NC_old1023: Engineering for food safety and quality

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

NC_old1023: Engineering for food safety and quality

Duration: 10/01/2015 to 09/30/2020

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Consumer demand for healthy, nutritious, and safe foods has redefined food quality attributes and created huge challenges to the US food industry. Food engineering research is tasked to develop new products and new processes to help food industry meet the consumer demands. However, food scientists and engineers must overcome following key technical challenges in order to accomplish their research tasks: (1) emerging food, biological and engineered materials and new pathogenic microorganisms, whose properties are poorly understood; (2) increasing need to develop new types of foods with health benefits; (3) urgent need to develop advanced analytical techniques and mathematical models to evaluate, predict, optimize, and control food processes, quality, and safety; and (4) establishing strategies for sharing and fast dissemination of knowledge developed through the research for the purpose of commercial applications and students and workforce education and training. In addition to these technical issues, there is a strong need for a platform for collaborations among engineers, food scientists and other experts across the nation and for a continuous dialog between academic researchers and industry practitioners. NC1023 is positioned to serve all these needs in the next 5-year project period.

To advance engineering knowledge and technologies for the purpose of improving food safety, quality and security, and enhance health benefits of food products through extensive research in focused areas. This will be accomplished through collaboration and synergy among participating experiment stations and disciplines. The research outcomes of this project will also be used to enhance education and outreach programs for stakeholders.

Engineering research employs advanced techniques and knowledge to develop new processes and products. Modern research is increasingly complex, requires a broad range of skills and talents, and can benefit greatly from networking and collaboration of individual researchers and institutes. The strong collaborative nature of the NC-1023 Committee over the years (as NC-136 in the past) has been central asset to its continued success. Its collaborative structure enables the experiment stations to share knowledge, personnel and research facilities to achieve their objectives in an efficient manner. It offers opportunities to solve the emerging issues in a timely fashion and develop appropriate measures for immediate implementation. Changing economic, social, and demographic conditions around the world have created an increased demand for food products with higher sensory quality, increased convenience, advanced delivery systems, and safer and more nutritious foods. The greatest challenge to the food industry is to keep pace with new technological advances and consumer trends. Increasing societal problems like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses and cancer have created demand for food products with health attributes. The increase in market share by organic foods and popularity of dietary supplements cannot be ignored. The need to improve quality while assuring food safety and retain nutritional value has resulted in a number of alternative thermal and non-thermal preservation technologies. These technologies are under investigation with the aim of producing high-value end products. New and exciting trends in science, including systems biology, nanotechnology, and nutragenomics, are changing the way in which engineers and scientists address issues such as process efficiency, product safety and quality. As demand for new food products containing bioactive compounds is increasing, reliable means to characterize the effectiveness of these ingredients as well as their interactions with other base ingredients are urgently needed. Rapid methods based on optical and/or biological sensing techniques for real-time evaluation of food systems during processing and storage must be investigated.

The NC-1023 Committee has increased its focus during the last 5-year cycle on advancing new processing technologies, education, and outreach. During the next 5-year cycle, the project will be focused on characterizing multi-scale physical, chemical and biological properties of food, biological and engineered materials using advanced analytical techniques and instruments; developing new and sustainable technologies to transform raw materials into safe, high quality, health enhanced and value added foods through processing, packaging and preservation; developing mathematical models to understand, predict and optimize for safe and improved quality of foods, and to enhance consumer health; and disseminating knowledge developed through research and novel pedagogical methods to enhance student and other stakeholder learning and practice.

The capabilities presented by the multi-state collaborative nature of the NC-1023 project provide a unique opportunity to partner research, education and outreach for identification, characterization, development and improvement of modified and novel food products which will positively impact human nutrition and health. Expected impacts of the collaborative efforts are in-depth understanding of the physical, chemical and biological properties of food, biological and engineered materials and their relationships to processing and product quality and stability; development of new processing and packaging technologies that ensure the sustainability of the US food industry; establishment of advanced models and analytical techniques for understanding, prediction, and control of complex phenomena in foods and processes; and improved sharing and delivery of research information through education and outreach. The NC-1023 plays an important role in keeping US food processors at the forefront of a global industry. This is demonstrated by the number of grants given to the member institutions by the food industry. Agricultural producers and consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative domestic food processing industry. Rapid and substantive progress will be best achieved through the continued sharing of resources and unique capabilities that can be brought to bear through NC-1023.

Related, Current and Previous Work

A search of CRIS databases identified over 100 research projects within the last five years related to the objectives of NC-1023, in which one or more members of the NC-1023 project participate as principal or co-principal investigator. Table 1 (See appendix 1) summarizes the outputs of NC-1023 members during the last five years. It is important to note that NC-1023 members continue being successful at securing competitive federal grants despite the decrease in funding experienced in 2012, reflecting the quality of scientific research conducted by NC-1023 members. NC-1023 is the only project that integrates engineering and food science and does not duplicate work by any other Multistate Research Project.

