Public Release: 

Clemson professors honored for product that can extend pet food shelf life

Clemson University

CLEMSON, South Carolina -- Two Clemson professors have won a national award for an innovative natural product they have created that can extend the shelf life of pet food.

Vladimir Reukov (sitting) and Alexey Vertegel have won a national award for an innovative natural product they have created which can extend the shelf life of pet food.

Alexey Vertegel and Vladimir Reukov, professors in the bioengineering department and researchers for Clemson's Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC), are winners of the 2016 Bisplinghoff Innovation Award by the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation for their creation of a natural antioxidant, Prot-X. Their creation is a clear liquid that will be used in the pet food, as well as the rendering industry.

"This product is a very effective natural antioxidant that is as efficient as synthetic antioxidants and less costly to produce than other natural antioxidants," Vertegel said. "When added to pet food, it allows the food to maintain its freshness and quality and prevents fat rancidity."

The antioxidant is created from red blood cells found in animal blood.

"Red blood cells are natural oxygen carriers so they are well protected from oxidation," Vertegel said. "So, because red blood cells have all the biomolecules they need to protect themselves from oxidation, our idea to use (blood) as antioxidant was pretty logical."

The availability of this new antioxidant provides an added market for byproducts of the animal processing industry, Vertegel said.

"Rendered products are proteins and fats obtained from parts of the animals that aren't used for human food," he said. "These proteins and fats are a good source of nutrition in pet food and feed for livestock, poultry and aquaculture."

Approximately 60 billion pounds of animal by-products are generated annually in the U.S. and Canada as a result of meat, milk and egg production. These are processed into 22 billion pounds of byproducts for pet food and other animal feed ingredients as well as hundreds of other consumer and industrial applications, including biodiesel. Their use greatly improves the sustainability of pet food and agriculture.

Antioxidants are widely used in animal feed ingredients, which makes the global antioxidant market strong.

"The global market for antioxidants is about $600 million a year," Vertegel said. "The U.S. market is $200 million per year."

The public may not have to wait long to reap the benefits of Prot-X. The product could hit the market as early as 2017, Reukov said.

The Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center was established in 2003 as a partnership between the North American animal rendering industry through the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation and Clemson University. Clemson researchers seek to answer challenges faced by the rendering industry.

"More than 115 research projects on new product development, environmental protection and feed ingredient safety have been funded by the rendering industry through ACREC," said Annel K. Greene, center director of ACREC. "We thank the members of FPRF for their continued support of the research at ACREC as well as for recognition of doctors Vertegel and Reukov and their outstanding work to develop this new antioxidant."

The Bisplinghoff Innovation Award was established in March 2015 by the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation board of directors and re-named for its late president, Fred Bisplinghoff. The award is given annually to a Fats and Proteins Research Foundation grant recipient who has made substantial contributions to the rendering industry.


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