12 January - 20 June 2016

Other headlines

  • A new candidate for supplements or novel foods to manipulate microbiome?
  • Could maternal sugar intake increase the risk of allergy and allergic asthma in offspring?
  • Bread used for the Eucharist must not be gluten free
  • New rules banning advertising foods and drinks high in fat, salt, sugar to children come into force
  • WHO publish fact sheet on food additives
  • Sainsbury’s launch smart label to help cure food waste
  • Guidelines on qualifying probiotics published
  • Study to investigate effects of moderate drinking criticised by scientists
  • Could cutting out sugary drinks prevent type 2 diabetes?
  • FDF publishes economic contribution and growth opportunities report
  • Scientists produced banana rich in Pro-vitamin A
  • High-fat diet in pregnancy affects future generation breast cancer risk in mice
  • Can drinking coffee lengthen a person’s lifespan?

A new candidate for supplements or novel foods to manipulate microbiome?
Some prebiotics are thought to increase the growth and health of gut bacteria.  A study led by Sela et al. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has investigated the complex carbohydrate xyloglucans, found in cranberries, and it beneficial effect on gut bacteria.  The study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology notes that a lot of plant cells walls are not digested prior to reaching the colon, including xyloglucans, so they aimed to investigate whether this carbohydrate could be a new candidate for supplements or novel foods to manipulate microbiome. Sela et al. used the model beneficial bacterium bifidobacteria which is found in low concentrations in adults with its highest concentrations found in the gut microbiome of new-born breast fed babies.  The scientists extracted xyloglucans from the cranberry cell wall and carried out a structural analysis of the carbohydrate using spectrometry.  Bifidobaceria living in 96-well plates in an anaerobic environment in the laboratory was fed the purified plant sugar as the only carbohydrate available.  The study states that the “sole carbon source was defined as purified xyloglucans at a final concentration of 2% (wt/v)”.  Following bacteria fermentation, the scientists analysed the effect the xyloglucans had on bifidobacteria.  They found that certain bifidobacteria consumed xyloglucans, and the ones that did exhibited a special metabolism that is not typical. They report that these bifidobacteria produced formic acid while consuming xyloglucans and less lactic acid than is typically secreted.  They note it is not clear yet what the impacts to health are, but suspect this unusual production has implications for the rest of the microbial community in the gut.  The authors suggest that the next study might “look at the interaction of cranberry xyloglucans with other bacterial species and strains.”

Novel food & regulatory submission - RSSL can provide analytical and informal sensory data for inclusion in your regulatory scientific dossiers. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com.

Could maternal sugar intake increase the risk of allergy and allergic asthma in offspring?
A study published in the European Respiratory Journal by researchers from the University of Bristol and Queen Mary College, University of London has analysed the associations between maternal intake of free sugars in pregnancy and allergy and asthma at seven years of age.  The team used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), involving almost 9000 mother-child pairs. When comparing the 20% of mothers with the highest sugar intake versus the 20% of mothers with the lowest sugar intake, they found an increased risk of 38% for allergy in the offspring of mothers in the highest quintile (73% for allergy to two or more allergens) and 101% for allergic asthma. The team found no association with eczema or hay fever. The offspring's free sugar intake in early childhood was found to have no association with the findings. In a press release Professor Seif Shaheen, the study’s lead researcher states “We cannot say on the basis of these observations that a high intake of sugar by mothers in pregnancy is definitely causing allergy and allergic asthma in their offspring. However, given the extremely high consumption of sugar in the West, we will certainly be investigating this hypothesis further with some urgency.”

Bread used for the Eucharist must not be gluten free
A circular letter to Bishops about bread and wine for the Eucharist has ruled that bread “that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread”.  However the letter notes that bread made from genetically modified organisms is acceptable stating “Eucharistic matter made with genetically modified organisms can be considered valid matter.”  The letter by Cardinal Robert Sarah, and issued at the request of Pope Francis, notes that the new rules are required because the bread used for the Eucharist is now sold in supermarkets and on the internet. 

Allergen Management Services: We provide a comprehensive range of testing, training and food allergen consultancy services to help you control and manage allergens within manufacturing and retailing. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com.

