‘Science, sun, sand’ at AACCI annual meeting

by Laurie Gorton
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By picking Hollywood, FL, for its 2012 annual meeting, AACC International (AACCI) chose a relaxed setting to take up the serious issues facing cereal science today. Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3, matters as diverse as allergen thresholds, nutrient bioavailability, cereal biotechnology, glucose control, gluten-free validation, sugar reduction and healthy foods will be examined and debated by cereal scientists, R&D staffers, product developers and industry experts from around the world.

“In the relaxed venue, you have opportunity not only to hear presentations, but you can have discussions with the authors and others interested in that research,” said Debi Rogers, PhD, AACCI president and director of cereal chemistry, AIB International, Manhattan, KS. “There is no better place to bounce around new ideas and challenge some of our old assumptions.”

The content-rich sessions will be leavened by active tabletop events that feature about 120 exhibitors. Scheduled division meetings, meal events and social activities provide ample time to network. Art Bettge, 2012 AACCI program chairman and principal, ADB Wheat Consulting, Moscow, ID, described the annual meeting as “the one occasion during the year where, in a few days’ time, scientists can catch up on the latest research results and understand the implications of that knowledge on the applied work they do daily.”

The meeting assembles its 24 sessions in multidisciplinary and cross-scientific symposia and science cafés, along with in-depth coverage of specific topics during technical sessions and posters. While the symposia are organized around traditional 20-minute talks, AACCI introduced its science café format to foster debate with shorter position papers and plenty of time for dialogue.

“Science cafés offer the opportunity for intense discussion of aspects on our science that is unavailable in the traditional symposium format,” Mr. Bettge explained. For example, a science café will investigate sugar reduction by asking the question, “Is It Sweet Enough?” Speakers from The Kellogg Company, Ingredion, Tate and Lyle, and Kraft Foods will look at public health needs, ingredient options and formulation strategies involving lower-sugar foods.

A separate symposium explores how whole grains should be defined. Its speakers take up whole grain claims, nutrition research and the sustainability of the whole grain challenge issued by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Representatives of General Mills, Tufts University, University of Minnesota and ConAgra Foods will comment.

A symposium on the way grain-based foods affect glucose control brings together leading researchers from University of Toronto, Agri-Food Canada, Kansas State University and St. Catherine University. They will detail a host of mechanisms, including a food’s proportions of fats, proteins and carbohydrates as well as its microstructure and physiochemical characteristics.

Manufacturing healthy foods involves enhancing fiber and reducing salt and fat. A symposium brings together researchers from here and abroad to report about ingredients and processing methods that lower the caloric density of foods yet retain their taste appeal.

Gluten-free foods present opportunities and challenges. A scientific symposium assembles experts from General Mills, SunOpta Ingredients, Ingredion, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and ConAgra Foods to discuss product development and manufacturing.

Other topics to be covered include: lipids in baking, food allergy matters, grain biotechnology, starch modification, protein changes during pasta manufacture, texture alteration during baking, the chemistry of pulses and minor cereals, enzyme use, development trends among Asian products, and innovation involved with cost management and sustainability. Additionally, sessions will cover statistical tools, regulatory issues and career development. A student paper competition is offered.

AACCI will hold a special session in memory of Peter Wood, PhD, a leading Canadian cereal scientist noted for his research about soluble oat fiber and its ability to reduce blood cholesterol. Speakers from the US, Canada and Europe will examine Dr. Wood’s work and report about current science involving beta glucans, soluble dietary fiber and health outcomes.

Tabletop exhibits will feature ingredients, instruments, equipment and services that support cereal-based foods. AACCI schedules the exhibit hours outside of technical programming. Exhibits open on Sunday evening following the general session and awards ceremony. Monday exhibit hours are split between an early segment over lunchtime and second late-afternoon period, offering beer. Exhibits reopen Tuesday at noon and close before scientific sessions start up again.

Wednesday ends the annual meeting in the late afternoon with a keynote speaker and farewell reception.

A pre-meeting workshop examines gluten detection, a contentious issue when determining gluten labeling thresholds. A second workshop looks into rice quality issues. Attendees must sign up separately for these sessions.

The Westin Diplomat Hotel on the city’s beachfront serves as the headquarters and location of all meetings. A second hotel is also available: the Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach, two blocks from the Westin. Guaranteed rates at both extend to reservations made by Aug. 30, the same day that meeting registration closes. Those signing up later than Aug. 30 or on-site face higher fees. Nonmember rates are more than those for members, but the group extends a “meeting plus membership” option that provides a significant discount.

Registration and housing forms, plus general information about AACCI’s annual meeting, are available at www.aaccnet.org/meet.

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