Dr. Karin Allen, a Food Scientist We’re Glad to Have Aboard Our Board

Karin AllenQuestion: What’s the difference between chemistry and food science? 


Answer: In chemistry, you don’t lick the spoon.” 


This message hangs in Dr. Allen’s office, and it truly belongs there since this valuable member of our site’s Advisory Board started her college career as a chemistry major and later switched to the field of food science.  That change was not a big leap; food science, after all, is just one example of chemistry in action. 


Dr. Allen managed to earn her bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degree AFTER becoming the mother of two, quite a feat, any parent of young children would agree. She has continued to juggle many tasks in a career that is obviously fascinating, varied, and hectic.


An online page about her selected works highlights her expertise in these areas:


-          Extending food shelf life using natural ingredients

-          Improving the nutritional degree of foods without compromising flavor


An assistant professor (in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences. at Utah State University in Logan, Utah), Dr. Allen has taught the following courses: “Culinary Basics,”  “the Science of Food Preparation,” and “Food Technology and Health.”  The last mentioned dealt with food spoilage, preservation, quality, and foodborne diseases, the main topics that Shelf Life Advice covers. 


Currently, in addition to doing research, Dr. Allen is responsible for the development of extension programming to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs with the production and processing of quality foods.  One aspect of this work is her involvement with the USU Incubator Kitchen.  This is a 1,000 sq. ft. food production facility, certified through the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.  It is for the use of entrepreneurs just starting in the food business, giving them free access to production space during their start-up phases. The Incubator Kitchen houses l5 complete kitchen units, which can be used by up to 2 groups at a time, depending upon the types of products being made.  It is available to them at no charge for up to 6 months. 


Somehow, Dr. Allen manages to handle even more professional responsibilities that are a major contribution to students and the community. She fosters food entrepreneurship skills among students. She coordinates the academic and outreach services of the on-campus Food Innovation Laboratory. She provides support for extension programs including those concerned with sustainable agriculture, food safety, organic foods, food security, and diversified agriculture.  Among her many community contributions, Dr. Allen has, since 2007, between a regular guest speaker at the Cedar Ridge Middle School, informing students about careers in food science.


Meanwhile, her work as a scholar is ongoing.  She has published, in academic journals, six articles about her research.  She has made 12 presentations at conferences. Some of her research has concerned methods of improving product packaging to extend shelf life. 


In 2009, shortly after receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Allen was named Graduate Researcher of the Year  by the Utah State University’s College of Agriculture.  The research for which she won this award related to the cause of the browning of raw meat.  


Shelf Life Advice is grateful that Dr. Allen has been a regular contributor to many articles on our site.  This is just a small sample of the Shelf Life Advice articles she has contributed to:


“Should Hot Food Go in the Fridge?”  (click here)

 Does Conventional Food Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Organic?”  (click here)

“Fresh, Natural, Processed—What Do The Words Mean?” (click here)


If you put “Karin Allen” into the Shelf Life Advice search box, you can reach more articles containing her advice for consumers.  Thanks, Karin!


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