Levente Diosady, FCIC and a professor emeritus in the University of Toronto’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada at the end of December. This distinction, created in 1967, is among the highest the country offers. Diosady and 102 other recipients will be invited to accept the accompanying insignia from Governor General Julie Payette at a Rideau Hall induction ceremony held later this year.
For Diosady, who has distinguished himself as a food engineer, that occasion will be just the latest of many honours he has received during a career that extends back to the early 1970s. He is a member of the CSChE and holds the Engineering Institute of Canada’s K.Y. Lo Medal, the International Association of Engineering and Food’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.
In 2013 he became the only Canadian to be awarded a $250,000 grant through a major international competition, “Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development”. He was part of a team that proposed a method for fortifying tea with iron as a cost effective means of improving the diets of people who might not be getting enough of this vital nutrient
Diosady described this innovation as a relatively straightforward inspiration from the longstanding success of fortifying salt with iodine, but he points out that the chemical challenge of introducing iron into tea was much more significant. Since this element reacts with the tannin found in tea, he and his colleagues resorted to a novel method for encapsulating the iron so that it could reach the intestinal tract, where it could be absorbed by the body.
“Iron deficiency is a big killer of women and children,” he said, noting that at least 100,000 people die annually from this problem. “It’s a simple idea but one that can save a lot of lives at birth.”