Food Technology Staff

As IFT celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the Scientific Editors of its journals (i.e., Journal of Food Science, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, and Journal of Food Science Education) have reviewed the seminal events and advances of food science over the past seven-plus decades and shared their visions of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“Food research used to be conducted solely in Europe. In the last half century it was mainly the U.S.A. originating and funding food research activities. Looking at authorships of JFS papers today, it seems inevitable that for years to come China will be leading the world in food science research activities. And it is certain that we all share in it,” stated Manfred Kroger, Ph.D., Scientific Editor, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety

“Something else that has happened, and will continue, is the fusion of pharmaceutical and food science experts,” noted Kroger. “Whether free radical scavengers or probiotics, these and many other entities, unknown for so long, can now be measured and studied and put to good use, thanks to the analytical chemists and microbiologists among us. Keep your eyes peeled on developments in nanotechnology and on how ‘bacteria communicate with each other’ and you will be forever fascinated and spellbound by where food science may be heading next.”

“Seventy-five years ago there was no obesity problem, we still did not have a model for DNA (1953 event), and we were just coming around to large chemical entities being polymers rather than non-covalently associated aggregates,” stated E. Allen Foegeding, Ph.D., Editor in Chief, IFT Scientific Journals. “The volume of information has increased exponentially over the past 75 years. I recall a speaker talking about how, when in graduate school in the 1940s, his protein chemistry journal club covered ALL the main journals publishing work on protein chemistry—something inconceivable with today’s litany of publications.

“My prediction, or shall I say hope, for the future of Food Science research and publications is that the complex nature of food becomes more of a scholarly focus. Sustainable agricultural practices—assuring food safety—having foods with the most ideal mix of nutrients and bioactive compounds (nutraceuticals)—making delicious foods—and doing it all at a reasonable cost to the consumer are all interlinked. The age-old approach of observing a phenomenon and then drilling down until you have a physical/molecular/organism model that explains the phenomenon will and must continue. However, since food is part of a linked system with some challenging goals, such as being healthy and delicious, a broad approach will also be needed,” explained Foegeding. 

Food Microbiology
“The very first volume of JFS, published in 1936, explored issues such as the microbiological examination of dried foods, and numbers and types of microorganisms in frozen vegetables and fruits. These issues are as relevant today as they were then,” stated Catherine Donnelly, Ph.D., Scientific Editor, Food Microbiology and Safety. “I could not help but think, however, about how much the pathogens of concern have changed, largely as a result of production practices and handling, along with globalization. 

“The tools we use to generate scientific results have greatly changed, and the tools of molecular biology are already transforming the way we understand the microbiological science of foods. Over the past few years, we have seen a movement away from culture-based analysis of microbes to sequence-based analysis, and this trend will likely continue. Genome sequencing will greatly advance our knowledge of the microbial diversity of foods. As high throughput sequencing technologies reveal new information about food ecosystems, we should be prepared for the inevitable regulatory questions which these new findings will raise,” declared Donnelly. 

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Sensory Evaluation
“To gain an appreciation for the role that sensory evaluation has played in the food and beverage industry is to read the 1st volume of Food Research, p. 287–95, where there is a manuscript by Sylvia Cover entitled “A new subjective method of testing tenderness in meat—the paired eating method.” This method is still used in sensory testing, currently referred to as the paired comparison,” stated Herbert Stone, Scientific Editor, Sensory and Food Quality. 

“In the mid-1950s and into the 60s, the Journal published research on subject selection (F. Miles Sawyer 1962), Texture Profile Analysis (Alina Szczesniak, Elaine Skinner and others 1962, 1963) and soldiers’ preferences (Frank Pilgrim, David Peryam and others 1955),” noted Stone. “In this time period Rose Marie Pangborn published the results of her research on flavor interrelationships in model systems in beverages demonstrating the importance of sensory information to product success in the marketplace. 

“In the first 2 decades of the 21st century, the use of sensory evaluation has continued to grow along with the publication of new methods (Flash Descriptive Analysis) along with more fundamental research on the use of electronic detection systems to minimize reliance on human behavior,” declared Stone. 

Food Engineering
“In his seminal paper in the January 1938 issue, Colin O. Ball presented a comprehensive review of advances made in sterilization methods for canned foods,” stated Shyam S. Sablani, Ph.D., Scientific Editor, Food Engineering. “Ball’s review described food preservation methods used in terms of 2 time periods: before and after Appert developed the canning process. The article described the term ‘commercial sterilization,’ which referred to the term ‘sterilize’ as applied to canned foods.

“During the 1950s, scientists learned about the relationship between vapor pressure of water in food and microbial spoilage in foods. From the 1970s to the present, a significant development occurred in thermal and nonthermal food processing technologies, for example, aseptic processing and packaging, baking, extrusion, electrothermal technologies, frying, membrane filtration, high hydrostatic pressure, ultraviolet light, oscillating magnetic fields, and ultrasound,” stated Sablani. 

