Dr. Ray Matulka, or “Ray” as he prefers to be called, is a veteran in the field of toxicology and is Burdocks Group’s Vice President and Director of Toxicology. With almost 20 years of experience helping food ingredient innovators overcome regulatory hurdles, Ray has seen many changes within the food industry, including the growth of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) First Annual Event and Expo. As we once again approach the annual expo, we sat down with Ray to discuss his experiences and thoughts on IFT First event as well as major developments in food technology that excite him.
Q: Tell us about your first experience at IFT’s annual meeting. What year was it, where were you in your career, and what was your impression of the event?
A: I was early in my career at Burdock Group, and IFT’s annual meeting was overwhelming, as the number of scientific sessions was greater than I’d ever known, and the expo hall had more information and booths than I’d ever seen.
Q: How does your first experience with IFT’s annual meeting contrast with your most recent IFT annual expo? How has the event and the food technology industry changed?
A: Due to the pandemic, the most recent IFT annual expo was virtual, and so the experience was quite different… while the industry itself has not changed in my view, the virtual meeting experience provides less of an ability to interact with others in the field, and it is not so easy to “immerse” yourself into IFT while utilizing a virtual IFT experience, compared to physically being “on-site” for discussions/interactions.
Q: What is a major development in food technology that excites you?
A: Significant advancements are being made in the use of naturally derived ingredients to complement or replace more commonly used ingredients… but those naturally derived ingredients still must be evaluated for safety and efficacy. It is remarkably interesting to see if naturally derived ingredients are able to provide the same effects as classic preservatives, strengtheners, etc.
Q: Where would you like to see more development in food technology and why?
A: Innovation in new ingredients is always going to produce more options for the consumer, in an exponentially greater number of new products and greater end product innovation, so I’m always interested in new ingredient innovations, both innovative new ingredients from well-established commodity plants to new ingredients from new plant (and animal) sources.
Q: Any advice to any food innovators looking to bring new food technology to market?
A: As I typically work on the regulatory side of product innovation, my suggestion is to make sure to document and characterize your “new food technology” as well as possible at the start, as it will likely make downstream processes easier when you’re able to clearly state in what ways this is a “new technology” and why it will be of benefit. If it is a new ingredient, characterize the ingredient, understand as close to 100% what the composition of the ingredient is, and if you are able to reproduce the ingredient on a consistent basis.
Q: What is your favorite part of IFT and what have you been looking forward to?
A: I enjoy interacting with all the attendees, and exploring the scientific sessions to learn about new processes and innovations going on in the food industry as a whole
Q: Where can we find you at the IFT expo?
A: Burdock Group booth at S0329 in the Expo Hall Monday, as well as presenting on Monday, July 11th at 3:15 – 4:30 pm CST, entitled: “How are food regulations keeping up with novel food ingredients and processes?”, as well as presenting on Tuesday, July 12th at 9:45 – 11 am CST, entitled: “How is our increased understanding of nutrient bioavailability and biotransformation leading to new innovations?”
We’re always thankful when an industry insider like Ray offers his two cents, and after the conversation, Burdock Group team is excited to once again attend IFT’s Annual meeting. If you find yourself at McCormick Place, Chicago between Monday, July 11th through Wednesday, July 13th, come swing by booth S0329. We’ll be thrilled to meet you.