Teleportation, once a science-fiction concept invoking ideas of interstellar exploration, has become a reality. Defined as the transmission of a state rather than the physical object, teleportation has arrived in the food and beverage space, as scientists have developed a way of teleporting lemonade by digitally sending the flavour and colour from one internet user to another. In a paper titled Virtual Lemonade: Let’s Teleport Your Lemonade!, the researchers detail the ‘novel methodology’ to ‘digitally share the flavour of a glass of lemonade remotely’. The method involves a sensor which captures ‘valuable information’ about the lemonade (or other beverage), such as colour and pH value, and encodes this information ‘based on an established communication protocol for wireless transmission’. At the other end, a special custom-made connected glass receives the information, overlaying the colour of the drink on plain water and electronically stimulating the taste buds to replicate the flavour of the original lemonade. The researchers believe this methodology has applications in social media marketing, virtual reality applications and even healthy ageing and weight management—simulating the taste of food could be the solution to two of the ‘greatest challenges facing the food industry: overnutrition and undernutrition’. One example would be with the elderly, whose sensory receptors diminish with ages, making eating unpleasant and a bland experience, which impacts their hunger levels. Making food more palatable with this technology could help improve this experience in seniors. On the other hand, making a healthy food taste more palatable could also have potential in the weight management space.
A new study has been published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, noting the human gastrointestinal microbiota composition and function vary throughout the day, exhibiting circadian rhythms, with implications for the design of future probiotic clinical trials. In the study, 28 healthy volunteers provided dietary records and multiple samples, which were analysed to sequence their microbiota against variables such as time of day, eating frequency and caloric intake. The data indicated a link between the time and increases and decreases in specific bacteria suggesting a daily rhythm similar to circadian biology, although ‘behavioural factors including timing of eating and overnight-fast duration were also predictive of bacterial abundances.’ These findings have potential implications for future probiotic research, although further trials are required.
Innova Market Insights has released its ‘buzzwords’ for 2018 including ‘mindful choices’ and ‘lighter enjoyment’. It believes ‘the increasingly thoughtful and mindful consumer will continue to catalyse changes in the way companies produce, package and label their products’ and note ‘mindful’ refers both to choices made regarding health, and choices impacting sustainability. Consumers are increasingly focusing on sustainability, with clean label gaining popularity and the product’s environmental impact swaying purchasing decisions. Meanwhile, French consumers are being urged to make mindful choices of their own with WWF France and the ECO2 Initiative championing flexitarian diets, while in Australia, consumers are being warned diet will become the ‘number one modifiable factor for disease and death, overtaking cigarettes’. ‘Obesity may take over from smoking as the number one risk for cancer, with a lack of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, exercise and increased alcohol consumption to blame’.