Sara Langen

Bertini named 2003 World Food Prize Winner
Catherine Bertini, currently Under Secretary General of the United Nations, has been named the recipient of the 2003 World Food Prize.

Her selection was announced at the opening session of the 12th World Congress of Food Science and Technology in Chicago on July 16. Bertini is being honored for her critical leadership of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), which has saved millions of people from famine and death. The prize includes $250,000.

“Ms. Bertini has been selected as the 2003 World Food Prize Laureate for defeating large-scale famine in our time, ”Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, said.

In the 10 years in which she led the agency as its Executive Director, Bertini transformed WFP from primarily a development assistance organization into the largest and most responsive humanitarian relief organization in the world, delivering life-sustaining food aid to more than 700 million people in more than 100 countries.

She will receive the prize on October 16 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.

FDA contracts with IFT to review terrorism risks
The Food and Drug Administration has contracted with IFT to conduct an in-depth review of preventive measures that food processors may take to reduce the risk for an intentional act of terrorism or contamination.

The review is part of FDA’s effort to ensure the safety and security of the food supply. IFT will provide information about temperature, technology, chemical treatments, and other ways that may reduce or mitigate the risk.“Safeguarding the U.S. food supply is an enormous task and one of our highest priorities, and we are committed to doing this job as efficiently as possible,” FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan said. “This contract with a nationally recognized group of experts will help FDA make the nation’s food supply even more secure.”

The review will assess ways to prevent or reduce the risk of contamination of processed food through either natural or intentional acts and will provide information on various research needs that might be used for eliminating or reducing the risk.

Mediterranean diet promotes longevity
Results of a new study show that eating a Mediterranean diet can help people live longer.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School assessed the dietary habits of study participants from all regions of Greece and found that those who strongly adhered to a Mediterranean diet had improved longevity compared to study participants who did not follow that diet as closely.

The traditional Mediterranean diet features an abundance of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, and cereals and regular use of olive oil (monounsaturated fats), moderate amounts of fish and dairy products (mostly yogurt or cheese), small amounts of red meat (low intake of saturated fats), and moderate consumption of alcohol, usually in the form of wine consumed with meals.

Using a 10-point scale to measure adherence to the diet, a 2-point increase was related to a 25% reduction in total mortality among the participants. The results appear in the June 26, 2003, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. For more information, visit www.hsph.harvard.edu/press/releases/press06252003.html.

New database helps control food pathogens
Food scientists now have access to a database that combines knowledge of research in the field of predictive microbiology.

The Eastern Regional Research Center of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the U.K. Institute of Food Research, and the U.K. Food Standards Agency recently announced the joint production of the database, named ComBase.

The scientific field of Predictive Microbiology focuses on the development of mathematical models to predict the behavior of microbes in various environments. Underlying these models are vast quantities of laboratory data that describe microbial growth, persistence, and death under diverse environmental conditions, such as those encountered in the production, processing, and handling of food.

Although much data about microbial behavior is available in various formats, such as published literature, private reports, and laboratory notebooks, it must be systematically collected and organized to efficiently search and retrieve data for the development of predictive models. ComBase meets this challenge, containing more than 20,000 data sets.

To access the database, visit http://wyndmoor.arserrc.gov/combase/.

Eastern Food Science Conference registration opens
Attendees can now register for the 2003 Eastern Food Science Conference XIII.

This major regional meeting of IFT will be held October 26–28 at the Adams Mark Hotel in Philadelphia, Pa. The theme is “20-20 Foresight: Moving Food Science Into the Future.”

It is the 13th biennial conference presented by the East Coast Regional Sections and Subsections of IFT and will feature technical sessions, student competitions, and exhibits.

IFT Regional Conferences offer members of IFT who were unable to attend the 2003 IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo® in July an opportunity to present and discuss the latest information on food technology.

For more information and registration, visit www.ift.org/efsc/.

by SARA LANGEN
Assistant Editor