Food Processing and Safety

Processing, Handling, Transporting, Sanitizing, Storing, Enjoying

A long chain of events happen to food on its way from the farm to the table. Each step in the journey adds complexity. Part of what we do is breaking down the journey, examining and researching each step, and trying to find ways to improve the system.

The research into food processing and safety takes many shapes since the system from farm to table is so complex. On one hand, equipment like the Human Gastric Simulator (HGS), pictured below right, gives researchers a look into how the body digests food within the stomach. On the other hand, IR heat dry-peeling, below left, helps growers quickly and easily remove skins from a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Improving Preservation Techniques

High hydrostatic pressure as a method to preserve fresh-cut Hachiya persimmons. Biotech food engineering UC Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Studying carotenoids (arrows) in Hachiya Persimmons Using High Hydrostatic Pressure

Professor Nitin started with a question: Why do carotenoids in a carrot last so long in the refrigerator but, if it is turned into juice, begins to deteriorate quickly?

Food that has as longer shelf life has more of an opportunity to be consumed instead of wasted. As the world moves towards globalization, food can move internationally, but, if it deteriorates, it is no longer edible.

By probing deeply into exactly what is happening to carotenoids in different produce, we can better understand how they work. This will enable researchers to transfer the knowledge to other produce and potentially help improve food preservation techniques.

Infrared (IR) Peeling

The new IR dry-peeling method, developed by Dr. Zhongli Pan, uses IR heat to remove the skins of a number of fruits and vegetables. There are numerous advantages to using IR heat, as opposed to the more common method of using lye, such as reduction of waste and water, quality assurance, and salinity management.