January 4, 2007

The Institute of Food Technologists

Comments of the Institute of Food Technologists to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) on Food Nanoscience and technology

The Institute of Food Technologists or IFT would like to thank the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for holding the public meeting on nanotechnology on June 25, 2005 during which IFT’s comments were presented by Dr. Betty Bugusu, Research Scientist at IFT. As a follow-up to the meeting, IFT is pleased to present written comments to PCAST on “Benefits and Challenges of Application of Nanoscience in Food”.

IFT is a not-for-profit science society representing 22,000 food scientists and technologists in industry, government and academia worldwide. IFT leadership is dedicated to supporting its member engagement in research and development efforts in food nanoscience. In recognition of the importance of nanoscience, IFT has formed a nanoscience working group to serve as a leader and catalyst for the community of researchers exploring the impact of nanoscience in food.

The number of potential uses of nanoscience and/or technology in the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food products is growing rapidly with ongoing research in a variety of areas including:
1. Food safety and biosecurity such as sensors for use to detect problems with food quality and safety (Nano-tongues and Nano-noses); and preservative carrier systems.
2. Food Processing such as new membrane separation systems; and catalysts for hydrogenation and/or inter-esterification.
3.Food Packaging such as improved packaging performance including materials with low permeability, high-strength plastics; and better bio-based and edible packaging.
4. Ingredient Technologies such as improved delivery systems for nutrients (e.g. fat soluble vitamins) and other functional ingredients (e.g. flavors, colors and bioactives).
Many of these applications could offer considerable benefits to consumers in terms of food product safety and quality, and contribute to improved consumer health and wellness.

IFT urges the Federal government to increase investment in nanoscale science in the area of food science and technology for a healthier and safer food supply.

IFT’s Nanoscience Working Group recognizes the utmost importance to assure the safety of foods to consumers. The group supports the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s vision of responsible development and deployment of nanotechnology. To this end, IFT has provided written comments to the Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology Subcommittee encouraging them to consider and explore research issues that are of particular importance to the environmental, health, and safety needs for any engineered nanoscale materials that may be present in or may enter food. The Working Group strongly encourages PCAST to support research to further enhance our understanding of the safety of oral exposure to novel nanoscale materials.

Such research will facilitate smart design of materials and facilitate development of food products that will lead to overall enhanced safety and quality of the US food supply and ensure that the US food industry is equipped to compete in worldwide markets. Finally, the consequence of public/consumer misinformation and misunderstanding of the application of new technologies to food resulting in exaggerated risk perception has been clearly demonstrated by consumer rejection of irradiated foods and biotechnology. This is despite the acceptance of use of these technologies by other fields, e.g., medicine. Therefore, it is imperative that testing protocols and guidelines for demonstration of the safety of food and food-related products be established through science-based policy and regulations and communicated in public/consumer- friendly language. Such guidelines will help to provide a clear path for adoption and development of applications of this technology within the industry, plus establish consumer confidence that a proactive and transparent approach is in place to assure food products are safe to both consumers and the environment.

In summary, nanotechnology offers unique challenges and opportunities to the food industry and the resulting potential societal benefits are enormous. IFT is currently leading the dissemination of knowledge of food nanomaterials to the food industry through educational seminars, scientific symposia, and international workshops. As the primary resource of scientific and professional-based food science and technology information, IFT is willing to support and facilitate dialog between the food industry, researchers, policy makers, regulatory scientists and consumers to develop a clear understanding of the research and educational needs and priorities for all stakeholders.

For additional information please contact any one of the following members of the IFT Food Nanoscience Working Group:

Vijay K. Arora, PhD, Kraft Foods Fellow, Kraft Foods R&D Center, Kraft Foods, Inc. varora@kraft.com
Robert G. Bursey, PhD, Director, Regulatory & Scientific Affairs, Ajinomoto USA, Inc. burseyb@ajiusa.com
John Floros, PhD, President-Elect, IFT; Professor and Head, Department of Food Science, Pennsylvania State University jdf10@psu.edu
Brian Guthrie, PhD, Research Fellow, Cargill, Inc. brian_guthrie@cargill.com
Bernadene Magnuson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland. bmagnuso@umd.edu
Tom A. Vestal, PhD, Professor and Extension Specialist, AgNR Emergency Management, Texas Cooperative Extension, Department of Agric Leadership, Education & Communications, Texas A&M University. t-vestal@tamu.edu
Jochen Weiss, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts. jweiss1@foodsci.umass.edu
Rickey Yada, PhD, Professor, Dept of Food Science and Scientific Director, Advanced Foods and Materials Network Department of Food Science, University of Guelph, Canada. ryada@uoguelph.ca
Cory M. Bryant, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, IFT. cmbryant@ift.org
Betty Bugusu, PhD, Research Scientist, IFT. bbugusu@ift.org

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