12 January - 20 June 2016

Food Safety and Other News

03 December 2014

Report released showing the effect of reducing fraud activity in the food and drink industry

PKF Littlejohn along with the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies (CCFS) at the University of Portsmouth has issued a report on fraud within the food and drink business. Their findings have shown that fraud and error within UK food and drink companies may be creating a loss of over £11.2 billion a year (85% of their total profit).

Recent changes to combat this has allowed for the total cost lost to fraud to now be measurable, minimised and steps taken for it to be reduced.  Tackling fraud could result in improving profitability for the manufacturer by £4.48 billion; allowing for a reduced price of food and drink for the consumer (by as much as five pence in a pound) while remaining competitive.  [Talking Retail] [Food Quality News]

Campylobacter found in fresh chickens in the UK

A report from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) about its year-long survey of campylobacter on fresh chicken has recently been released. Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK estimated to affecting 280,000 people a year.

Findings from 1,995 samples of fresh whole chicken from the big supermarket chains saw 18% of chickens being tested positive for campylobacter, 70 per cent of chickens tested positive for a presence of campylobacter and 6% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter. 

The results showed a variation between the retailers but none are meeting the end-of-production target for reducing campylobacter. 

Steve Wearne, FSA Director of Policy, said ‘These results show that the food industry, especially retailers, needs to do more to reduce the amount of campylobacter in fresh chickens.’  [The Mail]

New scientific journal launched

Elsevier is set to release their latest journal ‘Current Opinion in Food Science’ providing information about a wide range of food physics and material science areas including Materials Sciences; Food Chemistry and Biochemistry; Sensory Sciences and Consumer Behaviour and Innovations in Food along with a range of other areas.  [News Medical]

Crops to be grown in space by 2050

A 10 year project named TIME SCALE is to be launched with the hope of seeing crops being cultivated on the Moon and Mars. The project led by Ann-Iren Kittang Jost, research chief at the Centre of Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, is to investigate how food plants grow in space and how the plants can help supply space travellers with food and air in the future. This would allow for the journey to understand how the plants interact and adapt within a different environment. Tests are due to begin on such foods as cherry tomatoes, lettuce and soy beans which will be planted on the International Space Station (ISS). The challenges however is to provide the right amount of water and nutrients to the plants with low levels of gravity.  [Sky News] [The Local]

The real benefits of wheat

Recent trends have shown that a growing number of shoppers have taken to purchasing ‘free from’ foods following the increased influence from celebrities. However, this may cause more harm than good. 

Researchers from the University of Warwick on behalf of Weetabix, the breakfast cereal manufacturer have looked into the health benefits of wheat and claim that 98% of the population would benefit from a diet based on such whole-grain foods compared to oats. 

Whole grain has been shown to contain components such as fibre, starch and fat which have been proved to reduce the risk of cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  

The research from the scientists has shown that the rise in food intolerance or wheat and gluten is likely to be a result of the vast quantities of the processed food eaten in the West. The health benefits are lost during processing and there is little scientific evidence that wheat diets have any benefits. The problems stem from the amount of additive used in the processed foods.   Cutting out food types such as wheat has been shown to lead to poorer health and inability to fight off diseases.  [Daily Mail] [The Telegraph]

Danger of children metal exposure in food

Children have a higher risk of exceeding the recommended levels of cadmium, nickel and manganese within their food according to a research team at Edith Cowan University in Australia. Food and beverages from major supermarket was analysed to represent typical diets.

The study showed that Western Australian children aged over eight years consumed more cadmium than was recommended by the European Food Safety Authority guidelines. The intake of nickel and manganese was also higher than considered normal by international studies. 

High levels of nickel (tested at eight micrograms per kilo of body weight a day) resulted in eczema in some cases whilst heightened exposure to cadmium saw low bone density and kidney dysfunction. The effects of manganese are still being studied. 

Dr Allen has recommended that “parents should practice good hygiene such as washing their hands before eating and ensuring food and vegetables are washed to remove traces of soil.  [Australian Food News]

Changes in food labelling in America

The FDA's new menu and vending machine labelling requirements will give American's easy access to nutrition facts served at restaurants and other outlets.   With new rules requiring businesses with 20 or more locations (including restaurants and movie theatres) to include calorie counts next to menu items and allow for transparency of nutrition information to customers. Health experts within America have put the epidemic of diet-related diseases on restaurants’ fatty ingredients and large portion size. 

Though transparency is a very good thing; the emphasis on calories can be misleading and encourage consumers to focus on this over the quality of the ingredients as well as the increased cost to restaurants. 

EFSA update allergy advice

The EFSA has recently updated its scientific advice on food allergens. The updates have been made to its 2003 opinion and reviews the data published on the proteins that have been identified as food allergens, cross-reactivities, the effect of food processing and methods for detecting allergens.  They have highlighted that the prevalence of food allergies is difficult to establish because of the scarce nature of available studies and the prevalence of food allergies across Europe has been estimated at around 1% for both adults and children.   EFSA has reported that 75% of allergic reactions amongst children are caused by egg, peanut, cows’ milk, fish and nuts. 50% of the allergic reactions amongst adults are to fruit of the latex group and of the Rosaeae family (apples, pears, raspberries, strawberries and almonds) and vegetables of the Apiaceae family (including celery, carrots and aromatic herbs) and various nuts. 

The Scientific Opinion has summarised the available risk assessment approaches that could assist risk management decisions on allergen labelling and the NDA panel has recommended that food consumption surveys should be adapted to gather data on food consumption patterns in food allergic subjects and how these relate to the general, non-food allergic population. 

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