Dept Chairperson Assoc
Kennedy Hall, Room Box 15
Univ of Costa Rica
Research program focused on applied research to add value and safety to agricultural commodities with an emphasis on small scale processing. Adding value implies increasing profitability, improving quality and/or increasing health benefits. Currently we are developing better processing techniques that increase the value of plant-based foods. We also study the factors that affect the safety of specialty foods manufactured by small-scale processors. We evaluate methods to provide comprehensive support to food entrepreneurs to create an optimized system for university-based centers. The research complements my extension responsibilities focused on directing a premier program to support food entrepreneurship in the Northeast by providing comprehensive assistance to start-up and established food ventures.
A major activity of our program is to ensure the safety of new products to be introduced in New York State by food entrepreneurs. To accomplish this task it is necessary to determine and to understand the critical factors that play a role in the preparation of specialty foods, which are usually manufactured at the small scale level. Typical techniques used by entrepreneurs include acidification, pasteurization, UV irradiation, reduced water activity, chemical preservatives, and refrigeration. Our interest is to develop specific guidelines to process specialty foods to render a safe product but to preserve the high quality that adds economic value to the product. We study the combined effect of pasteurization, UV irradiation, chemical preservatives, acidification and water activity control to produce both, shelf-stable products and minimally processed foods. We work with products of interest to New York such as apples, grapes, cherries, plums, peaches, onions, cabbage, squash and so on. One of our focuses is on technologies and processing methods to manufacture high quality juices that retain valuable compounds such as phenolics, soluble fiber and vitamins. Another area of interest is the extension of shelf-life of fresh and minimally processed produce by combining refrigeration with appropriate processing and packaging. One current interest of our group is the utilization of grape pomace (and other plant by-products) to produce valuable goods such as oil, enological tannins and bioactive phenolic extracts. We also collaborate with the Cornell Maple Program to develop improved products from maple syrup such as maple cream, maple sugar/candy and specialty beverages.
Direct the NYS Food Venture Center, a major extension program of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Geneva. Coordinate and develop outreach programs and extension activities to support new and established entrepreneurs in the food industry. Provide guidelines and assist in regulatory issues to ensure the safety of food products. Act as Process Authority to issue schedule process documentation for new processors' licensing requirements. Develop and implement training programs for food entrepreneurs.