The main goal of the NC-1023 multistate project during the period 2010-2014 was to advance technologies to improve the food safety, quality and security through synergistic collaboration between member stations. Research was focused on the integration of engineering principles with molecular biology, biochemistry and microbiology in addition to continued reliance on advances in physics and chemistry. During this period, the utilization of innovative methods to characterize food materials was favorably impacted. The use of non-destructive techniques, such as MRI, holds tremendous potential for rapid evaluation of food quality. Understanding the fundamentals behind these new methods is a critical step in order to diversify their applications in the food industry. Ongoing research on development of improved processing technologies will potentially impact various areas. For example, foods with enhanced nutritive value will be available as these technologies are scaled-up and approved for industrial processing. The usefulness of robust models to predict quality changes during processing operations cannot be overemphasized. On the one hand, and along with technology development, the design of processing protocols that achieve required lethalities to produce safe foods, but on the other, the rapid simulation of quality changes under specific processing conditions will save valuable time in defining processing protocols leading to high quality products. The development of web-based simulations for food engineering education is an area with enormous potential to shift the paradigm of traditional education and improve the learning of current generations that are highly driven by technology. Dissemination of knowledge obtained by multistate collaborations has successfully ongoing through the organization of workshops and seminars (webinars) and will be a strong component of the NC-1023 multistate project in future years to directly impact on growers, processors and consumers alike.

This project has contributed greatly to advances in the fundamental science and application of technologies aimed to ensure safety and improve quality of food products through in-depth understanding of food materials, develop new and improved processing technologies, and modeling and optimization of food processes. The sharing of ideas and the cooperation fostered by NC-1023 were directly responsible in initiating the development of research proposals, collaborative research projects, development and presentation of workshops, symposiums, presentations to industries, sharing of classroom experiments (real and virtual), textbooks, IFT (Institute of Food Technologists standards/outcomes, strategic planning, Food Engineering, Non-thermal process and education divisions), patents, sharing of students, and sharing of equipment, procedures, and research findings. Specific examples are listed in Appendix C (Principal publications, presentations, etc. of the committee).


  1. Characterize multi-scale physical, chemical and biological properties of food, biological and engineered materials
  2. Develop new and sustainable technologies to transform raw materials into safe, high quality, health enhanced and value added foods through processing, packaging and preservation
  3. Develop mathematical models to understand, predict and optimize for safe and improved quality of foods, and to enhance consumer health
  4. Disseminate knowledge developed through research and novel pedagogical methods to enhance student and other stakeholder learning and practice


