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Food Scientists Converge On California

Development of science-based claims for functional foods and the field of genomics will be among the hottest topics of discussion among the Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods group at this month's Institute of Food Technology Annual Meeting and Food Expo, June 15-19 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

The Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods division provides updates and reviews of the latest developments, market situations and scientific achievements in the functional foods arena. The group's chair, S. Sefa Koseoglu, PhD, Texas A&M University, believes that science-based claims followed by regulations is one of the most pressing issues for functional food manufacturers today.

"There has been extensive discussions on functional foods, bioactives, health aspects and future prospects," said Koseoglu. "However, the amount of scientific information available for all these claims is limited. During the past few years there has been a significant increase in USDA and NIH-sponsored research in many areas of bio-actives and supplements. This trend will continue worldwide, and we should expect to see a lot of significant data."

Functional and specialty lipids, as well as prebiotics and specialty proteins, are some of the ingredients that currently show promise in functional foods, according to Koseoglu. "Last year, the IFT show had a lot of beverages containing herbs, bioactives and other minor ingredients that may have a beneficial health effect. I expect to see the same trend [this year], plus products or ingredients containing antioxidant concentrates and other bioactives.

In particular, Koseoglu added, work on genomics will create new and exciting opportunities for functional foods. At the IFT meeting this year, three days of educational sessions will include a half day in the area of genomics. Organised by J.W. Finley of Kraft Foods, Inc. and division chair-elect Fereidoon Shahidi, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the genomics session will take place on Wednesday, June 19. Panels will discuss the potential of mass customisation and genetic fingerprints and questions regarding bioactive nutrients, safety, efficacy and regulation, and gain a better understanding of the influence of food and nutrients on gene function and metabolism.

Other notable sessions within the nutraceuticals and functional foods division include health benefits of phytochemicals in functional foods, a case study of the stability of phytoestrogens, and the functional benefit of encapsulated choline salts.

Another session of note to product formulators and manufacturers is a forum discussion, sponsored by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, "Options for assessing safety of functional foods and dietary supplements." For specific details on these sessions, go to

IFT Hot Topics

Sunday, June 15, 2:30 AM
Consumers in charge ... Can the food industry cope?
What are some of the current and future issues as seen through the consumers' eyes? What are they saying about biotechnology, GMOs, food safety or the nutritional attributes of foods? A panel of industry and media experts address these questions in a highly interactive session.

Monday, June 16, 9:00 AM
Homeland defense: food security
Recent attacks on the United States have stimulated security preparedness efforts for agriculture, food systems and water supplies. Hear government leaders and industry experts disclose efforts to protect the food supply.

Tuesday, June 17, 9:00 AM
Obesity: A global metabolic time bomb! The "Metabolic Syndrome"—a huge increase in obesity and dramatic decline in physical activity among Americans—now affects about one in three people between the ages of 40 and 60. Discuss the physiological, psychological, social and economic ramifications for the food industry.

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