Food Science & Technology Professional Masters Projects

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    Development of a High Pressure Processed, Clean-Label Dressing Product Using Upcycled Yogurt Acid Whey as a Main Ingredient
    Zhao, Yingfei (2024)
    This study aimed to upcycle yogurt acid whey (YAW) by developing a clean-label ranch dressing product (with 10% w/w freeze-dried YAW) treated with High Pressure Processing (HPP) at 575 MPa for 3 minutes at 5°C. A comprehensive shelf-life study, focused on physicochemical properties (pH, water activity, color, viscosity, water-holding capacity) was conducted to assess product stability of two YAW ranch dressings, spanning 7 months at refrigerated temperature and 1 month at room temperature. Identified factors limiting product shelf-life included changes in color and viscosity reduction. Results from a sensory evaluation test (n=77) indicated that the YAW ranch dressing exhibited comparable overall liking, sensory attributes and purchase intent to a commercially available clean-label alternative, with almost no significant differences observed. The YAW ranch dressing was suggested to be paired with salads, sliced vegetables, burgers/sandwiches, chicken nuggets/wings and fries. Furthermore, HPP treatment and "clean-label" formula were in line with consumer preference in purchasing dressing products, indicating their potential as significant marketing benefits for the YAW ranch dressing product.
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    The Role of 1,1,6-Trimethyl-1, 2-Dihydronaphthalene (TDN) in Influencing the Perception and Recognition of Chardonnay and Riesling
    Liu, Hanfei (2024)
    This study investigates the influence of 1,1,6-Trimethyl-1,2-Dihydronaphthalene (TDN) on the sensory perception of Chardonnay, focusing on whether TDN alone can lead to a misidentification of Chardonnay as Riesling. By exploring the distinctive olfactory contribution of TDN, typically identified in aged Riesling wines, this research examines its effect when introduced into Chardonnay. Using an automated system, sniff olfactometer which can deliver precise dosages of TDN to the headspace of wine samples with controlled timing. This setup allows for precise measurement of recognition probabilities and dose-response relationships, enhancing our understanding of how TDN's presence influences the perceived organoleptic profile of Chardonnay compared to Riesling under similar vintner and vintage conditions.
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    Development of a Co-Fermented Yogurt-Like Product Using Lactic Acid-Producing Yeast and Flavor-Specific Yeast Strains
    Morán Cepeda, Marisa (2024)
    Advances in fermentation are changing how food products are created and present a chance at developing novel dairy products. Newly engineered yeasts that produce lactic acid have yielded to the development of new yogurt-like products. Based on recent work, this study aimed to create a more complete flavor profile to this yogurt-like product by adding an additional yeast strain known to produce aromatic compounds in beer or wine. After preliminary tests, two flavor producing strains were selected to be scaled up. Fermentation profiles were monitored for pH, and cell populations were verified with plating before and after the fermentation. Additionally, using the Cornell Dairy Plant’s yogurt base, the yogurt-like product was scaled up and evaluated for consumer acceptance in a sensory evaluation. Based on the results of the sensory study and fermentation profiles, there exists a market for such products, though some further development can still be implemented.
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    Matcha Green Tea Review: Matcha Tea and Gut-Related Diseases: A Review on the Link Between Phenolic Acids and Gut Microbiomes
    Lei, Jizhou (2024)
    Matcha tea (Camellia sinensis), a traditional and historical tea, has gained worldwide popularity due to its particular fragrance and potential health benefits. Matcha tea contains various nutrients, such as catechins, caffeine, polyphenols, protein, vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, fibers, etc. These nutrients bring multiple benefits such as antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, cardioprotective, etc. Phenolic acids, as the main components in Matcha tea, can modulate or impact the gut microbiome to prevent or treat gut-related diseases. This review researched gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, sinapic acid, ellagic acid, and caffeic acid and their therapeutic effects on the gut microbiome. Gallic acid can modulate the abundance of H.pylori to improve gastric cancer. In addition, Gallic acid can inhibit the biofilm formation of E. coli to show antimicrobial properties. Gallic acid ameliorates colitis by fecal microbiota transplantation. Chlorogenic acid prevents gut aging by reducing colon inflammation and modulating microbiome composition. Moreover, chlorogenic acid benefits post infections-IBS by impacting Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, and another microbiome. Ferulic acid can treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by impacting the Prevotella, Alloprevotella, Faecalibacterium, and other microbiomes. Ferulic acid also enhances the colonic intestinal barrier. Sinapic acid provides anti-inflammatory effects and alleviates oxidative stress. Ellagic acid prevents IBD by decreasing E.coli abundance and increasing other beneficial bacteria. Ellagic acid modulates the gut microbiome to treat ALD as well.
