Exploring Medicine Food Homology by Bolstering Scientific and Technological Innovation

A Report on the Further Industry-University-Research Institute Collaboration of College of Food Science and Technology of Nanchang University

Reporter from Guangming Daily: Hu Xiaojun

Intern from Guangming Daily: Wang Yang

Mingyong Xie, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a Fellow at the International Academy of Food Science and Technology, established his one and only Academician Workstation in Jiangzhong Diet Therapy Technology Co, Ltd., the therapeutic food manufacturing base in Gongqingcheng City, Jiangxi province this July. It is over 80 kilometers from the College of Food Science and Technology of Nanchang University where he works.

Our team has long been conducting further industry-university-research institute collaboration with local enterprises to promote the combination of the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine and modern nutrition. With medicine food homology being our principle, we apply modern food manufacturing technology and pharmaceutical technology to product research and development. Driven by the demand of enterprises and the healthy development of the therapeutic industry, we aim to boost the high-quality development of the diet industry in China in alignment with the Healthy China Strategy and theGreater Foodapproach, said Mingyong Xie, director of State Key Laboratory of Food Science and Technology of Nanchang University which is the first state key laboratory in the field of food science in Chinese universities.

This July also witnessed the food science and engineering discipline of Nanchang University being ranked 7th worldwide in the 2022 Soft Science China University Rankings, which means that the food discipline of Nanchang University is now among the ranks of international high-level disciplines.

Focusing on solving real-life problems and remaining devoted to the homeland and the world beyond is a tenet that has been widely acknowledged by the students and faculty of the College of Food Science and Technology. With excellent domestic scientific researches, they aim to address social and economic problems by leveraging the situation in the international frontier and national strategic needs, so as to help the community and serve the whole society.

It is our duty as people in the food industry to boost rural revitalization by pushing forward the intensive processing of green food, and to provide healthier food to people by means of food technology, said Mingyong Xie.

In the Laboratory, the reporter was attracted by a sophisticated machine made up of a group of electrical control boxes and a variety of metal pipes, valves and glassware.

We developed this device. It can automatically simulate the gastrointestinal digestion and glycolysis of the human body, which can help us observe and explore the digestion and glycolysis of various foods, bioactive substances or nutrients after entering the body, said Dr. Jielun Hu, a researcher who received the Excellent Young Scientists Fund from National Natural Science Foundation of China.

According to Dr. Hu, there are still a large number of untapped medicine food homology resources in Jiangxi. To develop these resources, Dr. Hu and her colleagues have done a lot of researches and succeeded in developing new products that can improve gastrointestinal health by combining modern food processing technology with medicine food homology resources that are rich in active polysaccharides such as semen plantaginis and cyclocarya paliurus. Upon entering the market, these products were widely welcomed and yielded remarkable economic gains, which in return boosted the development of such resources and contributed to local economies.

Another case in point is choerospondias axillaris, a deciduous tree widely grown in the hills of Jiangxi province. Its sweet and sour fruit are eaten fresh or made into wine and cake.

The team led by Professor Chengmei Liu from the College of Food Science and Technology of Nanchang University worked with Jiangxi Qiyunshan Foods Co.Ltd, a company located in Chongyi County, to launch the project of Research and Development of Key Technologies for Quality Breeding and Modern Processing of Choerospondias Axillaris in 2017. To solve prominent problems such as the poor quality of choerospondias axillaris fruit, older processing technology and the waste of peel and cores, the project team carried out researches on variety breeding and composition analysis by establishing a choerospondias axillaris orchard and germplasm resources bank, and replaced out-of-date processing technologies and equipment with upgraded ones. At the same time, they realized the efficient utilization of by-products by developing a second generation of fruit peeling machines, fruit selection machines, core-meat separator machines and corresponding supporting equipment. With all those achievements, this project team won the first prize of Jiangxi Science and Technology Progress, and with their effort, they boosted the development of choerospondias axillaris undertaking from "a wild fruit" to an" industry worthy of a hundred million".

"By the time our project was approved and accepted in 2020, we realized the innovation and application of key technologies and equipment in the whole industrial chain, which greatly promoted the leapfrog development of processing technology of choerospondias axillaris. In the past five years, the project has helped more than 2,000 migrant workers who returned to their hometowns for jobs and earned an additional 495 million yuan, playing a positive role in poverty alleviation", said Chengmei Liu.

  China is a global producer of fruits and vegetables, but the processing rate is less than one-fifth of the developed countries, with a corruption rate of fresh fruits and vegetables of more than 30% annually. In this context, it has become an important research focus for the research team of the College of Food Science and Technology to seek advanced intensive and further processing technology of fruits and vegetables, improve the processing rate, and create new nutritious and healthy products.

  After repeated trials, the team decided to break through the technical bottleneck by introducing probiotic bacteria fermentation technology into the field of modern fruit and vegetable processing. Dr. Tao Huang, a member of the team, told the reporter that in order to study the special strains for probiotic bacteria fermentation of fruits and vegetables, he and his team members travelled all over China, searching for strains during the day and sleeping on the train at night to go to the next destinations where sometimes they had to search for a whole month.

"In those days, whenever we heard about a place where the preserved vegetables taste different from that of another place, we would rush there, do whatever we could to get a sample and go back to the lab and analyze it."

Under the guidance of our supervisor, the project team for the first time introduced the probiotic bacteria fermentation technology into the field of intensive and further processing of fruits and vegetables, creating an innovative system for the key technologies in the whole industrial chain of probiotic bacteria fermentation. We are the first who have found the fruit and vegetable fermentation strains suitable for industrial production and grasped the method of microbial inoculum thereof, achieving a major breakthrough in the industrialization of probiotic bacteria fermentation technology of fruits and vegetables, thus contributing to improving China’s processing rate of fruits and vegetables and solving the issues relating to agriculture, rural areas, and rural people.

As food is the most basic necessity of the people, the food industry is a traditional industry that impacts the national economy and people's livelihood. At the same time, it is a high-tech industry. We will continue to implement the fundamental mission of fostering virtue and cultivating people so as to produce more higher-quality and higher-level professionals. We are committed to making greater contributions to promoting food science and technology and industrial upgrading, driving the higher-quality development of food industry of Jiangxi province and the country as a whole”, said Shaoping Nie, the Dean of the College of Food Science and Technology of Nanchang University.

  Guangming Daily, Version 04, August 28th, 2022

Executive EditorHao Xu

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