South Carolina, Maryland chemists receive award for improving quality, shelf life of foods

September 24, 2001

Chemists Drew Speer, Ph.D., William P. Roberts, Ph.D., and Charles R. Morgan, Ph.D., of Sealed Air Corporation's Cryovac Division will be honored September 24 by the world's largest scientific society for developing a new technology that improves the quality and extends the shelf life of packaged foods such as fresh pasta and deli meats. They will receive one of four 2001 Industrial Innovation Awards at the American Chemical Society's Southeast regional meeting in Savannah, Ga.

Speer and Roberts are with Sealed Air Corporation's Cryovac Division in Duncan, S.C.; Morgan retired from Sealed Air Corporation's Cryovac Division and is a consultant for the company in Bethesda, Md.

"As a result of this team's innovation, food processors, retailers and consumers alike can benefit from significant improvements in quality, safety and shelf life of packaged food and beverage products," said Ronald L. Cotterman, Ph.D., director of packaging research at Sealed Air Corporation.

When foods such as potato chips are packaged, the bag's empty space is usually filled with a gas such as nitrogen. Trace amounts of oxygen usually remain, however, which causes food to oxidize and spoil. Oxidation is the chemical reaction responsible for discoloration in deli meats and rancid flavor in potato chips.

The Sealed Air Corporation team developed new packaging film, OS1000, that removes trace amounts of oxygen from the interior of hermetically sealed packages. The oxygen removal process is triggered by exposing the film to ultraviolet light just before the finished package is formed and sealed around the food. A study of fresh, refrigerated ravioli and tortellini found that after 90 days, none of the pasta packaged with OS1000 had visible mold, compared to nearly 80 percent of the pasta packaged with traditional methods.

This film can be used alone, or in conjunction with flexible and rigid packaging for most wet and dry products. OS1000 was introduced in 2000.

The American Chemical Society's Industrial Innovation Awards recognize individuals and teams whose discoveries and inventions contribute to the commercial success of their companies and enhance our quality of life.

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Charles R. Morgan, Ph.D., retired from Sealed Air Corporation's Cryovac Division and is a consultant for the company. He received his B.S. in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University in 1956 and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963. He resides in Bethesda, Md.

William P. Roberts, Ph.D., is a research scientist at Sealed Air Corporation. He received his B.S. in organic chemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1978 and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University in 1983. He resides in Spartanburg, S.C.

Drew V. Speer, Ph.D., is a research scientist at Sealed Air Corporation. He received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, in 1984 and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989. He resides in Simpsonville, S.C.

American Chemical Society

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