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Nelson presented 2007 World Food Prize. (2 minutes 50seconds)
* Purdue Food Science Department

* Aseptic processing: The science of fresh
* Video news release on Philip Nelson's work

October 16, 2007

Purdue's World Food Prize recipient the first in food science

Philip Nelson
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To Philip Nelson, the phone call that he was the 2007 winner of the World Food Prize sounded at first like a sales pitch, with the caller quizzing Nelson about the prize.

"I thought he was hitting me up to buy a couple of tickets," said Nelson, a Purdue University food scientist.

But as it turns out, Nelson won't need tickets because he will be the guest of honor. The man on the phone was Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.

On Thursday (Oct. 18) Nelson, Purdue's Scholle Chair Professor in Food Processing who helped build Purdue's Department of Food Science, will receive the award during a ceremonial dinner starting at 6 p.m. in the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines.

"I was overwhelmed when the announcement was made," Nelson said. "I think I still am."

The World Food Prize, according to the foundation's Web site, "is the foremost international award recognizing - without regard to race, religion, nationality or political beliefs - the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world."

Nelson will be honored for his work in aseptic processing, developing the "bag in a box" technology to process large quantities of seasonal crops such as tomatoes and oranges, for long-term storage and bulk transportation without losing nutritional value or taste.

In 1991 the Institute of Food Technologists rated aseptic processing and packaging as the No. 1 innovation in food technology, ahead of juice concentrates, safe canning processes, freeze-drying and food fortification.

"Dr. Nelson's work has transformed the global food industry and has allowed entrepreneurs to build successful businesses that use crops raised by farmers," said Purdue president France A. Córdova. "He is an outstanding example of the power of a university to turn discovery into benefits for others."

The $250,000 award has been presented annually since 1986, when Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug created it. He envisioned it as agriculture's Nobel Prize equivalent. Nelson is the first winner cited for work in the postproduction area of agricultural research.

"This is the first time it has gone to a person in food science," said Randy Woodson, Purdue's Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. "Previously, it had gone to people who had enhanced food production. We at Purdue have long recognized the importance of Phil's research. Certainly, industry has known it, too. Now, with the World Food Prize, the entire world will recognize it as well."

A celebration for Nelson's award will take place on the Purdue West Lafayette campus Nov. 6 with a lecture by Nelson at 2 p.m. in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. His talk will be followed by a reception in the Purdue Memorial Union East/West Faculty Lounges. Both will be free and open to the public.

Writer: Tom Campbell, (765) 494-8084,

Sources: Philip Nelson, (231) 539-8322,

Randy Woodson, (765) 494-8391,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes,
Agriculture News Page

Note to Journalists: A video news release is also available by contacting Beth Forbes at (765) 494-2722,

Philip Nelson stands in front of Purdue's Food Science Building, where he developed the aseptic process of storing bulk, seasonal foods like tomatoes and oranges. Nelson is the 2007 winner of the World Food Prize. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

A publication-quality photo is available at


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