Objective 1: Characterize multi-scale physical, chemical and biological properties of food, biological and engineered materials Food engineers have made significant contributions to the physical properties measurement methods. Conventional macroscopic and large scale (>1mm) engineering property measurements have provided critical inputs to the mathematical models developed to improve foods. These physical property data have proved vital for improving traditional food processing technologies (e.g. drying, frying, extrusion, microwave heating and thermal processing), and advancing novel technologies such as high hydrostatic pressure and electro-based processing. For the development of the next generation of food products, processes and packaging technologies, a deep knowledge on the properties of food, biological and engineering materials at atomic and molecular levels will be needed. Engineers have recognized that innovations of the 21st century will result from the integration of microscopic phenomena with macroscale behavior. Multiscale properties are critical to the understanding of transport mechanisms occurring in heterogeneous and complex food structures during processing and storage. The multiscale properties of engineered materials including nanocomposite polymeric packaging, high-performance food handling materials, and self-assembled nanostructure for nutrient or antimicrobial delivery will also be vital in the development of advanced food technologies. Finally, the impact of the statistical variability on the uncertainty of model predictions will be further emphasized, particularly when conducting risk assessments by industry and government agencies. Recent advances in imaging techniques (e.g. computed micro tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, confocal laser, scanning electron, transmission electron, atomic force microscopy, micro-CT), spectroscopy (e.g. Raman, Fourier Transform, X-ray photoelectron, scanning tunneling, nuclear magnetic resonance), and micro and nanoscale structure characterization techniques (e.g. small angle and wide angle X-scattering) is expected to yield a wealth of knowledge and insight into food, biological and packaging systems. Sophisticated analytical techniques such as inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry, atomic absorption spectroscopy and liquid chromatography- mass spectrometry quadrupole time-of-flight (QTOP) are valuable in the quantitative determination of chemical elements in food and packaging materials. Proposed collaborative work Macroscopic properties: Pressure-assisted thermal processing and electro-based technologies are of interest because of their potential to deliver superior quality pasteurized and shelf-stable low-acid foods. Studies will take place to extend thermal properties measurement methods under elevated pressure and temperature conditions. OH, OR, NJ, VA, WA, IA, and IL will develop appropriate methods of measurements and estimate various physical and thermal properties relevant to high pressure processes. Electromagnetic properties data of several foods and packaging materials will be required when developing mathematical models to understand the highly complex nature of these processes and are vital for the development and commercialization of such technologies. Measurement of electromagnetic properties as influenced by food components and process variables will be carried out by WA, NE, NY-I, MN, KY and OH. Impact of natural and measurement data variability on model predictions will be assessed by the IA, GA, and OR stations. Microscopic properties: Engineering the surface and bulk microstructure of foods can change their taste and how they are digested. Food processing technologies have potential to develop food products with desirable sensory characteristics, and yet low in salt, sugar, fat and free of other undesirable food components (e.g. gluten-free, fat-free, etc.). IL, CA, LSU, IN, MN, PA, TX, WI, KY and WA will collaborate on developing newer methodology for the characterization of food properties at the microscopic level. The group has started a multistate collaborative research for the characterization of materials (e.g. food, biological, packaging) through a program of instrument sharing, test protocol standardization, and undergraduate training. Instruments will be shared among different stations to extend the capabilities of individual station laboratories. A collaboration spreadsheet will be maintained as a “live” repository of instrumentation capacity of the member stations, which will be available for any member to search for collaborators with specific property analysis capabilities. Samples to be analyzed or examined will be sent to a member station having the required analytical facilities. Member stations engaged in such collaborative material testing will use the opportunity for undergraduate training in the use and maintenance of the instruments. Test protocol standardization will be achieved by measuring specific properties of reference materials by the same testing protocols at the different member stations. Data from the different stations will be compared with the goal of reaching consensus on particular protocols. Commercialization of pressure- and microwave-assisted thermal sterilization technologies will require the development of high oxygen barrier polymer packaging for the production of extended shelf-life food products. In addition, the properties of biocompatible nanosystems will be required to design and fabricate novel nutrient and antimicrobial delivery systems. WA, OH, US Army Natick, NASA will collaborate in the areas of package and process interactions and their influence on the barrier and mechanical properties of packaging materials. LA, TX, IL, CA, TN, WI and WA will collaborate on the characterization of nano-engineered materials. Objective 2: Develop new and sustainable technologies to transform raw materials into safe, high quality, health enhanced and value added foods through processing, packaging and preservation Food processing is a complex set of operations beginning with the handling of raw materials at production or harvest sites, and end when consumed by the consumer. Unit operations at manufacturing plants (cleaning, formulation, processing) are used to transform raw materials into value-added foods which are then stored and transported under the conditions required to retain their safety and quality. Food retail and food service supply chain logistics operations also play key role in ensuring microbial safety during handling and distribution of processed food. Scientific and technological developments in engineering, chemistry, biology, and sensory science coupled with societal needs (consumer desire for leading healthy life style, population growth and aging, and rising costs associated with dwindling supply of energy and water) require a new examination of food processing practices with increased emphasis on sustainability. This section outline selected examples of collaboration among different stations in developing improved and sustainable food technologies to process foods. a. Maximum utilization of raw materials: Stations (IA, IL, OH) will collaborate to understand the impact of different pre-treatment steps such as washing, cleaning, sanitation and cooling of raw produce prior to further processing at industrial scale. Similarly collaborative efforts are being made to understand the impact of simple household techniques such as cutting, slicing, and juicing on nutritional stability of raw fruits and vegetables (IL, OH, TX). b. Enhance process efficiency (energy, water). Stations (IA, IL, MN, MO, OH, OR, NE) will investigate energy and water utilization