12 January - 20 June 2016

Food Safety and Other News

3 June 2015

Roadmap presented for setting up a pan-European food and research infrastructure (RI)

Researchers involved in the European Commission-funded EuroDISH project which aims to strengthen research and improve knowledge of public health nutrition strategies across Europe have recently uncovered their roadmap for setting up a pan-European food and research infrastructure (RI). It is clear from the outcomes that there is a need for one research infrastructure that is specific for the research field of food in relation to nutrition and health and that covers the areas of determinants, intake, status and health (what DISH stands for)

The outcomes highlight the need for an overarching research infrastructure that fills gaps and fragmentation by linking existing research.  They also include that more scientific insight is required for policy makers on how to change the food environment and encourage a healthier diet as well as for the food industry to foster innovation and foster product innovation and strengthen its competitive position.


Scientific opinion on dietary reference values for calcium

The Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies has delivered a scientific opinion on Dietary Reference Values for the European population including calcium following a request from the European Commission.  These include Average Requirements (AR), Population Reference Intake (PRI) and Adequate Intake (AI). 

The relationship between calcium intake and various health outcomes from human studies was reviewed and found to be inconsistent.   A variety of end points were used to assess the effect of calcium intake on bone health including skeletal growth, bone mineral density and fracture rates.  It was concluded that DRVs for calcium could not be derived from measures of bone health. 

Calcium balance data collected from controlled metabolic studies in North American adults (>25 years of age) was analysed to determine the value at which calcium intake equals calcium losses via urine and faeces.  This mean value is 715 mg/day, an allowance for dermal losses of calcium of 40 mg/day was added to derive an AR of 750 mg/day.

In 7 – 11 month old infants, an AI was calculated by estimating the average amount of calcium absorbed by excessively breast-fed infants (120 mg/day) and extrapolated upwards using isometric scaling.  Based on absorption of 60%, the AI is 280 mg/day.

In children between the ages of 1 and 17 years, a factorial approach was employed where the quantity of dietary calcium that is sufficient for calcium accretion in bone and for replacement of obligatory of body losses in 50% of the population was used to calculate AR. TARs were 390 mg/day for ages 1 - 3, 690 mg/day for children between 4 - 10 and 960 mg/day for children aged between 11 and 17 years.  The PRIs for children aged 1- 3, 4 – 10 and 11 – 17 years are 450, 800 and 1150 mg/day respectively.  

The AR for young adults (aged between 18 - 24 years) who still accumulate calcium in bones 860 mg/day.


Research assesses the influence of wheat cultivar on the sensory quality of bread

A recent study published in the Journal of Cereal Science has proposed a protocol for the selection, training and validation of members of a panel to assess the influence of wheat cultivar on the sensory quality of bread.  

Three cultivars of bread wheat and two cultivars of spelt wheat organically grown were milled and baked using the same procedures. The five flours were used to make five different breads.  In order to describe the sensory properties of the bread, a sensory profiling method consisting of two phases was applied. The first pahse was to select, train and validate the sensory assessors with a subsequent phase focusing on the evaluation of the samples. The selection, training and validation process resulted in a highly reliable panel of assessors.  

Differences were identified between the five bread samples using triangle tests which also enable attributes to best characterise their sensory profiles to be chosen.   Sensory evaluation showed that there was significant differences between the spelt breads and those made with bread wheat for the attributes ‘crumb cell homogeneity’ and ‘crumb elasticity’.  The bread made with ‘Espelta Navarra’ was the most complex from a sensory perspective taking account of both odour and flavour attributes.  

Researchers concluded that the differences seen had to be due to cultivar used as all five wheat varieties were grown under the same conditions and were subjected to the same baking process.  The authors proposed that sensory properties should be considered as a breeding criteria for future genetic improvement work.


Strawberries and cream – the perfect balance

RA UK retailer has recently worked with a food scientist to uncover the science behind the perfect serving for strawberries and cream. 

The study found that strawberries maintain their firmness in single cream for approximately two minutes 50 seconds, after which time they become tangibly softer.  The perfect ratio of strawberry to cream is 70:30 with 1.5 teaspoons of cream per strawberry.  The results also showed that strawberries get smaller when immersed in cream.


FSA publishes Campylobacter survey results

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the final set of results from its year-long survey of Campylobacter in fresh chickens.   The study analysed over 4,000 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens and packaging brought from small butchers and independent stores to larger retailers.  

The results for the full year show 19% of chickens tested positive for Campylobacter within the highest band of contamination (>1000 cfu/g); 73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter; 5 samples of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination and 7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of the micro-organism.  

A new survey will start this summer and will help the FSA measure the impact of the interventions now being introduced by the industry.

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