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06 Feb 13

**WHO issues new guidance on dietary salt and potassium
**Nestlé plans to use QR codes on their packaging
**Ground beef enriched with omega-3
**Chewing gum improves reaction times
**Adding calories information to wine and beer
**Low magnesium levels may be responsible for heart disease
**Test developed to analyse for smoke marker compounds in grapes
**Beta-carotene and lutein may delay or prevent the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
**Can gastric botox injections help with weight loss?
**Study finds fewer people adding salt at the table
**New food industry working group will assess possible solution to increase UK’s food distribution

**WHO issues new guidance on dietary salt and potassium
WHO have issued new guidance on dietary salt and potassium for adults and children.  The guidance notes that elevated sodium levels and low potassium levels could increase a person’s risk of raised blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.  According to the guidelines adults should consume less than 2,000 mg of sodium, or 5 grams of salt, and at least 3,510 mg of potassium per day. Currently, most people consume too much sodium and not enough potassium. Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. states: “These guidelines also make recommendations for children over the age of 2. This is critical because children with elevated blood pressure often become adults with elevated blood pressure.”  The guidance states that the recommended maximum level of intake of 2 g/day sodium and at least 90 mmol/day potassium in adults should be adjusted downward based on the energy requirements of children relative to those of adults.

**Nestlé plans to use QR codes on their packaging
Nestlé will be adding Quick Response codes to multi-pack of two finger Kat Kat chocolate bars sold in the UK and Ireland.  By scanning the packaging with their smartphone, consumers will instantly access information on digital sites where they can find out information about the products nutritional contents, and environmental and social impact.    In a press release, published on their website, the company state that they plan to roll QR codes across their whole product portfolio.

**Ground beef enriched with omega-3
 Scientists have developed a technique which allows ground beef to be enriched with omega 3. The omega 3 enriched beef is called GreatO Premium Ground beef and will be available at selected retailers in Buffalo, New York from around mid February.  Later this year it will be available nationwide in the US.  The beef is being sold through NBO3 Technologies LLC, Manhattan.  Drouillard, who developed the technique based on previous studies on flaxseed, reports that a  quarter-pound hamburger made of the enriched ground beef will have 200 milligrams of omega-3s and taste the same as ordinary ground beef.  Studies by Drouillard and his students found that cattle’s omega-3 levels dramatically increased as more flaxseed was added to their diet.   (Science Daily)

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

**Chewing gum improves reaction times
Research published in the journal Brain and Cognition is reporting that reaction times are up to 10% faster whilst chewing gum.  The study by Hirano et al involved seventeen healthy adults (20–34 years old).  The participants carried out 30 minute tests whilst chewing odourless and tasteless gum or not chewing gum.  During the tests the researchers measured alertness and reaction times and used scans to investigate the brain regions which were most active during chewing.  Hirano et al report that the chewing gum reaction times were 493 milliseconds whilst the not chewing gum reaction times were 545 milliseconds.  Brain regions most active during chewing were those involved with movement and attention.  In conclusion the study states: “These results suggested that chewing induced an increase in the arousal level and alertness in addition to an effect on motor control and, as a consequence, these effects could lead to improvements in cognitive performance.

**Adding calories information to wine and beer
Information on the number of units of alcohol is already voluntarily displayed on alcoholic beverages.  The government wants to extend this to also include calories in an attempt to make people, especially women, cut down on the amount of alcohol they consume.  The Daily Mail reports on a survey by the charity DrinkAware, which has found that people ignore calories from alcohol.   The survey reports that only one in three participants was able to answer how many calories were found in a glass of wine. As part of the Responsibility Deal health minister Anna Soubry is talking with industry leaders about adding calorie information to alcoholic drinks. The Daily Mail notes that retailers including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are working with the Department of Health on how to display calorie counts on alcohol. Mrs Soubry said: “By the end of this year, 80 per cent of all alcoholic drinks on shop shelves will include clear labelling on units and health messages.”  It is hoped that warnings could be added to shop brought beer and wine as well as used in pubs.