efficiency of different conventional and novel food processing technologies. c. Reduce environmental impact (package, process, waste stream). Stations (IA, IL, IN, OR, VSU, ME, MN) will characterize food processing waste, and develop their value-added applications as functional food ingredients and biodegradable packaging materials. d. Ensure food safety, enhanced quality and stability. Multi state collaborative efforts will develop and apply advanced thermal and non-thermal based alternative processing technologies to ensure the safety, quality, and improve food stability. Technologies to be investigated include microwave heating (NC, MN, WA), radiofrequency processing (NE, WA), ohmic heating (OH), irradiation (MI, TX), high pressure based technologies (IA, IL-IIT, NE, NJ, OH, OR, PA, TN, VA, WA), ultrasound (IL, KY), ozone (OH, MN), chlorine dioxide (IN, OH), UV (FL, MN), pulsed light and membrane separation (FL, IL-IIT, NY), high electric field processing (OH, WA, MN, HI), hyperspectral imaging (KY), antimicrobial packaging (VA, VSU) and nano-technology (CA, IA, IL,TN, TX, VSU, NY). Kinetics of destruction of various pathogenic and spoilage bacteria, enzymes, quality attributes, and nutrients as a function of different process variables (temperature, pressure, electric field, irradiation dosage among others), composition, pH and water activity will be investigated (OH, OR, PA, WA, MN, IL, IL-IIT). Mechanistic understanding of attachment, growth and internalization of microorganisms in fresh produce has been jointly started by NY-I and OH stations. Mechanistic understanding of impact of different technologies on food safety and quality at molecular level will be studied (OH, MN). Application of food irradiation as a solution to fresh produce industry challenge will be investigated (TX). Application of high intensity ultrasound for decontamination of fresh produce and sprouting seeds will be studied (IL). Reaction kinetics of various food constituents at combined pressure-heat treatment will be investigated (IA, OH, OR). Impact of high pressure homogenization on liquid foods will be investigated (MN, OH, TN). Intelligent combinations of thermal and non-thermal lethal agents will be investigated (OH, MN). Application of electrostatic coating for snack food industry will be investigated (OH). Application of non-thermal and heat treatments to reduce allergenicity of food products will be investigated (ME, FL, MN, IL-IIT). Stations’ proposed nano technology collaborative efforts may include material synthesis and fabrication, food-nano-system interactions, product development and food properties, food quality, targeting and controlled release of bioactive and antimicrobials, bioseparation, biosensing and bioconversion and nano-packaging (TN, TX, NY-I). Stations (NJ, OH, PA, TN, TX, WA) will develop improved polymeric structures, active and antimicrobial packaging for packaging of foods. VA and WA will work on incorporation of antimicrobials into packaging targeted for fresh produce. e. Enhanced consumer health Stations will assess effectiveness of existing and novel technologies to enhance consumer health (CA, IA, MN, OH, OR, PA, ME). Investigate the extent of over- and under processing associated with the variability of the information available for the design of food formulations, processing technologies, packaging materials, storage conditions, and behavior of foods post-consumption (CA, GA, IA, MN, OR). f. Scale up and technology transfer Stations will conduct pilot plant studies to understand scale-up challenges associated with the technology developed in the laboratory prior to industrial implementation (IL, MN, MO, OH). Adequate efforts must be made to understand the uniformity of application of lethal dosage (pressure, heat, electric field, ultrasound) (IL, NJ, OH, MN, TX). Mathematical models (objective 3) can help in evaluating process uniformity. Our state food processing specialists will conduct industrial outreach (objective 4) through variety of modes of delivery including workshops, short courses, pilot plant demonstration, contract based services, webinar, websites, food processor fact sheets. This helps to deliver research findings to food industry stakeholders and address their food processing and food safety needs (OH, OR). g. Create new value added products – Stations will employ high pressure, nano-technology, radio frequency dielectric heating, laser and other novel processing and packaging technologies for developing new value-added products (OR, OH, TN, MN, NY, NJ). Objective 3: Develop mathematical models to understand, predict and optimize for safe and improved quality of foods, and to enhance consumer health Predictability enables us to ensure safety and improve quality of food processes. Mathematical models provide us with more accurate predictability over a broader range of conditions, and can be useful at all stages from production to final consumption of foods. Models can be for microbiological growth/ destruction, food process, quality, safety and risk. They can provide significant boost to food safety and quality by making available predictive tools that provide information about specific products, processing conditions and/or microorganisms through what-if scenarios. Unavoidable variability and uncertainty in product and processing conditions can be effectively captured in models, allowing related design to be more realistic. Models can significantly speed-up the development of novel, high-quality products and processes. Modeling is also a mechanism to evaluate consequences of unintended microbial or chemical contamination, as well as sabotage. Modeling also enables us to understand the mechanisms that underlie food processes and the tremendous changes in food materials during most processes. Understanding such mechanisms is critical for developing new products and processes, which is often not possible through experiments alone. Food processes can be broken down into transport (of energy, water, other food components) and rate kinetics of physical, chemical and microbiological changes that are dependent on spatial temperature and moisture history inside the food. The NC1023 group is active in various aspects of modeling—transport, kinetics, and their combinations. Models, especially physics-based or mechanistic models, need validation against experiments, and the group’s work is truly complementary, involving most comprehensive experimentation such as MRI and the most detailed physics-based modeling. The NC1023 group possesses the most significant combined and synergistic expertise anywhere and is therefore uniquely qualified to contribute to the safety, quality and competitiveness of the US food sector. Proposed Collaborative Work The proposed collaborative work is discussed in terms of three areas: 1) Generic food process models that focus on transport mechanisms and rates where we intend to develop a broad-based framework to understand not just one, but entire classes of food processes; 2) Kinetic models for safety and quality where we primarily develop rate kinetics for microbiological and biochemical changes; and 3) Integrated process and kinetic models applied to individual processes. (1) Develop a broad-based approach (framework) to understand different food processes The physics-based modeling framework itself needs to be developed for food processes in order to avoid ad-hoc and semi-empirical approaches that do not translate easily when products and processes are changed and thus diminishing the advantages of a predictive modeling approach. Illinois and NY-Ithaca stations will collaborate to show the accuracies and relative advantages of two common frameworks (traditional porous