Apple product makes U.S. Olympic team
By Marg Land
August 25, 2008 – An apple peel
powdering process developed at Cornell University to fortify foods made
its first appearance in the Olympics Games.
|Dr. Rui Hai Liu, Associate Professor, Cornell University Department of Food Science|
Six thousand 32-gram tubes of Applebooster™, an organic applesauce fortified with dried apple peel powder (DAPP™) to add fibre and increase antioxidants, was distributed to the approximately 750 U.S. Olympic athletes and 250 coaches as they boarded their flights to China earlier this month. This first-of-its-kind energy snack, which only became available in April, enhances the nutritional value of foods by reintroducing ground apple peel into the manufacturing process.
The U.S. Olympic Committee only learned of Applebooster energy snack tubes in early June when product developer Dave Copeland visited the USOC Food and Nutrition staff to espouse its nutritional virtues and give them samples to taste. Copeland has the exclusive licensing agreement with Cornell to manufacture dried apple peel powder, which he thinks will eventually be blended into other foods, like oatmeal and rice cakes, as larger food companies grasp the health benefits and low cost of DAPP™.
“We just wanted the food and nutrition people at the USOC to know that Cornell had developed something very exciting,” said Copeland. “We explained that it was all natural, organic and nutrient-rich. Once the USOC folks tasted it, they invited us to supply 6,000 tubes of Applebooster to the team for their 12-hour flight to China. We view it as our first true trial of Applebooster, and we’re excited to be part of the Games.”
The apple peel powdering process was first developed in 2004 by Cornell researcher Dr. Rui Hai Liu, who specializes in dietary phytochemicals (natural antioxidants) to prevent disease. Dr. Liu says his patented process of drying and grinding apple skins to create dried apple peel powder (manufactured by Apple Bioactives™) is some of the most exciting work he’s done.
Dr. Liu explained that gram for gram, powdered apple skin is a more nutrient-dense product; and the powder form is more easily used than fresh peel to develop new products with enhanced nutritional value. Further research is still ongoing, but Dr. Liu believes DAPP™ will soon be embraced by athletes at all levels of sports for its anti-inflammatory properties; and by moms and children for its nutrients and fiber.
The organic apples and peels are processed and supplied by Leahy Orchards from Franklin Centre, Quebec. Jim Leahy, chairman of the company he founded in 1979, has taken a personal stake in what he calls 21st century food science.
“I turned my company over to my sons 20 months ago,” Mr. Leahy said. “But I’ve come out of retirement to work on this. I think we can revolutionize the apple industry.”
Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS, widely regarded as among the top sports dietitians in the U.S., is working with Appleboost Products Inc. as a scientific advisor, handling the analytical and U.S. Food and Drug Administration work necessary to bring DAPP™ to the mainstream food industry.
“Natural functional foods like DAPP are something positive that health professionals can stand behind,” Ellis said. “With Americans getting only about half the daily requirements of fiber, fruits and vegetables, I’m optimistic that DAPP-fortified products can have a positive influence on the health of athletes of all ages.
Ellis is held in high regard by the USOC, and helped open doors to the Olympians and their coaches. Terri Moreman, associate director for food and nutrition at the USOC, along with her colleague Adam Korzun, a registered dietitian, granted their approval to provide the Applebooster energy snack tubes to all U.S. Olympic athletes.
But as anyone who has ever launched a new all-natural product knows, the most difficult hurdle to leap is often “taste.” An informal focus group with four children and their moms, all of whom sampled the Applebooster energy snack tubes this month, yielded this slogan-worthy nugget: “Taste tested by real kids,” said 9-year-old Xavier Gallagher, a Londoner who was visiting his grandfather in Quebec, “and we approve!”
Appleboost products are only being distributed in bulk in 2008, through the Appleboost web site, to sports teams, schools, hospitals, health clubs and other institutions. Appleboost energy snack tubes will be introduced to consumers in the U.S. and Canada in 2009 and made available through grocery and/or convenience stores.