“Industrial adaptation of novel food technologies will present new challenges and opportunities related to the development of energy- and water-efficient equipment, automation, and high-performance packaging with reduced environmental impacts. In addition, further research on physics-based mathematical modeling may lead to user-friendly computer simulation tools that allow engineers to significantly speed-up the development of new processes and products analogous to the automobile and aerospace industry,” declared Sablani. 

Nanoscale Food Science
In 2008, a new section to the journal was added on Nanoscale Food Science, Engineering, and Technology, reported Sablani, who also serves as Scientific Editor of the section. “This section featured original research on science and the application of nanoscale materials and relevant phenomena,” stated Sablani. “The first paper published in this section appeared in the March 2008 issue, and focused on a production method for nanostructure lipid carriers in food beverage applications. This paper also examined the physical properties and stability of lipid carriers at different temperatures. Since then, this section has regularly featured articles on new methods of producing bio-compatible nanoparticles and nanocomposite polymer films with improved functional, physical and gas barrier properties. 

“Investigation in nanotechnology may provide new ways of designing nanostructures for nutrient delivery and antimicrobial properties of food contact surfaces,” declared Sablani. 

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Health, Nutrition and Food
“Although the Health, Nutrition, and Food section of JFS only began in 2008, we can trace the history of the subject to the very first article in the very first issue of the journal: “Vitamin C Content of Vegetables. I. Spinach” by Tressler, Mack, and King (Food Research 1(1):1–7, 1936),” stated Tung-Ching Lee, Ph.D., Scientific Editor, Health, Nutrition and Food. “Since that beginning, the scope of food science has expanded. A good example of this diversified research is a recent article by Bornhorst, Roman, Rutherfurd, Burri, Moughan, and Singh, “Gastric Digestion of Raw and Roasted Almonds in vivo” (J Food Sci 78(11):H1807–13, 2013).

“HNF is uniquely suited to trans-disciplinary work. HNF is devoted to ‘original research that integrates food science and technology with applied personal and public health nutrition.’ We believe that cooperation (both trans-disciplinary and multidisciplinary) between scientists in varied, yet connected, fields will move us forward in an advantageous way. The HNF designation is directly related to the developing areas of functional foods and nutraceuticals. Modern nutrition and food science focuses on health promotion, disease risk reduction and improved performance through diet,” declared Lee. 

In the future, Lee would like to see more article submissions focused on nutrigenomics, foods for people over age 65, food allergies and food intolerances, and the epidemic of overnutrition (obesity).

“Advances in the field of toxicology that occurred during the 1940s and 1950s resulted in more systemic approaches for evaluating the safety of food ingredients and contaminants,” stated Lauren S. Jackson, Ph.D., Scientific Editor, Toxicology and Chemical Food Safety.

“After the events of September 11, 2001, there were increased concerns that the food supply could be compromised through deliberate contamination with chemical agents such as heavy metals, natural toxins, and agricultural chemicals. As a result, a number of articles appeared in JFS from 2003 until recently on rapid methods for detection of chemical threat agents and chemical adulterants and their stability in foods during food processing and storage. Similarly, more attention has been given to development of analytical methods for detection of adulterants in foods and ingredients based on the discovery of melamine in wheat gluten, protein ingredients, and milk products imported from China,” stated Jackson.

“Due to the global nature of the food supply and advances in analytical science, chemical food safety will continue to be an area of concern, and a major area of focus for papers published in JFS,” predicted Jackson.

Food Chemistry
“In the very early years, the emphasis of a typical food chemistry article in JFS was chemical composition and analysis, stated Youling L. Xiong, Ph.D., Scientific Editor, Food Chemistry. “While such studies remain important, the Food Chemistry section of JFS today is requiring each acceptable article to dive more deeply into science. We expect authors to address the fundamental mechanism behind an observed chemical change(s) so as to provide a clear understanding of the molecular interactions valuable to food processors. 

“If food chemistry research in its first 75 years was about discoveries, the next 75 years are bound to the quest for innovative technologies utilizing the knowledge acquired from discovery research to create composite food systems with high palatability, nutritive value, ensured safety, and convenience. The cross-disciplinary nature of food chemistry necessitates greater efforts from all researchers to take a holistic approach in the study of food by integrating physical, mechanical, biological, and medicinal methods into the chemical analysis,” declared Xiong. 

Food Science Education
“In April 2002, the Journal of Food Science Education made its Web-based journal debut. Since the inaugural issue of JFSE, numerous authors have shared their contributions to food science education using a variety of venues, including the scholarship of teaching and learning research articles, classroom techniques, innovative laboratory exercises, teaching tips, guest editorials, and book reviews. The contributions have taken many forms; however, they all center on one common and specific objective—to advance the teaching and learning of food science at all educational levels,” stated Shelly J. Schmidt Scientific Editor, Journal of Food Science Education

“As we look to the future, we can imagine the development of new methods and means of educating students based on brain science research coupled with the use of modern technology advances, including social media. But, even with all these new developments and advances in brain science and technology in general, we cannot forget the need to teach, assess, and mentor our students the ‘old fashioned way,’ that is, by walking [pedagogy] and sitting [assidere] beside them,” noted Schmidt. 

To read more about the history, evolution and future of the interrelated disciplines of food science, please visit