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Innovating for Chip Makers

(upbeat music)

Post-Doctoral Researcher Priscila Santiago removes skinned potatoes from a machines and places them in a strainer.

[Professor and Chair Owen McDougal] So traditional food science programs are heavy on the food, light on the science. And we have taken an alternative approach to that, where we’re very heavy on the science, the physical sciences and the engineering and the computer science that approaches it from a high tech, innovative way that will advance food processing as we know it.

(machine sounds)

Santiago places potatoes in a large spinning machine that cuts the potatoes into thin slices. She then washes the potatoes and places the murky liquid in a beaker.

[McDougal] So you’ll notice after the potatoes were sliced, they were washed in water, and that washes off reducing sugars and free amino acids that combine during the frying process and produce acrylamide.

Santiago strains, measures, and places the potatoes on a baking sheet. She then places the potatoes in a frier.

[McDougal] So by having those be are easier to remove and wash off, we’re able to produce less acrylamide in the frying process, thus a healthier product for consumers.

(fryer bubbling)

[Santiago] I think the main part of this whole process is that we are sort of reinventing what potato chips and the potato chip industry would look like. Pulse electric fields, they show up naturally. They are part of a chemical reaction that happens when carbohydrates and amino acids are put in contact with heat. And what it does, it will electroporate or make little tiny holes in the potatoes that will allow the reducing sugars, the carbohydrates, to leach out of the potato, and therefore we could have less acrylamides after the frying process.

Santaigo removes the potato chips from the frier and pours them into a bowl.

[Santiago] You know, I came to this project thinking I knew what a potato chip was. And I’m very surprised that every single step has different variations, and every single step can be critical for the final product itself.

[McDougal] So pulse electric field is at the forefront of the technology that’s not only available to lower acrylamide levels, but it’s available at scale for processing facilities to implement immediately.

A Boise State brand bag of potato chips is shown

(upbeat music)