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From the President – June 2019

David Gregory  - IFST President

In April, IFST held its annual conference in Birmingham. This year, the theme was nutritional science and those of you able to attend would have heard an incredibly thought provoking and challenging set of speakers bringing to life the challenges and opportunities we food professionals will face in forthcoming years.

This was my third and last conference as President of IFST and in each of the three conferences we have tried to focus on the challenges we will all face – either through emerging new technologies (2017) or redefining food risk management.

What is clear is that we are living in an ever-changing world where the boundaries of food science and technology are forever stretching into new topics. Increasingly areas, such as artificial intelligence, managing big data and the juxtaposition of food and medicine, are becoming part of our everyday working life.

To do justice to all the speakers at the conference would be impossible in this short article but two examples that demonstrate this come to mind.

The first was the very elegant solution Tesco has found to communicate to its customers not just which foods are gluten free variants of normal foods (several hundred products) but with the help of a customer idea and using artificial intelligence software they now can tell you which foods you can safely buy as part of a gluten free diet (over 20,000 products) thereby overcoming the essential issue – do consumers actually know which foods might contain gluten?

The second example is where opticians in Germany now assess their clients’ micronutrient status and provide supplements to mitigate challenges of macular degeneration and other eye health issues. How long before we see ranges of foods for eye health (and not just carrots)?

Finally, we held elections for the next President of IFST earlier this year and I am delighted that Helen Munday was the successful candidate. Helen will be well known to many of you at IFST and I look forward to working with her over the forthcoming years. I wish her all the best in her new role.

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