Emily Little

Emily Little

Whitehouse Stamp

© paseven/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Whitehouse Stamp

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CHIPS Act opens door for food science research

U.S. President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, which provides funding and tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing, on Aug. 9, 2022. Experts believe this act may also help fund food science research.

The CHIPS Act includes $81 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) over five years, and establishes the directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIPs). This directorate will support translational, or cross-disciplinary, research and expand the NSF’s research areas of responsibility to include food–energy–water research.

With TIPs, food scientists see a new avenue for research funding. IFT released a white paper in 2020 titled “Food Research Call to Action on Funding and Priorities.”

In this paper, IFT calls for policymakers to increase funding for research in food science and technology.  Steve Havlik, food consultant and one of the authors of the white paper, spoke with Food Technology about why such an increase is important.

“The federal government already does fund food science research, but not at levels that maintain the United States’ historical advantages in food and agriculture research,” Havlik said. “The challenges of climate change and other resiliency issues are substantial for food and agriculture and the related supply chain, and [they] require new research.”

In addition to supporting foundational research in the food, energy, and water space, TIPs also provides an opportunity to carry the research into application and commercial scale-up. According to Havlik, these updates to the NSF will provide a new avenue for funding food research and accelerate breakthrough technologies. “Breakthrough technology applications related to the biological and chemical sciences are opportunities to improve the nutritional health of the country,” he said.

"The avocado supply imported from Mexico to the United States has increased by about 4.4 billion pounds in the past two years, according to a study from Texas A&M University."


Remembering a past IFT president

John Litchfield

John Litchfield

IFT Past President John Litchfield passed away on Sept. 17, 2022, at the age of 93. He was internationally recognized for his research and development work in food science and technology and in industrial microbiology.

Litchfield earned a B.S. in food technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1950. He served as chief scientist for the Searle Corporation in Hollywood, Fla., from 1950 to 1951, after which he went on active duty in the Army during the Korean War. A first lieutenant, Litchfield was assigned as food advisor of the Berlin Command and later served as a scientific analysis staff officer in the Army Reserve.

Following the war, Litchfield received his PhD in food technology and microbiology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He went on to work as a research scientist at Swift & Co. from 1956 to 1957, and then became an assistant professor of food engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 1960, he joined the Battelle Memorial Institute as a research leader and had a long career there.

Litchfield was a co-author of Food Plant Sanitation and contributed articles to scientific journals on topics of food science and industrial microbiology. As an adjunct faculty member at Ohio State University since 1977, he advised many IFT College Bowl and IFT Student Product Development Competition teams and taught food product development. He won the Distinguished Service Award, Ohio State’s highest honor for selfless contributions.

Throughout his career, Litchfield earned many awards and accolades for his work in food technology and microbiology. He was named an IFT Fellow in 1980 and served as 1991–1992 IFT president. He received the Distinguished Career Award in honor of Carl R. Fellers in 1994 and the Outstanding Alumni Award of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Illinois.

"Hamburgers and hot dogs are still the top two choices at football tailgates, according to a new survey from Hormel Foods."


Making water even more functional

Water is already pretty functional when it comes to promoting good health, and products that build on its healthy properties—and even add a little taste to boot—have become quite appealing to certain segments of consumers. But some of those health claims might not be so substantive, and some of what brings taste to these functional waters might not be so healthy. To read this category spotlight visit iftexclusives.org/functional-waters.

"The worldwide tomato ketchup market is expected to reach $25.4 billion by 2028, a new study published by Research and Markets forecasts."


Processed foods and mental health

Adults who ate the most ultra-processed foods reported more adverse mental health symptoms than those who consumed the least, a new study from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami finds.

The research study, published in Public Health Nutrition by Cambridge University Press, surveyed 10,359 American consumers about their consumption of ultra-processed foods and their mental health. The researchers combined data sets from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007 and 2012 to get a diverse cross-section of respondents.

