12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

  • BPA replacements show no increased obesity effects at current exposure levels
  • Yogurt isolate shown to inhibit drug-resistant bacteria
  • Delaying cow’s milk products, egg and peanut may increase sensitisation at age one
  • Anti-waste charity may be charged for serving out of date food
  • Eliminating Listeria contaminants in cheese
  • Immunology research could be used to treat severe allergies
  • Probiotics may protect people who are susceptible to Listeria infections
  • How common are food allergies and intolerances?
  • Washing hands in cold water is as effective as hot for killing harmless bacteria
  • Public consultation on the risk assessment of pesticides – EFSA
  • Food Standards Agency publish advice on pork and pork products

BPA replacements show no increased obesity effects at current exposure levels
Research by scientists from the University of Iowa and published in The Lancet Planetary Health has investigated the effects of two bisphenol-A (BPA) substitutes on obesity. Many studies and media reports over the past few years have commented on the effects on the body of the endocrine disruptor BPA leaching into food and drinks from the packaging made using BPA. Following this, food packaging manufacturers have increasing used alternative chemicals in their products, including bisphenol F (BPF) and bisphenol S (BPS) but little is known about the effect of human exposure to these replacements. The current study used data from a US-wide population-based study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and found that while BPA exposure is associated with increased obesity, the same is not true of BPF and BPS “at current exposure levels”. The scientists note however that BPF and BPS are still used in fewer products than BPA and that BPF and BPS concentrations in the US population are around a quarter those of BPA. They indicate that further studies will be necessary to see if there is an obesity risk at the same levels of exposure as currently found for BPA. (Science Daily)

Yogurt isolate shown to inhibit drug-resistant bacteria
Research conducted by scientists from Howard University, Washington, DC and presented at ASM Microbe 2017 in New Orleans has isolated a substance from commercial yogurt that has been found to inhibit the growth of several multi-drug resistant bacteria. The substance has been found to be stable up to 121°C and is suggested to be a bacteriocin – a protein produced by bacteria of one strain released to inhibit those of a closely related strain. The bacteriocin, known as Lactobacillus parafarraginis KU495926, was found by spot and well-diffusion assays to inhibit the growth of extended spectrum β-lactamase bacteria from patients in a local Washington DC hospital. Rachelle Allen-McFarlane, a member of the Biology Department at Howard University is quoted in a press release as saying that “Considering the current upsurge of antibiotic resistance in hospitals, especially among the gram-negative bacteria, and the exigent need to find viable alternatives, findings from the study may hold promise for possible therapeutic application”. (Medical News Today)

Delaying cow’s milk products, egg and peanut may increase sensitisation at age one
According to findings from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, children who avoid cow's milk products, egg and peanut during the first year of life are more likely to be sensitised to these foods at one years of age. The scientists used data from over 2100 Canadian children and found that infants who avoided cow’s milk products before 1 years old were 4 times more like to be sensitised to these foods at age one compared to children who didn’t.  Those who avoid egg or peanut in the first year were nearly twice as likely to be sensitised to those foods compared to infants who consumed them before 12 months of age. The study also found that parents often delay the introduction of these foods, with only 3% introducing egg before 6 months of age, and only 1% of parents introducing peanuts before 6 months of age.  During the first year of life, 63% of parents avoided feeding their infant peanuts.

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.

Anti-waste charity may be charged for serving out of date food
The charity, The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP) which makes meals from unwanted food which otherwise could have gone to waste, could face criminal charges for serving out-of-date food.  The charity runs 127 cafes worldwide, with staff using smell, taste and touch to decide whether food is safe to eat. The cafes implements a ‘pay as you feel’ model which asks people to donate, or offer their time and skills, rather than pay fixed rates.  Adam Smith, the co-founder and director of the charity, states in the Metro that he has never received a complaint. During an inspection by trading officials, ’444 items’ which were a cumulative total of ‘6,345’ days were found to be past their use-by date. Mr Smith is now facing prosecution under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, as well as Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. The Metro note Mr Smith also “runs three supermarkets, known as ‘sharehouses’, catering services, and even school partnerships.”

Eliminating Listeria contaminants in cheese
A quarter of infections in the US caused by Listeria monocytogenes are linked to dairy foods, with many of these cases linked to Hispanic-style and soft ripened cheeses.  A review in the Journal of Diary Science has discussed the challenges of producing safe cheese and suggested a way for improving food safety.  Miller et al. reviewed studies on antimicrobial methods, preservation techniques, and packaging, as well as summarised research on methods used for eliminating listerial contaminants. They report that a lot of studies use Queso Fresco which they report is not necessarily representative of all Hispanic-style cheeses and write that more studies on other varieties of Hispanic-style cheese would be more informative for risk analysis and preventive purposes.  In a separate study the team assessed the antimicrobial efficacy of a Listeria bacteriophage endolysin.  They found that enzyme PlyP100 “provides a promising alternative preservation for addressing a notorious food safety issue.” The enzyme when incorporated into a fresh cheese model challenged with a cocktail of Listeria monocytogenes, showed optimal activity under pH and salt concentrations. (Food Safety Magazine)

