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8 May 13

**Portion size for high saturated fat foods may be reduced in an attempt to tackle obesity
**Droplet Digital™ PCR for GMO quantification
**Study indicates magnesium may be important for children’ bone health
**Children who suffer with milk allergy may be allergic to chalk, glue, ink and paper
**Fasting diet – good or bad?
**Mangoes could help lower blood sugar and reduce body fat
**Defra publish Food statistics pocketbook 2012
**Menu showing exercise needed to burn off calories of a food may help people consume less
**Study finds champagne may aid memory
**Gluten-free diets on the increase – and not just for coeliacs

**Portion size for high saturated fat foods may be reduced in an attempt to tackle obesity
The Telegraph is reporting that the government are set to demand that food manufacturers, cafes and supermarkets reduce the portion size of food high in saturated fat including biscuits, doughnuts, milky coffee and cakes.  It is hoped that this would encourage people to buy low fat options by restricting the availability of less healthy foods.  Apparently under the deal, saturated fat would also be replaced, where possible, with healthier ingredients.  However the Telegraph report that the Department of Health states that this could lead to customers buying more and retailers would benefit as they would charge the same price for smaller portions.  Dr Susan Jebb who is the chair of the government steering group and head of nutrition and health research at the Medical Research Council stresses the importance of using healthier recipes and promoting lower fat options to consumers. 

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable expertise in developing a wide range of food and drink products at a laboratory and pilot scale.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Droplet Digital™ PCR for GMO quantification
A study by Morisset et al. and published in PLOS ONE is reporting that Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR™) technology is suitable for routine analysis of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, feed, and seeds.   The scientists report that the method could be used as an alternative to qPCR, noting that the technology is more accurate and reliable than real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) for quantifying GMO’s especially at low levels.  In the authors' hands, a ddPCR assay requires 190 minutes and a qPCR assay takes 160 minutes for the typical number of samples run in parallel in mid-size GMO laboratories. However the scientists note that due to the greater number of PCR reactions required per sample in the qPCR assay, the time and expense of the qPCR assay grows rapidly with increasing sample throughput. Droplet Digital PCR is also simpler to set up and involves less hands-on labour than qPCR. The study indicates that ddPCR is a less expensive alternative to qPCR due to the lower number of reactions. Droplet Digital PCR capitalises on its ability to "duplex" as opposed to qPCR's traditional approach of performing separate assays for both control and transgene targets. The ddPCR assay also doesn't require reactions for a standard curve or dilutions due to lower anticipated inhibition.

**Study indicates magnesium may be important for children’ bone health
A study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington DC has indicated that magnesium may play an important role in bone health in children.  Abrams et al report that although magnesium has been investigated in adults, little is known about whether magnesium intake and absorption are related to bone health in children.  Using 63 healthy children, aged between 4 to 8 years, who were not taking any supplements, the researchers measured the calcium and magnesium levels in the children.  The participants also filled out food diaries, with food and beverage intake measured before and after each meal.   Urine was collected for 72 hours so that the scientists could measure how much calcium and magnesium were absorbed into body. Bone mineral content and density was also measured.  The scientists report that the findings showed that the amounts of magnesium consumed and absorbed were key predictors of how much bone mineral content and density a child had. Dietary calcium intake, however, was not significantly associated with total bone mineral content or density. (Science Daily)

**Children who suffer with milk allergy may be allergic to chalk, glue, ink and paper
According to a study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, chalk may cause allergy and asthma symptoms in children who have a milk allergy.  Low-powder chalk can often contain casein, a milk protein, so when milk allergy sufferers inhale the powder they may suffer allergic symptoms.   Larramendi et al. state that even dustless or anti-dust chalk can release small particles in the air and cause a reaction.  James Sublett, MD, chair of the ACAAI Indoor Environment Committee states that glue, paper and ink can also contain milk proteins. (Eurekalert)

RSSL carries out allergen testing using immunological, DNA and distillation techniques, depending on the allergen to be detected. Detection limits are in the range 1- 100 mg allergen/kg of sample for almond, Brazil nut, macadamia nut, peanut, walnut, hazelnut, cashew nut, pistachio nut, pecan nut, pine nut and chestnut.  Celery, celeriac, black mustard, lupin  and kiwi allergens can be detected by DNA methods, as can crustacean, fish and mollusc allergens.  The laboratory also uses a range of UKAS accredited immunological procedures for the detection of allergens including gluten, peanut, hazelnut, almonds, soya, egg, milk, sesame and histamine.  Distillation and titration methods are used for the determination of sulphur dioxide and sulphites.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Fasting diet – good or bad?
The Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute have dismissed the fasting diet as a fad, claiming it could starve the body of vital nutrients.  The diet, followed by a number of celebrities, advises followers to consume 500 calories (or 600 calories for men) on two fasting days a week, on the other days the followers can consume as many calories as they want.   According to the Daily Mail, the Institute has stated in the Irish Independent that the fasting diet may be dangerous for people already deficient in iron or calcium and could cause their health to deteriorate further. The fast diet was developed by medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley and is marketed as helping people lose weight, improve health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and balancing insulin levels - making developing diabetes less likely.  However a study published in the British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease has indicated that fasting diets may help those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, alongside established weight loss claims.   Brown et al evaluated the various approaches to intermittent fasting in the scientific literature. They searched specifically for advantages and limitations in treating obesity and type 2 diabetes using fasting diets.  Findings from clinical trials have reported that fasting can limit inflammation, improve levels of sugars and fats in circulation, and reduce blood pressure. The scientists note that our fasting bodies change how they select which fuel to burn, improving metabolism and reducing oxidative stress.

