12 January - 20 June 2016

Food Safety and Other News

25 March 2015

Necklace can help track food intake

Researchers from UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a necklace that can monitor food and drink intake. This device (named WearSens) can help improve dietary habits and battle against health conditions related to nutrition such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

The WearSens rests loosely above the sternum and uses high sensitive piezoelectric sensors to capture vibrations from swallowing food or drink. The piezoelectric sensors produce a voltage based on mechanical stress or movement.

The WearSens and its associated algorithm that translates data from the necklace has been tested on 30 people who ate a variety of foods. The necklace transmits the signals to a smartphone, where the algorithm converts the data into information about the food or beverage. The phone displays data about the volume of food or liquid consumed and can offer advice or analysis.

With the device, the sensor information is translated using a spectrogram, which offers a visual representation of the vibrations picked up by the sensors. The WearSens is proved to differentiate between solids and liquids with 87% accuracy, and between hot drinks and warm temperature drinks with 90 percent accuracy.

EFSA set population reference intakes for vitamin A as part of its review of scientific advice on nutrient intakes

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) has recently set daily population reference intakes (PRI’s) for vitamin A as part of its review of scientific advice on nutritional intakes.This included:

• 750 μg for men and 650 μg for women
• 250 to 750 μg for infants and children
• 700 μg for pregnant women (higher than the adult PRO to allow for the needs of the foetus and the growth of the maternal tissues)

The data presented in the EFSA’s Comprehensive Food Consumption Database and Nutritional Composition Database shows that in the EU currently, average vitamin A intake ranges between 409-651 μg/day for children between the age of 1 and 3; 607-889 μg/day for children between 3 and 10; 597-1,078 μg/day for adolescents and 816-1,498 μg/day for adults.

Vitamin A is vital for the maintenance of healthy vision, and the growth and integrity of the cells in the human body.  Foods rich in Vitamin A include meat, butter, dairy products, eggs and some vegetables.

Research finds agave prebiotic significantly increases some faecal friendly bacteria

Researchers from the University of Reading and Mexican firm Bustar Alimentos have found that the prebiotic agave fructan significantly increases the faecal count of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.

The first of its kind study looked into the impact of three-week supplementation of 5 grams of agave fructan per day in comparison to the equivalent placebo of the fibre maltodextrin. 38 adults went through a washout period of two weeks before swapping treatment groups for another three weeks, followed by a two week ‘washout’. At each stage, faecal samples were taken and changes in faecal bacterial populations, short-chain fatty acid and the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA) were monitored as well as the effect of agave on the colon. Bowl movements, stool consistancies and abdominal discomfort were recorded via a questionnaire.

The findings showed that agave was well tolerated in healthy human subject. The agave supplementation did not impact the levels of quality of life factors including mood, energy, alertness and stress levels. Though there were no significant changes in stool frequency or consistency or abdominal pain, there was an increased rate of intestinal bloating (mild to moderate) and flatulence (mild to severe). [Nutra Ingredients]

Software analyses food molecules to fight fraud

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield’s IPOS Centre have developed chemometric software called Mass Profiler Professional (MPP) to compare information about the chemical composition of food. The software uses Principal Component Analysis on Mass Spectral data to characterize the differences between various related food types.

MPP had previously been used for pharmaceutical purposes but decided to provide this to the food industry after their commercial partner challenged them to produce a way to differentiate between beef and pork gelatine. The service should be available later this year. [Food Navigator]

World First Solution for Rapid Detection of Sporeforming Bacteria to Improve Food Safety Controls in Dairy Processes

Tyndall National Institute, Cork and Teagasc have launched the ‘Spore Analysis Critical Control Point’ (SACCP) partnership. This project will develop a portable biosensor to detect spore - forming harmful bacteria of environmental origins that could enter the dairy supply chain and exceed the microbiological specifications for high-end products including infant milk formulations. The biosensor will allow on-site, in-line and real-time testing of milk to ensure that potentially harmful spore-forming bacteria which can survive pasteurisation do not reach harmful levels.

It is hoped that the new system will revolutionise the quality monitoring processes within the dairy industry at a global level. The biosensor under development can produce results in minutes.

Hangover proof wine could be round the corner

Yong-Su Jin, a professor of microbial genomics at the University of Illinois has found a method to change the way yeast reproduces. This involves altering its DNA in a way that could increase its amount of nutritional components as well as reducing the toxic bioproducts that result in hangovers.

As fermented foods such as beer, wine and bread are made with polyploid strains of yeast, they contain multiple copies of genes in the genome. It has been very difficult to alter such genes previously as genetic engineering has meant that when one gene is copied, an unaltered gene copy would correct the one that has changed. An enzyme as a “genome knife” was used by the researchers at the University of Illinois to slice through all the copies of a gene, and stop automatic corrections.

Illnesses Linked with Raw Milk Increasing in U.S.

Illness related to the consumption of nonpasteurised milk continues to be a public health issue in the US caused by several pathogens including Campylobacter spp., Shiga toxin – producing Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium.  Despite the serious illness sometimes caused by drinking nonpasteurised milk, the demand has increased and state legislatures have considered relaxing restrictions on its sale.

A study by researchers at the Atlanta Research and Education Foundation, Atlanta, US has reviewed the outbreaks reported during 2007 through to 2012 where the food vehicle was nonpasteurised milk. Outbreak frequency, number of illnesses, outcomes (hospitalization, death), pathogens and age groups of patients were analysed by the researchers.

The results showed that within the 6 year period, the number of outbreaks associated with nonpasteurised milk increased and the outbreaks caused by Campylobacter spp. nearly doubled. The average number of outbreaks between 2007 and 2012 was 4-fold higher than between 1993 and 2006. This increase was concurrent with a decline in the number of states in which the sale of nonpasteurised milk was illegal from 28 in 2004 to 20 in 2011, as well as an increase in the number of states allowing cow-share programs. The increase in the number of states where the sale of nonpasteurised milk was legal and allowing cow sharing programs may have facilitated consumer access to nonpasteurised milk.

The researchers conclude that the outbreaks associated with nonpasteurised milk continue to pose a public health challenge and legalization of the sale of it will lead to further outbreaks and illnesses. Further to this, public health officials should continue to educate legislators and consumers about the dangers.

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