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Pizza parties in space


NASA-awarded food science students will present the ultimate in space comfort foods - the 'Pizza Popper'- at the upcoming IFT Annual Meeting in Chicago this weekend.

The students at Chicago's Chapman university solved the outer space pizza delivery problem and garnered first prize in the 2003 NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center Product Development Competition earlier this year.

To qualify for the competition, entries had to be easily prepared, generate minimal waste, yield no crumbs, provide high nutritional value, be based on crops grown in space, and of course, taste good.

Led by department chair, food scientist Anuradha Prakash, the students developed a nutritious pizza snack intended for use by astronauts on future missions.

According to a UPI news report, Prakash said that the impressive characteristics of the product from the NASA perspective were its utilisation of protein-rich wastewater leftover from tofu manufacturing and its ability to be crispy while producing no crumbs that can adversely affect sensitive electronics aboard space stations.

Last year a pizza crust developed by Iowa State students won first prize in the NASA product development competition. EZ Crust was made from okara, a high-fibre, high-protein by-product of soymilk and tofu production.

Product innovation and industry debate are, as usual, on the cards for this year's IFT. Three 'hot topic' sessions during the exhibition will address issues of interest to the industry. On Sunday 13 July, 'Food Trends: The Top 5 for '05' will debate the technological, business, demographic and geopolitical changes currently re-defining the food industry. 'The Brave New World of Nutragenomics - A Roadmap to the Future' on Monday 14 will look at how the food industry can place itself in the new era of nutrigenomics. Discussions are set to revolve around how companies can develop a new generation of functional foods tailored to meet the needs of individuals with specific genetic traits.

In recent years, the food industry, on both sides of the Atlantic, has had to deal with a constant string of negative press that have also had legal and societal ramifications. On Tuesday 15 July speakers representing legal, political, academic, and industry perspectives, will address the impacts of litigation and food industry responses for topics such as nutrition, obesity and genetically modified foods.

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