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Chris Simmons, UC Davis, Food Science and Technology

PROCESS EXPO | Expert in Residence
It's Not Waste, It's Food!
Chris Simmons | UC Davis

Undoubtedly, one of the most appealing ways to manage waste from food and beverage processing is to dispel the notion that they are actually waste and instead transform them into useful (and valuable) food by-products.

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Both solid and liquid waste streams from fruit, vegetable, grain, and dairy processing can have nutritional and nutraceutical value. For example, brewers spent grains, the solids that remain after the sugars have been removed from the grain ahead of fermentation, have long been used as animal feed. However, breweries, bakeries, and snack food producers are also using spent grain to make bread, brownies, and granola bars that revel in their connection to beer-making.

Fruit processing also offers opportunities to transform waste into food. For example, the fruit skins that are left over from tomato and wine processing contain extractable antioxidants, such as lycopene and anthocyanins, that can be used as an ingredient for coloring. Moreover, these compounds have gained interest as potential cancer preventatives.

More recently, researchers have identified whey permeate, the protein-extracted liquid fraction of milk that remains after cheese production, as a source of milk oligosaccharides. Excitingly, these researchers have indicated that the whey permeate oligosaccharides may uniquely nourish specific bacteria in the infant gut and could be used in the future to improve growth in undernourished infants.

The applications for food waste in feeding and nourishing people are growing and can potentially be quite valuable. Together, food processors and scientists can realize a future where there is no more waste in food waste.

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