Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Food for Thought: delivering the promise of food processing

04.01.2008
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 today’s 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 public’s perception of new technologies or risk the rejection of these technologies. One example is nanotechnology—engineering 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.

This Forward Look is a multidisciplinary joint ESF/COST initiative, which involves the ESF Standing Committee for Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences (LESC), the ESF European Medical Research Councils (EMRC), the ESF Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH), the ESF Standing Committee for the Social Sciences (SCSS) and the COST Domain Committee for Food and Agriculture (FA).

Contact
Astrid Lunkes, PhD
EUROCORES Programme Coordinator - Molecular Biology
Science Officer for Life, Earth & Environmental Sciences
European Science Foundation (ESF)
phone +33 3 88 76 21 72
FAX +33 3 88 37 05 32
email alunkes@esf.org

Astrid Lunkes | European Science Foundation (ESF
Further information:
http://www.esf.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>