New rules banning advertising foods and drinks high in fat, salt, sugar to children come into force
New rules came into effect on 1 July which prevent adverts for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar being used in children’s non-broadcast media (including print, posters, cinema, online and in social media).  The rules, which were agreed following a full public consultation last year by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), applies to media targeted at under-16s.  In brief the Advertising Standards Authority report the new rules state:

  • Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media
  • Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience
  • If the content targets under-12s, ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options
  • The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS

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 Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

WHO publish fact sheet on food additives
The World Health Organisation has published a fact sheet on food additives.  The fact sheet covers what food additives are.  It discusses flavouring agents noting their use in food products, and lists examples of natural flavourings such as nut, fruit and spice blends.  The fact sheet also covers enzyme preparation noting that “enzyme preparations are a type of additive that may or may not end up in the final food product.”  It states that enzyme preparations are “mainly used in baking (to improve the dough), for manufacturing fruit juices (to increase yields), in wine making and brewing (to improve fermentation), as well as in cheese manufacturing (to improve curd formation).” The publication notes how WHO evaluate the risk to human health from food additives, and how the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) carry out risk assessment based on scientific reviews of all available biochemical, toxicological, and other relevant data on a given additive. Only food additives that have been evaluated and deemed safe by JECFA, on the basis of which maximum use levels have been established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, can be used in foods that are traded internationally.

Sainsbury’s launch smart label to help cure food waste
According to the popular press, Sainsbury’s are launching a smart label in a bid to reduce waste.  The label will appear on its own branded ham and change colour from yellow to purple the longer the pack has been open for.  This colour change will show consumers how fresh the ham is.  It is noted that consumers often find it difficult to remember how long the pack has been open for, so often throw perfectly good ham away.  The new label is temperature sensitive, so ham will have it longest shelf life when kept below 5oC.  The Guardian quote Jane Skelton, head of packaging at Sainsbury’s as saying: “We’ve all been there; when we’ve found a pack of ham loitering on the bottom shelf of the fridge and can’t remember how long it’s been opened for. We wanted to find a way to reduce waste of this family favourite while helping customers save money.” If successful, the label could be extended to other foods.

Guidelines on qualifying probiotics published
The International Probiotics Association has recently published guidelines on probiotics.  The guidelines include information on the safety of probiotics noting that “young children, elderly, pregnant women and immune-compromised must use probiotics with caution”.  The document also suggests that certain groups of people in hospitals need to be cautious including transplantations and pancreatitis. The guidelines cover information on recommendations on qualifying probiotics, including safety tests that should be carried out for probiotic stains.  It discusses the guidelines set by the Food and Agriculture Association and World Health Organization and lays down a number of recommendations including the “adoption of the definition of probiotics as Live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

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 Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Study to investigate effects of moderate drinking criticised by scientists
A study, which will be funded by the alcoholic drinks industry, will investigate whether moderate drinking is good for the heart.  The funding of the project has caused some concerns, as scientists believe that “industry-sponsored research almost invariably favours the interests of the industry sponsor, even when investigators believe they are immune from such influence.”  The study will be led by Dr Mariana Lazo-Elizondo of Johns Hopkins and will involve 8000 global participants aged 50 and over.  The participants will be randomly assigned to either give up alcohol altogether or drink an alcoholic beverage every day. The trial will last for six years and over this period, the scientists will compare the number of heart attacks, strokes and deaths in each group. (Independent)

Could cutting out sugary drinks prevent type 2 diabetes?
An 8 year Thai Cohort study involving nearly 40,000 adults has found, after using a new statistical technique, that as sugar sweetened drink (SSD) consumption increases the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) increases.  Papier et al. report that “several countries including Mexico, the United States, France and Chile have already started acting on sugary drinks by imposing or committing to a sugar tax.  Findings from the United States and Mexico show that applying the tax has led to a 17 and 21 % decrease respectively in the purchase of taxed beverages among low-income households." The study published in Nutrition and Diabetes found that between 1983 and 2009, the average Thai person's sugar intake increased from 13kg to 31kg in a year.  It found that in women (but not men) consuming SSBs once or more per day (versus rarely) was associated with increased T2DM incidence at the 8-year follow-up.  The authors’ state: “We found that a moderate proportion of the SSB-T2DM relationship was mediated through BMI (23%) and that the proportion mediated increased with increasing BMI.” They state that “Obesity in 2009 was found to mediate ~23% of the total association between SSB intake in 2005 and T2DM risk in 2013.”

