Navigation Links
Food for thought: delivering the promise of food processing

Humans have transformed raw ingredients into food since prehistoric times. But scientists are still looking for new ways to make food taste better and survive longer. Presenting their findings at a recent European Science Foundation (ESF) and European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST) conference, scientists show how new food technologies are changing European diets.

The industrial revolution brought the advent of modern food processing technology. Whether you credit the Frenchman Nicholas Appert in 1809, or British born Peter Durand in 1810, the invention of the tin can has revolutionised the way people eat. The motivation behind its invention was simple make food last long. Two hundred years on, food scientists are still trying to improve the shelf life of food.

For example, by introducing mixtures of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide into packaging, some fresh vegetables have had their life extended two- or three-fold. A similar approach is used in the packaging of meat, where gas is pumped into packaging, reducing oxygenation of the meats pigments, extending its shelf life.

But todays food scientists have to consider more than just the use-by-date. Europeans want food that is cheap, convenient, high quality, safe and more and more produced in a eco-friendly way, explains Professor Brian McKenna, a food scientist at University College Dublin in Ireland. In addition, McKenna thinks that food plays a variety of roles in European society nowadays. Food is important to peoples health as it is increasingly being linked to diseases such as obesity, coronary heart disease and diabetes, he says. Furthermore, Europeans are now more aware of the cultural role of food in every day life. So food scientists must design technology that helps people get what they want from their food.

While increased interest over food can deliver more choice for consumers, it has also led to some misinformed debates. And Europeans have resisted many potentially useful technologies over unsubstantiated fears that they are not safe. Nowadays, the public are much more sceptical, particularly when it come to food, says McKenna. McKenna cites the example of using irradiation to kill pests and increase the shelf-life of mushrooms. But this process is confined to only a few countries within Europe, such as the Netherlands, despite a considerable amount of evidence that it is safe for humans.

McKenna thinks that food scientists must consider the publics perception of new technologies or risk the rejection of these technologies. One example is nanotechnologyengineering at a very small scale. Nanotechnology is being used in medicine to deliver drugs to specific targets in the body. A similar approach could be used in food to deliver vitamins. However, there are currently no foods using nano-particles in this way in Europe. The use of nanotechnology in food has been slow because of public concern that nano-ingredients could reach parts of the body where they were never intended.

McKenna hopes that by understanding the socioeconomic, political, and cultural influences on what Europeans eat, food scientists can better advise policy makers about how food should be processed and packaged, and how it is sold and eventually eaten.

The conference, on November 5-6, was attended by 75 scientists and policy makers from 22 countries and was one of the series of research conferences organised by the ESF-COST Forward Look initiative. Forward Look, a flagship instrument of the ESF, allows scientists to meet people from the world of policy and help set priorities for future research.


Contact: Astrid Lunkes
European Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. Nanotube-producing bacteria show manufacturing promise
2. Summer-dormant tall fescue grass shows promise for pasture improvements
3. Sweet potato shines as new promise for small enterprise and hunger relief in developing countries
4. Genetic ancestral testing cannot deliver on its promise, study warns
5. New genetic research into nicotine addiction shows promise for personalized treatment
6. Tiny tubes and rods show promise as catalysts, sunscreen
7. New CPR promises better results by compressing abdomen, not Chest
8. Innovative civil engineering application promises cleaner waters
9. Raydiance collaborates with Rutgers, MTF to develop innovative tissue processing approaches
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/11/2015)... MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical technology company that ... announce that it will be a Sponsor of the ... held November 17-19 in Hamburg , Germany.  ... iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, proven and affordable eClinical ... able to deliver time and cost savings of up to ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... 09, 2015 ... the "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market ... --> ) has announced the ... Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to their ... ( ) has announced the addition ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International ... million to provide preclinical development services to the National ... contract, SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and ... variety of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate ... --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds ... organisation (CRO) market. The trend of outsourcing to ... margins but higher volume share for the region ... scale, however, margins in the CRO industry will ... Market ( ), finds that the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ... today reported financial results for the quarter ended ... expressed in Canadian dollars and presented under International ... United States ," said Andrew Rae ... advancements regarding iCo-008 are not only value enriching ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... N.C. , Nov. 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a ... North Carolina , today announced that the company has set ... represented a 391% quarter on quarter growth posted for Q3 of ... and Mexico , with the establishment ... in December 2015. --> United Kingdom ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... November 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced today ... the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ... Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual ... on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: