12 January - 20 June 2016

Other headlines

  • Dark chocolate may help athletic performance
  • Using nanoparticles to treat asthma and food allergies
  • Mars Food introduces new label to distinguish between “everyday” and “occasional” food
  • Strategies for reducing salt in baked products
  • Could using activity equivalent calorie labelling on food packaging help reduce obesity?
  • Study suggests gut bacteria could help prevent cancer
  • Can a vitamin K pill prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with kidney disease?
  • Enforcing GM labelling of food – Vermont State USA
  • Eating oily fish during pregnancy may reduce risk of asthma in children
  • Can substances in tequila agave improve bone health?
  • Scientists investigate link found between fruit consumption and cardiovascular disease

Dark chocolate may help athletic performance
A study by researchers from Kingston University, London and published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has found that eating dark chocolate can help improve athletic performance. Dark chocolate contains epicatechins, a type of flavanol found in cacao beans, that is known to increase nitric oxide production in the body which in turn dilates blood vessels and reduces oxygen consumption. Beetroot juice, now taken by many atheletes for its performance improving effects is also high in nitrates which are converted to nitric acid in the body. The researchers therefore wanted to see if dark chocolate had a similar performance improving effect to beetroot juice. The team split 9 amateur cyclists in to two groups. One was asked to replace a daily snack with 40g of dark chocolate while the other replaced a daily snack with 40g of white chocolate. After two weeks the cyclists’ heart rate and oxygen consumption were measured in a series of tests and then, after a one-week break, the groups were reversed for two weeks and the cyclists tested again. The study found that after being in the dark chocolate group, the cyclists used less oxygen cycling at a moderate pace and covered a longer distance is a two-minute time trial than those in the white chocolate group. Lead researcher Rishikesh Kankesh Patel is quoted as saying that "Both dark chocolate and beetroot juice are known to increase nitric oxide, which is the major mechanism we believe is behind these results". Mr Patel added that "We found that people could effectively exercise for longer after eating dark chocolate -something that's not been established before in this way." Further work to see how quickly the performance enhancement occurs and to find the optimum flavanol level is now underway.

RSSL can determine physiologically active compounds, including flavanols, other polyphenols and other phytochemicals in a range of fruits, vegetables, herbals and dietary supplements.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

RSSL can determine nitrates in food products. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

Using nanoparticles to treat asthma and food allergies

Researchers have developed a new approach to treat asthma and allergies, including food allergies.  This involves taking a small amount of an allergen and encasing it in an FDA-approved biopolymer called PLGA that includes lactic acid and glycolic acid.  The nanoparticles hides the allergen to convince the immune system not to attack it. The nanoparticle is being tested using a mouse model.  The research by Smarr et al. and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that “depending on what allergy you want to eliminate, you can load up the nanoparticle with ragweed pollen or a peanut protein.” In this current study, mice, pre-treated to be allergic to egg protein, were injected with egg protein loaded nanoparticles into their lungs.  Previously egg protein was found to cause an allergic response however after being treated with the nanoparticles the mice no longer had an allergic response to the allergen.   The approach was found to increase the number of ‘calming’ regulatory T cells, and turns off Th2 T cells that cause the allergy.  

RSSL are industry experts in allergens, and provide a comprehensive range of testing, training and food allergen consultancy services to help you control and manage allergens within manufacturing and retailing.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com  Don’t forget to join our Allergens in a Nutshell LinkedIn group. Remember to book your FREE place on our Free from Manufacturing Briefing Session 16 June, Leicester

RSSL can assist in the evaluation of nano-sized particles to aid quality control and development of food products and ingredients.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Mars Food introduces new label to distinguish between “everyday” and “occasional” food
Mars Food has reported that it will be introducing new food labels to its foods, to distinguish between “everyday” and “occasional” food.  The company report that some products should only be consumed once a week due to high salt, sugar or fat content. The new label will be part of the company’s new global Health and Wellbeing Ambition to create and promote healthier food choices and to encourage consumers to cook and share healthier meals with others.  A press release on the company’s website states “To maintain the authentic nature of the recipe, some Mars Food products are higher in salt, added sugar or fat. As these products are not intended to be eaten daily, Mars Food will provide guidance to consumers on-pack and on its website regarding how often these meal offerings should be consumed within a balanced diet. The Mars Food website will be updated within the next few months with a list of “occasional” products – those to be enjoyed once per week – and a list of “everyday” products – including those to be reformulated over the next five years to reduce sodium, sugar, or fat.”

