Food Processing and Quality Enhancement
Our goal is to improve the quality, safety, nutritional value and demand for meat, fruit, vegetable, dairy and cereal products. We are working to improve the efficiency of meat production by nutritional and hormonal optimization of muscle growth in meat-producing animals. We are studying the structural, compositional and metabolic basis for muscle function and their relationship to the ultimate quality of muscle as a food. We are working to expand the use of underutilized commodities, using by-products of the meat and dairy processing industries. For example, we are developing protein films using whey protein isolate and concentrates, an underutilized by-product of the cheese industry. Another focus is to determine how the biochemical and physical properties of foods influence their quality and safety.
We are looking at the relationship between the biochemical properties of meat and cereal proteins and how these proteins function in processed meat products and based goods. We are studying the underlying mechanisms of protein gelation and emulsification, two functional properties critical in many food products. Several projects are underway in cooperation with the cherry industry in Michigan to develop new products, improve existing products and develop new uses for cherries. One project is looking at the antioxidant activities of selected cherry components. Much of this research will lead to expanded markets for Michigan agricultural products.