Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Research Project #419966


Location: Dairy and Functional Foods Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The overall goal is to support the rural U.S. agricultural economy and provide health-related benefits to the American consumer by developing bioactive food ingredients and biobased products from fruit and vegetable processing residues such as sugar beet pulp, citrus peel and cranberry pulp. Additional objective (2011) Develop light weight-bearing materials with antimicrobial activity for use in the manufacture of food containers.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
A multidisciplinary biorefinery approach will be used to develop health-related and biobased co-products from plant cell wall polysaccharides in fruit and vegetable processing residues. Plant cell wall polysaccharides will be converted into biomedical materials for human tissue regeneration, cosmetic personal care products, carriers of bioactive substances for colon-specific delivery and to produce synbiotics, in which probiotic bacteria are encapsulated in a prebiotic. Plant cell wall oligosaccharide-based prebiotics will be isolated from agricultural processing residues rich in pectins and hemicelluloses. The hypothesis that prebiotics can selectively promote the growth of gut bacteria associated with lean tissue growth to potentially control obesity will be tested. Plant cell wall oligosaccharides will also be screened for biological activity such as preventing the adhesion of pathogenic bacteria to intestinal epithelial cells, immunomodulation, and induction of cancer cell apoptosis. Bioplastic composites will be designed with bacteriocins for control of food-borne pathogens with active packaging. Weight-bearing, light weight bioplastic composites will also be produced with construction and consumer product applications in mind. Update 2011: The light weight-bearing materials will be prepared from a group of biomass-oriented thermoplastics. Antimicrobials will be loaded by laminating a layer of polymer carrying antimicrobial actives onto the surface.

3. Progress Report:
The collaborative research brought 9 graduate school students to work with ERRC scientists on the development of active packaging materials, synbiotics and antiadhesive oligosaccharides. These students graduated from the Rutgers University Food Science Department. One received a Ph.D and will go on to postdoctoral training in the fall. Six received Master’s Degrees and four were immediately hired by companies, with the remaining two continuing in a Ph.D. program. For the development of active packaging materials, five research papers have been submitted or accepted by peer-reviewed journals; one poster presentation won the best student’s paper award at the IFT Meeting (Las Vegas, 2012). When synthetic or natural bioactives were incorporated onto surfaces of packaging films, the films not only function as a barrier creating a closed compartment to separate the targeted foods from the surrounding environment, but they also interfere with the biochemical and biological reactions in the headspace or on the surface of the packaged food to more effectively suppress the growth of bacteria and prolong the shelf-life. Furthermore, by varying the film forming conditions, we were able to control the structural properties of the films, and alter the release kinetics of the incorporated bioactives to fit the demand of various environmental conditions. For the synbiotic research, semi-commercial citrus pectic oligosaccharide synbiotics were as effective as fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin to protect the survival of probiotic bacteria for up to four months under refrigerated aerobic conditions. Probiotic bacteria produced acetate, lactate, propionate and butyrate in synbiotics stored under refrigerated aerobic conditions. When calcium cross-linking was omitted, synbiotics had a more gel-like appearance and at least 7 log CFU/ml of anaerobic probiotic bacterial growth was observed during recovery from refrigerated aerobic conditions. Low molecular weight, low degree of esterification homogalacturonan pectic oligosaccharides had the optimal activity to prevent adhesion of E. coli O157:H7 to HT29 cells. The ERRC scientists benefited from the collaboration by accelerating their research or extending research activity into other areas, while still within the Project Plan scope.

4. Accomplishments