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Conference 31 October — 3 November 2010

Questions and enquiries please address to Ms Cherylie Thorn

The “Neutrons and Food” workshop took place in Sydney from Sunday 31 October to Wednesday 3 November 2010 at the Amora Hotel Jamison in downtown Sydney.

The meeting co–chairs were Prof Mike Davidson (University Tennessee, Knoxville) and Dr Elliot Gilbert (Bragg Institute, ANSTO) with support provided by the European Union through NMI3 (Integrated Infrastructure Initiative for Neutron Scattering and Muon Spectroscopy), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and the Australian Government Department of Innovation Industry, Science and Research.

The “Neutrons and Food” workshop sought to identify the future scientific needs in the application of neutron scattering to Food Science. The findings will help neutron facilities to further adapt their infrastructure to the requirements of the wider scientific community and to enable potential users to develop collaborations with neutron scattering researchers. The application of neutron scattering to food–based systems is still in its infancy but has significant potential to understand the complex relationship between food structure, processing, rheology, nutrition, food quality and security.

Opportunities for the application of neutron scattering in food science has recently been reviewed (Trends in Food Science and Technology (2009), 20 p.576–586) and is available for download.

Submissions were invited for the following session topics:

  • Plant Materials and Carbohydrates
  • Lipids and Fats
  • Dairy
  • Drinks and Beverages
  • Proteins and complexes, including Amino Acids, Peptides, Enzymes, Meat/Muscle
  • Food packaging, including Food Quality and Preservation
  • Digestion, metabolic processes and nutrition, including Vitamins & Minerals
  • Encapsulation and Controlled release
  • Processing, including Rheology and Flow
  • Glassy States of Food and Hydration (Water and Ice)
  • Food Safety

Below is a summary of the findings of the workshop:

Hosting experts in food science and neutron scattering, the "Neutrons and Food" workshop provided the opportunity for hearing the latest results, exchanging views and discussing the future scientific needs in the application of neutron scattering to food science. The discussions during the workshop focussed around four main areas:

  • model systems;
  • interaction between facility, academia and industry;
  • collaboration and outreach;
  • access to large–scale facilities.

We agreed that the most pressing questions are always related to very complex systems; on the on  hand, the structure and dynamics of food are studied on multiple length and timescale but there is also a need to understand other essential aspects e.g. physiological and metabolic aspects. The best way forward in understanding the behaviour and processes around food are model systems. Furthermore, given the range of disciplines required to enable a system to be properly untangled, the workshop identified that there is a need of increasing interactions between various communities. Currently, there are few opportunities or meetings in which this can be achieved; the attendees noted that this workshop provided such a mechanism. We discussed possibilities as to how to set up networks and how to collaborate. This includes possible outreach activities. Finally, we considered how the access to large–scale facilities could be changed with a view to attracting and integrating the food community.

Over 50 participants gathered with over 60% coming from outside Australia (18 from Europe, 10 from North America, 4 from New Zealand and 3 from Asia) complementing the 21 local participants. A speed networking (between food and neutron specialists) and a poster session were part of the programme. The workshop dinner greatly enhanced the social networking with a memorable cruise on Sydney harbour. A visit to ANSTO’s neutron facilities was offered at the end of the workshop and much appreciated.

The feedback from the workshop was extremely positive (32 replies). Two comments summarise the overall feedback: "Very good workshop, overall. Good coverage of topic related to the application of neutron scattering with many good/high standard research and excellent speakers. This workshop should serve as a first effort "seed" to connect researchers who have an interest in this area. Thank you for organising this wonderful workshop." "I would like to thank you both for making the workshop one of the most pleasant professional experiences that I have had in recent times. The amount of work that you and your colleagues invested in the workshop was evident to all. I also very much enjoyed our discussions, and I am looking forward to future interactions with you. Thank you for making me feel most welcomed in your country."

Workshop report is available for download in pdf format.

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