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Food Initiatives

Clean Label Alternatives Report
Today’s consumers are paying closer attention than ever to where their food comes from and how it’s made; they want clean labels, meaning that they don’t want ingredients that sound artificial, chemical or processed. However, it is often those products that play a very functional role in the food product and are often times critical to food safety. AURI will identify alternative ingredients that are more acceptable to the consumer and still provide the food safety and performance functions as well as conventional ingredients.

Food Safety Interventions
In order for small- and medium-size food processors to remain competitive in the marketplace, they must continue to provide a safe and wholesome food supply. Government food safety regulations are becoming stricter through the implementation of such things as the Food Safety Modernization Act and a greater emphasis on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points validation regulations. Processors must have validated processes in place within their facility in order to ensure the production of a safe food supply. AURI will provide a series of food safety workshops and conduct panel discussions with industry experts to discuss food safety trends and demonstrate interventions processors can implement to ensure their products meet industry standards.

Sensory Evaluation Laboratory
Several of the final steps in the development of new food products or food processing techniques involve sensory analysis in order to answer questions such as whether the formulation affects flavor or other sensory attributes. A new sensory lab will support AURI’s mission of researching, developing and implementing new uses or value improvements for Minnesota agricultural commodities and products. This lab, which will be a collaboration with the Southwest Minnesota State University Culinology® program, will also provide experiential learning opportunities for students and opportunities to work with some of the larger food companies in the state.

Food Coop Peer-to-Peer Forums
AURI has assisted a number of Food Coops throughout the state during the past two years. This forum will bring these groups together to share information and resources to increase their likelihood of success. AURI has experience in bringing together such forums and collaborations, including the Minnesota Renewable Energy Roundtable and the Peer-to-Peer Food Safety Network.

Food Hub Resource Assessment
Local food is in demand through farmers’ markets, natural food retailers, local schools, hospitals, restaurants and even conventional supermarkets. An ample supply of local food may reduce a region’s vulnerability to supply disruptions and global food safety concerns. Development of organizational and production capacity is required in order to meet the demands of local food supply systems. This project will identify the existing capacity of a regional, grassroots-based food distribution system in Minnesota through a self-assessment to identify regional resources and assist linking producers and consumers. This project is a model that will be used to develop such resources in other regions.