U.S. food scientist to receive world’s highest food honor

Philip E. Nelson, past president of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and food science professor at Purdue University, has been recognized as the 2007 recipient of the World Food Prize in an announcement from the U.S. Department of State.

Nelson has been selected for the world’s highest honor in food for his achievements in the development of bulk aseptic packaging and storage, which allows highly perishable foods such as fruits and vegetables to be distributed globally in a sterile environment without refrigeration and without significant loss of nutrients.

World Food Prize president Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn says Nelson’s work has proven to be a critical advancement in times of food crisis.

With the aid of aseptic food technology, potable water and emergency food aid was distributed to survivors of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and to the U.S. victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as to other crisis situations worldwide.

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 can 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.

“Bulk aseptic processing and packaging is recognized among the world’s greatest food innovations” during the past 70 years, according to Al Clausi, former IFT president and current member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors that includes former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush and former Philippine president Corazon Aquino, among others.

Nelson is the first food scientist and second IFT member to receive this highest honor. He has been involved in the storage and packaging of food since childhood. In his early years working on his family’s tomato farm and canning factory in Morristown, IN, he earned the crown of “Tomato King” at the Indiana State Fair.

The Institute of Food Technologists is a not-for-profit international scientific society with 22,000 members working in food science, technology, and related professions in academia, government and industry.

The 2007 World Food Prize and its $250,000 award will be formally presented to Nelson on October 18 during ceremonies at the Iowa State Capitol, part of the World Food Prize’s Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium. Further information about the World Food Prize and the Laureate Award Ceremony and Symposium can be found at http://www.worldfoodprize.org/.


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