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GPC Showcases Students’ Prototypes

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Food science students from Iowa State University are demonstrating their product development expertise with three product concepts they formulated as part of the GPC Ingredient Application Challenge.

The hands-on product development learning experience required student teams to conceptualize and execute a product sample formulated with Grain Processing Corp.’s MALTRIN maltodextrins and specialty starches. The first product concept, Coconut Curry Chicken Rice Cup, features PURE-GEL modified starch in the filling for stabilized viscosity. The ingredient helps keep products stable during refrigeration, freeze/thaw, high heat, acid, and shear conditions. Another student team used INSTANT PURE-COTE film-forming starch to enhance the crispiness of Chickpea Fries and MALTRIN maltodextrin to provide binding properties. For an added burst of flavor, try dipping the fries in Sriracha Pineapple Sauce.

To quench your thirst, try one of three Mocktails in Bloody Mary, Piña Colada, or Peach Bellini versions. The beverages are made with MALTRIN QD quick-dispersing maltodextrin. The agglomerated maltodextrin disperses quickly to add body and build mouthfeel. Sample the product concepts at booth 2812 and learn more about the company’s maltodextrins, corn syrup solids, and starches.

What’s on the Agenda for Students at IFT16?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Student activities The IFT annual event is always a major learning opportunity, and for student members, that can be particularly true thanks to a long list of competitions, social events, and educational options. There’s even a special spot for students who are looking for a place to relax, meet up with peers, or pick up some Official Food Geek swag. It’s the IFT Student Association (IFTSA) Lounge in room S404a at McCormick Place. The Student Lounge will be open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 16; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 17; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, July 18; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 19.

  • First-Timers Session. Students who are attending the annual event for the first time will definitely want to stop by this session for some tips on making the most of the IFT16 experience. This session begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 16, in the student lounge.
  • Chapter Leaders Workshops. Advice for leading a successful food science club will be available in a series of three chapter leaders workshops. Advance registration is required for the workshops, which are scheduled for 4:15–5:45 p.m. Saturday, July 16; 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday, July 18; and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19.
  • Excellence in Leadership Award. This award will be presented to two student members, one undergraduate and one graduate student, each of whom has demonstrated exemplary leadership in support of IFT’s mission, during the Awards Ceremony that takes place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, in the S100 ballroom of McCormick Place.
  • IFTSA Mixer. The energy is always high, and the atmosphere fun-filled at this annual social event, which is scheduled for 5:30–7 p.m. Monday, July 18, in the Red Lacquer room at the Palmer House Hilton. The IFTSA Mixer is sponsored by PepsiCo.
  • IFTSA Closing Ceremony. Taking place immediately after the mixer, the closing ceremony begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 18, in the Grand Ballroom of the Palmer House Hilton. The closing ceremony agenda is a full one; student competition winners will be announced, the championship rounds of the College Bowl Competition will be held, and IFTSA leadership will be introduced.
  • IFTSA Networking Party. Students are invited to keep the socializing and networking going as the busy schedule of Monday, July 18, draws to a close. The IFTSA Networking Party will take place from 10 p.m. to midnight at Fado Irish Pub, 100 W. Grand Ave., Chicago. This event is open to those 21 and older.

A full slate of student competitions are planned for IFT16, including the following.

  • Division Poster Competition. Winners of the annual division poster competition will be recognized in the Phi Tau Sigma (ΦΤΣ) and IFT Division Poster Competition Awards Ceremony that begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16, in McCormick Place.
  • Undergraduate Research Competition. Six finalists will compete for first, second, and third place recognition in Chicago, sharing oral and poster presentations that describe their original research projects. The six students who have made it to the final rounds of the competition are Adam Castillo from Texas Tech University, Jorge Franco from Texas Tech University, Sara Scinto from Ohio Wesleyan University, Menghan Shi from Ohio State University, Genevieve Sullivan from Cornell University, and Samantha Van Wees from Cornell University.
  • College Bowl Competition. The competition is always fierce but friendly in this annual team rivalry, which tests participants on their knowledge of food science and technology, the history of food and food processing, food law, and general IFT and food-related trivia. Eight finalist teams, chosen in regional competitions around the country, will be challenged in multiple rounds of double elimination competition until a winner emerges. The final match-up phase of the competition will take place during the IFTSA Closing Ceremony. The 2016 finalists and the regions they represent are as follows: North Carolina State University, Central Atlantic; Purdue University, Midwest; Cornell University, North Atlantic; University of Wisconsin–Madison, North Central; University of California, Davis, Pacific Northwest; California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Pacific Southwest; Texas A&M University, South Central; and Mississippi State University, Southeast. The College Bowl Competition is sponsored by Nestlé Purina and NP Analytical Laboratories.
  • Chapter of the Year Competition. Four university student organizations will compete for 2016 Chapter of the Year recognition, which acknowledges one student organization for exceptional participation, strong leadership, community outreach, and providing opportunities for all of its members to use their talents. The finalists include California Polytechnic State University Pomona, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Other competitions, which are detailed in separate IFT16 News articles, include the Developing Solutions for Developing Countries Competition, the Disney—IFTSA Product Development Competition, the IFTSA & Mars Product Development Competition, and the IFTSA Thesis Video Competition.

