12 January - 20 June 2016

Food Safety and Other News

15 January 2015

Food safety expert shares tips on how a home kitchen can pass a restaurant inspection

Bryan Severns, Food Programs and Service Director from Kansas State University Olathe has released advice on how to maintain the highest level of cleanliness within the home kitchen.
Severns explains that the very popular soapy sponges may clean the dishes but they are unable to keep away the bacteria unless they are replaced constantly or sanitized. Soapy sponges are an incubator for bacteria and dirt. Sanitizing sponges can be achieved through boiling it, microwaving it or putting it into the dishwasher or even using dishcloths and disposing of them every day.
Cutting boards are very important to sanitize and the cracks and grooves will hold bacteria. Severns advised that the board needs to be disinfected after every use and left to air dry so the sanitizer sets in.  Cross contamination can occur when a piece of chicken is cut up on the same cutting board as a slice of vegetable. Research from food safety researcher, Ben Chapman found that hardwoods like maple, are fine-grained and the capillary action of those grains pulls down fluid trapping bacteria but are killed off after cleaning. Soft woods pose a greater food safety risk as the wood splits easily and make bacteria thrive. Chapman recommends using plastic cutting boards for meat and wood cutting boards for fruit, vegetables and ready-to-eat food like bread or cheese.

Carrots, bulb and stem vegetables: risks from Salmonella and other bacteria

The EFSA have issued findings of a scientific opinion looking at the factors that the cause of contamination of carrots, bulbs and stem vegetables – such as onion and garlic is due to environmental factors. These include the proximity to farms, access of domestic and wild animals to vegetable growing areas, the use of contaminated water for irrigation or contaminated.
EFSA’s experts have recommended that producers use good agricultural, hygiene and manufacturing practices to reduce contamination.

Wonky fruit and veg: how much do we really waste?

Jamie Oliver has launched a campaign to reduce waste of fruit and vegetables by encouraging Britons to eat wonky fruit and vegetables.  ASDA have now agreed to sell these vegetables with the tagline ‘Beautiful on the inside’ for a 30 percent discount as findings show 75 percent of shoppers would definitely purchase the items.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FOA) has estimated that one-third of the food produce (1.3 billion tons per year) for human consumption or wasted globally. The Soil Association state that in the UK, 20-40 percent of produce is rejected because it does not look right.

Halal and kosher food labelling: shoppers will be told how their meat has been killed

The European Commission is due to report on whether meat sold in the European Union should bare labels detailing the method of animal slaughter, George Eustine,  The UK Environmental Minister, has given the clearest signal yet that the Government will introduce compulsory labelling of halal and kosher products.

This is a result of several restaurants such as Pizza Express, KFC, Subway, Domino’s, Nando’s, Ask and Slug and Lettuce; top ten higher education establishments and the major supermarkets such have been found to be selling halal meat in many dishes without sufficient labelling to make customers aware.  

Mr Eustice suggest that meat products could be labelled ‘stunned’ or ‘unstunned’ which would help alert shoppers as to whether their meat was killed according to religious guidelines but a fairer way would be to list all of the different methods of slaughter. Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has demanded better labelling of meat throughout 2014 and the need for better transparency.

Experts warn global action is needed on water usage in food production

The Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) is heading up action to reduce the amount of hidden water used in food and drink production – estimated at 1.8 million litres per person every day and set to increase as more people move to a western-style diet and further population growth. This will mean that two thirds of the world’s population would be living in water scarce areas by 2050 leading to food shortages, rising food prices droughts and social unrest for future generations. 
The IChemE within their report ‘Water Management in the Food and Drink Industry’ claim that a global target should be set to reduce the amount of water used by food production by 20 per cent worldwide. They believe that regulations and incentives should be introduced to encourage the industry to monitor their water usage and look at possible sustainable methods.
They have recommended that:

-All governments should set targets for reducing the amount of water usage in food production worldwide by 20 per cent by 2020

-The Food and Drink industry should improve the monitoring of water usage in food production by using water foot printing

-Governments should ensure that the use of recycled water in food production becomes more widely accepted through creating, enforcing and promoting rigorous internationally quality standards

-Manufacturers should be incentivised to use alternative, sustainable sources of water (e.g. water in food, rainfall or saltwater)

-An investment of £500 billion per year should be provided in the construction of new capacity, infrastructure and appropriate technologies to improve efficiency and water management globally.

Forget calorie counts - it's HOW you eat food that affects your weight

Research from Richard Wrangham and Rachel Carmody, scientists from Harvard University have proved that consuming processed food (cooking, blending or mashed) increases body weight  in comparison to raw food. 

The research involved  feeding rats two kind of laboratory chew. One rat was given solid pellets and the other was given a pellet that contained more air, like a puffed breakfast cereal. The rats that ate the puffed pellets gained 30 percent more body fat than the rats that ate the regular chew as their guts did not have to work so hard. The puffed pellets took less physical effort and energy to break down and led to weight gain. 

This is the case for the human body; processed foods are digested in the small intestines whereas starchy raw food is not. Highly processed foods are not only more digestible but tend to be softer, requiring the body to use less energy during digestion.  

The researchers claim that we should reject soft white bread in favour of rough whole and wheat breads, processed cheese in favour of natural cheese and cooked vegetables with raw vegetables.  

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