Dr Donna Minott Kates' research group is involved in the characterisation of food and foodstuffs, of uniquely Jamaican identity (in origin, method of preparation, etc.), via examination of nutrients and anti-nutrients (toxicants, carcinogens etc.), and flavour profile (essential oils). Although the national fruit, ackee (Blighia sapida) is the main research target, the group’s research interests also comprise Blue Mountain coffee (Coffea arabica), jerked meats, papaya (Carica papaya), pimento (Pimenta officinalis), scotch bonnet pepper, and sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa).
Research projects have included:
Tracking of hypoglycin levels in a variety of mature ackees during different seasons and investigation of factors (such as seed size), which contribute to elevated hypoglycins in the fruit.
Characterisation of the flavour and odour of pimento leaves to differentiate the bearing potential of the trees and to assist farmers to cull non-bearing trees from pimento groves.
Comparison of the nutrients and anti-nutrients of transgenic papaya versus native papaya for the safety and protection of the market.
Determination of differences (cup quality) in coffee varieties grown at different altitudes to aid in the selection of market samples.
Assessment of the nutrient profile and levels of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; potential carcinogens) in Jamaican jerked meats (chicken and pork).