On Site: Institute of Food Technologists
Meeting and Food Expo, Chicago
A taste of show floor highlights and insights from the SFC/CSA/WFFC breakfast meeting.
The 2013 Annual Meeting and Food Expo of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago drew more than 23,500 registrants and 1,171 exhibitors from 87 countries.
The event featured a range of educational opportunities, in
addition to a show floor filled with the latest flavor and product
Odor Object Constancy and Other Insights into How
For most species, odor is central to behavior and survival,
said speaker Jay Gottfried (Northwestern University) during
the joint breakfast meeting of the Society of Flavor Chemists,
Chemical Sources Association, and Women in Flavor & Fragrance
Commerce. For example, pleasant and unpleasant smells are
associated to attraction and averseness. In humans, smell is crucial for procreation, food and survival.
Gottfried explained that the piriform cortex is the brain’s odor
identifier. The amygdala, meanwhile, is the emotional interpreter.
All of the sensations produced by various parts of the brain must
be passed to the frontal lobe to be integrated and then affect
a behavior (ex: revulsion, a second sniff of something pleasant, etc.). It comes as no surprise that the limbic system, which
powers emotions in the brain, is significantly affected by odor.
Measuring odor information in the human brain is an ongoing effort incorporating neuroimaging. One interesting insight
shared by Gottfried was that olfactory information is registered
in the brain as an “odor object,” even though it may comprise
many components. This, the speaker explained, allows humans
to recreate a complex smell into a recognizable whole. While
one may be able to identify the individual components within
an orange odor via background segmentation, the scent nonetheless is consistently identifiable as an integrated whole. This,
said Gottfried, is called “odor object constancy,” and allows
humans to recognize a generalization of a fruit type. While
one apple may smell different from another, they are both
consistently identifiable as “apple.” Another handy odor trick,
“olfactory attention selection,” allows humans to smell one thing
by choice, for example tuning in on a glass of wine while simultaneously tuning out a dining companion’s perfume. Finally,
“odor coding” describes the ability of people to anticipate what
they are about to smell and, under some conditions, smell the
thing they are expecting even when the actual stimulus doesn’t
match that assumption.
The frontiers of odor research have included the administration of mild shocks to prompt more exacting identification of two
enantiomers of rose oxide in human subjects. Researchers are
also learning how smell deprivation can change perception, how
odor parts and wholes can carry meaningful information, how
children form initial “odor repertoires,” and—no surprise—the
connection between odor and diabetes.
A fascinating start to the day. For future industry events, visit
Company Launches, Announcements and Appointments
During IFT, Teawolf officially unveiled its partnership with
Lera Global Inc., focused on functional beverage formulas
based on adaptogens, which “are natural substances found
in specific plants and herbs, known for their innate ability to
increase energy and resilience to stressors.”
Teawolf and Lera are using 10 adaptogenic herbs and natural
antioxidants such as tea, juice and cocoa extracts in a propri-
etary co-extraction process, which, according to the company,
“increases the blend’s effectiveness 5. 5 times over that of a simple
Bell Flavors & Fragrances displayed a range of flavor applications
based on its Peruvian cuisine theme; dishes included Peruvian cheese
fries, tres leches cupcakes, kola champagne and chicha morada,
which is a non-alcoholic beverage that traditionally includes clove,
cinnamon, pineapple, sugar and corn.