**Mangoes could help lower blood sugar and reduce body fat
An animal study by Lucas et al from Uklahoma State University has found that mangos could help lower blood sugar and reduce body fat.  The scientists formulated 6 diets:  a standard mouse diet and five diets high in fat (35% total calories from fat).  Four of the high fat diets were supplemented with either 1% freeze dried mango powder, 10% mango powder, fenofibrate or rosiglitazone (a drug commonly used to lower blood sugar).  The mice were split in six groups and consumed one of the diets for two months.  At the end of the intervention period, the scientists found no statistically significant differences in body weight among the mice however the amount of body fat varied according to the diets.  Those fed the diets with mango or the two drugs had body fat levels similar to the mice who consumed the standard control diet.  The mango supplemented diet also had a similar or even more pronounced effect in reducing blood glucose than the diet containing rosiglitazone.  It was found to reduce circulating levels of the hormone leptin, which is produced by fat cells and its concentration in the blood is related to body fat content.  (FoodBev.com)

**Defra publish Food statistics pocketbook 2012
This annual publication provides a round-up of statistics on food covering the economic, social and environmental aspects of the food we eat (excluding agriculture). It contains chapters on: the food chain (beyond agriculture); prices and expenditure; global and UK supply; environment; waste; dietary health; and safety and confidence.  Data comes from previously published government surveys run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and a wide range of other sources including government agencies and commercial organisations.

**Menu showing exercise needed to burn off calories of a food may help people consume less
Findings by researchers from Texas Christian University and presented at Experimental Biology 2013, have suggested that menus displaying the exercise needed to burn the calories found in a meal can help people consume less.   The scientists divided 300 volunteers aged 18 to 30 years old into three groups and gave then either a menu without any calorie information, another menu with the calories displayed, or a third menu  which showed both calories and the amount of exercise needed to burn them off.  The foods on the menus were the same and included items such as burgers, sandwiches, salad, chips, soft drinks and water.  The scientists found that those who were given the menus with the exercise needed to burn off the food, ordered and ate much less than those whose menu had no calories information. (BBC)

**Study finds champagne may aid memory
A study by scientists at Reading University suggests that drinking moderate amounts of champagne may help improve memory and prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. There have been many studies into the health benefits of red wine and the black grape varieties Pinot noir and Pinot meunier are used in both red wine and champagne. Lead researcher Jeremy Spencer is quoted as saying that “these grapes are used in red wine and lots of research has been done on the health benefits of red wine, so I was curious to find out if there were any associated with champagne”. Prof Spencer’s team gave champagne daily to rats, mixed in with feed, for six weeks. Each rat was put in a maze to find a treat with the experiment being repeated 5 minutes later. Rats not fed champagne had a 50% success rate but those which had been fed champagne scored 70%. Prof Spencer is quoted as saying that “the results were dramatic. After rats consumed champagne regularly, there was a 200 per cent increase of proteins important for determining effective memory. This occurred in rats after just six weeks. We think it would take about three years in humans.” He added that “this research is exciting because it illustrates for the first time that moderate consumption of champagne has the potential to influence cognitive functioning such as memory.” Spencer is hoping to conduct a three year trial on around 50 people aged over 65. The Alzheimer’s Society noted that this is an interesting study, but warned that people should not start celebrating yet as much more research is required. (Daily Mail)

**Gluten-free diets on the increase – and not just for coeliacs
Over the past few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of gluten-free products on sale in supermarkets and celebrities all over the world claim to be living a ‘wheat-free’ lifestyle. These products have made life for those intolerant to gluten, coeliacs, much easier. However, as the FSA estimates that 1% of the population is coeliac and the market in gluten-free products is growing by 15% a year, coeliacs can’t be the only people buying them.  A study published in the British Medical Journal suggests these products are being consumed by people watching their weight. These products however may not be the best for those attempting to lose weight. When a gluten-free product is made, the wheat proteins are replaced by proteins from other flours. The missing gluten can alter the characteristics of a products and so additives or corn starch are often added along with extra sugar and fat meaning that a gluten-free products may actually contain more calories than the gluten equivalent. Sarah Sleet, from Coeliac UK, is quoted as saying that “on the whole, ‘gluten-free fresh breads are higher in fat compared with breads containing gluten. This is largely because saturated fats are needed to make gluten-free bread soft” and she added that it’s not true to think you’ll lose weight if you eat them. Gluten-free products may also be more expensive but the companies producing them say that demand is lower so the cost of materials and production overheads are higher. Despite the often additional cost of gluten-free products, people seem to be adopting these diets in large numbers. Books such as “Wheat Belly” by William Davis might be part of the reason. Davis is a cardiologist who links consumption of wheat to many illnesses including schizophrenia, dandruff, diabetes and arthritis. He thinks wheat is a ‘chronic poison’ as it’s different to the wheat strains eaten two generations ago. Davis says this strain is highly addictive but other nutritionists do not agree. Ian Marber is one of these and is very skeptical of the notion that wheat is bad for us. Marber is quoted as saying that ‘the reason the vast majority of people think they feel better on a gluten-free diet is because they’re suddenly making better choices”. (Daily Mail)

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