Student Food Product Development Team Wins National Competition, Addresses Nutrition Issues in Kenya

Thursday, June 28 2012

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – A food product development team from the Washington State University and University of Idaho School of Food Science won first place at a national competition at this week’s Institute of Food Technology annual meeting here. The WSU/UI team’s challenge was to develop a mango-based food product that addresses common Kenyan nutrient deficiencies and that can be produced rapidly in order to realize the full potential of this crop during its short harvest season.

The “Developing Solutions for Developing Countries” competition promotes the application of food science and technology and the development of new products and processes that are targeted at improving the quality of life for people in developing countries. The School of Food Science team’s initial competition proposal was submitted in February and received the highest preliminary score. This qualified the team to compete at the national competition during at this week’s IFT meeting.

The food product solution the joint WSU/UI team developed is “Mango Maandazi.” Maandazi is a fried bread product that is a popular snack in Kenya. Mango Maandazi is a comprehensive approach to improve mango utilization in Kenya. The team’s vision for the product includes reducing post-harvest mango losses by incorporating their use in maandazi, creating opportunities for greater farm and rural income by processing dehydrated mangos, and including these into a profitable food product. The WSU/UI team developed a supply-line plan in which mangos would be purchased from farms and transported to regional processing centers where the fruit would be cleaned, sliced and dehydrated for retail and wholesale distribution or incorporation into a dry-mix product for maandazis. Using community-appropriate technology, the team envisions a safe, high-quality product that requires minimal capital expenditure or energy costs to produce and distribute and that will create jobs in economically challenged communities.

Students on the team are Jenny Lim, Lauren Schopp, Amir Golmohamadi, Rossana Villa-Rojas, Alex Fredrickson, Anne Secor, Jesse Zuehlke, and Ford Childs. The members are a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, enrolled at the University of Idaho or Washington State University. They worked as a team for several months using their unique skills and education to create the in-depth, comprehensive proposal.

The food science faculty and programs from the former University of Idaho Department of Food Science and Toxicology and the previous WSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition merged in 2008 to form the School of Food Science.