Immunology research could be used to treat severe allergies
Researchers have been able to “'turn-off' the immune response which causes allergic reaction in animals.”  Steptoe et al. report in the journal JCI Insight that symptoms of an allergy are caused by immune cells reacting to a protein in the allergen.  They also state that T cells, immune cells, can develop a “form of immune 'memory' and become very resistant to treatments.”  Using gene therapy the scientists have managed to desensitise the immune system so that it tolerates the protein.  Steptoe et al. have used this treatment on an experimental asthma allergen but suspect that the treatment could also be used for those who have severe allergies to peanuts and other foods, as well as bee venom.   The researchers report that the next step is to see if they can replicate the findings using human cells in the laboratory.  Using blood stem cells, the scientists inserted a gene which regulates the allergen protein and then put this into the recipient. “The engineered cells produce new blood cells that express the protein and target specific immune cells, 'turning off' the allergic response."

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.

Probiotics may protect people who are susceptible to Listeria infections
Scientists are reporting that probiotics may protect people who are susceptible to Listeria, such as pregnant women and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.  Healthy adults can usually fight the infection, caused by eating contaminated food, however in those who are more susceptible, the bacterium escapes the gastrointestinal tract and disperses around the body causes septicaemia, meningitis, and in some cases death. The team, reporting in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, discovered that gut bacteria is the first line of defence against severe Listeria infections.  Using mice who had been given antibiotics to change their microbiome composition, and mice that had been immunocompromised, the researchers found that they were more susceptible to L.monocytogenes infections.  The pathogen was found to colonise the gastrointestinal tract and spread into the circulatory system to cause the animals' death. The immunocompromised mice who lacked key immune cells, and received antibiotics were susceptible to even small doses of L. monocytogenes. Four species of gut bacteria, from the Clostridiales order, were identified that when used together were able to fight L. monocytogenes growth in laboratory cultures. Germ-free mice who were give this probiotic bacteria, were found to be protected from Listeria infection.  Becattini et al. states "Our results also raise the possibility that in other at-risk categories for listeriosis, such as infants or pregnant women, disruptions to the gut microbiome could be a contributing factor to susceptibility.   Pregnant women in their third trimester, the phase in which susceptibility to Listeria is known to be highest, show an altered microbiome, with a marked reduction in Clostridiales species."

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, 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.

How common are food allergies and intolerances?
Reports that food allergies are on the rise in the US have led researchers to investigate just how common are food allergies and intolerances in the country. Using data from more than 2.7 million patients, Acker et al. identified over 97,000 with one or more documented food allergies or intolerance.  The data was collected between 2000 and 2013 and came from multiple community and specialty hospitals, as well as community health centres.  The team, reporting in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that food allergies or intolerance were documented for 3.6 percent of the population studied, shellfish was the most commonly reported food allergy and the highest rates of food allergies or intolerance were among females and Asians.

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.

Washing hands in cold water is as effective as hot for killing harmless bacteria
It is often thought that washing hands with hot water kills more germs than cold water.  However, a small study, published in the Journal of Food Protection, involving 20 people by US scientists, has found that using water at 15C (59F) left hands as clean as water heated to 38C (100F). The scientists from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, asked the participants to wash their hands 20 times for 10 seconds, each with water at temperatures of 15C (59F), 26C (79F) or 38 degrees (100F) and using varying amounts of soap (0.5 ml, 1 ml or 2 ml). Before washing the participants were asked to cover their hands in a harmless bacteria, a non-pathogenic strain of E.coli.  The team found no difference in the amount of bacteria removed as the temperature of the water or the amount of soap changed. They also found that an antimicrobial soap formulation (1% chloroxylenol) was not significantly more effective than a bland soap for removing the non-pathogenic strain of E. coli under a variety of test conditions.  The scientists note that while the study indicates that there is no difference between the amounts of soap used, more work needs to be done to understand exactly how much and what type of soap is needed to remove harmful microbes from hands.

Public consultation on the risk assessment of pesticides - EFSA
EFSA has launched a public consultation on its scientific opinion looking at the use of epidemiological studies in risk assessment of pesticides. EFSA’s opinion examines the methodological limitations that affect the quality of such studies and makes recommendations on how to improve their quality and reliability to facilitate an appropriate use of epidemiological data in the risk assessment of pesticides.

Food Standards Agency publish advice on pork and pork products
Following media reports, the FSA wanted to remind consumers of their advice about cooking pork thoroughly. They always advise that whole cuts of pork, pork products and offal should be thoroughly cooked until steaming hot throughout, the meat is no longer pink and juices run clear. This will reduce the risk of illness from harmful foodborne bacteria and viruses like hepatitis E. The risk from acquiring hepatitis E virus (HEV) from eating thoroughly cooked pork or pork products is low.

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