12 January - 20 June 2016

Food Safety and Other News

28 January 2015

No consumer health risk from bisphenol A exposure

EFSA’s recent re-evaluation of bisphenol A (BPA) exposure and toxicity has concluded that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group at current exposure levels. Exposure from diet is considerably under the safe tolerable daily intake (TDI) level. 

Although EFSA have reduced the safe level of BPA from 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day to 4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day, the expert panel dealing with food contact materials (CEF Panel) have concluded that high doses of BPA (hundred times above the TDI) are unlikely to adversely affect the kidney and liver. [Food Quality News]

Children consume far too much pizza

A new study by Lisa Powel, Director of the Illinois Prevention Research Centre has found that pizza is a large source of calories, saturated fat and salt in children’s diet today. The findings presented in the journal Pediatrics has conclude that intake should be limited to one or two slices of pizza for a meal and should be paired with salad and not another high calorie food.

Powel carried out longitudinal questionnaires completed every day by children between 2003 and 2010. 
The research found that pizza is one of the foods that have the greatest sources of calories for children; averaging at 136 calories a day. The overall intake was greater than the consumption by adults.  Pizza was a common part of children’s diet and is eaten too frequently.

The results showed that on the days that children ate pizza, they end up consuming more saturated fat, more salt and more calories overall. On these days, teens consume an average of 230 extra calories whereas younger children consume more than 84 extra calories. 

The research recommended that doctors and nutrition counsellors should discuss pizza consumption with parents during nutrition counselling.  Cooking the pizza at home or eating alternative types of food should be advised. [Livescience]

400mg of caffeine a day is safe

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a draft report highlighting that 400mg of caffeine a day is not a safety concern for adults in Europe following their caffeine risk assessment. 

The assessment findings found that:

  • It is unlikely that caffeine interacts adversely with other constituents of “energy drinks” – such as taurine and D-glucurono-y-lactone or alcohol.
  • For pregnant women, caffeine intakes of up to 200mg a day do not raise any safety concerns for the foetus.
  • For children (3 - 10 years) and adolescents (10 - 18 years), daily intakes of 3mg per kg of body weight are considered safe.
  • Single doses of 100mg may increase sleep latency and shorten sleeping time in some adults.
  • Single doses of caffeine up to 200mg do not raise safety concerns for adults (18 - 65 years) also when consumed less than two hours before intense exercise.

The European Coffee Federation (ECF) welcomed the draft opinion and concluded that the research shows that the moderate coffee consumption can increase alertness, contributes to hydration and may even reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and degenerative brain disease.

Olive oil could increase pregnancy rates by up to 40 per cent

Researchers from the University of Southampton are carrying out a trial to determine if olive oil could increase pregnancy rates by up to 40 per cent. This is based on previous research that found increased intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats contained in olive oil led to faster embryo development after In vitro fertilisation (IVF).

The test diet will be based on couples using olive oil for cooking, an olive oil-based spread and daily supplement drink enriched with Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids for six weeks as an addition to their normal diet. The study looks to compare the fertility results of the olive oil diet against couples on a controlled diet of sunflower seed oil for cooking and sunflower oil-based spread.

MEPs call for country of origin labelling of meat in processed foods

The European Parliament’s Environmental, Public, Health and Food Safety (EVNI) Committee have said that meat used as an ingredient should have the country of origin label as done with fresh meat. The MEP’s said the Commission needs to propose this new legislation to rebuild consumer confidence following the 2013 horsemeat issue and other food fraud cases. It is hoped that this would ensure more transparency throughout the food chain and improve the information provided to consumers. 

The non-binding vote, passed by 48 voters to 15 with 4 abstentions, urges the Commission to follow up a 2013 report with legislative proposals to make it mandatory to state the country of origin of the meat used in processed food products. 

Camille Perrin, Senior Food Policy Officer at the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) indicated that the costs are at the heart of the debate. She said ‘While the Commission found origin labelling would spur a 15% to 50% price hike, results from France showed a pack of lasagne would only cost 1.5 euro more.’

FSIS seeks 30% reduction in Salmonella and Campylobacter via new standards

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has proposed new federal standards to reduce the levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken, turkey products and raw chicken parts; in the next steps of its Salmonella Action Plan.  

According to the FSIS’s science-based risk assessment, it is hoped that around 50,000 illnesses will be prevented annually with the proposed pathogen reduction performance standard and the additional microbial testing it requires. Agency officials have stated that though the FSIS implemented performance standards for whole chicken in 1996, Salmonella levels increase as chicken in processed into parts. The FSIS see creating a standard for chicken parts and performing regulatory testing at a point closer to the final product can reduce the public’s exposure to Salmonella greatly.

New tech application keeps bacteria from sticking to surfaces

Researchers from Cornell University and Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new type of nanoscale surface that bacteria can’t stick to. This could be ground-breaking for the food industry. The technology uses an the electrochemical process, anodization to produce nanoscale pores that change the electrical charge and surface energy of a metal surface, which in turn exerts a repulsive force on bacterial cells and prevents attachment and biofilm formation.

This study which was published in the journal Biofouling explains that when the anodisation process was applied to aluminium it created a nanoporous surface called akumina, which prevented Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes from attaching. 

Anodised metals could be used to prevent buildup of biofilms in equipment parts that are harder to reach or clean. This is very insightful for food processing as preparation surfaces must meet food safety guidelines. 

Food labelling should be used to help consumers make better choices

The Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report named ‘Food Security: Demand, Consumption and Waste’ has called for clearer labelling on products to assist consumers with buying from more sustainable sources.  The report called on DEFRA to commission research to support these improvements to labelling.

Anne McIntosh, committee chair at The Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Committee claims that ‘Consumers should be encouraged to buy British products, since British food production forms a vital component of a secure supply system.’

Consumers clued up on protein health benefits

A new research report from Canadean has indicated that 49% of UK consumers are now ‘very aware’ of the health benefits of protein. Almost 20% of all participants said that they would actively seek groceries that are high in protein and 68% of people said they would consider protein shakes as a replacement for other products. 

Canadean’s analyst concluded that the results indicate that ingredients and food manufacturers have successfully turned the demand for protein into a longer-term sustainable trend. The continued challenge for food manufacturers is to use the new protein ingredients to produce convenient and tasty protein food and drinks for consumers. 

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