media formulation and hybrid mixture theory) that have been able to describe complex food processes such as drying, freeze drying, frying, baking and microwave heating (NE). They will clearly delineate when such detailed modeling framework is warranted, vis-à-vis simple modeling approaches that are more common today. Of course, in comparing the modeling approaches, the predictions will be compared with not just available experimental data but also with new data from collaborations with experimentalists in MRI (CA and MN stations) and in extrusion processing (NE station). Quality and quantity of validation of mathematical models that is necessary, for a material as complex as most food materials are, would be carefully delineated through collaboration between modelers and experimenters (IL, IL-IIT, OH, NY-Ithaca and WA). When completed, these modeling frameworks can dramatically decrease model development time, making models more of an everyday tool for industry and academia. The work in this section will also yield insight into the transport processes and allow the building of advanced models that include variability of materials, reaction kinetics and multiphysics such as simultaneous heat and mass transfer or combinations with microwave, ultrasound or other processing methods. (2) Extend the framework to include kinetic modeling for safety and quality Developing models for kinetics (rates) of microbiological growth and destruction is critical to predicting and mitigating food safety situations. Likewise, food quality can be made more predictable and controllable by knowing the kinetics (rates) of related biochemical reactions. Estimating parameters of microbial transfer, growth, survival, and inactivation models under dynamic conditions will be pursued collaboratively between the MI, NE and NJ stations. These will include Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes in various processes and products, with a particular focus on slicing, dicing, packaging, and transportation of fresh-cut produce. MI station also will be collaborating with WA and NE stations (in addition to FDA collaborator) on developing, testing, and applying Salmonella inactivation models for low-moisture food products subjected to multiple lethal treatments, incorporating various product and process factors. Kinetics of pectin methylesterase (PME) and polygalacturonase (PG) inactivation in tomato products as a function of frequency of electrothermal treatment will be collaboratively studied between OH and CA stations. TX and MI stations will collaborate on development of growth models of Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella strains in different fresh produce at several stages of the production/handling line using experimental data and advanced parameter estimation techniques. (3) Integrate process and kinetic models and apply to individual processes Knowledge developed in (1) and (2) will be combined to develop models that integrate transport processes and reaction kinetics. This approach is best illustrated by examples. Models will be developed to understand the interaction of microwaves and food components during heating of products in domestic microwave ovens. so that these modeling tools can be used by the food industry to design microwaveable foods that would heat more uniformly across a range of domestic microwave ovens (NE). Fundamental physics-based modeling of attachment, growth and internalization of microorganisms on produce surface will be done by NY-I station that is joint with experimental work on microfluidics and produce at OH station. Produce sanitization modeling will be collaboratively studied between OH and IA stations. Impact of intervention strategies using non-thermal processing such as irradiation, antimicrobials and ozonation will be studied using models (TX and MI collaborators) that should yield useful tools to predict the potential of outbreaks due to consumption of contaminated fresh fruits and vegetables. Risk analysis of thermal processing alone or in combination with alternative technologies (UV, high pressure, etc.) from harvest to product consumption will be studied collaboratively by OR, IA and GA stations. Radiofrequency processing of low-moisture foods for improved microbiological safety will be studied collaboratively between NE, WA, and MI stations by developing models, with a goal to optimizing food packaging and electrode configuration, and mechanical mixing to improve heating uniformity. Extrusion (IL, MO, NE, KY collaborators) and frying (IL, CA, KY and TX collaborators) models will provide novel understanding of these complex processes and material transformations Ohmic heating for sterilization and other food processes will be studied jointly by HI and OH stations, where they will include in their model the effect of partial infusion of salt into particles and how the infusion affects the heating processes. Continuous flow ohmic heating for sterilization of particulate foods will be modeled to better understand the effects of hydro- and thermodynamic behaviors of particulates. Finally, structural and functional changes of foods during digestion process and how it relates to food type, size, composition (micro- and macro-) etc., will be collaboratively studied between CA, ME and MI stations. Collaborative work is proposed using the same food product(s) with different in vitro and in vivo model systems to better understand and model the kinetics of the food digestion process. Objective 4: Disseminate knowledge developed through research and novel pedagogical methods to enhance student and other stakeholder learning and practice. The purpose of this objective is to ensure that the collaborative work of the group is learned and put into practice by stakeholders. These stakeholders include industry, extension agents, communities and individuals involved in food production, state and federal government agencies, inspectors, professional societies, students and faculty, policy-makers, and others. In education, active learning, exploring multidisciplinary situations and improving problem-solving skills have become critical needs. This is particularly true for food engineering education as food safety and food quality are topics that are inherently multi-disciplinary. Almost all the NC 1023 representatives and members are researchers who also teach food engineering to either food science or engineering students. This presents a unique opportunity to disseminate the results from research and include the latest pedagogical innovations. NC 1023 will provide the intellectual synergy and make it cost-effective to develop content and as well as delivery approaches to learning materials that goes hand in hand with research. At least some of these materials will be developed to serve dual-purpose: for degree granting higher education as well as for Extension to food industry personnel who are continually in need for such learning materials. For example, a Wiki site developed by the project participants ( has close to 5000 hits (>1000 from the US) since being built 3 years ago. The form of dissemination may differ depending on the audience, but the intent is the same: to inform and train people in how to improve food safety and quality. To attain this goal, we need to develop an assessment plan, determine specific evaluation indicators, specify the work to be done, and identify the expected outcomes. Prior to putting efforts into outreach and extension, one must have a clear idea about the effectiveness of the project. Therefore, it is crucial for the NC-1023 team to develop a good assessment plan (See Appendix 2). The specific proposed collaborative work is outlined in the “Outreach Plan” section.

