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In Defense of Food Science and Technology

The title of a recent article in Food Technology (December 2011, pp. 32–37) on “Cleaning up Processed Foods” should trigger negative reactions for any food science and technology professional. Although the title may be an attempt at being provocative, the implications of this title for an article published in Food Technology are very serious. In a societal environment with the image of processed foods being questioned almost daily, communications from IFT should contribute to a better understanding of food processing. Keep Reading

Food Science, Technology Contribute to Feeding A Growing Population: Audio Interview Part 2

Part 2 of the audio interview between Kelly Hensel, Digital Media Editor at IFT, and John Floros, Head of the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State. In this segment John explains the challenges we face to feed a population which is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. In addition, he addresses consumers’ negative perceptions of processed foods, and finally, he shares some tools that he believes are currently being underutilized that may help improve our efforts to feed a growing population. John has worked in the food processing industry, was on the faculty at Purdue University, and since 2000 he has been leading the . He is widely published, is currently a Member of the Science Board for the Food & Drug Administration, and a Fellow and Past President of IFT.

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Food Science, Technology Contribute to Feeding A Growing Population

On October 16, the world will celebrate World Food Day, which is designed to increase awareness and motivate year-around action to alleviate hunger. In 2010, IFT published a Scientific Review discussing the importance of food science and technology in feeding a growing population. Recently, Kelly Hensel, Digital Media Editor at IFT, spoke with one of the main authors of the review, John Floros, to discuss this important global issue. John has worked in the food processing industry, was on the faculty at Purdue University, and since 2000 he has been leading the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University.  He is widely published, is currently a Member of the Science Board for the Food & Drug Administration, and a Fellow and Past President of IFT.

John FlorosJohn Floros
Professor of Food Process Engineering and Packaging
Head of the Department of Food Science
The Pennsylvania State University

*Update: As of Aug. 1, 2012, Floros is Dean of College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension at Kansas State University

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Bioavailability Counts

News report bylines cite cancer protective, cholesterol lowering, muscle building, and many other health enhancing attributes for chemicals derived from food. What gets lost in translation, however, is that many of these studies do not take into account the role of digestion and absorption of these agents from food, in other words bioavailability. Quercetin, a widely distributed flavonoid with numerous reports in the scientific literature on its biological activities in cell systems has a bioavailability (as % excreted dose) of 6% in humans fed onions (Simons et al. 2010). These authors reported bioavailability for genistein (soymilk) and hesperitin (grapefruit) each at 7%, naringenin (orange) at 3%, whereas daidzein (soymilk) was 43%. Genistein’s flavonoid analogue, apigenin, has bioavailability of < 3% in rats exposed to a major form of apigenin in foods, apigenin-7-glucoside (Hanske et al., 2009). Anthocyanins from strawberries were 2% bioavailable (Carkeet et al., 2008). In contrast, coffee phenolic acids were almost 50% bioavailable (Stalmach et al., 2009). Keep Reading

Norman Borlaug: Turning Dreams into Bounties

In the mid-1980s, I was Senior Vice President and Chief R&D Officer Worldwide at General Foods Corp., a leader in processed foods innovations. Into this picture came Norman Borlaug, someone I did not know and who represented accomplishments in agriculture, an area I respected as vital in the chain of supplying food to large numbers of people. He was clearly a man of vision and determination. Borlaug “fathered” the Green Revolution through his many accomplishments in breeding new wheat varieties and in his ability to convince others to bring modern agricultural practices to “the farmers,” as he always explained. Keep Reading

Implications of Climate Change on Food Crops

In a recent study, Wolfram Schlenker and I set out to develop a better statistical model linking weather and U.S. crop yields for corn, soybeans, and cotton—the largest three crops in the U.S. in production value. Corn and soybeans are of particular interest because they are really important for global food prices and the U.S. contributes about 40% of the world’s production of these crops, and a much larger share of world exports for these crops. The goal was to find the causal links between observed climate and yields so that we might predict how yields will change as the climate changes. Keep Reading

Getting Real About Our Modern Food System

Voltaire once said that “common sense is not so common,” a statement that resonates as particularly true lately. In recent years, our modern food system has come under attack by people who may mean well, but they may lack the knowledge, experience, foresight, and/or historical perspective to understand its complexity and importance. Numerous popular press articles, books, movies, blogs, etc., use some truths, some imagination and seductively simplistic, sometimes even misleading, approaches to blame “industrial” agriculture and the “industrial” food system for many of the problems that afflict our society today—energy shortages, environmental degradation, climate change, obesity, diabetes, allergies, etc. My belief is that our modern food system is not perfect, but has served us well, and before we dispose of it, we better design the new one very carefully with creativity, innovation, knowledge, and the responsibility of making life better for present and future generations. As a scientist, I trust science and the progress and solutions it brings, but I also know that science alone will not solve all of our problems. Keep Reading