12 January - 20 June 2016

More Food News from Food E-News

26 Mar 14

A spicy way to reduce salt use

Research presented on Wednesday at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014 posited an interesting method to help people reduce their salt consumption. The sodium intake of two groups was compared, one of which was asked to reduce their intake without researcher intervention whilst the other received behavioural intervention: information about "problem-solving strategies, use of herbs and spices in recipes, how culture influences spice choices, how to monitor diet, overcoming the barriers to making dietary changes, how to choose and order foods when eating out and how to make low-sodium intake permanent". Perhaps unsurprisingly, the second group did better at lowering their sodium intake, consuming an average 966 mg/day less than the group with no intervention. The research suggests that education about the specific barriers faced in reducing sodium consumption, and alternative ways of flavouring food, could be an effective tool in helping consumers cut down on salt. [ScienceDaily]

A new technique for reducing fat and retaining taste

Research presented at the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society looked at novel ways of developing reduced fat products with the same desirable creamy texture as the full-fat versions, with a more appealing taste and appearance than low-fat products currently on the market. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts tackled the flavour and textural issues often encountered when removing fat from foods by optimising the pH and calcium content of a white sauce so as to make the remaining fat droplets stick together more, forming clumps with water trapped inside them.

Reducing fat in foods can affect taste (as fat carries flavours), alter the appearance of the food due to its scattering light differently, and have a negative impact on texture and mouth-feel. Nevertheless, when using their new method, the Massachusetts team reduced fat in the white sauce from 10 to 2% whilst retaining its distinctive look and feel. They next plan to conduct taste and smell tests to optimise the composition of the reduced-fat products and test the impact of alternative seasoning ingredients in replacing the fat. [Eurekalert]

Pathogens in cheese: tracking down the source of Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks

A recent study by researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna analysed the genomes of bacteria which caused an outbreak of listeriosis in 2009/2010. The disease listeriosis is caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, and is extremely serious. During the outbreak in question - which affected Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic - 34 people became infected and 8 died.

The outbreak was traced back to an Austrian curd cheese called Quargel. Two different strains of the bacteria were found to be contaminating the cheese, and, and when the researchers sequenced their genomes, they discovered them to be entirely distinct - despite similarities - and not recently evolved from a common ancestor. Whilst both strains were responsible for fatalities, one was more virulent than the other. The conclusion of the analysis was that there were two overlapping but separate outbreaks caused by distinct contamination incidents over the same timeframe.

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