The Food Science program at VSU-ARS serves farmers, processors, and consumers through research, development, and dissemination of knowledge of food science and nutrition. The program was initiated in 2002 with a focus on Food Safety and Microbiology to address urgent and emerging contamination issues in food production and distribution. It expanded in 2006 to cover Food Chemistry and Nutrition in response to diet-related health concerns (e.g. obesity, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension) and Food Processing and Engineering to enhance quality and values of food and agricultural commodities through innovative technologies.
This integrative, multidisciplinary research program has since attracted grants and contracts from both government and private sectors and published over 20 refereed scientific papers based on its original project findings. The program now offers hands-on training and internship opportunities to students and food professionals to explore the richness and depth of food and nutritional sciences.
The Food Safety and Microbiology Program aims to continually improve the safety and quality of our nation's food supply. The program’s research is designed to increase knowledge of microbial ecology with regard to the routes of contamination; this includes on-farm investigations, post-harvest incidence and processing and distribution of foods. The program also evaluates methods and approaches to better prevent, intervene and verify the presence of food-borne pathogens from the farm to the dinner table. Program resources are utilized to deliver hands-on laboratory training on current and emerging issues to students in agricultural and biological sciences. Strong emphasis is placed on studying fresh and specialty foods to benefit producers with limited resources.
The Food Chemistry and Nutrition Program is focused on examining foods and byproducts of food production for value-adding components and properties that may be useful for improving human nutrition and overall human health. The byproducts of food production, which are generally treated as waste, are our primary focus and include fruit/vegetable seed, skin, and pomace. Some of these byproducts may contain valuable compounds including vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and natural antioxidants which may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Currently, consumers are trying to improve their overall quality of life by healthful eating, and with this increase in demand, it is possible to increase the value of common and specialty crops for local and nationwide food producers.
Contact: John Parry
The Food Processing and Engineering Program is focused on developing novel and alternative processing and packaging technologies to improve food value, quality, and safety, and to extend shelf life of food products. The technologies include, but are not limited to, traditional thermal food processing technologies as well as emerging non-thermal processing technologies. We also emphasize the development of active food packaging for controlled release of active ingredients to extend shelf life of fresh perishable products (aquaculture products, fruits, and vegetables). The objectives of the program are to provide expertise and facilities to support the needs of small farmers and the food industry, and to foster partnerships between the university and industry for mutual benefit. Our program also trains students in food processing and engineering, and prepares them for exciting careers in food and related industries.
Contact: Yixiang Xu