USDA-ARS researchers developed and patented a new rice flour batter that absorbs up to 50 percent less cooking oil than traditional batters. Because of the difficulty in finding a licensing partner, ARS submitted the technology to students enrolled in a Community College entrepreneur course. The students developed a business and marketing plan. The students and instructor formed a company, CrispTek, based on the students’ plan. CrispTek obtained exclusively licensed rights to the USDA-ARS patent (U.S. 6,224,921). In 2008, CrispTek received funding to help commer¬cialize the technology from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). In 2009, CrispTek signed its first CRADA with ARS to improve the batter to produce ready cooked frozen foods. A second CRADA was signed in 2015 to modify the batter for baked products. CrispTek rolled out ChoiceBatter™ as its first product. ChoiceBatter currently is available at over 500 retail stores nationwide. CrispTek has created 95 jobs in 4 states (MD, IA, IL, and TX).
The original unsuccessful ARS marketing plan for the rice batter was as low oil absorbing substitute in fried foods. The successful Crisptek marketing plans were based on it being gluten-free, a benefit for people with Celiac disease. More than 2 million people in the United States have celiac disease and cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Nearly all fried food batters contain gluten. ChoiceBatter™ offers these individuals the opportunity to have not only fried foods but fried foods with up to 50 percent less fat.