Measurement of Progress and Results


  • New analytical techniques and a platform and arrangements for instrument and data sharing among collaborative researchers
  • Novel and sustainable processing and preservation technologies to ensure efficient production of high quality, safe and healthy foods and improve economic outlook
  • New mathematical models for transport processes and kinetics for quality and safety control.
  • Education products and training of workforce to ensure sustainable development of the US food industry.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • Help food manufacturers to better understand the properties of foods and develop and optimize various processing and preservation technologies; Expand individual researchers’ analytical capability
  • Enable the industry to manufacture food products that meet consumers’ demands, be successful financially, and reduce undesirable environmental impacts.
  • Provide food manufacturers with better process monitoring and control tools for quality and safety improvement and insurance.
  • Educate and train workforce for the food industry and increase the technical knowledge of the academic and government employees.


(0):ve 1: Characterize multi-scale physical, chemical and biological properties of food, biological and engineered materials (2015-2018) Objective 2: Develop new and sustainable technologies to transform raw materials into safe, high quality, health enhanced and value added foods through processing, packaging and preservation (2015-2020) Objective 3: Develop mathematical models to understand, predict and optimize for safe and improved quality of foods, and to enhance consumer health (2015-2019) Objective 4: Disseminate knowledge developed through research and novel pedagogical methods to enhance student and other stakeholder learning and practice (2015-2020)

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Outreach and Extension
We will use a broad variety of media to disseminate the knowledge generated by this project. Early in the project, websites at all participating institutions will showcase the project. After gaining experience we will present preliminary results at national meetings such as those held by IFT and IAFP. Later, when sufficient data are gathered to warrant stronger conclusions about the project, we plan to publish at least two refereed journal articles, one focused on the research modules, and one on the application of the outcomes to enhance food safety domestically and internationally. In addition to publishing refereed journal articles, book chapters, books, and conference presentations, there will be increased number of active workshops, demonstrations of advances in technologies, and possible use of scientific visualizations, mobile apps, and educational animations and interactive materials for stakeholders.
Towards the completion of the project, focused groups of stakeholders (e.g. employers in the food industry, regulatory agencies) will be invited to evaluate the desirability of the project in meeting their needs. The level of commitment of participating faculty across all institutions will also be evaluated. Academic deans, financial officers, and graduate deans at participating institutions will also be brought together to review this program. The faculty team and academic deans will refine the scope of the program, establish optimum program size, set targets for program growth, and develop a multi-faceted continuation strategy.
The following list shows the proposed main areas of outreach, including collaborative endeavors. Stations will share information, presentations, and advice.
? Workshops (1-5 days; topics such as food safety, introduction to food science, community/home food preservation for canning and freezing, nutraceuticals, food processing, etc.) (MD, MI, OH, PA, FL, IA, IL-IIT, CA, NY-Ithaca and GA).
? Contribute to annual international non-thermal processing workshops (IL-IIT, OH, MN, WSU, NY). Offer non-thermal technology short courses and pilot plant demonstrations to the food industry
? Presentations to industry, community stakeholders, and extension agents on emerging and innovative processes that NC1023 members have expertise in (CA, MD, MI, MN, MO, OH, FL, IA, IL, NY-Ithaca and GA).
? Presentations to government agencies, such as State Department of Agriculture, on timely topics, e.g. What Does a Process Authority Do? How to register with FDA and USDA? (MD, MI, FL, IA, CA, and GA).
? Develop and teach Better Process Control Schools for industry, on campus and on request for companies (MD, MI, PA, FL, IA, IL-IIT, CA, and GA).
? Develop and teach HACCP for certification (MD, MI, FL, IA, IL-IIT, PA, CA, and GA).
? Develop programs to encourage youth interest in science and engineering (MD, MI, FL, IA, CA, KY and GA).
? Process authority work for small processors of acidified and low-acid foods (MD, MI, FL, IA, CA, and GA).
? Attendance/presentation at IFTPS to keep up on the latest FDA regulations for thermal processing (MI, FL).
? Collaborative extension bulletins (MD, MI, OH, FL, and IA).
? Continue to help plan and support the CoFE meetings (2016, 2018, 2020), including presentations of findings from NC-1023 members and nonmembers, the food industry, and government agencies with a global perspective (all stations)
? Help plan and participate in Webinars, in conjunction with IFT (Quality Assurance and Engineering divisions) on topics such as Quality Engineering, emerging thermal and alternative processes to enhance the safety and quality of foods, etc. (all stations).

