Association’s Freezing Research Award honors Sablani’s discoveries

Shyam Sablani, teaching in the classroom.
Biological Systems Engineering professor Shyam Sablani received the IAFP’s 2021 Frozen Food Foundation Freezing Research Award.

Shyam Sablani, professor and associate chair in the WSU Department of Biological Systems Engineering, was honored by the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) this month for his discoveries supporting our food supply.

IAFP is an association of more than 4,500 food safety professionals who exchange information to protect the food supply.

Sablani earned the association’s 2021 Frozen Food Foundation Freezing Research Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions in research that impacts safety and quality of frozen foods.

“It is a great privilege to receive this prestigious award from the Frozen Food Foundation, and I am very thankful to the selection committee for honoring me,” Sablani said. “It is an even greater honor to be placed in such distinguished ranks as those of the past honorees, all of whom have made important contribution to the safety and quality of frozen foods.”

Juming Tang, WSU Regents Professor and Member of the National Academy of Engineering, nominated Sablani for the award.

Sablani has made substantial contributions to the science and technology of frozen and refrigerated foods. He found that a type of ultraviolet light can go through ice and deactivate pathogens that may be present on surfaces of frozen foods , helping improve their safety; investigated unfreezable water; and explored sensitivity of starch-, protein- and sugar-rich frozen foods to temperature fluctuations in the cold chain. His findings have provided insights for improved packaging design, storage and transportation strategies to minimize quality changes in frozen foods.

He also organized a series of workshops and training programs for industry professionals from developing economies and emerging markets, including the Philippines, Pakistan, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru, Nigeria and China, exploring cold chain technologies and management. These trainings were sponsored by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Services through the Cochran Fellowship Program.

Sablani’s current research interests include applications of materials science principles for understanding physical and chemical changes in frozen and reduced water foods, and design of high barrier polymeric packaging for improved food safety and shelf life. He most recently helped develop a method for frozen raspberries to maintain their delicate structure when thawed, opening new potential for the berries in baked goods.

Sablani received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from National Institute of Technology, Raipur, India, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, and his doctorate in food engineering from McGill University, Montreal. He is the 2016 recipient of the Food Technologists Marcel Loncin Research Prize and currently serves as Scientific Editor of Journal of Food Engineering.

Learn more about Sablani’s research here.