• Communicator Charles Santerre, Purdue University, appeared on Associated Press wire service reports February 1, commenting on a three-year study he led on heavy metal levels in farm-raised catfish, trout, and crayfish, as published in the Journal of Food Science. According to Santerre, all samples tested well below FDA and EPA limits for metals such as mercury. The same cannot be said about fish caught by anglers, according to Santerre. “In Indiana, state agencies have found high levels of mercury and PCB in fish caught from local rivers, streams and lakes,” he stated. The wire service report is accessible via the Indianapolis Star Tribune Web site at www.starnews.com/news/articles/fish0201.html. Santerre also addressed the current lack of oversight for dietary supplements in a December 17 Baltimore Sun article about whether dietary supplements should be given to children. “Right now there is no way to protect children from the harmful effects of dietary supplements. Consumers need to be aware of that,” he said.
• Sharon K. Gerdes, SKG Consulting, allowed the Philadelphia Inquirer to rummage through her pantry in the process of generating the article, “For This Scientist The Specimen is Food,” published January 14. Offering an inside look at how she assists food companies in developing recipes, Gerdes offered this comparison. “A baker would put in sugar and flour and eggs. A food scientist adds things like mono- and diglyceride and potassium sorbate. They’re strictly a thing that sometimes befuddles the consumers.” Gerdes acknowledged, “That’s what a food scientist does–understand all the ingredients that go into a commercial food product.” The Philadelphia Inquirer circulates nearly a half-million copies daily.
• Frank Busta, University of Minnesota, discussed the future of alternative processing technologies for pathogen control in CNNfn, a financial Web site. Busta was panel chair and senior science advisor for the report IFT prepared under contract to the Food and Drug Administration, Kinetics of Microbial Inactivation for Alternative Food Processing Technologies. “Many of these alternative processing technologies hold great promise for the future, providing food that is more appetizing, fresher or less cooked and at the same time, safe,” he said. “However, the report demonstrates how much additional research is necessary to fully understand and document the effectiveness of these technologies.” The report, published as a special supplement to the November-December 2000 issue of the Journal of Food Science, is available on the IFT Web site at www.ift.org/resource/index.shtml and the FDA Web site at http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~comm/ift-toc.html.
• Joe Hotchkiss, Cornell University, and Food Science Communicator Bruce Watkins, Purdue University, shared their perspective on how food science research will change the foods of the future in the December issue of Smart Business. Commenting on the current trend to make familiar foods more functional, Hotchkiss predicted that in the next 20 years, “we’ll use technology to make not weird stuff, but regular stuff with extras.” Watkins commented on the impact of genome research, saying that new technology to analyze single nucleotide polymorphisms is leading to a better understanding of genetic variations, which researchers hope will enable personalized diets and pharmaceuticals.
• Mark Sterner, Inland Empire Foods, gave an example of using food science and technology to improve an important characteristic of a food in a December Discover article about the IFT FOOD EXPO®. His company uses a patented process to create beans, peas, lentils, and grains that don’t need to be soaked before cooking. The raw, dried product is cooked by steam injection, gently squeezed to further open the cell structure, and then dried and packaged for shipping. “We’re talking about a pea soup mix that’s ready the moment it hits the hot water,” he said. Not only does the product improve consumer convenience, but restaurants and fast-food chains love them because “one truckload of our product makes the same volume as three trucks of canned,” Sterner said.
• Communicator Michael Doyle, University of Georgia, provided food safety tips for food bars in school cafeterias in the November 14 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after a foodborne illness outbreak was traced to a food bar in an elementary school. “I hear this over and over again . . . in the area of food poisoning, ‘We’ve been doing this for years, and we’ve never had a problem,’” he said, noting that many cases of foodborne illness are not reported. Doyle recommended that schools station monitors to act as “lifeguards” by the bars to watch the food closely, removing any items students touch or parts they touch, and make sure temperatures are appropriate at all times.
• Communicator Susan Brewer, University of Illinois, made comments in the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter that found their way into a November 13 article in the (Cleveland, Ohio) Plain Dealer about endocrine disrupters released from certain types of plastics when used to heat food in a microwave. “Occasional use is not a concern. It’s the constant use of the same plastics over time—in other words, long-term exposure to low levels of chemicals—that could be harmful,” Brewer said.
by JAMES N. KLAPTHOR
Media Relations Manager