**Low magnesium levels may be responsible for heart disease
A review by Dr Andrea Rosanoff has investigated the relationship between magnesium and cardiovascular disease.  The findings published by the Nutritional Magnesium Association indicate that low magnesium levels, not cholesterol or saturated fat intake, are the greater indicator of all known cardiovascular risk factors.   This includes cholesterol, high blood pressure, arterial plaque build up, hardening of the arteries and the calcification of soft tissues.  Rosanoff states that "By 1957 low magnesium was shown to be, strongly, convincingly, a cause of atherogenesis and the calcification of soft tissues. But this research was widely and immediately ignored as cholesterol and the high saturated-fat diet became the culprits to fight.  Ever since this early 'wrong turn’, more and more peer-reviewed research has shown that low magnesium is associated with all known cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol and high blood pressure.” 

**Test developed to analyse for smoke marker compounds in grapes
Reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry scientists have developed a test that can detect grapes that are exposed to smoke from fires, which could if used, lead to bad-tasting wines.  Hayasaka et al note that Australia and other countries have experienced bush and wildfires, stating that smoke from these fires can travel long distances and affect wine grapes.   The scientists developed and validated a test using HPLC-MS/MS with APCI, to analyse for phenolic glycosides as smoke marker compounds. The new test can also be used to identify smoked wine. 

**Beta-carotene and lutein may delay or prevent the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) affects around 20,000 to 30,000 Americans, with around 5000 patients being diagnosed annually.  It is a progressive neurological disease which attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord responsible for control of voluntary muscles. Eventually the muscles weaken and waste away.  A study by Ascherio et al published in the Annals of Neurology has discovered that foods containing beta-carotene and lutein may delay or prevent the onset of ALS. However participants who consumed more carotenoids in their diets were more likely to exercise, have an advanced degree, have higher vitamin C consumption, and take vitamin C and E supplements. The study came to these conclusions after analysing data from five prospective groups. Ascherio et al. investigated more than one million participants and identified a total of 1093 ALS cases. 

RSSL’s Functional Ingredients Laboratory can analyse for lutein and zeaxanthin in foodstuffs.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

**Can gastric botox injections help with weight loss?
Even though evidence is conflicting, some overweight Americans are turning to gastric botox injections in an attempt to lose weight.  It is believed that botox delays the emptying of the stomach, increases fullness and reduces body weight.  A study by researchers from the Mayo Clinic has investigated whether this theory is true.  Topazian et al. carried out a 24 week, double blinded, randomised placebo trial using 60 obese patients which compared the effects of botox to a placebo.  The findings published in the journal of the American Gastroenterological Association indicate that the injection slowed movement of food through the stomach but it did not cause weight loss. Topazian et al state: “On the basis of our findings, I would not recommend gastric Botox injections to people who want to lose weight. There are some risks with this treatment and we found that there was no benefit in terms of body weight loss.”

**Study finds fewer people adding salt at the table
Findings by scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine have indicated that over the last five years, following a national campaign by the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health in 2003, the number of people in England adding salt to food at the table has fallen by more than a quarter, from 32.5% to 23.2%.  The study published in the British Journal of Nutrition analysed data during the years 1997-2007 on salt intake from more than 6000 people living in England.   The results also found that those who were less likely to add salt at the table, were women, from younger age groups, non-white ethnic groups, higher income households and people living in central or south England.

**New food industry working group will assess possible solution to increase UK’s food redistribution
Retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, charities and other industry bodies have joined a new industry working group which will  explore and support ways to increase the amount of surplus food made available for delivery to those in need, building on the work already carried out. On 24 January the group met for the first time to discuss the current systems and assess possible solutions that could increase the UK’s food redistribution, in order to start building a plan of action. Andy Dawe, Head of Food and Drink at WRAP and Chair of the industry working group, said: “Preventing waste arising not only saves money in tough economic times but also provides environmental savings.  Where there is a surplus of food it is important to make sure it’s being used in the best possible way.  The cost of food is rising, and this means that some of the most vulnerable groups in society sometimes struggle to afford food. Increasing food redistribution will help the poorest in society and prevent perfectly good food from going to waste, along with all that went into making it. By tackling this with key players across the supply chain we can collectively discover what works and what doesn’t to find the best solutions that we hope will lead to increased redistribution.”

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