What’s in our food?
That’s the question the Institute of Food Research asked at The Big Bang Fair, the UK’s biggest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people, which was held at the NEC, Birmingham.
Among the tens of thousands of visitors to the fair was Greg Clark MP, Minister for Universities, Science & Cities, who explored how analytical sciences can help detect what’s in our food.
Using a series of specially designed activities and games, we explored what makes a balanced diet, and the science behind how we know what’s in our food. This sparked many different conversations with the children about food, diet and nutrition, as well as interest from their teachers about how they could obtain the materials. Online versions of some the activities are available at http://www.ifr.ac.uk/science-society/resources/.
Hands-on activities included exploring what exactly a calorie is, using a calorimeter. We also explored some of the ingredients listed on food labels, and how they, and food science, are used to improve food structure, texture, and potentially how healthy it is.
A popular activity looked at how IFR is helping make sure what’s in our food is what it’s supposed to be. Visitors got to play the role of food detectives, and use a spectrophotometer to identify a range of mystery foods – and find out how that’s being used to beat the criminals.