A team of University of Wisconsin-Stout students took fourth place in an international contest sponsored by Fiberstar.
The students and Taejo Kim, assistant professor in food microbiology and food safety, took part in the Second Citri-Fi 125 Student Innovation Contest competing with universities across the globe.
Citri-Fi 125 is a natural patented citrus fiber used in the food and beverage industry for high water holding capacity and natural emulsification properties.
UW-Stout students studied whether Citri-Fi could be used to enhance the shelf life of fresh meat. “I think our research was very competitive against other universities,” Kim said. “It was a good hands-on experiment, especially for undergraduate students.”
Kim said using a thin layer of Citri-Fi 125 proved the best way to retain the appearance and flavor of the meat longer. The beef was kept at about 43 to 44 degrees. At 15 days the control beef had spoiled, and the meat coated with Citri-Fi 125 was still fresh.
The project involved undergraduates in the food science and technology major, https://www.uwstout.edu/programs/bs-food-science-and-technology, and graduate students in the food and nutritional sciences master’s program, https://www.uwstout.edu/programs/ms-food-and-nutritional-sciences.
Erica Zalk, a senior majoring in food science and technology from Minneapolis, said she enjoyed being part of the research team. “It allowed me to go further into what I could be doing as a food scientist,” she said. “It was our job to create the research and decide where we would go with the project.”
The goal of the research is to reduce food waste by slowing meat spoilage, said Zalk, president of the UW-Stout Food Science Club. “I think this award says a lot about our university. It’s definitely exciting. It sheds a nice light on our program that we get research opportunities as students in a smaller school in Wisconsin.”
Sarah Keute, a junior food science major from Virginia, Minn., said she worked with the project a couple of months. “It’s really good to get a glimpse of what people do in the real world in industry,” Keute said. “It took what we learned in class and used it.”
Paige Elfering, a junior food science major from Forest Lake, Minn., said she did a lot of color testing of beef using a colorimeter. Being a part of the research project helped her to learn how to look at data and scrutinize it, she said.
Other students involved in the contest research were Reddy Medagam, Emily Lehmann, Jozie McClelland, Ranganathan Ramaswamy Srikanth and Arpit Jain.
First place in the contest went to Kansas State University for a study of the use of Citri-Fi 125 to improve hummus’ texture syneresis and increase profitability.
More than 50 applicants submitted contest proposals.
“Many talented students globally created novel and innovative uses for this natural ingredient,” stated Fiberstar Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer John Haen. “We will continue to support university food and industrial science programs by offering students opportunities to create natural ingredient solutions for the real world.
“Being a leader in the natural products market, we are excited to add new innovative solutions to our portfolio of applications,” Haen added.
Some of the students who were part of the team include, left to right, Erica Zalk, Paige Elfering, Sarah Keute and assistant professor in food microbiology and food safety Taejo Kim. / UW-Stout photo by Brett T. Roseman