12 January - 20 June 2016

Food Safety and Other News

19 November 2014

Clostridium botulinum genes for germination discovered

Institute of Food Research scientists have discovered the genes that are crucial for the germination of Clostridium botulinum.  This discovery may present a new way of stopping this bacteria growing in food. The research published in the journal PLOS Pathogens identified two sets of genes that the bacteria needs, and which must act together for the spores to germinate to the correct stimulus, in this case the presence of an amino acid.  Scientists have been able to build up a much better understanding of exactly how the spores germinate. 

Dr Jason Brunt said ‘As more is understood of the complex germination systems in Clostridia, it may be conceivable to formulate detailed strategies to interrupt this process.  This would be of great benefit to help control pathogenic Clostridia, for the food industry’. [IFR] [Food Manufacture]

Levels of flame retardant chemicals in baby food well below unsafe levels

new study conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) has shown that levels of flame retardant chemicals in baby food from the United States and China are well below levels considered unsafe.  Flame retardants are chemicals found in plastics, textiles and electronics that keep materials from easily catching fire.  The compounds which include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs) can pass through to humans who use products that contain flame retardants or who sit on materials containing them or through food in which they accumulate.  There is cited evidence that high levels of exposure have been linked to development delays and cancer, however scientists have limited understanding of what levels pose a threat to children or adults. The study compared canned infant formula, cereals and pureed baby food from both countries and in general the levels were similar although researchers found high concentrations of Dechlorane Plus in one Chinese formula sample and one American cereal sampled. [Food Safety News]

Mozzarella is best for your pizza

A recently published study in the Journal of Food Science proves that mozzarella is the favoured cheese to top pizza.  Scientists from the University of Auckland studied the effects of cheese composition and texture and how the amount of water activity, free oil and moisture would make a difference to the final result.   The cheeses studied included Mozzarella, Cheddar, Colby, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere and Provolone.  Professor Bryony James and colleagues used a custom-built high resolution SLR camera and sophisticated imaging analysis software to examine the colour and uniformity of blistering and browning exhibited by various cheeses.   Results showed that a combination of mozzarella and cheddar were the best combination, although it must be highlighted that the study did not take account of the subjective nature of human senses in identifying person preferences when selecting pizza.  [The Guardian] [The Independent]

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