12 January - 20 June 2016

Other headlines

  • Adding calorie labels to online food ordering systems can help reduce calorie consumption
  • Glossary of scientific terms published by EFSA
  • Waitrose set to launch chicken range enriched with omega 3
  • Study indicates eating whole grains may reduce mortality from all causes
  • PHE respond to the British Journal of Sports Medicine on Eatwell Guide
  • SACN - Call for evidence on relationship between saturated fats and health
  • Reducing arsenic in rice using rice husks
  • Can walnuts improve colon health?
  • Copper may play a key role in metabolising fat
  • Scientists to investigate whether oxygen drink will improve the success of cancer treatments
  • Could green tea compound increase cognitive function in people with Down syndrome?

Adding calorie labels to online food ordering systems can help reduce calorie consumption
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found that when they added colour-coded or numeric calorie labels to online food ordering systems, the total calories ordered was reduced by about 10% when compared to systems that showed no calorie information.  The study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing developed a system for corporate employees ordering lunch online from a cafeteria.  The team testing three calorie labelling conditions: numbers alone, traffic lights alone or both labels together and found that each of the conditions, reduced calories ordered by 10%.  However the traffic light system had the strongest impact when it was testing amongst a subset of participants.

Glossary of scientific terms published by EFSA
The idea of building up a glossary of scientific terms most often used in EFSA’s communication materials was raised at a meeting of EFSA’s Advisory Forum Working Group on Communications, which brings together communication experts from national food safety agencies across the EU. The new glossary will support national food safety authorities in their communications to consumers about food safety and will be a working document.  Currently the glossary contains simple definitions of over 250 scientific terms, which the EFSA state will bring extra clarity to EFSA's communications. The glossary will be gradually integrated into EFSA news and topics.  The glossary is available in English, French, German and Italian in the form of an A-Z list.

Waitrose set to launch chicken range enriched with omega 3
According to Meat Info, Waitrose and Moy Park are to launch the UK’s first ever chicken range enriched with omega 3.   The meat will go on sale from the 15 June. Initial trials have shown that eating three servings of the enriched chicken each week for 5 weeks increases levels of omega 3 fatty acids by, on average, 12%. Heather Jenkins, Waitrose agricultural director, is quoted as saying: “Our research is showing that this nutritional breakthrough has the potential to have a significant impact on health. What’s exciting is that it’s improving the nutritional content of something which customers already consume frequently as part of their diets.” The Poultry Site reports that “Waitrose said the chicken is enriched by feeding the birds on a diet containing an algae naturally rich in omega 3. The taste and appearance of the chicken is the same as birds reared on a conventional diet.”

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 

Study indicates eating whole grains may reduce mortality from all causes
Consuming whole grains regularly could extend our lifespan according to a study published in Circulation. Sun et al. analysed data from 14 published studies, as well as data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III and NHANES 1999-2004. The studies involved a total of 786,076 individuals from the United Kingdom, United States, and Scandinavian countries. Findings indicate that for each 16 g serving of whole grains, there is a 7% decrease in total deaths, a 9% decrease in cardiovascular disease-related deaths, and a 5% reduction in deaths related to cancer. Consuming 48 g of whole grain per day lowered the risk to a 20% reduced risk of mortality, a 25% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, and a 14% lower risk of cancer mortality. The authors note some limitations including that earlier studies failed to define whole grains so the list of whole grain foods varied substantially between studies. Also the majority of the participants were from Scandinavian countries and the US so the results may not apply for all populations.  The authors note a variety of mechanisms that could produce this outcome.  Whole grains contain bioactive compounds and are high in fibre. Fibre consumption has been found to lower cholesterol levels and glucose. 

PHE respond to the British Journal of Sports Medicine on Eatwell Guide
Public Health England (PHE) has responded to an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.  The editorial entitled “Designed for the food industry for wealth, not health: The Eatwell Guide” suggests that the Eatwell Guide is not evidence based and there has been no randomised trial of a diet based on the Eatwell Guide.  PHE have responded by stating: “UK dietary recommendations are based on scientific evidence reviews by independent experts. The reports are subject to public consultation and go through robust quality assurance processes and ensure there is no bias. The recent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s (SACN) carbohydrates and health report included over 600 peer reviewed scientific papers.”  In a press release PHE state that they will be publishing a report on the development, by the University of Oxford, of the Eatwell Guide.  The University of Oxford’s work is being submitted to a peer reviewed journal for publication.

SACN - Call for evidence on relationship between saturated fats and health
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has convened a working group to review the dietary recommendations for fat, in particular saturated fat.  This is in response to a request from the Food Standards Agency (Scotland) in 2014 (now Food Standards Scotland) in recognition of public controversy around the effects of fats on health.  The SACN have identified, through a literature search, studies which have examined the relationship between saturated fat and key intermediate risk factors and health outcomes, published between 1990 and the present day. The committee are now asking for notification of other studies satisfying their inclusion and exclusion criteria. Citations to published studies should be emailed to sacn@phe.gov.uk by 15 June.

