Report highlights global collaboration for WSU microwave food technology

Scientists hold a plastic model of the microwave process, and a tray of packaged meals, in front of a large machine.
WSU Regents Professor Juming Tang, left, and Senior Scientific Assistant Zhongwei Tang demonstrate the WSU-developed microwave-assisted pasteurization system, or MAPS, which is being adopted globally to improve quality, nutrition and shelf-life for pre-packaged foods.

Federal investment in revolutionary microwave food-processing technologies developed at WSU was highlighted in a new white paper from the Institute of Food Technologists, “Food Research: Call to Action on Funding and Priorities.”

With food systems facing serious global challenges and experiencing major changes, IFT’s white paper explains the contributions of the agricultural food system to the U.S. economy, explores the state of funding for research, and makes the case for increased federal and private support of research.

WSU’s microwave assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) and pasteurization systems (MAPS) produce healthier, better-tasting food options for consumers, and were noted as an important example of USDA-supported work leading to international collaboration and global impact.

Developed by Regents Professor Juming Tang and his team in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, MATS and MAPS rapidly heat packaged food to sterilization or pasteurization temperatures, then quickly cool it, ensuring stability and flavor.

Supported by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the technologies have received investment from the Australian government, interested in the use of MATS for military ready-to-eat meals, and from private companies in the U.S. and worldwide for retail markets. The first commercial MATS was successfully launched in India in late 2019 for production of shelf-stable meals. More commercial systems will be installed in 2020.

MATS’ and MAPS’ adoption “shows that research conducted in the United States has global application and could generate additional funds,” the authors wrote.

Read the White Paper here.