By Paul Hollis
A novel approach to improving food safety during the storage and transportation of raw poultry and seafood has earned Auburn poultry science assistant professor Amit Morey one of only nine New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Awards presented nationally in 2018.
The award, presented by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, provides a total of $2.3 million over three years among early career faculty members for their research to transform how foods are grown, processed and distributed.
“As a food scientist, I work to find ways to capture the food that is being wasted so we can improve the food security of people in the United States,” Morey said. “The main focus of this research project is to devise innovative methods to reduce food waste in the supply chain. About 40 percent of the total food produced in the U.S. is wasted at different stages from the farm-to-fork continuum, amounting to 133 billion pounds.”
“Our research is focused on innovative ways to reduce food waste from the processing step onward,” Morey said.
The foundation is investing in Morey’s development of “functional ice,” a product for storage and transportation that will increase food safety while reducing waste for the poultry and seafood industries.
Morey’s functional ice is colder and melts more slowly than the ice typically used to pack and ship raw seafood and poultry. The ice could be a game-changer for these industries because it uses a slow, sustained release of an antimicrobial solution that works to actively eliminate bacteria.
Morey described the ice as a “very simple and innovative” way to increase both the safety and shelf life of raw foods.
His research team also will develop a “first-expire-first-out” concept to replace the customary “first-in-first-out” method in food supply chains to help grocery stores reduce food waste.
“This award gives me the funds to conduct the transformative research that is needed for our industry,” Morey said. “At the same time, it gives me the opportunity to train undergraduate and graduate students in the area of developing innovative and advanced technologies to reduce food waste.”
Also, it allows collaborations between food scientists, agricultural economists and the College of Business, he said.
“It’ll strengthen our research moving forward,” Morey said. “This research will provide pragmatic and innovative solutions that can improve food security by reducing food waste.
Morey’s research collaborators include Joel Cuffey and Emir Malikov, both assistant professors in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, and Shashank Rao, associate professor in the Raymond J. Harbart College of Business.