OPEN DATING OF FOODS. Theodore P. Labuza and Lynn M. Szybist. Food and Nutrition Press, Trumbull, CT 06611 ISBN 0-917678-53-2. 2001. 235 pp. No price given.

If the title suggested an update/rewrite/new edition of Labuza’s magnificent 1982 Shelf Life Dating of Foods, forget it. If you were expecting a text on the scientific and technical foundations of shelf life, quickly dismiss the idea. If you were expecting a large volume, this is a thin book, with only 109 pages of text plus 126 pages of appendices.

Having enumerated what this book is not, what is it? Exactly what the title states, a review of the philosophies, policies, thinking, and, in some instances, paucity of thought entering into the concept of placing open date codes on food packages. Indeed, a brief overview of food shelf life times opens the discussion on challenges confronting those who have or wish to legislate and regulate open dating of foods. Ms. Szybist and Dr. Labuza inject a chapter on the crucial distribution time-temperature issue that defies the notion of simply placing a label on a package surface. And then they cite current practices and really challenge us with results of surveys on how consumers handle refrigerated food products in the home.

The authors have assembled a formidable argument that covertly questions the wisdom of any casual application of open dating for foods. And besides, consumers have demonstrated a not-unexpected inability to read and interpret open dates on packages.

What fills the voluminous appendices? A list of eight United States federal, state, and European legislation and regulations and proposed regulations on open dating—complemented by some relevant commentary by the authors.

Although not an easy read nor a fine technical reference, this book is an interesting and useful backgrounder for those who must deal with food shelf life and its communication to retailers and consumers.

Aaron L. Brody, IFT Fellow and President and CEO, Packaging/Brody Inc., Duluth, Ga.

FOOD COLLOIDS: FUNDAMENTALS OF FORMULATION. Eric Dickinson and Reinhard Miller, eds. Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas Graham House, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 OWF, UK. ISBN 0-85404-850-2. 2001. 424 pp. No price given.

I found the title of this book misleading in that its coverage is essentially limited to proteins, with polysaccharide colloids mentioned only as modifiers of protein microstructure.

Its contents derive from papers presented at an international conference held in Potsdam, Germany in April 2000. With few exceptions, the papers follow the structure required by journal publications (introduction, materials and methods, results and discussion, conclusions, and references) and are clearly written.

The potential reader, however, must be warned that a good working knowledge is required of rheology, physical chemistry, and protein chemistry. The individual chapters are grouped into five sections: new techniques (some are also covered in other sections); emulsions, dispersions and foams; interfacial properties; protein structure and interactions; and aggregation and gelation.

Of special interest to food (especially dairy) technologists is the account of physical forces that determine behavior of foams (both wanted and unwanted), coalescence processes and mechanism, multiple water-in-oil-in water emulsions, mechanism of creaming occurring under gravity, the use of sugars (especially trehalose) to significantly increase foamability of spray-dried whey proteins, potential use of protein-polysaccharide complexes to transport flavor compounds, and studies on factors affecting aggregation of beta-lacto-globulin which shed light on causes of differences in performance of products from different manufacturers.

The book deals with cutting edge-technology. It presents basic information which the practice-oriented reader must be able to translate into practical terms.

Alina Surmacka Szczesniak, IFT Fellow and retired Principal Scientist, General Foods Corp. (presently Kraft Foods), Mount Vernon, N.Y.