12 January - 20 June 2016

Other headlines

  • Trial finds vitamin D3 supplementation may benefit heart failure patients
  • Scientists develop new authentication coffee blend method
  • Coffee consumption may be linked to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer
  • Average salt intake has dropped by 11% in 10 years
  • Can a very low calorie diet help type 2 diabetes?
  • EFSA funded research finds Xylella ‘is causing olive disease in Italy’
  • EFSA Scientific Panels to trial uncertainty toolbox
  • Electric fork can create salty taste in the mouth
  • Genetic drive to consume salty food

Trial finds vitamin D3 supplementation may benefit heart failure patients
A five year, University of Leeds, research project involving 160 patients, has found that a daily dose of vitamin D3 may improve heart function in people with chronic heart failure. The research funded by the Medical Research Council and entitled VINDICATE, gave patients either a 100 microgram vitamin D3 tablet or placebo for a year.  Using cardio ultrasound the scientists measured ejection fraction (how much blood the heart pumps with each heartbeat).  The average ejection fraction of the patients enrolled in the study was 26%.  A healthy person is usually between 60% and 70%.  Ejection fraction for patients taken the vitamin D3 increased to 34% whilst those who took the placebo saw no improvements.  The scientists note that they avoided using a calcium-based supplement, as calcium can cause further problems for heart failure patients.   The researchers say their results indicate that for some patients with heart disease, regular supplementation with vitamin D3 may reduce their need for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). ICD monitors heart rhythm and delivers an electric shock when any abnormalities are detected to restore normal rhythm. (Science Daily, BBC)

RSSL provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets, including the analysis for Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.  It provides a full vitamin and mineral analysis service to assist with labelling, due diligence, claim substantiation and stability. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Scientists develop new authentication coffee blend method
Italian scientists have identified a chemical which could be used to authenticate coffee blends.  The scientists note that some traders may be substituting some Arabica beans with Robusta beans, a cheaper bean, to increase profits. The authors believe their technique of identification, published in Food Chemistry, is faster, easier and cheaper than other methods of identification.  Each species of bean was mixed with formic acid and water, and analysed using high-performance liquid chromatography.  Servillo et al. found that Robusta beans had 20 times more homostachydrine than Arabica beans, and the chemical was present even after roasting.  To support their method the scientists analysed commercial blends and verified the results by using information declared on the packaging. (Washington Post)

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Coffee consumption may be linked to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer
A study by scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine of USC and published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, has indicated that coffee consumption, independent of type of coffee consumed, is associated with decreased risk of colorectal cancer.  Gruber et al. investigated the diet of over 5,100 men and women who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer within the past six months and compared this to a control group of 4,000 men and women with no history of colorectal cancer.  The team also collected information on associated risk factors of colorectal cancer, including family history of cancer, diet, physical activity and smoking. The team found between one or two servings a day was associated with a 26% reduction in risk of developing colorectal cancer, with this increasing up to 50% for those who drank more than 2.5 servings a day, seen across all coffee types (including decaffeinated).   Gruber reports in a press release "we were somewhat surprised to see that caffeine did not seem to matter.  This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee's protective properties."  The scientists note that coffee contain other elements, such as polyphenols which can act as antioxidants which can limit the growth of potential colon cancer cells and the element melanoidins, generated during roasting, which have been reported to encourage colon mobility. Diterpenes may prevent cancer by enhancing the body's defence against oxidative damage.  The scientists do however note that further research is needed to confirm their findings.

Average salt intake has dropped by 11% in 10 years
Public Health England’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey has found that average adult salt consumption has dropped by 11% between 2005 and 2014.  Since 2005, a series of urinary sodium surveys have been carried out on a sample of representative adults and results are used by government to assess progress towards a maximum recommended adult salt intake of 6g/day. It has been estimated that a reduction in average intake from 8g to 6g/day would prevent over 8000 deaths and save the NHS more than £570 million per year.  The 2014 data was taken from May to September 2014 and involved 689 adults aged 19-64 and results showed average consumption to be 8.0g/day. In 2011, the average intake was 8.5g/day and was measured at 8.8g/day in the 2005/2006 survey. Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England, states “Our analysis makes clear that there is a steady downward trend in salt consumption. While people are having less salt than 10 years ago, we are still eating a third more than we should.” Tedstone added that “The majority of the salt we eat is in everyday foods so it’s important to check labels and choose lower salt options. Many manufacturers and retailers have significantly reduced the salt levels in everyday foods. However, more needs to be done, especially by restaurants, cafes and takeaways.” (Public Health England)