Preparing Today’s Scientists to Create Tomorrow’s Foods

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Food safety is becoming increasingly important to consumers, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t also expect creativity, quality, and innovation from what they choose to eat. With these demands growing, and as well as a desire for environmentally-friendly and sustainable products, tomorrow’s class of food scientists may have even more to consider as they begin their careers.

Manan Sharma began the session with a discussion on balance and how it pertains to the human gut biome, sustainable approaches to food safety, and international issues in food safety and testing. In the gut, the concept of balance applies to fiber; eating fiber provides health benefits, but it also makes people more susceptible to E. coli. In the future, he says, we “need to figure out the relationship between specific pathogenic bacteria and overall health.” In that same vein, as an industry, we want people to eat more fruits and vegetables, but we don’t want them to get sick doing it; recent outbreaks of foodborne illness have been associated with cantaloupe, spinach, and sprouts. Sharma also discussed water availability as a huge issue to watch going forward, citing the need for cost-effective technologies to irrigate crops. These could include recycling water, treating it with ultraviolet light, and filtering it through iron filings.

IFT Past President Janet E. Collins then spoke about past and current food-associated regulations, global standards, food industry impacts, and consumer concerns. “We talk about food safety as though it’s a thing when it’s everything,” she said. In her discussion, Collins said that recent regulations have focused on implementing precautionary measures that are risk-averse, sometimes in ways that don’t make sense scientifically. These labeling requirements can also have an impact on limiting global trade.

When it comes to labeling, she asked which things consumers really need and want to know; sometimes they think they want to go back to what they believe were simpler times, but this is because they don’t understand the science that goes into creating food. “We haven’t told them why we do what we do,” she noted, saying that claims on labels can be confusing to people who don’t understand how food is made. As scientists, we need to have hard conversations in the public sphere to better spread the message that innovation doesn’t have to be scary.

According to IFT professional member Lester A. Wilson, when it comes to preparing future food scientists currently in universities, “the future is now.” In his presentation, he discussed how models of higher education have evolved, tracing how teaching has moved from traditional lectures to hands-on learning and field trips to enhance how students learn. “We’re moving into student-centered learning,” he observed. Internships, co-ops, and shadowing help give students real-world experience to help determine their career paths. Traditional lecture formats have long been heading online, but sometimes they now include hands-on practice to apply the knowledge. In what’s called a “flip class,” lectures are held online and experiments are held in the classroom, something that’s been seen particularly in food engineering classes. Scientists must be confident in assessing situations related to food safety and quality and being able to understand the food supply chain—educators must stress critical thinking and problem solving to help prepare students to make these kinds of decisions.

The final speaker, IFT emeritus professional member John H. Litchfield, began his presentation with a review of the emerging technologies he presented in 1998—energy for processing, water use and reuse, nonthermal processes, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and packaging. Fast forward to 2015, forms of these topics are still in the forefront of emerging technologies. Litchfield discussed the key issues relating to these topics, such as using bioenergy, solar, and wind power to power food production more sustainably, as well as the idea of sociohydrology, which measures the water footprint associated with water use throughout production process.

He also introduced a new topic for 2015: big data analytics, volumes of large, complex, linkable data. The more data you collect, he said, the more likely there will be errors, so scientists must be careful. But big data allows for analysis from whole genome sequencing of food pathogens, food processing operational data, and integration of economic and market data with food product development. He believes that students must learn in school how to integrate this kind of information technology with traditional science education to be able to use this technology in their future jobs.

Record-Breaking Career Fair

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

The IFT15 Career Center Live Networking Event that took place Sunday, July 12, had a record-breaking 30 companies in attendance, all looking to hire talented food industry professionals for a variety of roles. In addition, many of these companies were new the career fair, giving students and job seekers a broader range of companies to explore. One of the new companies –Beachbody—got its start in the fitness program market with popular workout programs such as P90X and Insanity. Now, the company has a growing supplements line and recently formed a research and development department to invest in developing even more new products. Because of this growth, the California-based company is attending IFT15 in hopes of filling eight positions, including R&D, product development, quality assurance, and sourcing.

Career FairOn the other end of the spectrum, Kellogg’s who has been an active participant in the event for years, turned out in force this year with 13 employees present to meet with interested applicants. As Tammi Smith, senior director of quality technology, explained, “We have more available jobs this year than last year.” Those open positions include process engineers, statisticians, chemists, and nutrition marketing.

