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The Journal of Food Science (JFS) has been disseminating and sharing scientific knowledge via publication of excellent research for 78 years, since its first printing in 1936. As we think about these 78 years, we can look back to when it was one of only 2 or 3 journals devoted to the field of food science. But even as the number of publications increased, JFS held the place of the premier publication in the field of food science. We are proud of our history, receiving a huge number of manuscripts from all over the world and publishing the most current and scientifically viable of them throughout all these years.

In 2000 I was honored to be invited by Professor O. Fennema, then Editor in Chief of the Journal of Food Science, to serve as Scientific Editor for the “Sensory and Nutritive Qualities of Food” (SNQ) section of the Journal. In 2008, because of the increased interest in nutraceuticals and functional foods, the SNQ section was divided into 2 sections, the “Health, Nutrition and Food” (HNF) and the “Sensory and Food Quality” (SQF) sections, and I became Scientific Editor for both. Subsequently, I made the decision to serve as Scientific Editor for only “Health, Nutrition and Food” (HNF) due to my keen interest and devotion to this area.

Although the Health, Nutrition, and Food section of the JFS only began in 2008, we can trace the history of the subject to the very first article in the very first issue of the journal: “Vitamin C Content of Vegetables. I. Spinach” by Tressler, Mack, and King (Food Research 1(1):1–7, 1936). Since that beginning, the scope of food science has expanded. A good example of this diversified research is a recent article by Bornhorst, Roman, Rutherfurd, Burri, Moughan, and Singh, “Gastric Digestion of Raw and Roasted Almonds in vivo” (J Food Sci 78(11):H1807–13, 2013).

It's nice to look back on where we've been and what we've done, but it's even better to look forward to what can be accomplished in the future and some of the ways we hope to improve the health and well being of all people. Obviously, the mission of HNF is to provide basic research data (such as molecular mechanisms) and practical research (that is, process and product applications) to advance this goal for a healthy population.

As the name and scope of the section implies, HNF is uniquely suited to trans-disciplinary work. HNF is devoted to “original research that integrates food science and technology with applied personal and public health nutrition.” We believe that cooperation (both trans- and multi-disciplinary) between scientists in varied, yet connected, fields will move us forward in an advantageous way, and the HNF section of the JFS will be proud to continue to publish the work of these talented and capable researchers. The recent publication cited above is an excellent example of trans-disciplinary research with applications to nutrition, health, and food. The HNF designation is directly related to the developing areas of functional foods and nutraceuticals. Modern nutrition and food science focuses on health promotion, disease risk reduction and improved performance through diet.

Since its inception in 2008, HNF averages more than 1 submission a day; however, unfortunately, not all are suitable for publication. Authors should be cautioned that manuscripts that are about non-food-based materials (that is, derivatives from chemical, biochemical, and/or other process) or that lack sufficient qualitative and quantitative data on chemical identification, characterization, and standardization relating to all individual bioactive components involved are rejected, as clearly stated in the scope of the NHF section.

I'd like to address some recent activity of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and a recent publication (“Defining the Public Health Threat of Dietary Supplement Fraud,” Wheatley and Spink, Comp Rev Food Sci Food Saf 12(6):599–613, 2013) that deal with a subject relating to HNF. In February of 2010, the EFSA published a series of opinions on a list of “general function” health claims. They collected data to substantiate these (416) health claims and sent them to the European Commission and to Member States who will decide whether or not to authorize these claims. There are 3 main criteria that must be met for claims to be endorsed by these authorities. First, a claim must identify the substance on which it is based, for example, probiotics; 2nd, it must prove that it is beneficial to the maintenance or improvement of body function, for example, foods with antioxidants; and 3rd, there must be a human study with reliable measure of the claim with regard to a health benefit. In a similar vein, Wheatley and Spink provide a comprehensive overview on the public health threat of DSF to focus on altering current intervention and response-based approaches that are prevention based. This research establishes a starting point for defining dietary supplement fraud and identifying their public health risks, both of which are important concerns for HNF. It's a subject that we hope to see addressed, scientifically and morally, in detail and comprehensibly, without regard to commercial interests, by researchers in the near future.

Based on my experience in the past and my expectation for the future, in order to make real contributions and have manuscripts published in the HNF section of JFS that have a positive impact I believe I should select foci for future publications; therefore, at this time I would like to encourage the submission of manuscripts to the HNF section of the journal that include, but are certainly not limited to, the following 4 foci.

  • 1.
    Manuscripts based on nutrigenomics

Nutrigenomics includes the full spectrum of research strategies from basic cellular and molecular biology to clinical trials, epidemiology and population health. Research in this area will lead to an understanding of how nutrition affects various health outcomes and the role of genetic variation to understand why some individuals respond differently from others to the same nutrients consumed. A clear understanding of how the gene, the physical unit of diet, interacts with nutrients has the potential to support disease prevention through optimization of dietary recommendations.

  • 2.
    Manuscripts based on development of foods for people over 65

The elderly are an overlooked portion of the population. As the Baby Boomers age and remain the largest demographic specific attention should to be paid to them. As it ages the body changes so its needs also change. Older adults change in their physical abilities as well as their nutritional needs. Needs vary by individuals as well as by general population. As of now, there are very few products aimed directly at age 65 and older. With research and development there is a huge market waiting. The trans-disciplinary nature of the HNF section lends itself particularly well to this need. The research areas of gerontology, nutrition, food science, medicine, and social services can combine to result in health benefit information for the elderly.

  • 3.
    Manuscripts based on food allergies and food intolerances

As food allergies and food intolerance are increasingly being looked at as important safety issues, food manufacturers, legislators, and researchers need to focus on how a variety of foods can be adapted to the different nutritional, as well as taste needs, of individuals with particular allergies and food intolerances.

  • 4.
    Manuscripts based on the epidemic of overnutrition (obesity)

Added to the continuing problem of malnutrition is a new challenge – overnutrition. “It is estimated that by 2020, two-thirds of the global burden of disease will be attributable to the ‘overnutrtion challenge.’ Chronic, noncommunicable diseases, most of them strongly associated with diet, will be prevalent. The nutrition transition towards refined foods, foods of animal origin, and increased fats plays a major role in the current global epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, among other noncommunicable conditions.” (Bull World Health Organization – http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0042-96862002001200009)

As we look forward to the next 75 years of the Journal of Food Science, it is my belief, both professionally and personally, that as food is a global necessity, its safety and benefit is of paramount importance, and so Food Science is of universal interest and has a unique opportunity to serve the welfare of mankind. We have no doubt that JFS will play a major role in such endeavors.

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Tung-Ching Lee, Ph.D. Scientific Editor, Health, Nutrition and Food; Distinguished Professor, Rutgers, the State Univ. of New Jersey