Department of Food Science

A close up look at

the Department of Food Science

Discovering the true form of fermented foods from the ‘micro-communication’ of microorganisms

Takashi Koyanagi, Associate ProfessorTakashi Koyanagi, Associate Professor

Our diets contain a number of fermented foods such as soy sauce, miso, natto (fermented soybeans) and yogurt. The health benefits of fermented foods have been in the limelight recently, however what really are fermented foods? They are foods in which millions and billions of microorganisms are multiplying, and ‘micro-communication’ is taking place between different microorganisms, where they promote or hinder each other’s growth. If the fermented foods ‘Kaburazushi’ and ‘Narezushi’ (both types of fermented sushi of Ishikawa Prefecture) are made with traditional methods, acidophilus naturally thrives, creating a pleasant acidity and a deep flavor. This does not mean that acidophilus survives on its own, but that through complicated ‘communication’ between the various types of microorganisms naturally existing, acidophilus dominates. If the flora (the balance of microorganisms) of the fermented foods is analyzed, we can see how the microorganisms exist and change.

Unlike our own bodies in which we have around 60 trillion cells, microorganisms in fermented foods often act as single cells. These microorganisms each play their own part in enabling fermentation or aging to occur, and they really are a true life force. Researching fermented foods is understanding the life force of these microorganisms. Thus research involves taking an interest in all areas of microorganisms, from the functions of their genes and proteins, to their metabolites.

All foods, whether fermented or not, come from organic matter, that is, from living organisms. It would be fantastic if more young students took an interest in the world of food research, in which we can reexamine how we obtain life from food.

Eating is happiness – becoming experts in food and therefore creating happiness

Yasuko Konishi, ProfessorYasuko Konishi, Professor

The subject I am in charge of, Food Analysis, is an academic field in which the components of food are analyzed. Each day we are able to live because of the various types of food that we eat. Those foods contain various components such as water, proteins, fats, sugars, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Accurately analyzing these components is necessary in order to objectively assess food characteristics, quality and safety. In addition, understanding theories and fundamentals for the basics of analysis also enables an understanding of the meaning and limitations of the analytical values.

In another subject I oversee, Instrumental Analysis, students study the theory and practice of instrumentation used to conduct food analysis. There are a number of modern analysis instruments available in the Department of Food Science, and this course provides students with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively use these instruments for their research. I believe that even after graduating, knowledge of instrumental analysis will be useful.

In student experiments, I look after the Laboratory for Basic Food Science and Laboratory for Food Safety. In these experiments we analyze the various components of food as well as harmful microorganisms, allergens, residual pesticides, etc.

Thus in the Department of Food Science, we combine lectures with related experiments and practicums so that students can naturally acquire all types of knowledge about food. To most people, eating is happiness, so why don’t you join us and become an expert in food so that you can create happiness?