Fresh Frontiers

OSU food scientist Yanyun Zhao (right) and research associate Jingyun Duan

Story by Warren Volkmann | Photo by Lynn Ketchum | Oregon Agricultural Progress Fall 2009

Recent headlines about contaminated peanut butter and tainted meat have raised concerns about our nation’s food supply. For food safety researchers at Oregon State University, these alerts are a renewed call to action; for some it means working under pressure.

J. Antonio Torres works with extremely high pressure … to kill microbes. The pressures exceed 100,000 pounds per square inch, 6,000 times greater than atmospheric pressure and almost 10 times greater than pressure in the deepest ocean.

“Dairies and all food processors use heat to inactivate microorganisms that are naturally present in foods,” Torres explained. “But heat is the enemy of freshness and nutrition. It breaks down chemical bonds, changing the taste, color, and nutrients in foods.”

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