Int'l food tech conference examines how to better food with hi-tech tools

Technion–Israel Institute of Technology
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Israel hosts first virtual European Federation of Food Science and Technology conference

“The high-tech sector is pretty full,” Professor Uri Lesmes told The Jerusalem Post, “so the Start-Up Nation has now adopted food tech as its next target.”
Lesmes, from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, led the 34th European Federation of Food Science and Technology (EFFoST) conference where some of the country’s top food-tech professionals discussed what makes Israel a world leader in innovative food production, ranked only behind the US and Switzerland.
The conference was hosted by the Technion, but was held online, and Lesmes said that a major trend in the current food market is how to best make use of the waste bi-products in food manufacturing.
“When you take a cow and turn it into steaks,” he explained, “you end up losing the blood and bones. The English use the blood to make blood sausage. The same is true for cannabis, you can use waste to make fabrics or cattle feed.”
Such processes also require technology and effort, but the market is keen on using products that have a low carbon footprint and support a sustainable economy, he explained.
He cited as an example how the Israeli food innovation company Hargol Foodtech is trying to feed humanity with grasshopper-based protein. This is similar to the Swiss company, Essento, which makes insect burgers and meatless meatballs made from mealworms.  
“What the general public should realize is that due to the modern food industry, roughly one third of humanity is no longer looking for where its next meal would come from,” he told the Post. “Two centuries ago, roughly half of humanity was working to make enough food to eat. This liberation of one-third of humanity enabled us to do other things with our time. These two centuries are also when humanity made unfathomable progress in science and technology.”  
He said the modern issue is less of food scarcity and more of diets.
“People like to blame the product,” he said. As an example, he added, “I’m not fat because I overeat, I’m fat because this food makes me fat.”
Lesmes said Danakol, a yogurt with beta glucan supplement that was clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels, should have been a massive hit. However, because people could not see and feel the effect right away, they abandoned the yogurt, deciding they were paying too much for little effect.
He said that sales of fatty cheeses in Israel increased after the country began using red stickers to warn consumers from high-calorie foods. While the market currently has AIs that can tell people what to eat to enjoy maximum health, they tend to rebel against both stickers and machines.
“People want to eat tasty things,” he said. “Red stickers came to mean ‘tasty,’ not ‘bad for me.’”
Lesmes explained that some of it is conditioning and some of it is neurological.
“Take the issue of offering better food for an elderly person,” he said. “A baby will eat almost anything. An old person will resist being fed bad tasting food no matter how good it is. He would also refuse to buy it if it says ‘food for old people’ on the box.”

Sign up for The Jerusalem Post Premium Plus for just $5

Upgrade your reading experience with an ad-free environment and exclusive content

Join Now >

Load more...