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    Understanding Consumers’ Attitudes and Sensory Acceptance of Alternative Sweeteners Across Hedonic and Functional Dairy Products
    Judge-Tyson, Lucy (2024)
    Decreasing daily intake of calories and added sugars plays an important role in reducing risks for health complications like type II diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. Alternative sweeteners are a way to help reduce the amount of calories and added sugar in diets, while maintaining consumers’ desired sweetness level. However, alternative sweeteners often come with a stigma around their health effects, and can sometimes have an undesirable effect on the sensory characteristics of a product. The goal of this project was to understand consumers’ acceptance of alternative sweeteners in products varying “function” from primarily utilitarian to primarily hedonic, such as protein beverages, yogurt, and ice cream, respectively. High-function products, like a protein drink, serve a specific, beneficial purpose to the consumer; primarily hedonic products, such as ice cream, are almost entirely for the enjoyment of the consumer. A product such as yogurt is a hybrid of these two categories, purchased for both its function and sensory properties. Conjoint analysis was used in order to understand consumers’ attitudes to sweeteners across these products, varying package information (including sweetener type, calories, and added grams of sugar), flavor, price, and aftertaste revealing that, generally, aftertaste and package information are the most important qualities to consumers when deciding on a product. Overall, consumers are willing to pay more for products lower in total calories and added sugar, but would pay less for products with an aftertaste even if it could be deemed as pleasant. Amongst all of the alternative sweeteners, stevia and allulose stood out as favorites in the survey. Three sequential consumer sensory tests were carried out to gain an understanding of consumers acceptance for sweeteners. These results were used to understand consumers’ acceptance of alternative sweeteners across different categories of food products when sucrose was replaced by seemingly healthier options. Results indicate that in predominantly utilitarian products, the variation in sweetener had less of an impact on overall liking and preference than the variation did on ice cream, a predominantly hedonic product. Consumers tend to place more importance on hedonic characteristics, and have a less emotional response when in response to functional products. In this manner, consumers were more accepting of the negative attributes associated with alternative sweeteners in protein shake samples than they were in ice cream samples.
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    Reducing Dairy Milk Waste Through Dynamic Pricing Model Execution in a Retail Setting
    DesaI, Saumya (2024)
    Food waste is a significant challenge worldwide, with far-reaching implications for sustainability, food security, and economic efficiency. In the United States alone, an estimated 40% of total food produced goes uneaten, amounting to 218 billion dollars or 1.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Perishable food waste, including dairy products, constitutes a substantial portion of this waste, with dairy waste alone estimated at approximately 25 billion pounds annually. This study focuses on dairy milk waste, which is a major contributor to overall food waste, and explores the use of dynamic pricing as a potential solution to reduce waste in the retail sector. We developed a dynamic pricing model based on pasteurized milk shelf life and we evaluated its performance by deploying it in a retail store setting. The study evaluated consumer choice and willingness to pay when presented with (i) product groups that have three different levels of remaining shelf life left (high, medium, and low), (ii) two different pricing models (static, dynamic), and (iii) three different types of dairy milk products (whole, reduced, and fat-free). The study also evaluated the potential food waste reduction at the retail level and the economics for the retailer when static vs. dynamic pricing model is used. The study hypothesized that the implementation of shelf-life-based dynamic pricing would not significantly affect overall consumer demand for fluid milk and the factors governing consumer preferences. Additionally, it was hypothesized that consumer purchasing behavior for milk with the highest shelf life would partially but uniformly shift towards milk with lower shelf life. Finally, the study hypothesized that the implementation of dynamic pricing would weakly improve retailer revenue from fluid milk sales. We conducted a two-week study using ½ Gal pasteurized milk from Cornell Dairy, categorized into High Shelf-Life (21-8 days left), Medium Shelf-Life (7-4 days left), and Low Shelf-Life (3- 0 days left). Each week a different pricing model was implemented and evaluated; static pricing model in week 1 where all products had a uniform price of $2.59, and dynamic pricing model in week 2 where product with high, medium, and low shelf-life had a price of $3.39, $2.59, and $1.39, respectively. The product was placed with other brands of pasteurized milk, but clearly separated and marked, including (i) displaying the shelf life left with color coded sticker on each container, (ii) displaying shelf life left, price, and milk type with stickers on the product shelves, and (iii) providing a large informational sign with information on the study, shelf life left, and prices. Results indicated a noticeable impact of dynamic pricing model on consumer purchasing patterns, with a shift towards purchasing milk with shorter shelf lives. This suggests that dynamic pricing can be an effective tool in reducing food waste while maintaining consumer engagement. Additionally, there was a weak increase in retailer revenue, indicating that dynamic pricing can be economically sustainable for the retailer. These findings underscore the potential of dynamic pricing strategies to balance economic viability with environmental sustainability in the retail sector. This study contributes to the limited body of research on impact of dynamic pricing strategies on food waste reduction, highlighting the importance of innovative approaches in addressing this complex food industry challenge. The findings of this study have implications for policymakers, retailers, and consumers, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts to reduce food waste and promote sustainability.
