I went to the IFT 2015 in Chicago to keep abreast of what is relevant in the food industry to kosher.
One theme of the talks and exhibits in the show is protein. People in the food industry are concerned that there will not be enough protein available to feed everyone.
Alternative Proteins: Alternative proteins was one the biggest topics at the IFT annual convention in Chicago in July.
There were many booths showing pea and other legume proteins. A new entrant in the group is Mankhai (duckweed) whole protein vegetable aquatic protein from Hinoman, an Israeli company. Because this is a a plant protein from a non-traditional plant souce, this could potentially be used for Passover
Other unusual proteins were discussed at seminars.
Insect proteins: One of the talks that I went to was use of insects as food. One of the speakers was from a company that makes meal-worm and cricket flour to use as an ingredient in food. A couple of the other speakers including Dr. G. Zibrio from the FDA mentioned that people with allergies to shellfish are at an increased risk to have an allergic reaction to insects. However, at this time if insects were allowed as an ingredient, they would be required to be listed in the ingredient section, but not under the allergy notice as crustacea. Note: From a practical point of view, no insects are kosher.
Cultured Meat is another novel protein source mentioned as a possibility in the future. Another seminar that I attended was by Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University who is researching using animal proteins to produce meat using cell culture techniques. Earlier this year they had a demonstration tasting by chefs of hamburgers made using their meat. Their original technique use calf blood as the nutrient solution. They are working on developing animal-free nutrient solutions for the cells. They are positioning this product as an animal cruelty free-way to produce meat as well as a way to produce meat using fewer resources. This technology has a long way to go before it is feasible. An interesting article on kosher issues in cultured meat Halachic Insights into Genetically Engineered Meat by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz is at www.kashrut.com/articles/CulturedMeat.
Additional point of interest to the Kosher Food Community:
Most of the exhibitors at the accompanying trade show exhibit the ingredients that are used by food manufacturers in their products. I asked the people manning the booths if the products are kosher and if so, the identity of the certifying agency. Most of the people representing the companies knew they were kosher but did not know the identity of the certifying agfency. Very few of the booths displayed any kosher logo. Meanwhile, a couple of Halal agencies were exhibiting at the show and their logos were prominently displayed at many booths.
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