USDA’s New Answer to Reducing Food Waste by 50%: Jelly Ice

Halfway through the interagency goal of reducing food waste, the USDA may have found the answer in new ways to keep food fresh.

Investments from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are paving the way for a new type of ice cube that will revolutionize the way industries and individuals keep food cold and reduce food waste.

In 2015, the USDA joined the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and…

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Halfway through the interagency goal of reducing food waste, the USDA may have found the answer in new ways to keep food fresh.

Investments from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are paving the way for a new type of ice cube that will revolutionize the way industries and individuals keep food cold and reduce food waste.

In 2015, the USDA, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, set the country’s first food loss and waste reduction goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.

Jelly ice is just one factor in reducing food waste. Since 2017, NIFA has invested approximately $123 million in his 527 projects

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have created a cooling cube known as jelly ice. This is a plastic-free, non-melting, compostable, antimicrobial ice cube that prevents cross-contamination. It is also reusable.

Researchers have created jelly ice using nanotechnology. Based on protein, he is made up of 90% water and retains its shape when cooled.

“Once frozen, you can preserve foods such as seafood, vegetables, and meat.” [cold] Much longer than traditional ice,” Shoushan Zeng, director of food safety at NIFA, said in an interview with the Federal News Network.

Jelly ice reduces emissions and also meets environmental regulations.

“By creating this ice cube, we can minimize a lot of waste from production, supply chain, processing, to the table because this new technology can be used at every stage of the food supply chain. is,” said Zeng.

While traditional ice cubes consume energy to produce and cannot be reused when melted, jelly ice cubes can be reused at least 10 times.

In addition to being cost-effective and environmentally friendly, Jelly Ice extends the life of foods such as seafood, prevents food waste, and increases food safety.

“When you’re not using your ice cubes, you can compost them. By doing so, we can minimize food loss and waste,” said Zeng.

In 2021, households, retailers and the restaurant industry will throw away an estimated 931 million tonnes of food worldwide. 2021 United Nations Food Waste Report Said.

That waste contributed to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.

“If food waste were a nation, it would be the third leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, in a report. increase.

According to Zeng, food waste accounts for nearly 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the United Nations, by 2020, About 15% food-related Carbon dioxide emissions arise from losses in the food supply chain. This is due to the lack of refrigeration facilities and spoilage during transportation and processing.

“[Jelly ice] Uses minimal resources and produces no wasted materials for the environment.Reduce the price of water ice and use it at home [and] It’s important not just for retailers, but for the entire food supply chain,” says Zeng. “that is [a] It brings huge benefits to the environment and keeps the food industry sustainable. ”

Zeng said the research team has been working with industry to commercialize the jelly ice cubes since filing a patent a few months ago.

The development team plans to apply for another patent this year to facilitate technology transfer across the industry. Zeng said Jelly Ice will expand beyond the food industry and may even help pharmaceutical companies. First, jelly ice requires FDA approval.

In 2005, World Health Organization estimates Over 50% of vaccines are discarded worldwide each year. The main reason is the lack of temperature control and logistics to support a constant cold chain.

Recruitment of Vaccine Distributors Nationwide 82.1 million COVID-19 vaccines From December to mid-May 2020. This is just over his 11% of the dosage.

“Understanding the market and technology transfer is a valuable experience for the USDA,” says Zeng.

Therefore, he said, government agencies may want to consider providing upfront funding for their projects as they move to the next step of commercialization.

Gene Busby, director of food loss and waste at the USDA, said the FDA is uniquely positioned to help address food loss and waste.

In an interview with the Federal News Network, Busby said, “There is no single strategy that alone can help achieve that goal.

“The reality is that a variety of farm-to-table solutions are needed to actually achieve that goal, so these solutions include public-private partnerships, consumer and business outreach, and: It could involve a whole range of strategies, including new innovations: jelly ice to prevent, reduce and reuse leftovers,” she said.

“In 2019, the Jelly Ice project was funded as a worthy application of the Nanotechnology Program and, of course, was encouraged to be funded by NIFA,” said Zeng.

NIFA’s investment in the Jelly Ice Project is one of USDA’s many investments to meet its cross-agency goal of halving food waste by 2030. His $485,000 grant for Reimagined Ice Cube aligns with NIFA’s Nanotechnology Research Program for Agriculture and Food Systems.

Interagency efforts on climate, food waste, and hunger will all be supported by NIFA’s investment in Jelly Ice. The United States Agency for International Development Global agriculture and food securityis one of NIFA’s many partners who may ultimately benefit from this technology, said Zeng.

“We are working closely with Israeli scientists on projects that address issues of food safety and nutritional insecurity,” said Zeng.

These investments include technologies to prevent frost damage to trees and grapes, microwave-assisted pasteurization systems to control foodborne pathogens, and technologies to extend food shelf life.

The division has also invested in technology for “food coatings to stabilize food and pigments to preserve the integrity, nutrition and sensory quality of processed whole fruit,” Zeng said. increase.

“In addition to NIFA-funded activities, USDA also has an agricultural research service, with more than 2,000 scientists in 90 research centers,” said Buzby. “In the past, the USDA has developed new packaging to extend shelf life, new equipment to sort apples more accurately and quickly with less blemish, and new varieties such as flavorful, long-lasting souvenir strawberries. We have funded the development.”

In September, USDA will host its second annual Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair. The free virtual event showcases the latest food waste reduction technologies and includes expert presentations on how to combat food waste.

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