RSSL has considerable experience in re-formulating products to provide more healthy options including low salt and low sugar versions.  Using RSSL can help speed up your development cycle considerably.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Strategies for reducing salt in baked products
A study published in Trends in Food Science and Technology has highlighted different strategies used for salt reduction in baked products, and their possible constraints.  The review by Israr et al. notes that salt is a universal preservative and is important for the creation of flavour and taste.  The paper discusses a number of salt reduction strategies such as reduction by stealth, use of sodium chloride substitutes and taste enhancers, encapsulating salt and the pros and cons of each.  The simplest approach is reformulation of a product by gradual reduction of salt over a period of time.  Decrease is often unnoticed by consumers.  However, Israr et al. state only limited amounts can be reduced over a longer time span.  Salt is also used to enhance other flavours, so reducing it may result in bitter off flavours. In a short period of time sodium can be replaced by using salt replacers and taste enhancers.  Potassium chloride is the most common replacer, however levels above 30% can cause a metallic flavour and bitter aftertaste.  If 20% of sodium is replaced with potassium the taste is more acceptable.  Research has found 30% of sodium could be replaced with potassium and 10% of wheat flour with potassium rich soy flour without any significant changes in sensory attributes.  The antimicrobial properties of potassium chloride are also reported to be similar to that of common salt. Taste enhancers can be used to enhance or modify the taste or smell of a food without having a taste of their own.  Some examples include nucleotides, yeast extracts (limited in use due to meaty flavour), glutamates and amino acids.  In addition to this a combination of monosodium glutamate and nucleotides can be used, however monosodium glutamate use is limited due to some health related issues.  Israr et al. notes that an alternative to monosodium glutamate is di-calcium glutamate which is reported to increase umami and salty taste.   A new technique, which the paper discusses for salt reduction in bread is the use of encapsulated salt.  Breads having large sized salt encapsulation at 1% have been found to be equal in saltiness to those prepared with normal sized salt crystal at 2% concentration.  Large size encapsulation of over 2000 µm have been reported though to have reduce consumer acceptance so salt crystals between 1000 and 2000 µm may reduce salt up to 50% and have higher consumer acceptance.

RSSL has considerable experience in re-formulating products to provide more healthy options including low salt, low sugar versions and using pre- and probiotics.  Using RSSL can help speed up your development cycle considerably. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Could using activity equivalent calorie labelling on food packaging help reduce obesity?
An opinion article in the British Medical Journal by Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, argues that the current "traffic light" food labelling system is not promoting positive changes in public health and new systems of activity equivalent calorie labelling may be more effective.  The piece, highly cited by the media, notes that not only should packaging provide nutritional information but should help consumers change behaviour.  The suggestion is to add symbols showing how many minutes of several different physical activities would be required to expend the calories in the product.  The opinion piece notes research has found that symbols are easier to understand than numerical information.  On consultation with the public, the Royal Society for Public Health report that more than half (53%) said that they would positively change their behaviour as a result of viewing activity equivalent calorie information—by choosing healthier products, eating smaller portions, or doing more physical exercise, all of which could help to counter obesity. 

Study suggests gut bacteria could help prevent cancer
A mouse study published in PLOS ONE by Schiestl et al. has indicated that “healthy beneficial” gut bacteria can slow or stop the development of some types of cancer. Previous findings by the same team had found an association between intestinal microbiota and lymphoma.  This current study investigated how the microbiota may delay cancer.  Mice that were susceptible to ataxia telangiectasia, a neurologic disorder which is associated with leukemia, lymphomas and other cancers, were divided into two groups and fed with anti-inflammatory bacteria (lactobacillus johnsonii 456), or a mixture of inflammatory or anti-inflammatory microbes. Lactobacillus johnsonii 456 had already been identified by the scientists as being a beneficial bacteria and is reported to increase the number of Paneth cells, which are a host cell type that produce antimicrobial compounds.  The scientists report that in the mice with more L. johnsonii, the lymphoma took significantly longer to form. Schiestl et al. analysed the mice’s urine and faeces for metabolites - molecules produced by the gut's natural metabolic action. Those receiving only the beneficial microbiota, produced metabolites (3-methylbutyrolactone) that are reported to prevent cancer. Those mice also had more efficient fat and oxidative metabolism, which the researchers report might also lower the risk for cancer.  Among the other findings, in the mice receiving only the good bacteria, lymphoma formed only half as quickly as it did in the other mice, these mice lived four time longer and had less DNA damage and inflammation. The scientists’ state: “In the future, it is our hope that the use of probiotics-containing (supplements) would be a potential chemo-preventive for normal humans, while the same type of microbiota would decrease tumour incidence in cancer susceptible populations.”  (UCLA)

RSSL has considerable experience in developing or re-formulating products to include probiotics.  Using RSSL can help speed up your development cycle considerably.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

Can a vitamin K pill prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with kidney disease?
A new trial, led by the Universities of Dundee and Glasgow and funded by the British Heart foundation is investigating whether vitamin K can improve heart and blood vessel health in chronic kidney disease patients.  Previous research has indicated that vitamin K, found in leafy green, is involved in regulating calcium build-up in blood vessels.  Kidney disease patients have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke as the disease causes calcium to build up in the walls of blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure and cause strain on the heart.  The lead researcher, Dr Witham from the University of Dundee is quoted as saying “If successful, this trial could open up a whole new avenue of ways to reduce heart attacks and strokes, not only in people with chronic kidney disease but also in others affected by calcium build-up in their blood vessels.”

