Eliminating Food Waste Key to Feeding a Growing World Population RELEASED AT THE 2011 IFT ANNUAL MEETING & FOOD EXPO

June 14, 2011

NEW ORLEANS – Each year, 25 percent of the world’s food supply, especially fresh produce, is lost due to spoilage, damage and/or nature deterioration. And yet to feed an estimated nine people by the year 2050, food scientists will need to better preserve, protect and better utilize food, according to panelists Tuesday at the Institute of Food Technologists' 2011 Annual Meeting & Food Expo.

“A lot of the stuff we buy, we eventually throw away,” said John D. Floros, Ph.D., professor of food science at Pennsylvania State University, especially produce.

The main causes of food loss are microbial spoilage, physical and mechanical damage to food and chemical deterioration. During food production, harvesting, processing, storage, distribution and preparation leads to regular food loss.

Currently, more fruits and vegetables are lost at the consumer level than at the retail level, and more fresh fruits and vegetables are lost than processed fruits and vegetables.  In addition, a great deal of food is discarded each year because of food recalls. In 2008, two separate beef recalls resulted in nearly 9 million pounds of beef being thrown away.

And yet the world population is expected to grow to more than 9 million people by the year 2050.

“We have an explosion of people living on the planet and we need to feed these people,” said Floros. “In the next 50 years we will need to produce as much food as the world has produced over the history of time.”

Food irradiation prevents many food borne illnesses. Researchers are also looking at the use of chlorine dioxide, which does not currently have U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, for enhancing food preservation and safety in fruits and non-leafy vegetables.

“Radiation is currently the only FDA-approved method to treat fruits and vegetables,” said Rosana Moreira, from Texas A&M University.

While the importance of processing and preservatives may be misunderstood, Floros said they will continue to be a necessity to feed the world’s growing population.

“If we only buy fresh we will be wasting a lot of products. We need to look at solutions that move beyond fresh fruits and vegetables.”

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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. For more information, please visit ift.org.

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