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Food Safety and Other News

12 February 2015

Green tea ingredient may target protein to kill oral cancer cells

Research published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research carried out by scientists from the Department of Food Sciences at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences  has found that a green tea compound may trigger a cycle that kills oral cancer cells.

Previous studies had shown that epigallocathechin- 3-gallate  (EGCG) a polyphenol   found in green tea could kill oral cancer cells but the researchers wanted to understand how it could only target the cancer cells with no damage to normal cells. 

The research involved studying  normal human oral cells side-by-side with human oral cancer cells to determine how EGCG affected the two types of cells.  Both types of cell were exposed to EGCG with researchers checking for oxidative stress and signs of antioxidant response at various time points.

The scientists found that EGCG was damaging mitochondria which resulted in the cell undergoing programme cell death.  This reaction was not caused by EGCG in normal cells, where it appeared to increase the protective capabilities of the cell. The researchers highlighted that a protein called sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) – is  critical to the process as it plays an important role in mitochondrial function and in anti-oxidant response in body tissues.  The idea that EGCG might selectively turn off sirtuin 3 activity in cancer cells and turn it on in normal cells would probably be applicable in many different types of cancer.  

EU project develops protein supplements from food waste streams

An EU funded project APROPOS has developed a range of co-stream products using waste such as rapeseed and fish discards produced by the food industry.   APROPOS is a collaborative research project looking at novel biotechnical approaches to transforming industrial bio-waste to bio-products.
There was also a focus on creating co-stream products that would be directly useful for the local economy and population.  This include the transformation of Nile Perch fish discards into a dietary supplement which could be added as a powder to low protein meals.

The project has also developed other co-streams including pesticides from mustard seeds and medical dressings and cold creams from rapeseed.   

Almond and peanut protein detected in cumin products

At the end of 2014, a US food company, Adams Flavour, Foods and Ingredients issued a voluntary recall for several of its spice products after being notified by one of their suppliers that the cumin they had purchased contained undeclared peanut protein.   This obviously presents a risk to peanut allergic consumers.

Since this first notification, a range of different products have been recalled including seasoned beef, poultry and pork, spice and chilli products.

Prompted by this issue, the UK Food Standards Agency  has conducted a sampling programme involving the testing of batches of ground cumin and cumin seeds bought from retailers, wholesalers and consignments inspected at ports.  All samples have been tested for undeclared peanut and almond protein. [Food Quality News]

Trial show a method of increasing the tolerance of peanut allergies

Researchers from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute have discovered that probiotics could provide a long-term cure for people who suffer from peanut allergy.

The study involved over 60 peanut allergic children who were given either a fixed daily dose of a probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus together with peanut protein starting at a very low dose followed by a dose increase every two weeks until the maintenance dose was reached or a placebo over 18 months.   The child’s ability to tolerate peanut was assessed by a peanut challenge performed two to five weeks after stopping the treatment.

The research found that over 80% of children who were given the probiotic were tolerant to peanut at the end of the trial; this was significantly different from 4% tolerance of the placebo group.
The researchers from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute have proved that it is possible to modify the allergic response so that the immune system produces protective responses through the use of probiotics.

Euromonitor warns the industry of legislation to tackle obesity

New analysis by Euromonitor International suggested that tighter legislation is inevitable to cut calories and reduce obesity rates.  To help with analysing nutritional intakes from packaged foods, Euromonitor International has released their newest research tool named Passport Nutrition.  It specifically analyses carbohydrates, protein, fibre, fat, saturated fat salt, sugar and energy.   

EU report provides basis for effective fight against development of resistant bacteria

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has produced a report on the integrated analysis of the consumption of antimicrobial agents and occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from humans and food-producing animals.  This analysis was carried out at the request of the European Commission and combines data from the European Union (EU) Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Access to accurate data on the use of antimicrobials and the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance is an essential step to develop and monitor policies that minimise the development of resistance and keep antimicrobials effective for future generations.

EFSA hope that a holistic approach will make better use of the existing data and strengthen coordinated surveillance systems on antimicrobial consumption and antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals. The report will also present the European Commission’s action plan against the rising threats from antimicrobial resistance and keep antimicrobials effective for future generations.

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