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NDSU Students Given Unique Classroom Challenge

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Students from Holy Spirit Elementary visit the class and get to taste the products. Students from Holy Spirit Elementary visit the class and get to taste the products.
Students in the classroom working on their projects. Students in the classroom working on their projects.
A panel samples and rates the products developed by the students. A panel samples and rates the products developed by the students.
Students must use 10 of the top commodities grown in North Dakota in their product.

Students taking the product development course through the Department of Cereal and Food Sciences at North Dakota State University are working to develop new food products. However, the students were given a unique challenge this semester.

“The caveat is that the students must use 10 of the top commodities grown in North Dakota in their product,” says Deland Myers, NDSU School of Food Systems professor and director. “This will give students a better appreciation of the commodities grown in the state.”

Myers teaches the course along with Clifford Hall, who is an associate professor in the Department of Cereal and Food Sciences.

However, the challenge for the students doesn’t end with using the state’s top 10 commodities. The CFS 480-680 course is a capstone course, which means that the students will integrate what they’ve learned in other courses and use the knowledge gained to develop a product.

“For example, they will integrate food chemistry, microbiology, engineering, nutrition, statistics, communications, computer applications and sensory evaluations,” Myers says.

To use all of these skills, the students must develop a product from conception to finished product that includes packaging and labeling. Through the process, students also must be a team leader at some point. Each team consists of four members.

Each team has a code name and wants to keep the ingredients used and recipe a secret, just as any real-life company would.

Team Marathon is developing an sandwich-type product using sunbutter instead of peanut butter.

“Our target market is those who can’t eat peanuts,” says Claudia Carter, Team Marathon leader. “Instead of using peanut butter, we are using sunbutter, which is made out of sunflowers. However, we are adding some ingredients to change the sunbutter’s taste somewhat.”

Team Marathon is having a difficult time with the bread and is working to improve it.

“Our major concern right now is that the bread is too hard, so we are trying to come up with a formula that will soften it,” Carter says.

Team T-rex is developing what team members say will be the ultimate cookie. The team also is struggling with texture because the cookie it has made is high in fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids which research has shown to have health benefits.

Team Betty is developing a casserole. The team has developed four formulas using different seasonings. Right now, the team is having some problems with consistency.

During the semester, a group of panelists is brought in several times to taste the products and offer suggestions. All the students said they were nervous about the first judging.

“The panelists will look at appearance, flavor, texture and overall acceptability,” Myers says. “Through this process, the students will be able learn what is good or bad about their product. We are even bringing in a group of 23 elementary school children to do a taste test.”

Even the panelists are not told exactly what is in the product they are testing; however, all possible ingredients that could be in the product are provided to the panelists to prevent possible allergic reactions that panelists could have with one or more of the ingredients. For example, Team Betty gave the panelists a list of possible ingredients in its casserole. The list includes tomatoes; textured soy protein; peas; corn; navy, pinto, black and kidney beans; durum and spring wheat flour; canola and sunflower oil; cheese; onion; sweet chili, chipotle chili and cayenne peppers; oregano; thyme; cumin; parsley; savory; marjoram; bay; basil; rosemary; mustard; coriander; garlic; sugar; citric acid; orange peel; lime and lemon juice solids; carrots; modified food starch; natural chipotle pepper flavor; salt; and natural smoke flavor.

“It will be interesting how it all turns out at the end of the semester,” Myers says. “However, this hands-on approach is a great way to learn.”


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Deland Myers, (701) 231-9450, deland.myers@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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