One of the main benefits for attendees at the career fair is the diversity of industry jobs all in one location. From R&D positions at Beachbody, process engineering roles at Kellogg’s, and flavorist jobs at FONA, job seekers had a plethora of opportunities to choose from. And the job seekers were certainly taking advantage of the opportunity to network and hand out their resumes as demonstrated by the long lines of people waiting to meet with company representatives.

The majority of the attendees were students like Himani Nadgauda, who is graduating next month with her MS in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is looking to land her first full-time job in the industry. Nadgauda was hoping to line up an interview for a process engineering position and was especially excited to talk to one company about its technical leadership development program.

For another student, Christina Day, the job hunting process is old hat. She is graduating from the University of Arkansas next summer with her MS in food science but prior to beginning her advanced education she spent eight years working in the industry in various food science positions. This year she was attending the career fair to network with company representatives and to and explore what is out there. As she explained, there are companies in attendance that she had no previous knowledge of but was glad to learn about. After all, the more companies she learns about and meets with, the better her chances of landing her dream job next summer upon graduation.

Competition Adds a Dash of Disney Magic to Product Development

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Nutrition and fun always intersect in the Disney—IFTSA Product Development Competition: Nutritious Food for Kids, now in its seventh year. Five finalist teams will compete in the last phase of this competition, which will take place on the show floor in the Food Expo Forum, Booth 3887, on Monday, July 13.

The competition challenges student members of IFT to create a delicious, market-relevant snack that meets Disney Nutritional Guidelines and integrates at least a half-serving of one of the following: a fruit, vegetable, low-fat dairy product, and or/whole grains. Children aged 10 and younger are the target audience for the snack products.

What have the finalist teams whipped up this year? Here’s a look at the products that judges will be evaluating.

  • The Virginia Tech team will showcase Nemo Pockets, a snack made from a mix of sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and carrots filled with shredded mozzarella and topped with chia seeds. Its creators claim that it is just as filling as pizza snacks—and more healthful.
  • The team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst will offer Cinderella’s Chicken and Veggie Bites, which are vegetable-fortified chicken nuggets in shapes inspired by Disney’s Cinderella franchise.
  • The University of Georgia team will be showing off its Snow Snacks, which are gummy snack kits made from 100% real fruit and vegetables and filled with nonfat yogurt as well as dried mango strips and raisins.
  • The offering from the Rutgers University team is WhOLaf Grain Treats, which are low-calorie children’s snacks that are free of gluten and the big eight allergens. Each snack kit contains brown rice biscuits, dried fruit adornments, and an edible glue, which will allow kids to construct their own snowmen friends.
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, student product developers will showcase Build a Snowman Kit. It’s an interactive snack kit that contains a cracker, fruit and vegetable spread, and toppings that feature Olaf from the Disney franchise.

Winners of the competition will be announced during the IFT Student Association Closing Ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 13, in the Continental AB Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago. One grand prize, one first prize, and three honorary prizes will be bestowed in the competition, which is sponsored each year by Disney Consumer Products.

IFTSA & Mars Competition Adds an International Element

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

The IFTSA & Mars Product Development Competition is always a prestigious event, and this year it boasts an extra element of excitement. The winning team of student product developers chosen at IFT15 will advance to an international “Competition of Champions” in China this fall. That competition, the CIFST (Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology)/IFT Global Product Development Competition, will take place during the CIFST Summit in Dalian, China.

The elements of the competition in China will parallel those of the event in Chicago in which each participating collegiate team is asked to conceive of a new food product concept and take it through the production and marketing processes, much like a commercial product development team.

The competition will include an oral presentation phase from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, July 12, in Room S404d of McCormick Place and poster presentations from 3–5 p.m. that day in the convention center’s South Hall.

Here’s a preview of the product development creativity that will be showcased in the entries from the six teams that will participate in the competition’s final rounds.

  • The Pennsylvania State University team developed Happy Valley-oli, a frozen ravioli made with kale and spinach. The high-fiber ravioli dough is formulated with spent grain from beer brewing.
  • The entry from the Michigan State University team is SouperBowl, a frozen, microwavable soup in a lightly browned bread bowl.
  • Students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, concocted RISE, a baked, cinnamon-flavored, vegetable-based cereal packed with vitamins and nutrients.
  • Cornell University students will be showing off Crunchia, a snack that features light and crispy meringue cookies sandwiching a filling that incorporates fruit, chia seeds, and dark chocolate.
  • The McGill University team’s entry is TiraVerde, a tiramisu-inspired healthy snack made with avocados that delivers added protein and fiber.
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison students developed CrackerSmackers, a high-protein brown sugar and cinnamon cracker sandwich with a butternut squash filling that uses pea protein isolate in the formulation.

Winners of the competition will be recognized during the IFT Student Association Closing Ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 13, in the Continental AB Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago. First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded. This competition is sponsored by MARS Chocolate North America.

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