CENTENNIAL, Colo., Sept. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Marcia Walker, Ph.D., an innovative food professional with extensive product development experience, has joined 915 Labs as Director of Food Innovation. Walker, who has helped build several major packaged food and beverage brands, will lead product development, FDA validation, analytical and training services at 915 Labs.
"We are incredibly excited that Marcia is joining the 915 Lab team. She is a highly respected, seasoned veteran in the novel food processing & preservation space," said Dave Behringer, Chief Technology Officer. "Her breadth of experience from fundamental science through product development and food safety validation is an incredible addition to 915 Labs."
915 Labs is the exclusive provider of Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization (MATS™) and Microwave Assisted Pasteurization System (MAPS™) technologies, which offer a healthier and higher quality way to sterilize and pasteurize food. Compared to conventional thermal processing, MATS and MAPS shorten the time foods and beverages are exposed to high heat, which preserves nutrients, color, texture and taste and eliminates the need for additives and excess sodium.
"This is a great opportunity to use my experience to help commercialize the microwave sterilization and pasteurization technologies," Walker said. "I'll be guiding the formulation of new food products and eliminating trial and error to help food companies quickly get the results they want."
Walker, who has a master's degree in food science and nutrition and a doctorate in food science and technology, has significant experience with novel food and beverage processing technologies including high pressure processing (HPP). She studied the technology as a research associate and doctoral student at Oregon State University when HPP was just emerging.
At Avomex/Fresherized Foods, Walker helped build the highly successful retail brand Wholly Guacamole, which was the first commercial application of HPP. Her work on the popular guacamole line and other juice, smoothie, vegetable, dairy and meat products contributed to the significant revenue growth and eventual successful sale of the company.
"Marcia has been incredibly successful at driving the commercial application of HPP from the academic lab to market application," Behringer said. "We are eager to have her leverage those experiences to accelerate the application of MATS and MAPS globally."
Starbucks hired Walker to help establish a new 265,000 square foot juicery after the company acquired the cold-press juice producer Evolution Fresh. In addition to contributing to the design the new juicing facility, Walker directed the microbiological lab testing, food safety compliance and process authority activities for Evolution Fresh.
Most recently, Walker worked as a technical business scout in global R&D for PepsiCo/Naked Emerging Brands, where she was part of a core team leading the innovation of new products, processes and ingredients to capitalize on health and nutrition.
"A lot of companies are looking at the MATS technology. It's a good fit for many food products that are over-processed today," said Walker. "MATS-processed foods are what consumers want: higher quality foods that are less processed, with no preservatives. People want foods that are as close to home cooking without having to cook and they know the difference between an imitation and the real thing."
915 Labs, headquartered in Denver, offers a pilot-scale MATS-B for recipe and food product development, several commercial-scale MATS production systems with a range of processing speeds up to 250 packages per minute and a MAPS system dedicated to pasteurization-only.
SOURCE 915 Labs