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Food Safety and Other News

15 July 2015

EFSA assesses the exposure of steviol glycosides (E 960) as a food additive

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has carried out an assessment of exposure of steviol glycosides (E 960) following a request from the European Commission. This request comes in response to a commercial petition to raise the permitted level of stevia derived sweeteners in hot drinks.

Further to the 2010 scientific opinion on the safety of steviol glycosides (E 960) and the revision in 2011 and 2014, the current revised exposure estimates are based on the current authorised uses and the EFSA Comprehensive European Food Consumption Databases. The use of steviol glycosides for tea beverages and instant coffee and cappuccino products has been increased to 29 mg/L of steviol equivalents up from 10 mg/L proposed in 2014. However, the mean exposure estimates are below the ADI of 4 mg /kg bw per day for all population groups (except toddlers) and are similar to the estimated in 2014. These findings do not change the outcome of the previous safety assessment.

Scientists study ways to integrate biofuels and food crops on farms

Scientists from the U.S Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are exploring ways to meet three objectives in an experimental cornfield in Central Illinois – to grow feedstock for bioenergy, to maximise crop production and to protect the environment in the hope to improve land use. 

The scientists indicate that the objectives can be achieved through a multifunctional landscape where resources are efficiently allocated and crops are positioned in their ideal soil and landscape position. For instance, planting perennial bioenergy crops such as switchgrass or willows where commodity crops have difficulty growing could limit the run off of nitrogen fertilizer into waterways and may also provide biomass feedstock.  

A pilot willow planting was developed at a Fairbury site in 2013 and the team will continue to collate results until next year to see how they compare against their original predictions.  The researchers are exploring how the design principles can be scaled up to the entire watershed.

Research shows a global increase in demand for natural colours

A global survey has found that the Asian consumers are fuelling demand for natural colourings and clean labels. The results found that 84% of Asians consumers critically look at the labels of food products before choosing to buy in comparison to 53% of European consumers.

The survey analysed responses from consumers between the age of 18 and 70 from Brazil, France, Indonesia, Spain, UK, USA, China, Germany, Poland and Thailand. 

Currently, Western Europe holds the biggest share of the natural colours market achieving 26% in 2014 with a value of €278m but is set increase to €404m in 2020 according to a report published in Future Market Insights (FMI).

Farmers are advised to wait 24 hours after rain or irrigating their farm to harvest crops to maximise food safety

Cornell scientists along with other agricultural researchers have indicated that farmers should wait 24 hours after irrigation of crops or rain to harvest crops to prevent the occurrence of foodborne illness. The study involved fields in a variety of locations throughout New York  and found that the chances of detecting Listeria were 25 times greater after rain and irrigation of crops.

The findings have been published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  The Cornell scientists are conducting further safety research to set rules, guidelines and standards for the Food Safety Modernisation Act.

Study analyses the physicochemical, nutritional and antibacterial characteristics Bromelia pinguin L. fruit

A group of experts in the South of Mexico have analysed the characteristics of the pulp of the fruit Bromelia pinguin, which is a relative of the pineapple, and has shown antibiotic benefits and its potential to be useful as a functional food. 

The analysis showed high contents of Vitamin C, crude fiber, magnesium, calcium, zinc and manganese. The pulp fruit polar fractions that were extracted as part of the study also showed resistance against many human pathogenic bacteria including Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Escherichia

Adventurous eating has positive health implications

A recent study published by US authors in the journal Obesity has found that people that consume the widest variety of uncommon food and were the most adventurous weighed less and may be healthier than those that were more conservative with their eating habits.

The researchers conducted a survey on 501 young women with a mean age of 26.8 and mean BMI of 25.96 across diverse backgrounds – 43% white, 25% black, 25% Hispanic and 5% other. All participants had lived in the US for at least two generations to minimise any impact of backgrounds on the overall results. The survey explored participants’ perceived healthiness, psychology and lifestyle and uncovered foods they had tried from a list of 16 exotic uncommon food types including rabbit, kimchi and beef tongue. If the participants had nine or more of the exotic foods they were classified as being adventurous eaters. 

The research findings showed that adventurous eaters weighed less overall (lower BMIs), saw themselves as more physically active and were more concerned about healthfulness of the food they consumed.  They suggest that adventurous eating habits could help individuals lose weight without feeling restricted.

Scientists develop a film that can neutralise smell of the most pungent foods

A report published in the ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces describes a new film developed by researchers to neutralise the smell of odours brought about by pungent food. The film was developed from zeolites which contain aluminium, silicon and cellulose. The film is able to trap sulfur-containing compounds which create bad food smells.

New variety of rice flour developed to aid food poverty

A recent study published by the Society of Experimental Biology has analysed and modified the proteins in the rice flour family to produce a new, high-quality rice flour to help people with wheat intolerance and aid with global food poverty. 

The researchers were able to produce superior quality dough in comparison to normal rice flour and resolved the efficiency of its use by changing the structural properties and quantities of seed storage proteins. Rice flour deficient in a certain protein active during seed development (PDIL1;1) produced dough which creates strong bridges between the proteins. 

The researchers have now begun breeding experiments with the hope that PDIL1;1-deficient rice can be grown widely under different climates.

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