The world of food technology will center on New Orleans, a city known for its cuisine, for the Institute of Food Technologist’s IFT 08 “The Best of Food Thinking 2008.” The event takes place at the Morial Convention Center from June 28 to July 1. Approximately 22,000 food technology professionals will be attending IFT 08, taking advantage of more than 1,000 exhibitors and 500 ingredient companies on display at the main expo hall along with educational sessions available throughout the weekend.

Each day will be filled with education, networking and myriad activities for attendees. Activities start on June 27 with pre-annual meeting short courses at 8 a.m. at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside host hotel. The courses will feature group exercises, case studies, practical applications, networking opportunities, industry expertise and immediately usable solutions. The topics covered include food safety, food science, best practices in dealing with food recalls and sensory and consumer research in product development, and blending culinary arts with food science. Registration is required. The short courses continue on June 28.

Volunteer activity kicks off on June 28 as part of IFT 08. Starting at 7 a.m., attendees will be able to support America’s Second Harvest. Volunteers will assist in preparing the food bank’s mobile pantry and sorting donations. Second Harvest supports more than 200 food banks across the country, supplying food aid to those in need.

June 28 is also the date for the IFT Awards Celebration. Starting at 5:30 p.m., the event celebrates the 2008 winners and recently elected fellows of IFT. IFT President John Floros will recap the organization’s year during the celebration and introduce the new organization president and president-elect.

The first two days are also filled with activities for IFT’s International Food Nanoscience Conference. The third-annual event will examine the potential and challenges presented by nanoscience in food-related issues. The conference will cover current scientific and technological developments in food nanoscience applications; including food safety and defense; food processing and ingredient technologies and food packaging; evidence of the most recent research innovations including examples of those already in commerce; and potential ethical and societal implications based on the most recent studies.

The show formally begins on June 29 with a keynote address, first-time attendee orientation and the opening of the Food Expo and its hundreds of exhibitors. The scientific and poster program continues throughout the convention, starting at 2:30 p.m. on June 29 and continuing through July 1.

Other special events include the IFT Town Hall Meeting at 1 p.m. on July 1. Held at the Morial Convention Center, the meeting will update members on current and future initiatives of the organization, offer opportunities to question the IFT board of directors and meet with other members to discuss issues.

The “Taste for Science” receptions will be held on June 29 and 30, starting at 3:30 p.m. The IFT Foundation hosts the reception on the expo floor with a cash bar for drinks. A percentage of the proceeds will go to the foundation to fund programs to help develop future food scientists. A number of exhibitors will participate in the reception by serving appetizers and food samples.

There are many ticketed events, including social gatherings for IFT’s geographical divisions, lunches, breakfasts, and the Fun Run ‘08/Walk. A full listing of special events is available on the IFT 08 Web site.

Families of attendees are encouraged to take part in the family lounge and tours of local destinations such as the New Orleans School of Cooking, Oak Alley Plantation, a dinner jazz cruise and Creole Queen Harbor Cruise.