RSSL provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

Enforcing GM labelling of food – Vermont State USA
On 1 July Vermont will become the first state in the USA to enforce GM labelling of food. Packaged food must be labelled and unpackaged food such as produce must have a label, posted by a store, indicating they are genetic engineered.  The state attorney is reported to say the office will target manufacturers who make “willful violations” and don’t put labels on their products at all however they will not target products that were produced before the 1 July that are still on shelves.  The state is allowing for a six month period for already produced food, which will allow them to move through the system.  The FDA say that genetically modified food including seeds are safe, however those advocating labelling believe that not enough research has been done and these food need to be labelled to give people a choice.  Food derived entirely from animals and having no added ingredients, such as meat, honey, plain milk and eggs, are exempt from Vermont labelling, even if the animal has been given genetically engineered drugs or food. Also exempt are foods that require USDA approval of their labels. (Medical Xpress)

Using DNA-based methodology, RSSL perform both qualitative and quantitative GM testing. Qualitative GMO detection screens raw materials and complex finished products for the presence or absence of GM soya and maize. Our quantitative GMO testing, meanwhile, determines the proportion of the soya or maize DNA in a product or ingredient that is GM. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

Eating oily fish during pregnancy may reduce risk of asthma in children
Research presented at Experimental Biology Congress in San Diego has suggested that eating oily fish during pregnancy may reduce risk of asthma in offspring.  The randomised controlled trial, entitled the salmon in pregnancy study, led by Professor Calder of the University of Southampton, gave a group of women salmon twice a week from week 19 of pregnancy. Offspring were tested for allergies at six months, and then at two and three years of age.  The results were compared to a control group who did not consume salmon.  At six months of age Calder et al. reported no difference between the two groups of children, however at two and half years, the scientists report that the children whose mothers ate salmon while pregnant were less likely to have asthma. 

RSSL are experts in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com 

Can substances in tequila agave improve bone health?
Using various animal models, scientists have reported that Agave tequilana contains substances that can improve the absorption of calcium and magnesium and subsequently improve bone health. Lopez et al. state "the consumption of fructans contained in the agave, in collaboration with adequate intestinal micriobiota, promotes the formation of new bone, even with the presence of osteoporosis."  The scientists gave female mice, who had had their ovaries removed to induce osteoporosis, agave fructans.  At eight weeks femur samples were collected and analysed for the absorption of minerals and osteocalcin, a protein associated with new bone production.  The scientists report that compared to the control group the mice that had been given fructan synthesised nearly 50% more osetocalcin and the diameter of their bones was higher.  Lopez et al. notes the substance reached the intestines intact and became short chain fatty acids when they interacted with the microbiota living there, allowing them to be transported through the cells.  Dr Lopez states: “This way, we have a second chance to take advantage of the nutrients that were no longer available to the body. However, it is very important that people have a healthy intestinal microbiome, because only then it is possible that bacteria ferment fructans to transform them into fatty acids.” 

Scientists investigate link found between fruit consumption and cardiovascular disease
A Chinese study highly cited by the press as “fruit may be good for you” has examined the link between fruit consumption and cardiovascular disease in China, where the consumption level of fruit is low and rates of stroke are high. In Western populations, a higher level of fruit consumption has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.  The study led by Dr Huaidong Du, University of Oxford, UK and published in the New England Journal of Medicine recruited half a million volunteers aged 30 to 79 years of age from 10 urban and rural localities across China who were free from cardiovascular disease at baseline.  The team investigated diet, health and death from disease over 7 years of follow up.   Participants completed a food questionnaire on frequency of consumed foods from 12 major food groups and information was recorded on weight, height, blood pressure, glucose levels and smoking and drinking habits.  Du et al. report that 18% of participants consumed fresh fruit daily and found that compared to people who never or rarely consumed fruits, those who consumed fruit were 40% less likely to have died of cardiovascular disease.  They were also 34% less likely to have had a heart attack, 25% less likely to have had an ischaemic stroke and 36% less likely to have a haemorrhagic stroke. Those who ate fresh fruit daily had lower blood glucose levels (by 0.5 mmol/l) and lower systolic blood pressure (by 4 mm Hg).  The team indicate that whilst it is difficult to establish whether this was due to fruit consumption alone, given the healthy properties of fruit it could be the cause of the lower death and disease rates. 

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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