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Dispatches from IFT 2012 Vegas

Food technologists launch campaign tackling consumer prejudice

By Rod Addy , 27-Jun-2012

Grocery stores would be full of empty shelves, rotten fruit, insect-infested grain and spoiled meat if food science as we know it did not exist.

That was the powerful message from the keynote speech that kicked off the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo 2012 in Las Vegas, delivered by IFT president Roger Clemens.

Delegates were treated to the first in a series of videos aimed at tackling consumer prejudice against the ‘dark arts’ of the food industry, which some vocal minority groups view with deep suspicion.

Modern food shopping would not exist

The video portrayed the idea that modern food shopping as we know it would not exist without the developments in food chemistry, processing and engineering in the past few decades.

The concepts in the video are based on an IFT scientific review entitled Feeding the world today and tomorrow: the importance of food science and technology. The review has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

The campaign will focus on the US market, but applies on a global level. It will feature a total of five separate video segments showcasing interviews with experts from various food science disciplines illustrating the positive effect of food science on the public.

The first two videos were screened during the opening address. The first highlights the challenges surrounding the availability of food and the need to feed a world population set to grow to nine billion people by 2050. The second looks at how food science ensures food safety.

Education at the core of our mission

“As a scientific society, education is at the core of our mission as we advance the science of food,” said Clemens. “It’s especially important for the public to understand where their food comes from. This campaign tells the story of food science in a new visual way so that consumers understand the role of food science in their daily lives.”

The campaign will also focus on recruiting students to pursue food science careers, highlighting the diverse jobs available. IFT has compiled information on becoming a food scientist as well as lesson plans and activities for teachers.

The organisation has also produced Day in the life of a food scientist videos to help people understand what these roles entail. They feature a NASA food scientist, a product developer at Disney Consumer Products and a food packaging professional at a multinational food processing and packaging company.

Three more videos

Three more videos will be released over the course of this year. They will cover nutrition, environmentally responsible food production and developing food products for specific populations.

Each video will be distributed across the US and featured along with facts and additional resources on www.worldwithoutfoodscience.org . They have been created to complement www.iftfoodfacts.org , a multimedia website created to show the practical applications of food science for consumers.

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