About 1,000 food professionals and researchers recently attended the XXIII Congress of the Brazilian Society of Food Science and Technology (SBCTA), which took place May 1–4 at Unicamp, State University of Campinas. The Congress featured about 70 scientific lectures on various food science and technology topics, such as sustainability, certification, industrial processes, the economic potential of Brazilian fruit, regulations, pollution control, and new developments in research, markets, and industry.
In addition, the meeting, which attracted participants from various regions of Brazil as well as guests from Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, United States, and England, celebrated the 45th anniversary of SBCTA with tributes to its founders and past and current leaders. Professor George Britton, University of Liverpool, UK, delivered the keynote address on the history and evolution of pigments and colors in foods.
The theme of the Congress was Food and Public Health. " The main focus was healthy food and disease prevention,” said SBCTA President Jane Menegaldo, who coordinated the meeting. In keeping with the theme, IFT President Roger Clemens presented lectures on the relationship between childhood obesity and food technology and trends in sodium reduction.
Clemens’ lectures attracted attention because Brazil is facing growing public health problems due to increasing cases of hypertension and obesity. According to the government, one in three children ages 5–9 years is overweight. For young people between 10 and 19 years old, 21% are overweight. In the adult population, 13% of Brazilians are obese. To address the problem, the government has launched a campaign in schools and is airing TV advertising to raise awareness about good nutrition.
Clemens’ talk on reducing sodium in food was also very timely in Brazil, since there is a big debate over the agreement between government and industry to reduce sodium in some foods. There is an increasing incidence of hypertension, which already affects 23% of Brazilians.
Professor Michael Davidson, Univ. of Tennessee, who is a member of the IFT Board of Directors, presented two lectures related to food safety. One talk focused on chemical preservatives and natural antimicrobial compounds in foods, while the other presentation addressed Listeria monocytogenes—its characterization, control, and lessons learned from cantaloupe.
One of the highlights of the SBCTA Congress is the presentation of scientific papers. This year, 729 papers were accepted and presented in posters displayed in panels. The papers were eligible for the Leopold Hartman Award for the best works, which are divided into six categories: chemistry, biotechnology, microbiology, technology, engineering, and nutrition. Some of the best papers will be published in a special supplement of the Journal of Food Science and Technology, edited by SBCTA.
The Leopold Hartman Award is a tribute to the patron of SBCTA and was established to stimulate new scientific research. Leopold Hartman was a Polish researcher who made a career in Brazil, authoring more than 100 scientific publications. His major scientific contribution was to modernize the research methods of analysis of oils and fats, especially in the areas unsaponifiable matter of high molecular weight (i.e., hydrocarbons, alcohols, and steroids).
Several short courses were held in conjunction with the Congress and featured the topics of food safety, statistics, fine cheeses, wines, coffee, and chocolate. Also presented was a technology exhibition with stands of food manufacturers and equipment.
The XXIII Congress of SBCTA recalled the founding of the organization in 1967, by engineer André Tosello and 70 founders in the city of Campinas, which became a pioneering research center in the science and technology of food for all of Latin America.
Luis Augusto Paschoal is a journalist, writer, photographer and Director of Ressonance Communication, Campinas, Brazil ([email protected]).