The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) will convene a debate that asks: should we eat more processed foods? Moderated by ABC News Correspondent John Donvan, advocates and critics from both sides will discuss the pros and cons of food processing, including its effects on the sustainability of the global food supply chain. The debate will kick off programming for IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo, taking place July 10-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago and available on livestream.

“Given the vast amount of information, ongoing legislation, evolving research, and continued conversations surrounding processed foods, our organization felt an obligation to organize a discussion that enlightens and informs the broader community around this important and often misunderstood topic,” said IFT’s SVP of Science and Technology, Bryan Hitchcock. “Food is an extremely personal matter and processed foods have become highly polarizing. Our debate will spark a thoughtful dialogue on the role of food processing.”

Before the debate, the audience at McCormick Place will vote either in favor of eating more processed foods or against it. Afterwards, the audience will be polled again – determining the effectiveness of the arguments made both for and against increased consumption of processed foods. 

Introduced in 2021, IFT FIRST stands for Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology. It is IFT’s response to the transformative nature of the global food system. IFT FIRST is a place where professionals can discover the latest global trends, newest innovation, and cutting-edge solutions while making strategic connections to advance their business and careers. This July, IFT will welcome back the full annual event and expo experience, featuring both live and virtual scientific conversation, collaboration, solution-seeking and strategic connections for all.

The debate will be made exclusively available to registered attendees of IFT FIRST: Annual Event and Expo. To learn more about the debate and register for IFT FIRST, visit