12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

  • Hospital admissions for allergies have increased by more than 33% 
  • Parents of children with food allergies think they're allergic too
  • Tighter EU safety rules for food contact materials
  • EFSA seeking new stakeholders
  • Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
  • Food poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn’s disease
  • Dairy farmers say antibiotics could be cut by up to one-third
  • EFSA to release Glyphosate raw data
  • Public consultation: dietary reference values for thiamin (vitamin B1)
  • Doctors warn about the danger of complementary therapies
  • FSAI publish ‘New Guidance for Safer Production of Fresh Produce’

Hospital admissions for allergies have increased by more than 33%
According to data from NHS Digital, hospital admissions for allergic reactions and anaphylactic shocks in England have increased by more than a third in the past five years.  In 2011-12 there were 22,206 admission for allergic reactions however in 2015-2016 this increased to 29,544.  Dr Donald Hodge from the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust believes that “living in a much cleaner world than a hundred years ago is the main factor behind the rise in the number of admissions for allergies.” He notes that a cleaner world has “lowered our ability to build up a resistance to substances like dust and pollen." The BBC report that whilst not conclusive, the Charity Allergy UK claims that up to 50% of children are now diagnosed with an allergic condition.

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.

Parents of children with food allergies think they're allergic too
It is common belief that if a parent has a food allergy, there is a greater chance that their children may also have an allergy too.  A study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has found that 28% of parents of children with food allergies tested positive to the foods to which they reported allergies.  The scientists recruited 2477 parents of children with allergy and tested them for food allergies using a skin prick test and blood test.   In response to a questionnaire, 13.7% of parents reported having a food allergy, however of that group, only 28% tested positive to the food to which they reported being allergic to. The authors note that this points to the importance of proper testing for any kind of allergy, but particularly food allergies.  They also found that “of the parents who reported no food allergy, 14 percent had positive tests to peanut and sesame, for example.” (Eurekalert)

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.

Tighter EU safety rules for food contact materials
As part of a draft implementation report on the regulation of food contact materials (FCMs), MEP have backed an EU-wide ban of BPA in FCMs. They note that EU-wide safety rules are needed for more materials in contact with food.  Chemicals leaching from food contact materials (FCMs) into food could endanger human health or change the composition of the foodstuffs, say MEPs. They state that whilst some materials have been tested for safety to human health, others including varnishes and coatings, inks and adhesives, still need to be tested.  Only four out of 17 EU-listed FCMs are currently covered by specific safety measures foreseen in existing EU legislation: plastics, ceramics, regenerated cellulose and “active and intelligent” materials. (Food Quality News, European Parliament News)

EFSA seeking new stakeholders
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) – which provides scientific opinions and advice that form the basis of European policies and legislation on food safety – is changing and broadening its approach to stakeholder engagement.  It is currently inviting eligible bodies to register as official EFSA stakeholders. EFSA has identified the following groups as their stakeholder base: Consumer organisations; Environmental/health NGOs and advocacy groups; Farmers and primary producers; Business and food industry associations; Distributors and HORECA (businesses that prepare and serve food and drinks); Practitioners’ associations (eg. vets and medics); Academia. View the full eligibility criteria to register  ​(Food Standards Agency)

Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
A study led by Monash University, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has challenged the idea that we should drink eight glasses of water a day for health.  The team investigated the mechanism that regulates fluid intake in the human body and prevent us from over-drinking.  The mechanism discovered makes drinking excess water challenging.  Participants were asked to consume large amount of water after exercise when they were thirsty, and later in the day when they were not thirsty, and rate how difficult it was to swallow the water.   Compared to drinking water when they were thirsty, the participants found it three times more difficult to drink water when they were not thirsty.  Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the scientists measured activity in various regions of the brain, just before the participants swallowed the water.  They found that the right prefrontal areas of the brain were much more active when participants made more of an effort to swallow the water.  They report that this suggests the brain region “overrides” the swallow inhibition. Drinking too much water can cause significant harm leading to water intoxication or hyponatremia. 

Food poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn’s disease
A mouse model study of Crohn’s disease, led by researchers from McMaster University, is reporting that food poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn’s disease.  The scientists reporting in PLOS Pathogens found that acute infectious gastroenterisits causes the growth of adherent invasive E.coli (AIEC).  AIEC has been linked to the development of Crohn’s disease.  The researchers found that even when the food-poisoning bacteria had disappeared, there was still an increased level of AIEC in the gut which led to worsened symptoms over a long period of time. 

Dairy farmers say antibiotics could be cut by up to one-third
A survey of over 300 farmers, by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers in collaboration with the University of Bristol, has found that nine in ten dairy farms say that the farming industry must take a proactive lead in the battle against antibiotic resistance.  The survey participants thought that over the next five years they could cut their own antibiotic use by almost a third in dry cow therapy and a fifth in clinical mastitis. (Science Daily)

EFSA to release Glyphosate raw data
EFSA is to release the raw data used in the recent EU safety evaluation of glyphosate.  The information will be shared with a group of MEPs following a public access to document request. When combined with the detailed background documents already published on EFSA’s website, the information will be sufficient to enable a third-party scientist to scrutinise the evaluation of glyphosate that was carried out by EFSA and EU Member States.

Public consultation: dietary reference values for thiamin (vitamin B1)
EFSA has launched an open consultation on its draft scientific opinion on dietary reference values for thiamin which is also known as vitamin B1. Thiamin is a vital nutrient that plays an important role in maintaining healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems. This document proposes dietary reference values for thiamin for adults, infants and children, pregnant and lactating women. EFSA invites interested parties to submit written comments by 9 November 2016. 

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

Doctors warn about the danger of complementary therapies
Doctors are suggesting that it should be routine practice to take details of alternative therapies, after a four year boy became ill after taking too much calcium, vitamin D, camel milk and zinc.  The child was admitted to hospital after losing three kilos in weight from vomiting and being constipated for three weeks.   Whilst in hospital he was diagnosed with severe hypercalcaemia.  The naturopath who had advised the parents to give the boy 12 different complementary therapies is being investigated by the police. Writing in the British Medical Journal doctors from Barts Health NHS Trust state that “Many families view these therapies as safer 'natural' options. But, as this case demonstrates, there can be significant adverse effects which may go unrecognised due to lack of monitoring, recognition and experience with these therapies.”

FSAI publish ‘New Guidance for Safer Production of Fresh Produce’
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has published new guidance to assist growers with the safe production of fresh produce on farms. The guidance and its accompanying simplified leaflet outlines the potential risks associated with fresh produce and provides practical advice to growers to reduce this risk and improve food safety. The documents were developed in conjunction with an expert working group comprising growers, processors, retailers, State bodies and former representatives.  The new guidance comes at a time when outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with fresh produce are increasing. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has identified that fresh produce such as leafy greens; bulb and stem vegetables; tomatoes; melons; fresh pods, legumes or grains; sprouted seeds and berries pose the highest risks to consumers. In 2013, frozen berries caused 240 confirmed cases of hepatitis, with a probable 1,075 further cases across 11 European countries, including Ireland.

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