The flavor of a food or beverage engages far more sensory input than taste alone. From a biological perspective, flavor may be defined as the sum of taste, aroma (smell sensation), texture (touch sensation), and other physical features (e.g., temperature) that create mouth feel. The contributions of taste and aroma to flavor are made through chemoreception: the physiological response of sensory nerves to the volatile organic chemicals (VOC) released by foods and beverages. Although these VOCs are present at very low concentrations, they activate a highly specialized set of sensory connections in the brain, activating psychological responses that range from instinctual perception of food safety, to recognition of a previously eaten food, to even higher-order associations of a food with a memory or emotion.
The coveted “new car smell” is now known to result from chemicals emitted from plastic and leather parts that make up the interior of automobiles. These parts emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs; e.g., benzene, formaldehyde), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs; e.g., phthalates, trichlorophenyl phosphate [TCPP]), and other chemicals. For example, TCPP is a flame retardant often found in polyurethane foams. Although TCPP provides safety by reducing the risk of these foams igniting in a fire or accident, its semi-volatile nature causes it to release into the car’s interior, where passengers can be exposed to its vapor.
As of February 2017, 29 states in the US (plus the District of Columbia; DC) have legislation, either in place or in progress, permitting the use of medical marijuana. Another 16 states have decriminalized possession, and 8 states (plus DC) have legalized marijuana for recreational use. With such changes in legislation, it is no surprise that North America’s cannabis sales increased by 30% between 2015 and 2016. Furthermore, they are projected to post an impressive 25% compound annual growth over the next 5 years, or by 2021. Tom Adams, editor-in-chief for ArcView Market Research said, “The only consumer industry categories I’ve seen reach $5 billion in annual spending and then post anything like 25% compound annual growth in the next five years are cable television (19%) in the 1990s and the broadband internet (29%) in the 2000s.”1
Strong interest at the state level for legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana use has created a marijuana production industry in the US that is growing rapidly. In fact, half of the states have already legalized marijuana for one or both of these uses. The number of states allowing use of marijuana could also continue to grow after the fall election cycle, adding more impetus to the growth of the marijuana industry.
Currently, 26 US states have approved medical marijuana in their legislature, while another 16 have decriminalized possession and 4 states (plus DC) have legalized marijuana use. Marijuana per se driving laws for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) were enacted in 17 states, making it illegal for someone to operate a vehicle with detectable THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) or its major metabolite, THCOOH (11-nor-9-carboxy-THC), in blood and/or urine. A majority of those states have zero tolerance laws while some of them enforce specific THC driving cutoffs (1-5 ng/mL THC). However, low THC levels can be detected in frequent cannabis smokers’ blood up to 30 days after last use during sustained abstinence, making cannabinoid data interpretation difficult.
Craft beers have revitalized the beer industry, to the point that there are now more breweries in the United States than there were before prohibition. Perhaps the newest trend in brewing is the development of gluten-free beers, which many craft breweries have begun making. The market for gluten–free beers is expected to grow at 40% per year through 2021, so they represent a significant growth opportunity.
One of the latest trends in the food industry is a growing demand for vegetarian alternatives to meat products. This is the case even in countries that have traditionally leaned toward meat-centric diets. For example, in the last two years 34% of German consumers have reduced the amount of meat in their diet. This trend is driven not just by vegetarians, but also by “flexitarians” whose diets are plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat products.
On July 17 - 20th, GERSTEL exhibited at NACRW at St. Pete Beach, FL, at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort. The 53rd annual North American Chemical Residue Workshop conducts an annual meeting for scientists particularly interested in trace level analysis of pesticides, veterinary drug residues, and other chemicals in food, animal feed, and environmental samples. The purpose of the meeting is to provide training, develop and improve technical knowledge, facilitate development and distribution of new analysis methods and techniques, and establish networking to promote professional cooperation between scientists of these interests.
We are all aware of the tragedy that has played out in Flint, MI due to the presence of lead in their drinking water supply. Now, another serious water contamination threat is gaining visibility and additional regulatory attention. The source of the problem is perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) introduced in the late 1940’s, which have found their way into everyday products from non-stick cookware to fabrics and from food packaging to firefighting foams.
A GERSTEL research team has developed a method for thermal gravimetric analysis of polymers that simulates traditional mass spectrometry methods.