RSSL is able to offer a wide range of product development/optimisation services focused on developing new formulations or modifying existing formulations to deliver optimal products. This includes incorporation of new ingredients, shelf-life/stability improvements, sugar/fat/salt reduction and development of 'free-from' extensions to established brands. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Can a very low calorie diet help type 2 diabetes?
A small study conducted by researchers from Newcastle University, the University of Glasgow, and Lagos University, funded by the National Institute of Health Research and Novo Nordisk and published online in Diabetes Care has investigated the effect of a very low calorie diet on patients with type 2 diabetes. The study has been cited in the popular press and reviewed by NHS Choices. Thirty volunteers with type 2 diabetes were given a very low calorie (624-700 calories) diet, consisting of diet shakes and non-starchy vegetables, for eight weeks and then switched to a normal, though controlled, diet for a further 6 months. After the 8 week very low calorie period, researchers found that 12 of the 30 showed normal average insulin levels and these participants retained this after the trial concluded. Following the trial, these 12 participants had significantly improved blood glucose levels, below the threshold used to diagnose type 2 diabetes. These 12 participants tended to be younger, had had diabetes for a shorter time and had lower glucose and higher insulin levels at the start of the trial. According to the study, weight loss was similar between those whose glucose levels had improved to below the type 2 threshold and those whose had not with average weight dropping from 98kg to 84.7kg at the end of the trial.  NHS Choices states that while the results are encouraging, the study did not compare different low calorie diets and indicates that while this type of study is helpful to see if a treatment may have some usefulness, it doesn’t give a true picture of how it might perform in general and therefore suggests that longer studies would be needed to see if this treatment would work for a wider group with type 2 diabetes.  The review indicates that the researchers say they may have found a "personal fat threshold", above which, excess fat it is deposited in the liver and pancreas and can prevent the pancreas producing insulin properly. The scientist are quoted by NHS Choices as saying that type 2 diabetes "can now be understood to be a metabolic syndrome potentially reversible by substantial weight loss", but that "not all people with type 2 diabetes will be willing to make the changes necessary”. (NHS Choices)

EFSA funded research finds Xylella ‘is causing olive disease in Italy’
Scientists from the Italian National Research Council have found Xylella fastidiosa is responsible for the disease that is destroying olive trees in southern Italy.  The study funded by the EFSA investigated X.fastidiosa CoDiRO in Apulia by exposing a variety of major perennial crops, including olive, grape, citrus, almond, peach, cherry and plum and forest and ornamental species to the bacterium using artificial inoculation and by exposure to infective insect vectors in the field.  The olive plants displayed severe symptoms, although not all varieties responded in the same way. Spittlebug insects were also found to transmit the bacterium to olive, oleander and myrtle-leaf milkwort. The citrus, grape or holm oak plants did not develop any suspicious symptoms. (EFSA)

EFSA Scientific Panels to trial uncertainty toolbox
EFSA’s experts are to begin trialling draft guidance proposing a toolbox of methodologies for analysing, explaining and accounting for uncertainties in scientific assessments.  EFSA state “The approach aims to be sufficiently flexible to adapt to the circumstances of each assessment, e.g. from an urgent situation where advice could be needed in a matter of hours to longer-term comprehensive reviews of all available scientific knowledge, and from well-studied issues to those at the forefront of scientific knowledge where evidence may be lacking.” (EFSA)

Electric fork can create salty taste in the mouth
According to the Telegraph, Japanese scientists have developed an electric fork which uses an electrical current to stimulate the tongue to create a salty taste in the mouth.    The prototype, battery-powered fork designed by Hiromi Nakamura at Rekimoto Lab, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies at the University of Tokyo can also create sour and metallic tastes too.   Using three levels of electrical current the fork can stimulate different degrees of saltiness.  The fork, designed for a No Salt Restaurant initiative cost only £12 to make and is, as of yet, not designed to be waterproof.  The Telegraph state “One researcher described testing the fork by eating a salt-free "tonkatsu" pork cutlet with salt-free sour sauce – and found that pressing the button made the pork more salty and the sauce more sour, although pushing it up to too high a level made it taste metallic.” The scientists have also published a video which demonstrates the use of the prototype. (Telegraph)

Genetic drive to consume salty food
Research led by Dr Matthew Bailey at the University of Edinburgh/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science and published in the journal Circulation has investigated how the brain controls our appetite for salt and how it impacts on blood pressure levels.  The animal study compared unmodified mice with mice which been modified to have a gene removed in a small number of cells in the mouse brain.  The gene has been linked to blood pressure, although the mechanism is unclear. Bailey et al. offered the mice either water or saltwater.  The modified mice were found to consume three times more saltwater than unmodified mice and went on to develop high blood pressure.  However when the saltwater was removed their blood pressure returned to normal.  The team note that this gene influenced the mice’s craving for salt and this subsequently led to raising blood pressure.  “Our study shows that we have a genetic drive to consume salty food. Understanding how this process works may help us reduce the amount of salt we eat and make it easier for people to follow low-salt diets.” (Science Daily)

RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

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RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

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