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IFT 2007: Receptor Research, Junk Food and Beyond

Posted: August 2, 2007

This year's Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Expo in Chicago provided everything from scientific sessions on the future of taste receptor research and the effects of genetics and environment on taste variables to discussions of free trade vanilla. During the Society of Flavor Chemists' breakfast meeting, Technical Products' Steven Witherly dissected exactly why humans like junk food. Witherly pointed out that MSG is highly desired by humans because it signals the presence of protein, which the body instinctually craves for survival. To this point, he explained that MSG reduction has been problematic because of this fact. In fact, Witherly claimed that changing any food aspect by more than 30% will alert the body, meaning product tweaks must be subtle. During a press conference, SAFC representatives discussed some of the challenges facing the company and its customers, including global harmonization of regulations and supply chain management.

During an evening presentation, Virginia Dare's Rick Brownell spoke about the advantages of fair trade vanilla, including supply chain stabilization and environmental protection. During the event, John Floros, professor and head of the food science department at Pennsylvania State University, was named president of the IFT 2007–2008. He assumes his post on September 1. He has held positions with Asteris, Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, Purdue University and Nestle.