Undergraduate Education
Overview of the State of Food Engineering Education in Undergraduate Food Science Programs
Over the last two decades tremendous progress has been made in developing Food Engineering Tools for use in Food Science programs. These tools have evolved with technology and include traditional textbooks, computer-based simulations, and, more recently, multimedia, web-based tools. Members of NC-1023 have shared their experience and made available the tools to early and mid-career faculty. Discussions within IFT Food Engineering Division recurrently point in the direction of deficiencies in mathematics and quantitative skills. Industry expects Food Science graduates to have a better sense of “order of magnitude” with respect to the scale of processing and the impact of variables in food processing. These quantitative skills are not only necessary in the scientific and technical domains but also in the business arena. Most information regarding perceptions by students, faculty (engineering and non-engineering), and stakeholders about mathematics and quantitative skills in Food Science programs is consistent but remains mostly anecdotal. NC-1023 is uniquely positioned to help promote and assess quantitative skills in Food Science students.
As noted above, critical thinking and problem solving skills are also important skills for Food Science graduates to develop. Again, NC-1023 is uniquely positioned to help promote and assess these skills through collaborative efforts (IA, IL-IIT, WI, KY)
In one collaboration (NY, OH, CA, PA, TN, TX, OR), we would be incorporating simulations to enhance food safety education by introducing risk-based, quantitative approaches. Using the power and flexibility of simulation we can more effectively design problem-oriented training and consider “what if” scenarios that engage learning across multiple disciplines and large audiences. We will develop multidisciplinary (predictive microbiology, engineering, risk analysis) simulation-based learning modules for easy incorporation into existing courses. We will develop and assess these modules in multiple institutions in both undergraduate and graduate food science and food engineering courses. At the end of the project, we will make not only the simulation modules available to all instructors but also we will document how effective simulation has been so that other disciplines in food and agriculture can also benefit from simulation use.

In another collaboration, 11 of the NC 1023 stations plan to develop teaching material in food physical, chemical and biological properties for a food engineering course (prepared carefully for dual use in engineering as well as food science courses). Almost every university has a course in food physical and other properties. However, particularly for food engineers, there is no coherent teaching material in terms of textbooks, etc., to teach food properties. We propose to develop video-based instructional modules for each of the properties (such as thermal, dielectric and rheological). As many (if not all) of the NC 1023 stations will build 1-2 modules each, particular care will be taken to develop these modules in a coherent manner such that they are presented uniformly from one property to the next. The videos will also be edited and assembled in an easy to navigate manner on a website such as the Wiki that has already been developed for food process modeling. Depending on the success of the modules on properties, we contemplate moving on to other areas such as measurement, process modeling, and perhaps even an entire course on food engineering.
In another collaboration (OH, ID, UGA, IL-IIT, and others) will incorporate of math skills beyond food engineering courses as an important goal of this committee. Through collaboration among stations, we propose the development of math and quantitative modules for courses such as Food Chemistry, Food Quality, and Food Microbiology. These modules will serve as supplemental materials and will be stand-alone and available on-line. These will be developed and tested by collaborating NC-1023 stations using a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) approach and disseminated through a variety of means (e.g., on-line posts, conference presentations at IFT, CoFE, or NACTA, etc.).
Further, we propose to select a collection of existing educational tools and the modules developed in section above and use a SoTL approach to assess their efficacy. In other words we propose to systematically and quantitatively develop assessment instruments in collaboration with experts in SoTL within each station. Through collaboration among stations, NC-1023 members will seek external funding (e.g., USDA) for development of these learning tools and assessment strategies.
These efforts will be coordinated with the IFT Education and Outreach Division as well as with the Higher Education Review Board (HERB). Since IFT approval is based primarily on assessment of learning outcomes, this NC-1023 goal fits perfectly within the scope HERB (several NC-1023 members already on HERB will provide the liaison between the two groups).
Milestones for developing simulation modules into food safety education
During the first year, learning outcomes for courses will be coordinated and simulation modules will be developed by the lead stations NY-I, CA, IL-IIT, MD and OH. During the second year, the modules will be implemented in the same stations in food science and food engineering courses and several other volunteers (IL, IL-IIT, IA, NJ, MI). Formative and summative assessment will be performed that documents not just possible improvements in learning but also the processes of development and implementation of the simulation modules (includes student and faculty surveys). In the third and fourth years, the modules will be fine-tuned based on assessment from previous year and implemented in more than 10 stations with the assessment process repeated. An education specialist will be working with the group to make the assessments.
Milestones for developing educational videos
During the first year, learning outcomes will be coordinated and the first ten videos will be developed covering the common food physical properties such as thermal properties, dielectric properties, rheological properties and so on. Assessment tools will be developed to obtain feedback on the use of these videos in food engineering and possibly food science courses. These videos will be assessed as they are being used. Based on the assessment, design of the videos will be fine-tuned and additional ten videos will be developed on the remaining properties (and any modules redone) in the second year. In the third year, the videos will be tried at more stations and their assessments recorded. Based on this, some of the videos will be redone. Also, the extent to which these modules are coherent and lead to possible development of a web-based course will be discussed in a NC 1023 meeting. Our tentative goal is to integrate this into a course in the fourth year.
Approaches to be used and Milestones:
a. Incorporation of math skills beyond food engineering courses
? We propose the development of math and quantitative modules in collaboration with food scientists.
? A taskforce needs to be formed by members of NC-1023 to identify food scientists and food engineers willing to collaborate
? A first set of modules will be proposed for Food Chemistry, and Food Quality, and Food Microbiology.
? We propose that three to five of the developed modules be tested in at least three institutions and outcomes of learning and perception be assessed.