Survey respondents with the highest level of ultra-processed food consumption had a higher probability of mild depression and were more likely to report a higher number of mentally unhealthy days and anxious days than those who consumed the lowest level of ultra-processed foods.

According to the study, which used the NOVA food classification system to measure ultra-processed food consumption, ultra-processed foods accounted for a median of 57% of the total energy intake of the participants.

The study also investigated smaller meta-analyses of the data to compare with their main findings. In one meta-analysis, those who consumed diets with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains had lower risks of experiencing depression. Another meta-analysis showed that those who adhered to a Mediterranean diet experienced significantly lower rates of depression.

Previous research has discussed the physical health effects of ultra-processed foods, such as depleted nutritional value and increased added sugar and calories. This new study hypothesizes that the combination of food additives with low nutritional content can lead to adverse mental health symptoms. For example, the research showed that food additives in ultra-processed foods such as emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners can lead to pathophysiological changes, including impaired glucose tolerance and increased neuroinflammation. These symptoms have been linked to adverse mental health experiences.

The study acknowledges some limitations of the research, including the consumers’ self-reporting of intake and mental health outcomes, which may lead to misclassification. Additionally, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey does not consistently collect data on the foods eaten, so it can be difficult to determine how much processed food is being consumed.

The researchers note that since ultra-processed foods make up so much of the American diet, more research, including clinical trials, needs to be done to determine the public health risks.

"In the United Kingdom, the inflation rate for fresh food hit a record high of 12.1% in September, according to the BRC-NielsenIQ price index."



© pjohnson1/E+/Getty Images Plus


© pjohnson1/E+/Getty Images Plus

Frozen breakfast market heating up

The frozen breakfast foods market is expected to grow by $1.9 billion by 2026, according to a report published by Technavio. The report indicates accelerating growth in this market, with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 7.7%.

New product launches will be a key driver of market growth, Technavio’s report forecasts. Companies in the frozen breakfast industry are offering a wide variety of breakfast food products, including frozen bites, nuggets, and plant-based offerings. Additionally, this market saw positive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Europe will account for 40% of the market growth in the forecast period, with Germany, the United Kingdom, and France identified as key markets for frozen breakfast foods. Additionally, most of the market growth will be offline through the sales of products in supermarkets, convenience stores, and specialty stores.

Technavio identified product recalls as the main challenge facing the frozen breakfast foods market. Products may be recalled for a variety of reasons, including undisclosed allergens and foreign materials in the product. The report hypothesizes that these recalls can taint the reputation of a product and limit its growth.


Toast Frown

© BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Toast Frown

© BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Americans feel “hangry” nearly every day

Three-fourths of American adults feel “hangry” up to five times per week, according to a new poll of 2,000 American adults conducted by OnePoll and sponsored by Farm Rich. Hanger, a portmanteau of hunger and anger, is described as feelings of anger, grumpiness, impatience, and fatigue.

“There are many reasons our moods can be affected by food, and this poll shows us a lot of them,” said Farm Rich Director of Marketing Meghan Ozamiz, in a press release. “We saw that snacks remain important, with more than half the respondents saying they try to always keep snacks on hand or fuel up with small meals throughout the day.”

The most common reasons for hangry feelings among adults were mealtime delays, busy work schedules, not knowing what to cook, and not having sufficient time for grocery shopping. Additionally, a third of respondents said that they feel the most hangry around midweek.

Among hangry consumers, adults with small children were the most numerous. In fact, 42% of those with children aged 0–4 reported being frequently hangry, and 39% of parents admitted to eating their children’s snacks to ease hunger pangs.

Consumers have started to implement new habits to keep their hanger at bay, including stocking their refrigerator or freezer with one month’s supply of food (49%), giving up social media (32%), and eating only their favorite foods (30%).

About the Author

Emily Little is an associate editor of Food Technology ([email protected]).
Emily Little