Eric Decker Receives a Top Honor in Food Science

Professor Eric Decker, among the world’s preeminent food scientists, was honored recently in Denmark with one of his field’s major awards – the 2022 Nils Foss Excellence Prize.

NEWS Eric Decker
Eric Decker

The annual award, named after the late founder of FOSS, a multinational food tech company, is given to a globally respected scientist for world-class innovative research that leads to “remarkable improvements” in the quality, safety, nutrition and sustainability of food.

“Receiving the highest Food Science Prize in the world is an incredible honor,” says Decker, whose pioneering research focuses on lipid chemistry and foods. “I thank my many students, post-docs and visiting scholars, as well as UMass, for all the support they have provided throughout my career in helping me achieve this honor.”

The award, bestowed at a ceremony during the Food Analytics Conference at the University of Copenhagen, includes a cash prize of 100,000 euros ($106,661). Decker plans to use the prize money to support students as they work to develop new technology to increase the sustainability of the food supply. 

Decker’s research aims to characterize mechanisms of lipid oxidation, antioxidant protection of foods and the health implications of bioactive lipids. These efforts focus on improving nutrition by incorporating more stable, unsaturated fatty acids into foods while preventing oxidative rancidity that causes food waste.

Perennially named to the list of the world’s Most Highly Cited Scientists in Agriculture,  Decker has served on committees of the FDA, Institute of Medicine, Institute of Food Technology, USDA and American Heart Association.

A committee of academic and industry members selected Decker for the excellence award and two junior scientist recipients for the Nils Foss Talent Prize – Laura Román Rivas of Aarhus (Denmark) University and Mahesha Manjunatha Poojary of the University of Copenhagen.

The Nils Foss Excellence Prize is the latest of many top awards Decker has received. In 2021, he was honored with the American Oil Chemists’ Society’s (AOCS) Supelco/Nicholas Pelick Research Award and the Institute of Food Technologist’s (IFT) Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of French inventor Nicolas Appert.