College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

International Spotlight on Juming Tang

Juming Tang
WSU Regents Professor Juming Tang serving up the results of new food safety technology.

WSU Regents Professor Juming Tang is well-versed in moving discoveries developed in the lab to the marketplace. Recently, the global research journal International Innovation featured the technologies he developed through years of basic research that could revolutionize pre-packaged food. The feature also included a Q&A that gives insight into the process of getting new technologies to the public.

Check out the interview below, and learn the history of research and development that led to the technology here: A microwaveable future: improving sterilisation and pasteurisation.

Feeling the heat

(reprinted from International Innovation with permission)

For over two decades, Professor Juming Tang has been conducting research using microwave and radio frequency energy for food safety applications. Here, he discusses the transformative technology that he has created, and the difficulties in maintaining a steady funding stream

How did you become interested in researching microwave heating?

Microwave heating is very unique compared with other heating methods. My interest started when I was teaching an undergraduate introductory food technology course in Canada in 1993. I started the research programme on microwave heating after joining Washington State University (WSU) in 1995 as a faculty member.

Specifically, what makes food safety an interesting and dynamic area to work in?

Research into food safety affects the industry as a whole, as well as having an impact on the lives of the general public. Such research will always be necessary, and this allows me to consistently secure funding from different agencies in order to sustain and expand my research programme.

It typically takes about 15 to 20 years to bring novel transformative technologies from concept to commercialisation, and sustainable funding is required to bridge knowledge gaps and overcome technical and regulatory hurdles.

Can you outline the core aims of your research?

First of all, we aim to develop engineering design concepts that apply the unique advantages of volumetric microwave heating to inactivate bacterial and viral pathogens in pre-packaged foods. The designs can be scaled up for industrial applications. Following this, we aim to build pilot-scale systems so that we can prove the concepts and demonstrate to industry the advantages of these new technologies compared with conventional technologies, and the feasibility for commercial implementation.

Ultimately, of course, we want to develop scientific bases and build effective tools for system design, production process development, regulatory acceptance and industrial application.

We also want to support technology transfer by licensing patents for commercialisation, providing educational programmes for the food industry, and educating new generations of scientists and engineers.

What are the unique challenges that your team has overcome in developing the technologies for commercialisation?

We had to address three main technical issues: 1) designing efficient microwave systems to provide stable and relative uniform heating patterns in foods; 2) visualising heating patterns and locating cold spots in foods and measuring cold spot temperatures in moving packages; 3) validating microbial safety of the processed foods for regulatory filing. We developed and patented a single-mode 915 MHz cavity design based on 3D computer simulation and mock-up testing. We developed an effective chemical marker method to determine and validate heating patterns, and developed a protocol for food safety validation using microbial surrogates for the targeted food pathogens.

How has your research contributed to the advancement of microwave-assisted thermal sterilisation (MATS) and pasteurisation (MAPS) systems?

Mine is the only laboratory in the world responsible for the development of MATS and MAPS from concepts to pilot-scale systems. We patented system design and temperature measurement methods, and WSU has licensed these to 915 Labs for commercialisation.

What value will your microwave technologies and processing methods bring to consumers?

We expect these technologies will provide consumers with a better standard of living through the delivery of a wide range of ready-to-eat chilled or shelf-stable meals that are safe, convenient, nutritious and available at affordable prices.

By incorporating shelf-life and nutritional information through smart phones in retail and at home, consumers will enjoy a better quality of life and also reduce their food waste.

Have you faced any obstacles while conducting your research? How have you addressed these issues?

As I mentioned, securing sustainable funding to support focused research programmes in food technology is very important – and it has been a challenge.

We have managed to maintain this research programme by obtaining competitive grants and conducting contract work with food companies. Since 2011, the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has increased funding opportunities to support breakthrough technology developments for food safety. We were able to secure two large grants from NIFA.

Our research requires high-quality space for installation and operation of pilot-scale systems, as well as infrastructures for hygiene food preparation, packaging processing, storage and tasting, and hands-on training of industrial personnel for technology transfer. Thankfully, the University worked hard to incrementally improve food processing pilot plants and support facilities in order to accommodate our expanded needs.

Where do you see your work heading in the future?

As the food industry starts to embrace and adopt the technologies we have been working on, we will need to research scientific and technological issues emerging from industrial production practices and consumer feedback.

An area of great interest that we have not been able to address is how we could take full advantage of the new technologies (short heating time and high sensory quality of the products) to directly bring health benefits to consumers. We are extremely interested in collaborating with leading laboratories in human nutritional sciences and related organisations. We hope to systematically study the influence of nutritional retention and reduced salt requirements in the prepared meals using MATS and MAPS, in order to address diabetic and obesity problems in school programmes.

CAHNRS is more than agriculture. With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, we are one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU. CAHNRS Cougs are making a difference in the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities, improving ecological and economic systems, and advancing agricultural sciences.