Reducing arsenic in rice using rice husks
Scientists from the University of Delaware have reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that incorporating rice husks to soil can decrease toxic inorganic arsenic levels in rice grains by 25 to 50 percent without negatively affecting yield. Instead of using rice straws, which were found in a previous study to have negative impacts on the environment, Seyfferth et al. grew rice plants in soil amended with residues from the rice husk and also rice ash, a charred rice husk material.  Rice husks contain less arsenic in the tissues than straws and also promote less arsenic release. The scientists found that the plants grown in the fresh husk amended soil had a 25-50% decrease in organic arsenic. The husk is also reported to act as an organic fertiliser increasing phosphorous and nitrogen.

RSSL can analyse for a wide range of concentrations of trace elements in foods, drinks and dietary supplements.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Can walnuts improve colon health?
A mouse study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research by researchers from UConn Health and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine has found that consuming walnuts may change gut bacteria in a way that suppresses colon cancer.  The mice consumed 2-10.5% of their daily total calories intake as walnuts.  Compared to the mice who consumed no walnuts, the walnut consuming mice (equivalent to a human eating about an ounce of walnuts a day) developed fewer colon cancers, with the effect being more pronounced in male mice.  The male mice had 2.3 times fewer tumours.  It is suggested that the walnuts act as a probiotic to make the colon healthy, offering greater protection against colon tumours.  Compared with other nuts, walnuts contain the most polyunsaturated fatty acids, the highest ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids and high levels of Vitamin E. To try and understand why walnuts may be beneficial the scientists analysed faecal samples from the mice.  They report that walnut consumption tended to push the gut microbiome toward an ecology that was potentially protective against cancer although they were unsure of how this works, noting that further research is needed.

Copper may play a key role in metabolising fat
According to findings from a mouse study published in Nature Chemical Biology, copper may play a key role in metabolising fat.  Chang et al. used mice with a genetic mutation that causes the accumulation of copper in the liver.  The mice had a condition that is similar to the human condition Wilson’s disease.  These mice also had larger than average deposits of fat compared with normal mice.  The scientists’ report that compared to the control mice, the Wilson mice had an abnormal build-up of copper accompanied by lower than normal lipid levels in the liver.  The white adipose tissue of the mice with Wilson’s disease had lower levels of copper compared with the control mice and correspondingly higher levels of fat deposits.  The Wilson’s disease mice were treated with isoproterenol, a beta agonist known to induce lipolysis, the breakdown of fat into fatty acids.  The study reports that the mice with Wilson’s disease exhibited less fat-breakdown activity compared to the control mice.  Using cell culture analyses the scientists confirmed the mechanism by which copper influences lipolysis.  Copper was found to bind to the enzyme, phosphodiesterase 3, which binds to cAMP preventing cAMP from facilitating the breakdown of fat.   Chang states “We found that copper is essential for breaking down fat cells so that they can be used for energy.  It acts as a regulator. The more copper there is, the more the fat is broken down. We think it would be worthwhile to study whether a deficiency in this nutrient could be linked to obesity and obesity-related diseases."

Scientists to investigate whether oxygen drink will improve the success of cancer treatments
Researchers from Oxford and Ulster universities have won a Cancer Research UK award for ideas “outside the box”.  The scientists will investigate whether drinking bubbly drinks could increase the success of cancer treatments.  They report that drugs and radiotherapy can fail due to low oxygen levels in tumours and developing an oxygen micro bubble drink may deliver oxygen to cancerous masses.  Using mice with cancer the researchers have already found that injecting oxygen improves chemotherapy treatments.   (BBC)

Could green tea compound increase cognitive function in people with Down syndrome?
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound found in green tea, has been reported in The Lancet Neurology to benefit cognitive functioning for people with Down syndrome.   Cognitive issues can include delayed language and speech development, learning and memory impairments, and poor concentration.  The scientists note that these cognitive impairments are down to overexpression of a gene called DYRK1A.  Studies in mice have suggested that the compound EGCG could reduce DYRK1A overexpression. The scientists’ recruited 84 participants aged 16-34 who had Down syndrome.  The participants were randomly assigned to receive either a daily dose of decaffeinated green tea containing EGCG - 9 milligrams per kilogram or a placebo for 12 months.  At 3, 6 and 12 months and 6 months after intervention the participants underwent cognitive tests and brain imaging.  For most of the tests (21 of 24) there were no differences between the groups. However those that were treated with EGCG showed significant improvements in visual recognition memory, inhibitory control and adaptive behaviour.  They also showed greater functional connectivity between nerve cells compared to those who received the placebo.

RSSL can analyse green tea for catechins, including epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) and epigallocatechin (EGC). For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076  or email enquiries@rssl.com

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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