Food scientist receives World Food Prize award

by Eric Schroeder
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DES MOINES, IOWA — Philip E. Nelson, president of the Institute of Food Technologists in 2002 and food science professor at Purdue University, has been named the 2007 World Food Prize laureate for his achievements in the development of bulk aseptic packaging and storage. His work has helped perishable foods such as fruits and vegetables to be distributed globally in a sterile environment without refrigeration and without significant loss of nutrients.

Dr. Nelson was announced as the winner of the award by Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, at a June 18 ceremony at the U.S. State Department hosted by Daniel Sullivan, assistant secretary for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs.

"Dr. Nelson’s pioneering work, which began with tomatoes and later included a variety of seasonal crops, has made it possible to produce ultra-large scale quantities of high-quality food," said Mr. Quinn, who will present the award to Dr. Nelson at a special laureate award ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Oct. 18. "This food can then be stored for long periods of time and transported to all corners of the world without losing nutritional value or taste."

Dr. Nelson’s innovative research led to the development of preserving and transporting perishable foods without refrigeration in carbon steel tanks ranging in size from delivery truck to ocean freighter. By coating tanks with epoxy resin and sterilizing valves and filters, food may be stored and removed without introducing contaminants. As a result, enormous volumes of food are safely stored and shipped around the globe for final processing, packaging and distribution.

He later partnered with the Scholle Corp. to develop a low-cost aseptic "bag-in-box" system for preserving and shipping goods. By the 1980s, this technology had spread throughout the global food industry.

Dr. Nelson is the first food scientist and second I.F.T. member to receive the World Food Prize.

The World Food Prize recognizes efforts to improve the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world.

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