RSSL has considerable expertise in the selection of sweeteners (both carbohydrate and high potency) to optimise sweetness profiles to cost requirements in a broad range of product categories.  Evaluation of new sweeteners for their market potential is also available. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

FDF publishes economic contribution and growth opportunities report
A report has identified the economic contribution made by the food and drink industry as well as key growth opportunities and barriers to growth.  The report commissioned by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and conducted by Grant Thornton was conducted through a combination of speaking to FDF members and collating the latest data focusing on three main areas: Innovation, trade, and skills.  According to FDF, the report highlights “the diversity of our industry, and in particular, how risks and opportunities can vary from business to business and across regions”. Key findings of the report in the skills and trade sections include: that there is uncertainty over access to EU workers due to Brexit and that these individuals make up over 32% of the industry’s workforce; that the industry will require 140,000 new workers by 2024; that Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Germany were flagged as key trading partners and that China, India and the UAE are markets businesses want to target. Under innovation, the report notes that: many manufacturers were involved in long-term calorie reduction programmes and that 46% of respondents are involved in collaboration with higher education or research initiatives. The report also makes a series of recommendations for government including that it should “enhance the image of the food and drink industry and raise awareness of the range of career opportunities on offer” and make the industry a priority when considering any new immigration policy post-Brexit. The full report is available from the FDF website. (FDF)

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable expertise in developing a wide range of food and drink products at a laboratory and pilot scale.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Scientists produced banana rich in Pro-vitamin A
It is estimated that around 650,000-750,000 children die from vitamin A deficiency worldwide.  Australian scientists have developed a new type of golden-orange flesh bananas that could help the many children in Uganda deficient in pro-vitamin A. The authors state that producing this rich vitamin A banana could help improve the nutrition of people in this area and save children’s lives due to vitamin A deficiency.  Dale et al. used many laboratory tests over 12 years as well as field trials to identify and select banana genes that could enhance the pro-vitamin A content of the fruit. The scientists used genes from a banana that originated in Papua New Guinea, which is high in pro-vitamin A but has small bunches and inserted the genes into a Cavendish banana, producing a banana with a golden-orange colour flesh. The scientists state in Plant Biotechnology Journal that they wanted to achieve a “target level of 20 μg/g of dry weight (dw) β-carotene equivalent (β-CE) in the fruit” and continue by saying  they exceeded “the target level with one line reaching 55 μg/g dw β-CE.”  The genes responsible for this increase have now been sent to Uganda.  The technique is now being used in field trials involving Ugandan bananas. 

RSSL's provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets.  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

High-fat diet in pregnancy affects future generation breast cancer risk in mice
A mouse study published in Breast Cancer Research has examined the effect of consuming a high fat diet during pregnancy and its effect on breast cancer risk over generations.  The team reported genetic changes after feeding pregnant female mice a high fat diet derived from common corn oil high in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids between gestational days 10 and 20, corresponding approximately to the second trimester in humans.  The genetic change increased breast cancer susceptibility in three generations of female offspring. The researchers noted several genetic changes in the first (daughter) and third (great granddaughter) generations. Several of these were linked in women to increased breast cancer risk as well as increased resistance to cancer treatments. Hilakivi-Clarke et al. also found three times as many genetic changes in mammary tissue in the third generation fed the high-fat diet compared to the first-generation control group. Hilakivi-Clarke is quoted as saying that "studies have shown that pregnant women consume more fats than non-pregnant women, and the increase takes place between the first and second trimester. Of the 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2012, 90 percent have no known causes. Putting these facts, and our finding, together really does give food for thought." (Science Daily)

Can drinking coffee lengthen a person’s lifespan?
Findings published in the journal The Annals of Internal Medicine, and highly cited by the media, have suggested that drinking three cups of coffee may lengthen a person lifespan even if the coffee is decaffeinated. The study by researchers from the International Agency for Research and Imperial College London, used data from The MEC (Multiethnic Cohort), a prospective population-based cohort study established between 1993 and 1996 involving 185,855 participants aged over the age of 35 from 10 European countries.  The participants completed questionnaires about their diet, lifestyle, family and personal medical history.  At baseline and at about every 5 years the participants’ reported their cooking, drinking habits, including whether they drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee over an average of 16 years.  During the follow up, 58,397 participants (about 31%) died.  Of these deaths, cardiovascular disease (36%) and cancer (31%) were the leading killers. Taking into account confounding factors the researchers report that “compared with drinking no coffee, coffee consumption was associated with lower total mortality.” However, “sceptical experts point out it is impossible to say for sure that it is the coffee that is having a protective effect, rather than say, a more healthy lifestyle in coffee drinkers. (BBC)”.  The Independent quote Professor Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, as saying “a very nice paper, written by an excellent group and very well done.”  However the article notes “he also raised doubts about drawing conclusions on cause and effect from the data presented in the research, because people who are sick may drink less coffee.”

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