IFST Webinar: Using genetics to understand the factors influencing food liking and their role in food choices - video recording

Organised by IFST Sensory Science Group (SSG)

Food likings are the first factors driving people’s food choices. As with all complex traits, they are the result of the interaction between our genetic make-up and the experiences we have every day in our life. Despite the importance that biology and genetics exert, little attention has been given to understanding how genetic variation contributes to determining interindividual differences in food liking. These studies have so far been limited either to specific genes (i.e. taste receptors) or foods (i.e. coriander or cinnamon). The speaker will present the results of their research conducted on genetics and liking for a wide variety of food and drinks. This knowledge is providing unprecedented insight into the relationships between food likings and their underlying biology.

What participants will learn about: How genetics influence food choices

Target audience: Sensory scientists, product developers, flavourists, anyone interested in the senses.

Speaker: Dr Nicola Pirastu, Chancellor’s Fellow, Usher Institute

Dr Nicola Pirastu’s research since he graduated in Biology has been focused on understanding the genetic bases of complex traits. Although his work spans over many different areas, his main focus has been on using genetics to understand the factors underlying food choices and to understand the effects of diet on health.

Abstract: Food likings are the first factors driving people’s food choices. As with all complex traits, they are the result of the interaction between our genetic make-up and the experiences we have every day in our life. Despite the importance that biology and genetics exert, little attention has been given to understanding how genetic variation contributes to determining interindividual differences in food liking. These studies have so far been limited either to specific genes (ie. taste receptors) or foods (ie. coriander or cinnamon). During my talk, I will present the results of the research we have been conducting on genetics and liking for a wide variety of foods and drinks. This knowledge is giving us unprecedented insight into the relationships between food likings and their underlying biology.  

Chair: Stephanie Mitchell, FIFST, CSci, RSensSci, MCIEH

Steph developed a love of food, leading to the decision to study it further and gaining an MSc in Food Science, Reading University.  This then instilled a fascination for sensory science and she has built her successful career in this area.
Steph is Senior Sensory Manager at ppl Insights, an independent market research agency based near Gatwick in Surrey.  Ppl offers both sensory and consumer, quantitative and qualitative research solutions and works with many of the UK’s top FMCG companies.  
Current Chair of IFST’s Sensory Science Group, Steph is also a volunteer on their Membership Assessment Panel.  In addition, she is involved in Reading University’s Industry Advisory Board, which ensures that their Food Science courses are relevant to employers.

Moderator: Dr Victoria Whelan, MIFST, Sensory Scientist, British American Tobacco (BAT) 

Vicky completed her PhD at Nottingham University, which explored the sensory properties of chocolate in different matrices. She has worked at BAT for over 11 years as a Chemosensory & Sensory Scientist working across the product categories and also has ethics experience from her role as sensory expert sitting on BAT’s Human Research Committee which considers the ethics of sensory & consumer research. She has written book chapters on Difference From Control (DFC) and Ranking Test methodologies.  Being part of the SSG ensures Vicky keeps up-to-date with the science and she loves the knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities.

Live Q&A: Dr Victoria Whelan and Dr Nicola Pirastu

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