Margaret Malochleb

Margaret Malochleb

Hot beverageSafe temperatures for serving hot beverages
Hot beverages are served ubiquitously in the foodservice industry as well as at residences and other venues. Coffee and tea, in particular, are brewed at temperatures that are sufficiently high to cause serious risk for scald injuries. In an effort to bring together relevant scientific literature on beverage service temperature and the effect on consumer preference and safety, a review in the Journal of Food Science outlined the results of an exhaustive literature search.

The review determined that preferred drinking temperatures are significantly below often-encountered brewing temperatures (~200°F) and that a range of 130°F to 160°F, which balances safety and consumer preference, is recommended. Serving consumers beverages at very high temperatures is not only unnecessary from a preference standpoint but also unsafe. Despite variations among brewing equipment, at the completion of the brewing stages, liquid temperatures are almost certainly above the recommended values. As such, the researchers recommend a brewing temperature at the lower end of the preferred range (195°F) as well as dilution, cooling, or a combination thereof at the final stage.

Less sweetness, please
New research from the Monell Center analyzed nearly 400,000 food reviews posted by Amazon customers to gain real-world insight into the food choices that people make. The findings reveal that many people find the foods in today’s marketplace to be too sweet.

The study used data posted on an open-source data science site to examine reviews of 67,553 products posted by 256,043 Amazon customers over a 10-year period. Using a sophisticated statistical modeling program to identify words related to taste, texture, odor, spiciness, cost, health, and customer service, the scientists computed the number of reviews that mentioned each category.

The focus on product over-sweetness was striking, as almost 1% of product reviews, regardless of food type, used the phrase “too sweet.” When looking at reviews that referred to sweet taste, over-sweetness was mentioned 25 times more than under-sweetness.

The findings illustrate the potential uses of big-data approaches and consumer reviews to advance sensory nutrition, an emerging field that integrates sensory science with nutrition and dietetics to improve health. Moving forward, similar methods may inform approaches to personalized nutrition that can match a person’s sensory responses to inform healthier food choices.

Vertical farming to gain ground
The vertical farming market is expected to reach a value of $5.8 billion by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.8% between 2016 and 2022, according to a research report published by MarketsandMarkets.

Factors driving growth include the ability to produce high-quality food without pesticides, less dependency on the weather for production, a growing urban population, an increase in the year-round production of crops, and a reduced impact on the environment.

Hydroponics, the growing of plants in a medium without soil or in an aquatic-based environment, is expected to dominate between 2016 and 2022. Building-based vertical farming, which takes place in abandoned buildings as well as in new construction, is expected to grow at the highest rate during the forecast period.

Climate control devices will be the fastest-growing hardware segment, with climate control in indoor farms playing a crucial role in increasing yield. Among the equipment used are heaters, chillers, air-conditioning units, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air movement fans, full-spectrum artificial lighting, CO2 enrichment, computer-integrated controllers, and sensors that monitor and adjust the environment automatically.

By 2022, Asia-Pacific is estimated to hold the largest share of the vertical farming market owing to an increase in population and limited fertile agriculture land. Numerous farms in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and other technologically advanced countries are driving the market in the region.

The challenge of feeding 11 billion people
Within the next 80 years, the world’s population is expected to top 11 billion, creating a rise in global food demand and presenting an unavoidable challenge to food production and distribution. Now, researchers from the University of Notre Dame point to a rise in human infectious disease as another consequence of a growing population.

The research is the first to draw connections among future population growth, agricultural development, and infectious disease. “If we start exploring how increasing population and agriculture will affect human diseases, we can prepare for and mitigate these effects,” said lead author Jason Rohr. “We need to anticipate some of the problems that may arise from an explosion of human population in the developing world.”

According to the researchers, the fastest area of population growth expected by the year 2100 will occur in the developing world, where disease control, surveillance, and access to health care already face significant challenges. Currently, some estimates suggest that infectious disease accounts for 75% of deaths in developing countries in tropical regions. Each year in the United States, an estimated 48 million people suffer from foodborne infections, and foodborne illnesses have been linked to imported food from developing countries. Of that number, 128,000 are hospitalized and approximately 3,000 die each year from foodborne infection.

As the world’s population grows, the state of rural economies, use of agrochemicals, and exploitation of natural resources are poised to contribute to infectious disease outbreaks. Rohr and collaborators offer several solutions, such as improving hygiene to combat the overuse of antibiotics. They also suggest that farmers add genetic variability to their crops and animals to reduce epidemics caused in part by monocultures and too many closely related animals living in close quarters. Other solutions include enhancing education and health literacy, which has been documented as a major factor in reducing infections.

Person looking out window at trees.Seeing green lowers cravings
Being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes, and harmful foods, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom. The study is the first to demonstrate that passive exposure to nearby green space is linked to both lower frequencies and strengths of cravings.

Leanne Martin, who led the research, said, “It has been known for some time that being outdoors in nature is linked to a person’s well-being. But for there to be a similar association with cravings from simply being able to see green spaces adds a new dimension to previous research. This is the first study to explore this idea, and it could have a range of implications for both public health and environmental protection programs in the future.”

For the research, participants completed an online survey that explored the relationships among various aspects of nature exposure, craving, and negative affect. The proportion of green space in an individual’s neighborhood was measured, along with the presence of green views from their home, their access to a garden or allotment, and their frequency of use of public greenspaces.

The results showed that having access to a garden or allotment was associated with lower craving strength and frequency, while residential views incorporating more than 25% green space evoked similar responses.


About the Author

Margaret Malochleb, Associate Editor, produces content for the News, New Products, Books, and IFT World departments and researches and writes feature articles on a variety of topics.
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Margaret Malochleb