NIFA Update June 26

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                       June 26, 2019

Making a Difference

 Vanilla flavor added to milk could potentially be reduced the amount of sugar. Image courtesy of Getty Images/Studiothreedots

Image courtesy of Getty Images/Studiothreedots

Vanilla Makes Milk Beverages Seem Sweeter

Adding vanilla to sweetened milk makes consumers think the beverage is sweeter, allowing the amount of added sugar to be reduced, according to Penn State researchers, who will use the concept to develop a reduced-sugar chocolate milk for the National School Lunch Program.

"We are utilizing a learned association between an odor and a taste that will allow us to reduce the added sugar content," said Helene Hopfer, assistant professor of food science. "Reducing added sugar in products, just like reducing fat and salt, is the holy grail of food science."

The idea that congruent or harmonious odors enhance certain tastes is not new, explained Hopfer, whose research group in the College of Agricultural Sciences has been experimenting with these "cross-modal interactions" in food since she came to Penn State three years ago. Her goal is to see them actually incorporated into foods.

In a blind taste test that provided new insights into taste enhancement by an aroma, participants, who did not know vanilla had been added to the milk, consistently indicated that samples with vanilla were significantly sweeter than their added sugar concentrations could explain. Read the full Penn State University article.

NIFA supported this work.

Researchers believe that with the addition of vanilla, the added sugar content in flavored milk could potentially be reduced by as much as half. Image courtesy of Getty Images/Studiothreedots

News for You

Marilyn Warburton

Marilyn Warburton Works with Green, Moldy Corn and Loves It

At the Breeding Crops for Enhanced Food Safety Conference, Alex Martin sat down with Marilyn Warburton, a research geneticist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s (USDA-ARS) Corn Host Plant Resistance Research Unit. Together, they chatted about Warburton’s research into Aspergillus flavus, and how the USDA-ARS is investing in research to help improve food safety in corn. Listen to the Seed World podcast.

Woman working in a field picking leaves.image courtesy of Getty Images.

Identifying the Risk Factors of Food Insecurity Around the World

Food insecurity—the lack of access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food—exists at some level in every country. Identifying the world’s food insecure and the risk factors for food insecurity can help governments and aid organizations target their assistance to those most in need and develop more effective assistance programs. Until recently, there was not an individual-level measure that could be used to make valid comparisons of food insecurity across countries to help identify common causes and risk factors. Read the full Economic Research Service article.

Woman working in a field picking leaves. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests $1 million in Tactical Sciences Coordination Network to Safeguard Plant and Animal Health

NIFA recently announced a coordination network award that will help protect the integrity, reliability, and sustainability of the U.S. food and agriculture system from an array of known and potential threats including pests and diseases that impact plants and animals. The Tactical Sciences Coordination Network will bring together public and private sector entities at the regional and national level, to jointly plan and implement efforts to narrow existing gaps in food and agricultural defenses, increase national capacity to prevent, and rapidly detect and respond to biological threats to the U.S. food supply.

NIFA Invests $5.1 Million in Research in Animal Reproduction

NIFA recently announced 13 Animal Reproduction awards that will lead to better strategies for animal production systems by enhancing reproductive management. These advances will come from basic and applied research on the cellular, molecular, genomic, and whole animal aspects of animal reproduction. NIFA invests into science-based management practices that help America’s agricultural enterprises thrive and meet growing consumer demand. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

NIFA Invests $4.2 Million in Research in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

NIFA announced nine Environmental and Natural Resource Economics awards that will strengthen our stewardship of private lands by improving our understanding of the relationship between agricultural activities, natural resources, and the environment. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. 

NIFA Invests $3.1 Million to Develop Agricultural Education Professionals

NIFA recently awarded 21 Professional Development and Secondary School Teacher grants that will increase the number of K-14 teachers and educational professionals trained in the food and agricultural sciences. Teachers develop skills necessary for integrating food and agricultural science into their classes; explore food and agricultural science career paths; and forge mentorships with agricultural professionals, business leaders, and university faculty. Funded projects support best practices in teaching that enhance student learning outcomes. These grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

RFA Grant Announcements

Youth Support and Internship Program

NIFA requests applications for the Youth Support and Internship Program (YSIP) for fiscal year 2019. YSIP supports a developed and orchestrated national internship program that engages college students who are motivated to serve the needs of National Guard and Reserve Component military families during all phases of deployment. Read the full YSIP request for applications.

Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network

The purpose of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) Program is to establish a network that connects individuals who are engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations to stress assistance programs. The establishment of a network that assists farmers and ranchers in time of stress can offer a conduit to improving behavioral health awareness, literacy, and outcomes for agricultural producers, workers, and their families. Read the full FRSAN request for applications.