North Carolina A&T University
Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies
Purpose: The Center for Excellence in Post Harvest Technologies (CEPHT) is working to discover health-enhancing ways to process fruits and vegetables. The ultimate goal of this research is to add value to agricultural commodities by finding new ways to make food safer, extend shelf life and preserve health-promoting nutrients. CEPHT is focused on post-harvest technologies including research pertaining to processing, preservation, consumer research, recovery of health promoting food components, food safety issues, storage stability and quality, and value-added product development for food and non-food issues.
Current and Future Scientific Activity:
Functional Foods: Identifying and characterizing novel bioactive components. Developing post-harvest technologies to preserve the stability, bioavailability, and bioefficacy of phytonutrients extracted from medicinal plants.
Food Engineering, Packaging and Processing: Developing the use of microgel capsules and micron/submicron biopolymer particles, equilibrium modified atmosphere packaging, and natural antimicrobial ingredients to maintain product freshness and extend shelf life.
Food Safety and Microbiology: The food safety and microbiology group is working with local, regional, national and international produce growers to determine the prevalence of food borne pathogens (E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella) in fresh produce. Epidemiological tools and hazard risk assessment models are currently being developed to assist both state and federal agencies in helping ensure a safe food supply.
Product Development and Consumer Science: This group is currently focused on utilizing agricultural byproducts, such as peanuts, that can be converted into income-generating food and non-food products. Research is also being focused to alleviate several peanut allergens commonly found in varieties of peanuts and peanut-based products.
Principal Investigator, Leonard L. Williams, PhD:
Dr. Leonard L. Williams, associate professor and lead scientist for food safety at the Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, specializes in microbiology. Dr. Williams examines the incidence of food borne pathogens in fruits and vegetables, including salad crops, using molecular, immunological, and epidemiological approaches with the goal of identifying new strains and their ability to develop resistance to both natural and synthetically derived agents.