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    Bioactive Compounds Associated with Chronic Disease Prevention
    Jin, Zhiruo (2024)
    Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes are leading causes of mortality and disability worldwide nowadays. Preventive approaches focusing on dietary modifications, particularly the consumption of plant-based foods rich in bioactive compounds like phytochemicals, have shown promise in reducing the risk of these chronic diseases. Phenolics, flavonoids, carotenoids, stilbenes, and phytosterols are among the most studied bioactive compounds, recognized for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiproliferative properties. Consuming a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which provide these compounds, can enhance overall health, and prevent chronic diseases more effectively than isolated supplements. Epidemiological studies and clinical trials support the health benefits of bioactive compounds, suggesting that a varied diet rich in these natural substances is crucial for long-term health and disease prevention. This review underscores the importance of integrating bioactive compounds into dietary strategies to mitigate the growing burden of chronic diseases.
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    Exploring the Impact of Glycerol Monolaurate in Gut Health: A Review of In Vivo Studies
    Chen, Xuanni (2024)
    Glycerol monolaurate (GML), a naturally occurring medium-chain monoglyceride, has attracted increasingly interest due to its special antivirus ability and potential benefits on gut health. This review focuses on animal research to explore how GML supplementation impacts intestinal morphology, gut microbiota composition, and immune function. Studies show that GML could enhance the structure of the villus, which may in turn lead to better nutrient absorption. GML has been shown to resemble properties of prebiotics due to its ability to regulate microbial diversity of the intestines for favorable microbiota such as Barnesiella or Bacteroides and to enhance production of short chain fatty acids. The results have shown that GML exhibits anti-inflammatory activities through its capacity to lower pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α, increase anti-inflammatory cytokines like IL-10 and TGF-β1, and enhance expressions of tight junction proteins.
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    Bioactive Compounds and Health Benefits of Oats
    Chen, Jialing (2024)
    A nutrient-balanced diet includes consuming various fruits, vegetables, and grains in a reasonable proportion. Oat is one of the whole grains preserved with a nutritional profile, playing a crucial role in the human diet. It is a nutrient-dense grain containing about 51-67.7% starch, 9- 20% protein, 10.1-39% dietary fiber, 2-18% lipid, 10.8% water, vitamins, and minerals. The health benefits associated with oats are partly attributed to the presence of distinctive bioactive compounds and nutrients. The bioactive compounds found in oats include beta-glucan, phenolic acids, flavonoids, tocols, phytosterols, and avenanthramides. High consumption of oats has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, along with weight control, glycemic index control, and improved gastrointestinal health. This paper aims to systematically review the current literature on the bioactive compounds of oats, nutrients, and their health benefits, and give a comprehensive insight into the unique properties and potential benefits of oats as a healthy grain food.
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    Upcycling Whey Permeate: Galactose + Electrolyte Powders for Low Glycemic Sports Chews
    Guerrero Marchan, Emilia (2023)
    Whey permeate is a byproduct from cheesemaking that is currently used to produce animal feed, as stabilizer or disposed into the environment. Previous work done by Alcaine Research Group at Cornell University optimized a process to partially ferment whey permeate to obtain a galactose-rich powder (GRP). The GRP contains galactose and minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous, and it does not contain glucose. The purpose of this project was to upcycle GRP into a sports chew that contains electrolytes for rehydration and galactose, a low glycemic index sugar, for energy. Several gelling agents were used to develop the final formulation and a sensory test was made to evaluate overall liking, several attributes, purchase intent. The product was designed to leverage the nutrients present in GRP and provide consumers a glucose-free sport chew alterative.