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Food Safety and Other News

9 April 2015

UK foodborne virus reports identify areas requiring more research

Two reports have been recently published focusing on foodborne viruses. The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) has published its extensive review of viruses in the food chain and the FSA has also issued its Chief Scientific Advisor’s first Science Report.  

The ACMSF set up a group to revisit the issue of foodborne viruses as a result of the development in this area. The final report considered the most important viruses associated with foodborne infections – hepatitis A, norovirus and hepatitis E.  This report makes a number of recommendations for government departments which include the need for more research in certain areas, and for clear advice for consumers, for example on cooking pork and shellfish products and information on washing soft fruit and leafy green vegetables.     

When the recommendations have been considered in detail, the government will respond.  The FSA state that recommendations will be provided by the government in due course. The topic of foodborne viruses was chosen for the first report from the FSA’s Chief Scientific Advisor in anticipation of the publication of the ACMSF review.

The two reports are a good demonstration of how the science and evidence collaged by the FSA and their collaborators informs advice to the public.

Research funded to create gluten free wheat

The increase in Americans being diagnosed with Coeliac disease has prompted Kansas farmers to fund a genetic research project aimed at developing gluten-free grains. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. The disease affects approximately one percent or one in 133 Americans.  There is no treatment other than a gluten-free diet which means people avoiding any foodstuffs that contain wheat, rye or barley.

The Kansas Wheat Commission has allocated $200,000 for the first two years of the project which is being led by Kansas based company Engrain, specializing in improving baked goods.   

Previous research has identified around 20 protein fragments in wheat that coeliac reactions, however the new research hopes to identify them all. Ultimately the aim is to breed a variety of wheat that is safe for coeliac sufferers to consume.            

Europe’s brewers commit to ingredients listing and nutrition information for consumers

The trade association that represents 5,000 breweries, The Brewers of Europe has announced a voluntary move to list ingredients and nutritional information per 100ml on their brands.  This will be in line with the legal requirements for all non-alcoholic drinks, including non-alcoholic beer.  The association wants consumers to know the ingredients in beer and be able to compare like for like facts with all beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) per 100ml.

Consuming eggs with raw vegetables may be key to increasing nutritive value

Researchers from Purdue University have conducted a study to assess the effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from a raw mixed vegetable salad.  Sixteen healthy young men ate three versions of the salad- one with no egg, one with 1.5 scrambled whole eggs and the final with 3 scrambled whole eggs. Results showed that the men who that ate the highest egg amount with the salad of tomatoes, shredded carrots, baby spinach, romaine lettuce, and Chinese wolfberry increased the absorption of carotenoids 3-9 fold. The carotenoids found in the salad included beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, the lutein and zeaxanthin being found in egg yolk as well.

The research follows a previous study that showed that the addition of certain oils to mix raw vegetables enhanced the consumers’ absorption of carotenoids. The findings will be presented at the American Society for Nutrient’s Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2015.

FIR compliance ‘costs more than firms predict’

A survey of firms belonging to the Fresh Produce Consortium, the Food and Drink Forum, the British Frozen Food Federation and the Artisan Food Trail and Tastes of Anglian has concluded that food manufacturers are spending more than they intended on complying with the new EU labelling rules set out in the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIR). 52% of the firms surveyed acknowledged  that the cost of implementation was higher than expected with more than half saying that they require over six months to ensure compliance. It was clear that a quarter of businesses surveyed had yet to train their employees and 27% were unprepared for the regulations when the first phase was implemented in December.

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