bingol, G., Yang, J., Brandl, M., Pan, Z., Wang, H., Mc Hugh, T.H. 2011. Infrared pasteurization of raw almonds. Journal of Food Engineering. 104 (2011), pp. 387-393

Ragab, K., Pan, Z., Adel, S., Hartsough, B.R., Sherief, M. 2010. Moisture diffusivity of rough rice under infrared radiation drying. LWT - Food Science and Technology. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2010.10.003.

De Moura, M.R., Avena Bustillos, R.D., Mc Hugh, T.H., Wood, D.F., Zucolotto, V., Otoni, C.G., Mattoso, L.H. 2010. Miniaturization of cellulose fibers and effect of addition on the mechanical and barrier properties of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose. Journal of Food Engineering. doi:10.1016/j.jfoodeng.2010.12.008.

Cui, L., Yue, T., Pan, Z., Peng, B., Tang, Y. 2010. Water absorption properties of ultrasonic treated brown rice. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering. 41(12):148-152.

Mild, R.M., Joens, L., Friedman, M., Olsen, C.W., Mchugh, T.H., Ravishankar, S. 2011. Antimicrobial edible apple films inactivate antibiotic resistant and susceptible Campylobacter jejuni strains on chicken breast. Journal of Food Science. 76: M163–M168. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02065.x.

Khir, R., Pan, Z., Salim, A., Hartsough, B.R., Mohamed, S. 2011. Moisture diffusivity of rough rice under infrared radiation drying. LWT - Food Science and Technology. 44(1):1126-1132. doi: 10.1016/j.lwt.2010.10.003.

Pan, Z., Qu, W., Ma, H., Atungulu, G.G., Mc Hugh, T.H. 2011. Continuous and pulsed ultrasound-assisted extractions of antioxidants from pomegranate peel. Ultrasonics. doi: 10.1016/j.ultsonch.2011.01.005.

Pan, Z., Atungulu, G.G. 2011. The potential of novel infrared food processing technologies: case studies of those developed at the USDA-ARS WRRC and the University of California Davis. Drying Technology: An International Journal. C.J. Doona, K. Kustin, and F.E. Feeherry (eds). Woodhead Publishing. Cambridge, UK. p 139-208.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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