NECC1701: Luminescence Techniques for Food Quality, Stability & Safety

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

NECC1701: Luminescence Techniques for Food Quality, Stability & Safety

Duration: 10/01/2017 to 09/30/2022

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Non-Technical Summary

Statement of Issues and Justification

1) Optical luminescence, including fluorescence, phosphorescence, and photosensitization, offers signficant potential for monitoring the presence and concentration of specific compounds in foods, for sensing the physical and chemical properties of foods and food ingredients, and for photosensitizing singlet oxygen as an antimicrobial treatment in foods, among other potential applications.  Much of this potential, however, is unrealized both in the laboratory and in the marketplace.  Recent research focussed on the luminescence properties of aromatic molecules naturally found in or routinely added to foods has highlighted their potential to serve as internal indicators, molecular sensors or photosensitizers in foods in the marketplace during manufacture, distribution, storage, and even at point of sale.  The full potential of luminescence applications, however, is compromised by our current lack of understanding of how specific optical chromophores can be used in specific food applications, either in the lab (using any suitable luminescent probe) or in the marketplace (using edible probes, molecules with GRAS status).  Given the enormous number of possible luminescence probes that could be used to study foods, a coordinated approach to identifying and characterizing their properties and potential food applications would significantly enhance our ability to ensure and enhance the quality, stability and safety of the American food supply.  

2) The development of a regional coordinating commitee would bring together individuals in the NE region and beyond who currently use or develop optical luminescence techniques.  The development of a robust mechanism for sharing knowledge, for developing collaborations, and for inspiring novel research proposals could have a potentially transformative effect on this area of research.  Given the high concentration of food companies in the NE region, and the close ties they have with the food science programs in the region, the knowledge gained could have direct and hopefully significant impact on both industrial research programs and more importantly on commercial practice.



  1. Identify luminescence techniques with potential to monitor and ensure the quality, stability and safety of foods.
    Comments: The group will review, evaluate and implement the wide range of luminescence techniques for their potential applications to foods. These applications will include analytical and biophysical measurements in the laboratory as part of the research and development process. However, considerable effort will also be devoted to identifying and developing applications to monitor physical and chemical properties in real foods in the marketplace using intrinsic or introduced probes.
  2. Identify a library of luminescence probes with potential to monitor and enhance food quality, stabillity and safety.
    Comments: Luminescence spectroscopy is a probe technique that depends upon the presence of a luminescent chromophore either added to or naturally present in a food. Although there are no specific constraints on which molecules can be used in lab studies (other than scientific utility), only naturally occuring or GRAS-certified molecules can be used in real foods for consumption. The indentification of the full range of possible molecules useful to monitor food properties will significantly enhance the applications of luminescence techniques to food.

Procedures and Activities

The primary activity of this committee will be to assemble a group of researchers, those currently using or contemplating using luminescence techniques to investigate food problems, and develop mechanisms to foster communication and collaboration among these individuals and to disseminate their findings to the larger scientific and commercial audience.  These mechanisms will include (but not be limited to): meeting regularly (at least yearly) in person to discuss current and future projects; developing electronic fora to aggregate and disseminate luminescence information; organizing thematic sessions at existing scientific conferences (IFT, ACS) or even organizing a stand alone scientific conference on luminescence techniques and food; organizing workshops to reach specific commercial audiences; and developing a variety of scientific collaborations focussed on the application of specific luminescence techniques to existing and novel research problems.


Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Exchange ideas on potential uses of luminescence techniques to study or enhance food quality, stability and safety. Comments: The primary goal of this committee is to initiate a formal collaborative group to focus attention on the use of luminescence techniques and intiate conversations about how to use such techniques to study and enhance food quality in the broadest sense.
  • Build interest in and knowledge about the application of luminescence techniques to foods and food ingredients. Comments: The best practices identified by this group will be disseminated through a variety of venues: review articles, web sites, scientific sessions at conferences, thematic conferences, and perhaps workshops targeting specific audiences. There are two major audiences: the food reasearch community and the food manufacturing community. Efforts to meet the needs of both audiences will be addressed.
  • Coordinate research projects that use current or develop novel luminescent techniques to investigate food structure and properties relatd to food quality, stability and safety. Comments: The contacts and internal communication faciliated by this coordinating committee should seed the identification and development of a wide variety of collaborative projects using luminescence techniques applied to food problems.
  • Generate a library of potential GRAS luminescence probes to monitor and enhance the quality, stability and safety of actual foods during manufacture, transport, storage or sale. Comments: The dissemination of luminescence techniques into the marketplace, a major goal of this committee, depends critically on the identification of the full variety of GRAS probes available and their potential uses to monitor physical and chemical parameters relevant to food quality, stability and safety.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan


The recommended Standard Governance for multistate research activities include the election of a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers are to be elected for at least two-year terms to provide continuity. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a NIFA Representative.

List of potential participants:

Dr. Maria Corradini, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dr. Julian McClements, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dr. Eric Decker, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dr. Rohan Tikekar, University of Maryland

Dr. Nitin Nitin, University of California-Davis

Dr. John Coupland, Penn State University

Dr. Gregory Ziegler, Penn State University

Dr. Carmen Moraru, Cornell University

Dr. Gale Strasburg, Michigan State University

Dr. Michael Rogers, University of Guelph, Ontario

Dr. Iris Joye, University of Guelph, Ontario


Literature Cited


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

University of Guelph
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