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With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, CAHNRS is one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU.

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CAHNRS leads in discovery through its high-quality research programs. In 2014, CAHNRS received research funding exceeding $81.5M. This accounts for nearly 40% of all research funding received by WSU.  


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Check out every department and program CAHNRS has to offer, from Interior Design to Agriculture to Wildlife Ecology. We have 13 departments and schools to prepare you for your chosen career.

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Inspiring Teamwork - Arron Carter pic

Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

It started with a car, a ’69 Corvette Stingray to be exact.

When Arron Carter, the director of the Washington State University Winter Wheat Breeding Program, was in high school his agricultural teacher had a ’69 Corvette Stingray. Every year this teacher would let his favorite senior take the car to senior prom. Carter had never taken an agriculture class before, but he knew he wanted to drive that car.

“Well, if I’m going to be the favorite senior,” Carter said to himself, “I’d better start taking some ag classes.”…

Read More: Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

 










CAHNRS Office of Research

Agricultural Research Center

Mission Statement

The goal of the Washington State University CAHNRS Office of Research is to promote research beneficial to the citizens of Washington. The Office of Research recognizes its unique land-grant research mission to the people of Washington and their increasing global connections. The CAHNRS Office of Research provides leadership in discovering and applying knowledge through high-quality research that contributes to a safe and abundant food, fiber, and energy supply while enhancing the sustainability of agricultural and natural resource systems.

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Washington State University researchers will help organic growers protect human health by assessing the risks and benefits of wild birds on organic farms. Researchers received nearly $2 million from the USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative to conduct the study.
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Jim Moyer, associate dean of research for CAHNRS and director of the Agricultural Research Center at WSU, presented specialty crop research innovations in Washington, D.C. this fall.
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‘A quiet crisis’: The rise of acidic soil in Washington

Gary Wegner first noticed the problem in 1991, when a field on his family’s farm west of Spokane produced one-fourth the usual amount of wheat. Lab tests revealed a surprising result: the soil had become acidic.
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More than half of Washington’s short-line rail miles aren’t up to modern standards, according to a recent study by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington State University Freight Policy Transportation Institute.
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By looking at a single hair, U.S. and Canadian researchers can get a good idea of a grizzly bear’s diet over several months.

CAHNRS Office of Research

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PO Box 646240
Pullman, WA 99164-6240
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agresearch@wsu.edu






Alumni & Friends

Holiday Hours & End-Of-Year Giving

It’s that time of year again—time for sharing merry moments with family and friends. As you prepare for the holidays, consider these year-end giving tips below. We know how important the last few days of 2015 will be for meeting tax deadlines, and we are here to help make the process as easy as possible.

Please note the WSU Foundation’s hours of operation through the end of the year:

Dec. 2 – Dec. 23: Normal operation (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Dec. 28 – 31: Although Washington State University and the WSU Foundation will be closed, WSU Foundation gift accounting and gift planning staff will be available by phone from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. throughout this week. If you would like to give a gift of appreciated stock or discuss your year-end giving plans to benefit WSU, please call 1-800-448-2978.

Making a gift online using the WSU Foundation’s secure site is an easy way to make your year-end gift using a credit or debit card any time, day or night. Note: Online gifts may be made as late as 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31 to receive tax credit for 2015.

Thank you for your generous support of Washington State University throughout the year. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Year-end Giving Tips:

Remember, only gifts made by Dec. 31 can help reduce your 2015 taxable income. Please keep the following in mind and consult your tax advisor for specific details.

To Receive 2015 Tax Credit:

  • Make sure your gift is dated and postmarked no later than Dec. 31, 2015.
  • Complete your online gift on or before 11:59 p.m. (PST) on Dec. 31, 2015. We accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

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The date you deliver or mail your donation is generally recognized as the gift date for tax purposes. Please note, the date on the actual check or money order is not recognized by the IRS as proof of your intent to give on a particular date. Gifts by check or money order may be mailed to:

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PO Box 641927
Pullman, WA 99164-1927

Note: Gifts may be hand-delivered to the WSU Foundation Town Centre Suite 201 during hours of operation.

Credit Cards:

The date your account is debited is considered the date of the donation. In order to receive a 2015 charitable income tax deduction, credit card gifts must be processed against your account in 2015. Please make sure to make your gift online using your Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

Have your stocks gone up in value this year? Consider making a simple and tax-wise gift of appreciated stock. Please note that mutual fund shares may take several weeks to transfer, and the gift is not considered complete until the shares are received in the WSU Foundation’s account. To give the University stock or discuss your year-end gift to WSU, please call 1-800-448-2978.

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CAHNRS Alumni & Development
PO Box 646228
Pullman, WA 99164-6228
PH: 509-335-2243
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Contact Dean’s Office:
Hulbert 421
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
deans.cahnrs@wsu.edu
509-335-4561

Lisa Johnson:
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Hulbert 421C
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
janowski@wsu.edu
509-335-3590








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