This year’s IFT annual event promises to be both exciting and educational, providing an opportunity to grow our understanding of food processing. The theme “Feed Your Future” has relevance in that food processing innovation is critical to advancing the science of food and feeding the future.
For those interested in the intersection between food processing and food disruption, there are several IFTNEXT sessions during the annual meeting that promise to be eye-opening. These are the IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge™ Pitch Competition on Tuesday, June 4, at 8:30 a.m. and an IFTNEXT stage presentation titled “The Future of Food Innovation—Commercialization, Supply Chain” on Tuesday, June 4, at 4 p.m. Another symposium focused on this intersection is session 106, “Food Startups and the Risks They Pose,” which will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 3. In addition, an IFTNEXT stage session at 3 p.m. on Monday, June 3, will focus on “Building Effective Ecosystem Partnerships to Address Key Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Plant-based milk processing was the topic of the December 2018 Processing column, and several IFT19 sessions will focus on plant protein processing, including session 108, “Plant Protein Ingredients: Recent Advances in Food Processing” at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 3, and session 228, “Future (Plant) Protein Processing,” at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4. Session 122, “The Plant-Based Meat Revolution,” and session 219, “Chasing the Perfect Bite: Advancements in the Alternative Meat Landscape Technology,” scheduled for Monday, June 3, at 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday, June 4, at 12:30 p.m., respectively, will highlight recent efforts in processing meat alternatives.
Session 209, “Shaking It Up: How to Improve Quality and Marketability of Shelf-Stable Foods,” at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 4, promises to be an exciting session on the processing of new foods.
Nonthermal food processing is a major focus area for this year’s meeting. Sessions include “Twenty Years of Advancement in Nonthermal Food Processing Technologies,” part 1 of which occurs at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 3 (session 111), with part 2 (session 121) at 3:30 p.m. that day, as well as “Emergent Non-Thermal Food Preservation Technologies” (session 220) and “Intense Pulsed Light Technology” (session 235) on Tuesday, June 4, at 12:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m., respectively.
Additional nonthermal processing sessions on safety and validation will be held on Tuesday, June 4, at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively. “Advances in Pulsed Electric Field Processing Toward Future Sustainable, Healthy, and Safe Food Production” (session 214) will be held on Tuesday, June 4, at 12:30 p.m. Then, on Wednesday, June 5, there will be a session on “Nonthermal Processing with Light and Plasma: Microbes and Mycotoxins” (session 301) and a session on “Ultraviolet Treatment of Beverages” (session 312), both beginning at 8:30 a.m. Several of the highlighted technologies have been written about in previous Processing columns, including high pressure (May 2016), cold plasma (February 2016), and pulsed electric field (January 2016).
New and interesting topics will be highlighted in a session titled “Leveraging Big Data and Artificial Intelligence for Ushering Innovations from Farm to Fork” (session 115), which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 3, and “Using Robotics for Safe and Sustainable Food Production,” which will take place on the IFTNEXT stage at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5. Both of these topics expand upon the November 2017 Processing column on robotics in food processing.
Since innovative food processing often involves intellectual property, the topic of patenting will be highlighted in a session at 12:15 p.m. on Monday, June 3; it is titled “Patents: Career Development and Business Intelligence” and will take place at the IFT Central booth. Session 326 on “Emerging Food Processing and Packaging Technologies” will be held at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5.
“Solving The Food Waste Disgrace” was the topic of the August 2018 Processing column, and that theme will be addressed in session 125 titled “Food Loss and Waste Minimization in Fruit and Vegetable Chains” at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, June 3. A session titled “3-D Food Printing: State of Art, Future Prospects, and Consumer Acceptance” (session 128) will be held concurrently. 3-D food printing was the topic of the food processing column in April 2017.
Another topic of continued importance at this year’s meeting is the relationship between processed foods and health, which was highlighted in the July 2018 Processing column titled “Is Healthy Processed Food An Oxymoron?” On Tuesday, June 4, at 10:30 a.m., session 201 titled “NOVA: Clearing Up the Confusion about Processed Food and Health” will be held to further learning and discussion in this area.
Two additional sessions worth highlighting are “Tribology in Food: Past, Present and Future” (session 223), which promises to explain the important role of friction and lubrication, at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, and “Current Issues and Innovations in Commercial Brewing” (session 308) at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5.
Finally, I would like to call your attention to the numerous outstanding and informative poster sessions. Posters also support increased understanding of food processing and provide the means to interact directly with the researchers who performed the studies.
May we grow together in our understanding of food processing at this year’s annual event.
Tara McHugh, PhD, Contributing Editor
Research Leader, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Albany, Calif.