NC State Department of Food Science
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History of the Department of Food Science at NC State

The information below was compiled from Ms. Sarah Winn's Food Science History, 2006.

The Early Years

The Department of Food Science officially was formed in 1961, however, scientific studies of food processing began much earlier at NC State University. The earliest work was in the area of dairy foods. A creamery was operating on campus in 1918 that was equipped to pasteurize milk for soldiers at a local Army base. This was the first milk pasteurized in North Carolina. A continuing need was seen for better dairy research for the southern states. With the help of the governor and study group, $100,000 funding was secured for the best dairy equipment money could buy (in 1944).

The first fruit and vegetable research was conducted beginning during the Depression, one of few new programs to be funded at the time because of the pressing need for preservation of foods. Peaches, cucumbers for pickles and other native vegetables were the main commodities that were studied. Research into canning, brining and dehydration of foods came to the forefront to assist in feeding the soldiers in WW2. After the war, the emphasis of research projects expanded to include frozen foods. A small pilot plant facility was built. A degree program designated "Fruit and Vegetable Processing" was started in 1945. To assist with the increasing research needs, chemical labs, processing and pilot plants was built in the new Horticulture Department Building in 1953.

Meat and Meat products research began in 1942, assisting and educating the owners of frozen food locker plants around the state. Slaughter and processing facilities were located in the basement of Polk Hall. Extensive research began in the late 1950's on developing temperature-humidity controlled atmosphere for the curing of country-style (salt cured) hams. Because of this, North Carolina became the number one state in the production of country-style hams. Poultry products research began in 1955, with research mirroring the concerns from the rapidly growing poultry industry in the state. Classes on poultry products were taught beginning in 1958.

In the 1950's the Governor felt that food processing should play a significant role in the expansion of industry of the state. A study was conducted and a report ensued that stated that the cultivation acreage of tobacco was declining and alternative crops were sought. The development of the processing industry could create markets for new crops and stabilize prices of fresh products. The report included the recommendation that a building that will be used by personnel with mutual interest. In 1961, money was requested from the Legislature to start a new department of Food Processing. Governor Terry Sanford made improving food processing the first priority of his agriculture program. In 1963, money was slated for construction of the Food Science Building and lab equipment. The building was dedicated and named for Ira Obed Schaub, a graduate of NC State in the late 1890's, professor of Agriculture, director of the Agricultural Research Service and Extension Service and Dean of the School of Agriculture.

Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC  27695
(919) 515-2951