The event, which opened on Saturday, will run until Tuesday covering topics ranging from nutrition and product launches to food safety and recent research innovations. The expo boasts of being the largest annual scientific meeting and technical exposition of its kind to take place. An estimated 20,000 people will attend and nearly 1,000 companies are exhibiting, including Bunge, Symrise and ConAgra. It aims to bring together professionals in research and development, corporate management, packaging, nutrition, purchasing, academia and government to cover some of the key issues affecting the industry. These include the importance of the organic foods market as the Organic Trade Association reported that the sale of organic foods totaled $16.7 billion during 2006, an annual growth rate of 21 percent. The lack of regulation surrounding the term natural was also discussed as each individual company's regulatory group has to come up with its own definition which has caused confusion in the food industry. And carbohydrates were on the agenda. IFT said carbohydrates are well known as a nutritive ingredients to provide energy such as sugars and starches, but it is not so well known that they provide digestive health benefits such as enhanced immune system, mineral adsorption, and colonic health in general. This was identified as an emerging area. Today new fiber sources and their nutritional and health benefits will be highlighted, including fenugreek fiber which has been shown to have great health and nutritional efficacy. And tomorrow a discussion of the epidemiological link between dairy and weight will take place. Research from human clinical trials will be presented that demonstrates a significant association between dairy food consumption within a moderate energy restriction and increase weight and fat loss. Approaches to developing reduced fat or calorie dairy products that will be accepted by the consumer will also be looked at. Meanwhile the winners of the 2008 IFT Food Expo Innovation Awards have been announced. They were judged on the degree of innovation, technical advancement, benefits to food manufacturers and consumers, and scientific merit. Bunge North America received an award for its Nutra Blanche / Nutra-Clear NT Frying System Solution & Donut Fry NT, which utilizes proprietary hydrogenation technology to reduce trans fats by more than 85 percent in shortening systems for par-fried potatoes and fried donuts. CEM Corp won the award for its Sprint Rapid Protein Analyzer, designed for use in the lab or at a production line. This provides protein determination in two minutes that is more accurate than other methods, without the use of harsh chemicals or high heat. Multisorb Technologies was honored for its Active Oxygen Barrier Enhancement, an oxygen scavenging system that can be incorporated into packaging polymers for molded, sheeted, or film applications, resulting in extended shelf life and greater quality retention. And NC Hyperbaric picked up an award for its Wave 6000/420 High Pressure Processing Equipment, which utilizes a working pressure of 87,000 psi to process about 4,500 pounds of product per hour at a cost of $0.032 per pound. The panel of nine judges were from industry and academia with expertise in research and product development, processing and packaging technology, and food safety. Only companies exhibiting at the 2008 expo were eligible IFT was founded in 1939 and is based in Chicago. It is a not-for-profit international scientific society with 22,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in the industry, academia and government.