Speakers – June 1, 2022 – Concurrent 1B

Food Education and Technology Transfer

Dr. Don Mercer, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science – University of Guelph

Dr. Don Mercer, P.Eng. is an Associate Professor with the Department of Food Science, University of Guelph and is a Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology. His research interests are in food process engineering, with specific emphasis on dehydration and drying. For the past twenty years, Don has been working with international organizations to develop and deliver training material for small-scale processors, entrepreneurs, and food industry workers. He has presented numerous food processing workshops in the Caribbean, South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. In addition, he has participated in the “Education for Employment Program” sponsored by the Canadian Government to develop food-based training programs in Tanzania, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Prior to joining the University of Guelph, Don spent ten years with the Research Branch of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, and fourteen years as Senior Research Engineer with Kraft-General Foods Canada.


Meeting the Food Science Technology Transfer Needs of Those Outside the Formal Education System

A significant component of the agri-food processing sector is composed of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) and entrepreneurs who lack formal training in the areas of Food Science and Technology. Most academic Food Science research is directed toward scholarly pursuits for publication in refereed journals. Formal Food Science courses are geared toward knowledge-based education and training (KBET) with emphasis on theoretical principles and text-book learning. As a result, those outside formal education systems are vastly under-served when it comes to providing relevant training material and general information. In order to bridge this gap in knowledge translation and transfer (KTT), it is critical that a more hands-on competency-based education and training (CBET) approach be emphasized.

We will examine several methods of providing instructional material to small-scale processors and entrepreneurs. Two-day workshops on various aspects of food processing have proven to be highly successful when offered in host countries. Access to this information has been expanded through short videos (20 to 30 minutes) designed to show cause-and effect relationships, and provide explanations as to why various processing steps are followed. A recent refinement has been to prepare train-the-trainer videos, which has broadened potential audiences for these workshops.

Dr. Chibuike Udenigwe, University of Ottawa

Chibuike Udenigwe is a Professor and University Research Chair at the School of Nutrition Sciences, Cross-appointed Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, and Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He obtained a PhD in Food and Nutritional Sciences and MSc in Chemistry from the University of Manitoba, and a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Nigeria. He held an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Guelph and then a faculty position at Dalhousie University prior to moving to Ottawa. His research takes the chemical sciences approach in exploring food, nutrition and health, with a focus on sustainable processing, functional foods and nutraceuticals, and their beneficial effects on human health. Dr. Udenigwe is a recipient of the American Chemical Society–Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Young Scientist Award, American Oil Chemists’ Society Young Scientist Research Award, and International Union of Food Science and Technology Young Scientist Award. He serves on the Administrative Council of the College of Early Career Scientists of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology. Dr. Udenigwe was a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow and is a member of the Global Young Academy.


Transforming food systems: Practical food innovations for better nutrition and health


Dr. Monique Lacroix, Professor – INRS, University of Quebec

Monique Lacroix has completed a B.Sc.A. and a M.Sc. in Food Sciences Technology in 1980 and 1982 respectively and a Ph.D. in Nutrition in 1986 at University Laval. She is full professor at INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Canada and director of the Research Laboratories in Sciences Applied to Food and of the Canadian Irradiation Centre. Prof. Lacroix is Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology (IAFoST) and of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) for her outstanding representatives of international food science and technology. She received 4 awards for her most cited publications in Food sciences and for the best 10 research partnership with industries for two partnerships.

Professor Lacroix has served as an expert member of several United Nations research networks on food safety and on nano biopolymer using gamma irradiation. She is also member of three Canadian networks: Canadian food processing networks, Research network on dairy products in Québec and of the Institute of nutraceuticals and functional foods.

Professor Lacroix is author of more than 345 publications, 10 patents and 34 book chapters. Until today, she has supervised 19 post-doct, 76 graduated students of 2nd and 3 th cycles and over than 400 trainees that come from all over the world. She has been invited to present over than 208 conferences in major congresses, including United Nations conferences as a member of expert committees.


The evolution of Food Irradiation Practices and all its challenges

Food irradiation is a processing technique known as a cold pasteurization or cold sterilization that involves exposing food to ionizing radiation such as UV-C, electron beams, X-rays, or gamma radiation to eliminate pathogenic bacteria, to control insect infestation, to delay fruit ripening, or to prevent vegetables from sprouting. This technology can also reduce the rate of microorganism’s proliferation that cause food spoilage. This technology offers a wide range of benefits to the food industry and the consumer by ensuring the hygienic quality of foods. Irradiation treatment can contribute to reduce food losses from infestation, contamination, and spoilage by pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Also, with the growing of international trade, food products should reach strict standards of quality and quarantine.

