Two must become one

By Professor Jeya Henry

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Food preservation, Chemistry

Two must become one
At 12 minutes past eight on the morning of February 3 1783, Antoine Lavoisier placed a guinea pig in an ice machine.


The ice machine was the first animal calorimeter. Antoine Lavoisier is considered to be the 'Father of modern chemistry'. In my view, he is also the 'Father of modern nutrition'.

In January 1810, Nicolas Appert published L'art de conserver les substances animals et végétales (or The art of preserving animal and vegetable substances). This was the first book on modern food preservation. Appert is ascribed as the 'Father of modern food science'.

There is a mere 20-year gap between the beginnings of these two disciplines. However, over the past 200 years, nutrition and food sciences have, sadly, evolved separately. This has been bad for both science and the consumer.

Take the salt reduction programme initiated by the UK Food Standards Agency. Nutritional concerns promoted a reduction in salt consumption. However, salt plays a significant role as a preservative and flavour enhancer in many food systems. There is complex integration between nutrition and food science. Delivering sound public health advice relies heavily on this close interaction of disciplines. Such integration needs to be encouraged, expanded and accelerated.

Historically, it has taken crises to goad scientists into working together. We should not wait for the next crisis. We need closer links between science and nutrition. We need them now.

Professor Jeya Henry is director of the Functional Food Centre at Oxford Brookes University.

You can email him at:jhenry@brookes.ac.uk

Related topics: Legal

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