Consumer preferences and the demand for, and reliance upon, safe food will drive research efforts by food scientists in the coming years according to the Institute of Food Technologists.
Areas of research will be extensive and include: novel processing techniques utilising ultraviolet light and ultrasound; genetic investigation to create foods that prevent inherited diseases; exploration in nanobiotechnology to produce ultra-sensitive sensors measuring healthful and harmful components that are inherent or intentionally introduced to food.
Michael Doyle, PhD., editorial board member for IFT's online journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety (CRFSFS), is among the many IFT science editors anticipating research to counter bioterrorism and reduce the risk of intentionally contaminated foods.
"We need to determine survival characteristics of non-foodborne pathogens considered biological threats to [ascertain] the effectiveness of traditional food processing intervention strategies," said Doyle.
He urges development of new treatments to kill pathogens in minimally processed and heat-sensitive foods such as fresh produce.
Another editor of CRFSFS, Todd Klaenhammer, Ph.D, anticipates gene sequencing will provide an unprecedented opportunity to understand and control microorganisms associated with our food supply, and improve the margin of safety and expand the applications for beneficial microbes.
While innovative food research can be expected, Manfred Kroger, Ph.D., associate editor of the Journal of Food Science, also predicts traditional food investigations and sensory evaluations will continue, "because we prefer to eat what we like."
"After all, despite the many decades of systematically delving into the riddles of nature… we know so little about what we eat and what happens when we do," said Kroger.
These predictions by IFT's 35 science editors can be read in the December issue of IFT's Food Technology magazine.
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is a not-for-profit scientific society with 27,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in industry, academia and government.