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Food Science and Technology: The Key to Meeting New USDA Food Guidelines for a Growing Population

The continued evolution of food science and technology is key to implementing the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans while increasing the food supply—which must nearly double during the next several decades to meet the demands of a growing population.

The new dietary guidelines, to be released later this year, “challenge” the nation’s food industry to provide more nutritious food products and choices, said Robert C. Post, Ph.D., deputy director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, during a news conference at the 2010 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo®.

The newly released Advisory Committee Report, on which the Dietary Guidelines will be based, recommends “more servings of healthy choices in reasonable sizes to fit our calorie budgets,” said Post. Specific recommendations include: more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds; more low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products, and seafood; moderate amounts of lean meat and poultry, and eggs; less calories from added sugars and solid fats, and less sodium, typically found together with refined grains.

The Committee’s recommended changes, said Post, seek to address and reduce the nation’s growing obesity epidemic, “the single greatest threat to the nation’s health.” The expected release of the Dietary Guidelines in December (following a lengthy public and government review process) will make 2010-2011 “watershed years in diet, nutrition and food processing,” as the American food industry accepts the “challenges and opportunities” associated with the new recommendations.

John D. Floros, Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University and past president of IFT, said the food industry can accommodate the new requirements, while continuing to step-up food production to meet the nutritional needs of a growing population through continued advancements in food science and processing.

“How do you feed the world more fruits and vegetables that are only grown in a few countries?” said Floros during the news conference. He noted that this is not possible without some sort of food processing.

Floros says that processed fruits and vegetables are safe, affordable and readily available, and in some cases, can be more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. Floros co-authored the IFT report, “Feeding the World Today and Tomorrow: The Importance of Food Science and Technology,” released at the 2010 IFT Annual Meeting and Expo and to be published in the September 2010 journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. The report takes a historical look at the food system, the many challenges ahead, and the crucial role of food science and technology in meeting the needs of the growing population.

“Thanks to food science and technology and modern food manufacturing methods, nutritional deficiencies and inconsistent food availability can be addressed, harvests can be protected, and various commodities can be transformed into new products having specific nutrients for better health and wellness,” said Floros.

About IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT’s mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, D.C.

Mindy Weinstein | Newswise Science News
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