2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Effects of PEF on Continuous and Kettle Style Root Vegetable Chips

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Owen McDougal


Pulsed electric field (PEF) treatment has been recently used in the food industry for various applications. PEF utilizes electric pulses to align ions in and outside the cell membrane to create electroporation; these pores facilitate the flow of cellular material. In root vegetables, reducing sugars and asparagine, which are precursors in the Maillard reaction, are released from within the cell. With fewer precursors, less acrylamide is produced. This suspected carcinogen is regulated by the European Union and California’s Proposition 65. The specific root vegetable of choice for our analysis was sweet potatoes, known to have increased levels of the mentioned precursors compared to more typically used chip potatoes such as the Lamoka potato. Our hypothesis is that PEF treatment applied to root vegetables will reduce the quantity of these precursors, consequently lowering the acrylamide content in root chips. Sweet potatoes subjected to PEF treatment were fried using a kettle-style method, which takes longer than the alternative continuous-style cooking, thus providing more time for the Maillard reaction to take place. At this time, PEF treatment has shown to reduce oil content while maintaining moisture content and texture. In the future we plan to quantify acrylamide, reducing sugars, and asparagine content as well. These findings support the use of PEF technology in the food industry, benefiting both the manufacturers and consumers.

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