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Improvements in Food Industry Earn Major Award for American Agricultural Scientist

Purdue University researcher wins 2007 World Food Prize.  Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

An American expert in food science technology has won a major international award. Philip E. Nelson has been named winner of the Two Thousand Seven World Food Prize.

World Food Prize Foundation President Kenneth Quinn announced the award last month. The ceremony took place at the State Department in Washington, D.C. The prize will be officially awarded at the Iowa State Capitol in October. It will provide Mister Nelson with two hundred fifty thousand dollars. Mister Nelson has worked at Purdue University in Indiana for forty-seven years.

The agricultural scientist is being honored for technologies now commonly used by the food industry. Philip Nelson improved and developed methods for cleaning and storing fruits and vegetables. His technologies permit storage for longer periods. And the food can be transported without cooling. His research also has led to getting food quickly to disaster survivors, like those of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in two thousand four.

As a young man, Mister Nelson was once honored for growing the best tomatoes at a state fair. He worked at his family's farm and tomato-canning factory in Morristown, Indiana. Working in the factory showed him the need for lengthening the time that food could safely last without spoiling. That was the beginning of his discoveries.

Mister Nelson's research has led to the use of big carbon steel tanks to safely keep food. He began by experimenting with tanks of about three hundred eighty liters. Some tanks now can hold more than thirty million liters. They keep food safe at the temperature of the surrounding environment.

The tanks are treated with a substance called epoxy resin. Valve and filter mechanical devices are sterilized. This process prevents bacteria or other harmful microorganisms from reproducing. The sterilized food is shipped for final preparation and processing.

Many developing countries use Mister Nelson's methods. For example, a juice manufacturer in Brazil is able to ship large amounts of orange juice to Europe and the United States.

Mister Nelson also developed another system for food processing. The method also kills bacteria in containers, keeping the food inside safe. Companies in many parts of the world use this "bag-in-box" method.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Steve Ember.