b. Quantitative assessment of tools and pedagogical strategies
We propose to select a collection of existing educational tools and the modules developed in section a) and use a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) approach to assess their efficacy. In other words we propose to systematically and quantitatively assess the selected teaching tools as follows:
? Selecting at least three institutions to carry out the assessment
? Select pertinent courses, preferably taught twice a year
? Produce consensus among participating faculty on the methodology to be used to test the education tools.
? Develop assessment instruments in collaboration with experts in SoTL to include
o Control classes that are not exposed to the proposed tool
o Development of control instruments for pre-learning assessment
o Development of post-learning assessment instruments

Proposed actions to facilitate the achievement of this objective
? Seek internal seed funding at participating stations
? Meet at IFT 2014 at the Education SPA to Create the taskforce and identify a group to lead section a) effort
? Develop assessment instruments (Reyes-UGA)
? Gather industry letters of support
? Meet to “calibrate” instructors for delivery of content using the selected methods/tools
? Application and assessment of selected methods and tools in selected lectures and courses, 3-year replications
? Write proposal and submit to pertinent funding agencies
? Select three existing teaching strategies and method of online deployment to be tested according to section b)
• On the third year, a selection of 3 to 5 modules will be deployed at the participating stations and student learning and perceptions will be assessed
• Content for an additional set of 5 modules is developed.
• Learning and student perceptions will be presented at a professional meeting.
? If federal funding is not obtained after the second year, data from the third year will be used to strengthen resubmission on the third year.
? Complete a collection of 15 modules and their assessment. Collaborative education research paper(s) will be published.
? Incorporation of selected tools / methods to entire courses
? Nationwide dissemination


NC-1023 is organized according to the guidelines in the USDA Multistate Research Manual, as found at Membership includes an administrative advisor (Dr. David Jackson), a CSREES representative (Dr. Hongda Chen) and project leaders from 29 cooperating stations, Texas-Tech and NASA. Project leaders are listed in Attachment A. A standing Steering Committee created at the 2001 Annual meeting works on specific goals to improve revision and rewrite logistics; revise protocols for implementing station reports and other items into project objectives; monitor and promote impacts with industry and producers; archive collaborative efforts; and maintain focus on trends and areas of high profile, national research need. Meetings are held annually, typically in October. The secretary for the coming year is elected at the end of each meeting. The previous secretary moves up to vice-chair and the vice-chair to chair. These three officers, the past chair, and the administrative advisor constitute the executive committee. The dates of the annual meeting (typically two or three days) are determined by the host and the chair after consulting the Committee at the preceding meeting. The chair develops an agenda for the upcoming meeting in consultation with the executive committee and the feedback from the membership. The annual meeting includes technical reports from each represented station, discussion of results and future areas of collaboration, and meetings among smaller ad hoc committees. The location of the meeting for the coming year is determined by vote at the end of each meeting. Meetings are typically held at or near a member station and hosted by the official representative of that station. Minutes are prepared by the secretary and sent to members. An annual report is prepared by the chair, submitted to the administrative advisor, and posted at the NC 1023 web site.
The success of this Committee over the years has been due to the strong collaborative nature of the group to resolve issues that are not easily resolved by a single research group. The ad-hoc committees are an essential element for solving specific issues that arise. Ad-hoc committees are formed when an issue is identified by the Committee. The interested stations develop a specific objective and collaborate to resolve the issue together. When the issue has been resolved and the results reported back to the Committee, the ad-hoc committee is dissolved and members move on to work on another issue. This structure allows for individual cooperation between stations, and provides a mechanism for addressing major problems of interest across all the stations. Currently, NC-1023 has a number of active ad hoc committees as described in the Procedures, with new ones being planned for future activities. With the new objectives, it is anticipated that additional ad hoc committees will be developed. Collaboration is also fostered on an informal basis at the annual meetings. Members engage in dialog throughout the year via the NC 1023 NIMSS list server.

Literature Cited


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, Iowa State University, NASA, Virginia State University
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