Norfolk Food & Drink Festival 2012

6th September 2012

The Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre are supporting The EDP Adnams Norfolk Food & Drink Festival 2012 with a variety of events and activities that will highlight the important role science plays in food.

How did our Olympic heroes fuel their feats in the summer? Why do we prefer some foods over others? How should we produce food? Why are some fats bad and some good? What’s the difference between taste and flavour? What exactly is a calorie? What goes on inside the labs at the Institute of Food Research?  We’ll be answering these and many more questions on food science throughout the Festival, before opening our doors to schools and the public at the IFR Open Days.

Schools Open Day, Friday 28 September, 09:30 – 15:30, IFR


Open to Yrs 10-13, this is an exciting opportunity to wander round the Institute of Food Research, and find out about careers in science and what goes on inside it. There will be open labs, demonstrations, talks and activities around the buildings including flow cytometry, nuclear magnetic resonance, microscopy, chemical imaging and a chance to go inside a Biorefinery– an opportunity to see in action equipment you can often only read about or see photos of.

There will be activities on biofilms, translating proteins into music, taking part in a fat content taste panel, doing something a bit Risky, go inside the Step Back in Time Lab, take part in a sci-art activity and the BBSRC Bioenergy display. Taste & Flavour, Do you Know Your Fats, and Food for Sport, games and hands on fun not to mention walking through an inflatable colon!


The Institute of Food Research (IFR) has once again set local schools a challenge to find out who can make the tallest jelly. The competition takes place on 28th September 2012 at the IFR in conjunction with our Schools Open Day. It is REALLY difficult to make a jelly more than 10cm tall due to the weak gel strength. To make it taller you need to increase the gel strength and/or give the jelly structure using edible materials such as fruit, sponges or pasta. Food technology, chemistry and engineering come into their own in this test of ingenuity and skill! Teams from primary, secondary and sixth form schools across Norfolk are invited to join in the competition.

IFR Open Day, September 29th, Norwich Research Park, 10:00 – 16:00

On Sunday 29th September IFR will be opening its doors to the public so that you’ll get a rare chance to see inside the laboratories of a world-leading food research institute. As well as talks on different aspects of food science, there’s a host of different activities that explore food and how we interact with it. There will be a unique chance to follow the journey food takes through or bodies from the inside, as we will be putting a camera inside one of our scientists. There will be an exhibition marking 100 years of publicly funded food research in the UK, which is now concentrated in Norwich. Find out first hand how we are looking at innovative ways of using food waste to make biofuels in our Biorefinery. Get the chance to get your taste buds into gear to see whether food science is close to making a low fat ice cream that tastes as just as good. Get grooving in our disco with music inspired by food proteins. Find out more about what our bodies do with food when we eat it by entering our giant inflatable colon.

About the  EDP Adnams Norfolk Food & Drink Festival 2012

The EDP Adnams Norfolk Food & Drink Festival 2012 runs from Saturday 1st September to Sunday 7th October and is the largest event of its kind in the UK. Held in association with Norfolk County Council, it features hundreds of activities showcasing Norfolk food, drink and producers, and comprises six key weekends, plus many weekday events. The Festival is a collaboration of Norfolk organisations keen to spread the message about the benefits of supporting local food and drink, with businesses promoting their produce, highlighting their talent and demonstrating their commitment to the local economy. For more information and a full list of events, see:

Tour of Britain, September 9th, Norfolk Showground

IFR took part in the Norfolk Food & Drink Festival and Family Fun Day at the Norfolk Showground when the Tour of Britain cycle race visits. We explored food, fats and calories, which are so important to these elite athletes. It’s crucial that they take on the right amount of energy at the right time, but how do you tell how many calories are in foods? IFR had interactive demonstrations of how we measure calories in foods, exploring fats, why some are good and some are bad, through a giant game of snakes and ladders.

The John Innes Centre also hosted exhibition on genetic modification, providing a chance to listen to views on GM’s role in modern agriculture. GM is a mystery to many. A photographer and a designer wanted to get to the bottom of it all and produced a GM newspaper which turns into an art exhibition, and this was on display, and available to take-away, together with examples of stages in the production of a GM plant and a ‘Spot the GM plant’ competition.

Science Café Sept 12th Maddermarket Theatre Bar 19:30

Professor Richard Mithen talked about Insects, Frankenstein Foods and chocolate ice-cream. An informal talk in the Science Café setting that explored the reasons why we like some foods and don’t like others. As well as the chat, the evening also involved some tasting.

Why do we like some foods, but not other, and why are there differences between us in our food preferences? Certain foods disagree with some of us, and Richard discussed the evolutionary origins of intolerance to milk and wheat products and its association with the origins of agriculture. Other foods just don’t taste nice and he explored issues around how sensitive we are to bitterness, and why it seems that some of us became more sensitive to bitter flavours early in our evolutionary history, but others remain much less sensitive – for good reason. Finally, some nutritious foods just have the ‘yuk’ factor. Why is this? It would be an excellent idea to eat insects, but few of us want to.

Professor Richard Mithen leads the Food and Health research programme at the Institute of Food Research at the Norwich Research Park. His own research is concerned with the health benefits of broccoli and other green vegetables in the diet, all of which taste delicious.

Food, Flavour and our Fifth Sense 23rd September St Andrews Hall, Sunday 23rd September 12pm – 4pm

Anosmia is the medical term for the inability to detect odours. Fifth Sense is an organisation being set up by anosmia sufferer Duncan Boak to raise awareness of the condition and provide support and advice to sufferers in addition to acting as a signpost towards to treatment. Fifth Sense also aims to highlight the important role that the sense of smell plays in our lives. Carl Philpott, Consultant Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon, runs the UK’s only Smell and Taste Clinic at James Paget Hospital, Great Yarmouth.

Food, Flavour and our Fifth Sense centred around a tasting experience featuring a multi-sensory inspired menu, designed by Duncan Boak and Steve Jones, head of the catering team at St Andrews Hall. The idea behind the menu is that the experience we call eating is not just about flavour (much of which comes from our sense of smell), but involves all of our senses.

In addition to the tasting experience, local food producers had stands at the event, with the emphasis on interesting flavours and creative approaches to food preparation. IFR was on hand to provide practical demonstrations of the differences between taste and flavour.