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 | European Science Foundation (ESF
'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers
16.02.2018 | National University of Science and Technology MISIS
New process allows tailor-made malaria research
16.02.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).
Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
16.02.2018 | Information Technology
16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy