In food industry, we really like to talk about the same concepts - how to keep our food safe, sell them and keep our customer happy. It is important, isn't it? But, why do we keep repeating these topics that by now, it did be a common sense.
Here are 5 reasons why I think why we kept repeating ourselves:
1st - These topics are important. Top of the list to keep the conversation going to remind ourselves to be always cautious on ensuring we contribute to the positive outlook of the industry.
2nd - To share good practices among the industry. For the beginner, great opportunities to learn and for the seasoned professional, it serve as a great experience sharing session.
3rd- To find ways to really keep up with consumers and regulatory requirement, bearing in mind, the demands will only get harsher.
4th - To find gaps in our current practices to ensure that preventative strategies are in place to minimize damage to the consumers and also, maintaining the hard earned branding.
5th - To expect what is next hit for the industry, whether it is the trend for popular flavor, food habits or simply new regulatory requirements. If you are not in the loop, you may missed out!
So, there you go, my top 5 why(s) we speak about the same thing over and over again. Do you have any other reasons to add on?
Food science knowledge should be communicated in a way that is both understandable by the public and doesn't exaggerate the condition to prompt unnecessary public fear. This is my take over the few years of my experience as a food scientist.
As a food scientist, we focus and devote our role to collect, analyze and summarize the data and findings on our research question to provide a possible solution to manage or reduce the risk to consumer's safety.It is also important that we are able to share information with the consumers. However, we put minimal effort on building followers on social media to share the food knowledge with the consumers. Rather, we depend on regulatory bodies and food-based organization to share the knowledge.
The question is can we relay this role of communicating science to food activist that can potentially spread the information faster than a food scientist does with the number of followers they have. Well, the easiest way to get attention is to create fear.
"Component X known to produce effect Y and this product Z contains component X. "
Everyone look at the posting including myself because I am curious. Suddenly, component X is listed in the unclean label list (perhaps product Z as well) regardless of the presence of scientific evidence. Better, you will see comments after comments of the other side effect of component X and questions for the company and regulatory bodies of why component X is approved in country A, not in the rest of country B, C, D etc.
As a human, we have the tendency to get worried and to avoid things that we have doubt on. Same goes when it comes to food selection and how food is made. As a consumer, we often think of the possibilities of a food company to make a profit at the expense of consumer's health. In fact, we have to blame it on continuous food fraud that can and will still be happening- they are the bad apples in the food industry. There will be always some bad apples in every industry. Secondly, we also like to voice our thoughts, share opinions and perhaps, see some changes in how our food is made. Food activism is one way that consumers can take charge to voice their thoughts on how our food is made.
However, food activists are a great communicator of what they believe in but unfortunately, they are not the front-liners that deal with assessing the food safety and managing the food safety system. Their expertise is to share information in the way that they believe in. They may not have sufficient information to present their doubt. Their thought sharing is more of sharing what could possibly go wrong and more often, based on fear and doubt. This thought sharing process may lead to misunderstanding and belief that the shared information is backed by scientific knowledge when the information may not be. Not all food activist have scientific expertise, so consider what you are reading and take it with a grain of salt.
Remarks: This article is written based on my personal perspective on communicating food science.
Do you think fruits are healthy? As an example, I have taken two images of ingredients list for strawberries to compare and contrast what are we actually eating!
The first one is the ingredient lists, if we were to list all ingredients in a typical strawberry, defined by its genetic make-up. In a simpler note, this ingredient list are the same for all strawberry regardless of the strawberry is grown organically or otherwise.
I have seen some advice that if you cannot understand the ingredient, don't eat it. To tell you the truth, I don't recognize all the ingredients here. All I know this ingredients are natural additives that make strawberry taste the way they are. Yummm... full of flavors and colors!
Then, I simply love how a conventional strawberry being contrasted with organic strawberry. The added ingredients shown below are what we called contaminants! A more confusing list. Contaminants can come from pesticides and originate from the farm land itself.
Since organic strawberry was grown on the farm land, it probably make sense to have some level of natural contaminants from the land. This link direct you to how much these pesticides residue in conventional versus organic strawberries. Hmmm.... it leads me to questions of what our food really contains?
Of course, strawberries are more than these unknown ingredients, it also have complement ingredients such as the love and passion from the earth and its grower.
I have gotten curious with how a 3-D food was printed and decided to go ahead to look into the mystery that embodied the potential future of food.
3-D food printer is capable of printing any shaped food that can be program through computerized 3-D software. The taste, well it depends on the paste or the filling that are being squeezed while it is printing. 3-D printing can be summarized as molding of filling to create a desired design. Amazingly, these designs are so perfect and can be used to decorate any food, to deliver a premium appearance and even a luxury experience.
I am just looking forward to the advancement of the technology to be able to print 3-D food faster and at a much affordable pricing. Are you?
About the Author:
Felicia Loo is a food science graduate from UBC. With an interest in food marketing and creating consumer's awareness on food safety and dietary consumption, she explore how food products are created to meet end users needs.
This article has been published at http://www.felicialoo.com/. This article is solely reflective of Felicia's personal thought. While every caution has been taken to provide the readers with most accurate information and honest analysis, please use your discretion before taking any decisions based on the information in this article.
Science allows us to understand how to grow and recreate our food. Food are made out of a series of codes, encoded in genetic inheritance substance called DNA.
Without science, we do not know what is DNA, what is nature selection and how our food can be grown? We will not know the difference and what made up the diversity in human traits. Food crops and livestock are not an exceptional. Food is a product of science by nature selection.
There are two types of genetic codes -the visible and the invisible genetic inheritance materials in a living organism. The visible inheritance materials are translated into a characteristic or traits that we can observed, for example, a crop has 5 petals of flower, round leaf, green leaf etc. The invisible inheritance materials remains not visible as they are not meant to be translated.
As human, we focus on the visible traits because we want our food to taste the same and look the same. We grew food that is best meet our preference -we are essentially selecting specific traits to meet our needs. As time passed by, we learnt to perform selective farming of specific traits, say sweet watermelon, to meet our needs. While we enjoy sweet watermelon, we may have lose the diversification of the other watermelon that we previously enjoyed. Or is it a very important issue to most of us? After all, we just want a sweet watermelon.
The second example, lab-grown beef. Science allow us to understand the structure and genetic materials of a cells and how to produce an environment that can duplicate where the cells are usually grown. Thus, growing beef inside a laboratory environment using normal (non-genetically modified) beef cell as the starting material, is not impossible. It is made possible because scientist understand how a cell can be grown. Would you eat lab-grown beef meat, as an alternative to farmed beef?
Food is a product of science -we are essential consuming a series of genetic codes through our meals. So, what are you having for dinner?