International Conference Explores Human Nutrition (Online Exclusive) SANA MUJAHID and MARTIN WIEDMANN | April 1, 2010

IFT members analyzed current challenges in nutrition, food safety, and food security and reviewed how new developments can be adapted to treat regionally specific health conditions.

IFT members from around the world gathered at the University of Agriculture (UAF) in Faisalabad-Pakistan to participate in the first annual International Conference on “Recent Advances in Human Nutrition with Special Reference to Vulnerable Groups.” The conference, which took place February 22–25, 2010, was held concurrently with the 20th All Pakistan Food Science Conference and the first Food and Nutrition Expo and the Golden Jubilee celebration of UAF’s National Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFSAT). The event provided an impressive forum for the discussion of innovative research and practical applications, with more than 50 research papers presented on food science and nutrition topics.

IFT members meet with University of Agriculture administrators

 IFT members meet with University of Agriculture administrators during the conference’s closing ceremonies.

Kathryn Boor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathryn Boor, Chair, Dept. of Food Science, Cornell University, learns about local food products at the conference’s food expo.

Martin Wiedmann & Muhammad Nawaz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Wiedmann (far right), Associate Professor, Dept. of Food Science, Cornell University, meets with Muhammad Nawaz (center), Vice Chancellor, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) in the city of Lahore.

The event was sponsored by a consortium of organizations, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, and Pakistani food industry members.

Nutrition and Health
Leading experts and scientists from Pakistan and 12 other countries participated in the event. Participants analyzed current challenges in nutrition, food safety, and food security and reviewed how the latest developments can be adapted to treat regionally specific conditions. The first technical session of the meeting focused on nutrition and health and included a presentation by James Seiber, Chairman, Dept. of Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis, on the health benefits of bioactive constituents of foods.

In a subsequent session on micronutrients and health, Syed Rizvi, Professor, Dept. of Food Science, Cornell University, spoke on the vital link between food processing, industrial development, and nutritional adequacy, and Bill Helferich, Professor, Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois, discussed effective micronutrient delivery vehicles for children. Fauzia Khan from the Dept. of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion, Mississippi State University, presented novel research describing the link between magnesium status and preeclampsia, a leading cause of maternal death in Pakistan.

The meeting served as the launch site for “Investing in the Future: A United Call to Action on Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies,” a joint report by Micronutrient Initiative, World Bank, UNICEF, and other leading development agencies. The report details the global extent of micronutrient deficiencies, emphasizes the urgent need for action from all stakeholders, and provides cost-effective recommendations.

Food Safety
Global and regional food safety was another major focus of the event. Martin Wiedmann, Associate Professor, Dept. of Food Science, Cornell University, was one of the featured speakers on the topic and discussed molecular approaches to food safety, including current methods for isolation and identification of foodborne pathogens. Effective implementation of these approaches in developing countries will be critical to assure global public health and food safety, Wiedmann explained. Barbara Rasco, Professor, School of Food Science, Washington State University, and Gleyn Bledsoe from the Institute of International Agriculture, Michigan State University, provided an overview of the impact of international regulations on food safety and food security in developing countries, and the implementation of an effective food safety program. Additionally, Muhammad Chaudry, President, IFANCA (Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America), discussed halal certification as a halal quality and food safety system and Mian Riaz, Director, Food Protein R&D Center, Texas A&M University, spoke about halal supplements.

The government of Pakistan is planning to actively recruit individuals with university-level education in food technology as food safety inspectors to improve food safety surveillance in the country.

Curriculum Development
The event also featured a workshop on curriculum development for a four-year degree program in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at UAF. This degree program will be the first of its kind in Pakistan and is scheduled to commence in 2011. At the workshop, Kathryn Boor, Chair, Dept. of Food Science, Cornell University, presented a keynote speech on interdisciplinary approaches to food science research, teaching, and extension. Jean-François Grongnet, Professor, Agrocampus Ouest, France, also spoke on the global importance of nutrition at various levels, and local and international experts shared ideas about the degree program. Faqir M. Anjum, Director General, NIFSAT, highlighted the important role of the conference in convincing stakeholders to support nutrition and food safety education and induct graduates in hospitals, hotels, and national airlines.

Along with attending the main events, international participants visited the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) in the city of Lahore. Similar to UAF, UVAS has state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities and its Dept. of Food and Nutrition works in close collaboration with NIFSAT, explained Muhammad Nawaz, Vice Chancellor, UVAS. Together, UAF and UVAS will be among the leaders in food and nutrition research and teaching in Pakistan and they will offer strong opportunities for global collaborations. FT

Sana Mujahid (sm832@cornell.edu), a Student member of IFT, is a student and Martin Wiedmann (mw16@cornell.edu), Ph.D., a Professional Member of IFT, is Associate Professor, Dept. of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 14853.

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