The Philadelphia Section of IFT Celebrates 70th Anniversary with Wine and Cheese

Kevin Bocicaut, for GPA -- On March 12, the Philadelphia Section of the Institute of Food Technologist (PSIFT) held its 70th Anniversary Symposium at Drexel University. The event brought together many students and professionals within the food industry with specialties ranging from packaging and manufacturing to development and research. The nonprofit organization invites those who have a high interest in promoting and advancing the field of food sciences and technology to come together.

Stanley Segall, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Food Science at Drexel University, dates the PSIFT back to as early as 1945. It began when a group of food scientists and technologists came together at Drexel University to officially establish and apply for a charter as a local section of IFT. In 1946 the charter was granted and the group officially became the Philadelphia Section of Food Technologists, marking them as the 10th regional section. It was under the founders of the organization where Segall would learn about the basics of science and its application to food technology.

Today, the organization has grown tremendously and is ranked the fifth largest out of 53 regional sections. The Philadelphia section currently has over 300 members working for over 100 companies. These members range from food technologists and food scientists to lawyers and professionals within sales and marketing departments.

Guest speaker Michael Tunic presented a technical talk at the event titled “Molecules to Mozzarella, the Chemistry of Cheese.” He discussed the production methods behind cheese, from the pasteurization and standardized production of milk to the finished product, concluding that “the characteristics of cheese depend on the chemistry involved in the way it is made and stored, and knowledge of this chemistry leads to a creation of a better product.”

Tunic gave illuminated his presentation by allowing the audience to taste a variety of cheeses while explaining the various compound and text formation behind each one. The four cheeses Tunic presented were buffalo mozzarella, manchego, goat and blue and each one had a unique and satisfying taste. The audience started with the buffalo cheese, noting its rich soft taste, then proceeded to the manchego and goat, which had harder densities and contained extra flavor. The tasting ended with the blue cheese, which had a strong and lasting taste.

Following Tunics’ presentation, Catherine Peyrot des Gachons, Ph.D. in wine sciences, presented her talked entitled “Wine Mouthful: Empirical Knowledge, Scientific Understanding.” Her presentation centered around her most recent research on the oral sensation of wine tasting. Providing the history of wine and uncovering the poor scientific understanding of mouth perception, Peyrot des Gachons made sure that the audience left on a happy note and understood the reasoning behind certain mouth feels when it comes to tasting burgundy and bordello wines. Her final advice was “to savor old wine and keep young wine open for a while to enjoy a better taste.”

After tasting various cheeses and French wine, the audience was left to imagine what’s in store for the next symposium from PSIFT. As The Institute of Food Technologist continues to grow and remain the world’s largest food science organization, with 17,000 members worldwide, the Philadelphia section is always looking to expand its members from various parts of the food industry. If you have great taste, be sure to join.

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