Highlights from the IFT Annual Meeting 2014

IFT 2015 opening reception in Mardi Gras Word in New Orleans, LA

The opening reception was held in Mardi Gras World, affording attendees the opportunity to sample the Mardi Gras atmosphere and some Louisiana Cajun music!

IFT Trade Floor

View of one half of the IFT Trade floor.

As usual at IFT, there was a large and active trade floor. This year the food and ingredient exhibitors had a growing focus on nutrition and health. In our meetings with attendees, we found a strong interest in predictive intake modelling to help innovators and scientists to understand the benefits and safety of their food products and ingredients.

Keynote Speaker: Doug Rauch, The Daily Table

The keynote speaker Doug Rauch, ex-president of Trader Joe’s and founder of the Daily Table, shared his unique perspective on how to solve the problem of food waste, hunger and obesity by providing healthy, sustainably sourced meals to consumers.

Doug highlighted the fact that in one generation, the US has moved from all states having a less than 10% obesity rate (where obesity is defined by a BMI of 30 or more) to every state having a rate of 20% or more. Doug quoted a Wall St. Journal article which estimated the cost of this epidemic at more than 1 trillion US dollars.

Food Waste and Environmental Impact

On the other hand, Doug outlined the problem of food waste. He estimates that one third of food grown globally is being wasted.

In the developing world, where hunger is a key issue, waste is often due to inadequate infrastructure such as cooling, transport and markets.

In the developed world, the problem is the opposite. There is an issue with oversupply of food, with consumers getting more than enough caloric input without getting the full nutrition they need. Doug highlighted two key issues contributing to food waste in the developed world:

  • Poor shelf life labelling where best buy dates and display codes are unrelated to food safety. For example cheeses having inappropriate best before dates (in fact aged cheese usually commands a premium price!).

  • The “ugly food” scenario where lettuce (for example) that is too big, or carrots that are misshapen, don’t sell in regular supermarkets are not even picked. Interestingly, they will sell in Farmers’ markets (often at a premium). The image shows a picture of a lettuce field after the harvest which illustrates the scale of this problem.

Doug Ranch showing the amount of produce wasted in a lettuce field after the harvest.

All of this has a large environmental impact with Doug estimating that the emissions involved in producing the wasted food alone, if equated with the emissions of entire countries, would be the third highest country in the world.

Doug claims that the next food revolution will focus on what we are not eating. Doug is working actively to address this issue with his Daily Table organisation which aims to bring high quality, nutritious food at affordable prices to the under-served communities in US inner cities.

Toxicology & Safety Evaluation – Big Data Systems Required

At the Toxicology & Safety Evaluation division lunch, Dennis Keefe, Director of the Office of Food Additive Safety in the US FDA, outlined his organisation’s challenges in keeping up with food additive exposure scenarios with the speed of change in the market. Dennis explained that the FDA’s software for assessing exposure and risk is out of date and lacks sufficient data.

Dennis expressed a view that new systems need to be developed, based on big data, that would allow better risk and exposure assessment of food additives and chemicals. Inputs in this system would include post market data, food label information and updated exposure databases and intake scenarios.

In the Q&A session, Cronan McNamara from Creme Global explained how the systems and tools that have been developed in Creme Global deliver big data exposure solutions across a broad range of areas from flavourings, additives, fragrances, pesticides, food contact materials to nutrition. These comments were well received by Dennis and the group in general who expressed a great deal of interest in Creme Global’s predictive intake models and services. So, watch this space.

This is an opportunity for the food additives industry to respond and to create an initiative to work with the FDA to achieve this.  

We will keep you posted on any updates and news from the above.

Written by Creme Global on July 9 2014

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