Food loss is still high in Canada. More than 40% of food produced in Canada is not consumed, representing a lost value of $27 billion annually, later revised to $31 billion (Gooch et al., 2010; Gooch and Felfel, 2014). Food losses from retail to household mounted to about 6 million tons of food waste (Statistic Canada ,2009). More than 4 million Canadians get also sick each year due to food contamination. E. coli 0157:H7, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and norovirus are the most important contaminants.

The desire of most countries to make food safer for consumption requires better food preservation and production techniques and irradiation can contribute to that. Irradiation could be applied to fresh or frozen products without affecting the nutritional value. Used alone or in combination with other processes it can contribute to food safety, satisfying quarantine requirements, improve the nutritional value of products, and control losses during transportation and commercialization. Using in synergy with other treatments, a lower dose could be used to eliminate pathogenic bacteria, can permit a better protection of the sensorial quality of the foods and can prolong the shelf life of foods.

According to the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), more than 50 countries have given approval for over than 60 products to be irradiated in the world. Around 120,000 tons of food are irradiated annually in the USA for human and animal consumption. In Canada around 2000 tons of spices are irradiated annually. Only potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, flour, whole and ground spices, and dehydrated seasoning preparation and ground beef are approved in Canada for irradiation. The regulations were adopted in 1960 and 1965 to treat potatoes and onions, respectively, in 1969 to treat wheat and flour, in 1984 to treat spices and seasoning and in 2017 to treat ground beef. A regulatory proposal was submitted in 2002 for poultry, shrimp, prawns, and mangoes but they are still under consideration.

One of the limits is the consumer resistance to purchase irradiated products. This is related to the lack of information about irradiation process and the human resistance to change. However, due to the growing number of recalls after food poisoning incidents, it is important to invest in formation and in marketing to make consumers more conscious of the benefits of this technology for human wellbeing.

This presentation will put in highlight the use of food irradiation in Canada compared to its uses around the world and our challenges in facilitating the application of this technology in Canada.


Alyssa Francavilla, Ph.D. Candidate – University of Guelph

Alyssa previously completed her BSc. and MSc. in Food Science at the University of Guelph, and is now a PhD student in the department. Her research focuses on identifying strategies to minimize acrylamide formation in baked goods. She is also passionate about science outreach, and works for the department to develop innovative sessions.


Food Science in a BoxOutreach at a Distance

There is a critical need to increase awareness of STEM career pathways among girls and underrepresented minorities, especially those living in rural areas. Exposure to informal science learning is limited for these populations, due to entry barriers. The development and deployment of accessible and interactive STEM learning experiences will engage young people in the exploration of scientific principles. Self-contained, portable science boxes (kits) that contain all necessary materials and instructions can act as a bridge to science inquiry for these underserved populations. Distanced learning opportunities can help to ameliorate lack of access due to geographic challenges, socioeconomic status (SES), and the need for virtual learning. This study aimed to develop and test-deploy self-contained science outreach boxes, with food science themes to inspire interest in science, and increase topic comprehension. Food science topics were selected as the basis for activity boxes. The boxes needed to adhere to the main characteristics: low cost, safe for minors to perform with no supervision, and portable. In terms of the topics, they needed to be food science/food engineering related, modestly challenging for 8th graders or higher, emphasize scientific concepts regularly covered in science classes at that level, allowed deployment of hands-on activities. Each box was also accompanied with comprehensive instructions and concept explanations for participation and replication. Accompanying video tutorials were available for additional student support. Live pilot sessions were offered to gain specific feedback, and then the activities were rolled out to larger audiences following final adjustments. A questionnaire was issued to evaluate science motivation on four parameters. Participants were asked to complete the survey pre- and post-participation, to gauge a change in their attitude towards science. Sessions on photoluminescence, surface tension, food biopolymers, cereal science, food powders, food processing, and food ingredients were developed. 50 participants engaged in activity sessions lasting 1.5 hours on average. Each box had a final cost of between $10 and $15. Participants reported increased self-efficacy and science learning value, and comprehension was improved, after completing a session. Engaging, hands on, and accessible science learning opportunities are critical for students to develop a lifelong love of science. The development of science boxes that can be deployed in underserved communities can overcome barriers such as location and SES. These boxes can modify student attitudes towards science, an essential component of promoting lifelong science learning and literacy.