On April 28th, the class was able to showcase our cumulative food chemistry knowledge at a public information campaign. This consisted of four different group presentations, each debunking a food myth or common misconception. The campaign targeted all audiences, ranging from high school or college students with no knowledge of science, up to science professionals. No matter the academic background of the attendee, everyone left the Geneva room as a well-informed consumer!
Reading the Labels – Vernon, Adonis and Zhou
The first group chose to focus their presentation on unwrapping the confusing jargon within a list of ingredients. They covered the main categories of ingredients that you typically find in packed foods, such as sugars, fats, flavors, preservatives and corn. This group also showed how a label is organized from highest content to lowest, showing that corn and sugar are often the most abundant in packaged foods. They also demonstrated the different ways a label will try to disguise its ingredients, such as listing sugar under several different names that a typical consumer may not recognize.
All About That Fat – Kelly, Dominique and Anola
The second group’s presentation aimed to inform the audience on the different types of fats that we eat. This group’s goal was to leave the viewer with enough knowledge to make their own informed decision on whether certain types of fats are good or bad. The presentation began with a description of the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats, in terms of both chemistry and physical state. The group then went on to discuss how cholesterol levels relate to fat intake, and the differences between LDL and HDL cholesterol. This presentation also touched on other aspects of fats such as cis and trans fats, and omega-3 fats.
Can I Still Eat That? – Carly, Josh, Amelia, Adam
The next group focused on uncovering the truth behind expiration date labeling and the (bio)chemistry of what happens during food spoilage. This group presented the history behind expiration dates, pointing out that they are not actually required by law on any packaged foods other than baby food, but are rather a choice made by companies. The presentation also went on to show what causes spoilage, such as bacterial growth and mold, and methods of preventing that spoilage, such as pasteurization and irradiation. The group concluded by pointing out that foods can often be enjoyed beyond the labeled expiration date–but that consumers should use just use their (well-informed!) judgment.
GMOs – Adrian, Grace, Erin
The final presentation of the campaign aimed to inform the audience on the truth behind the much debated topic of genetically modified organisms. This group gave a brief background on the science behind GMO, examples of the most widely used GMO crops and talked about how they have actually been beneficial to our food system. The presentation was a good way to show the consumer that GMOs are not as bad as they are made out to be.