12 January - 20 June 2016

Other headlines

  • Food made from insects hit the shelves in Switzerland
  • Agriculture can reduce emissions and provide enough food says study
  • Australian activists try to block new enzyme application as it will not appear on the food labels
  • School’s unhealthy food ban in packed lunch divides parents
  • Levels of magnesium in the blood found to be related to dementia
  • Undercover investigation shows supplier altering poultry use-by dates
  • Ice cream that doesn't melt
  • Organic food consumers stick to their guns
  • Call for evidence on how the littering of plastic, metal and glass drinks containers could be reduced

Food made from insects hit the shelves in Switzerland
Following a revision to its food safety laws, the Swiss Supermarket chain Coop has started selling insect burgers and insect balls.  Changes in Swiss food law in May have allowed the sale of mealworm larvae, house crickets and migratory locusts.  Whilst sales figures have not been released it is reported that the insect burgers and balls "have been very successful from day one and have been sold out quickly everywhere." A third of the burger is made of mealworm larvae, which is combine with rice, and traces of carrot, paprika, chili powder and pepper whilst the insect balls are made using a mixture of mealworms with cilantro, onions and chickpeas.  (phys.org)

Do you need help to discover the potential applications for your novel and new ingredient or to take an existing ingredient into new markets? RSSL has extensive knowledge of a wide range of ingredients and can help you with existing ingredients and new novel ingredients. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Agriculture can reduce emissions and provide enough food says study
A study by researchers from Austria, France, Germany, USA, Ukraine, Australia, UK and Japan and published in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests that agricultural carbon emissions can be reduced while still ensuring food demands are met. Food production is thought to contribute to around 30% to greenhouse gases and so cutting emissions from agriculture is essential if the Paris Accord’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5 C is to be met. The study looks at several strategies for reducing emissions and uses mathematical models to estimate their effect on emissions. The strategies include reducing farmland expansion in to forests, using fertilisers more efficiently and introducing a tax on the foods that emit the most carbon during their production. The study notes however that the introduction of such a tax could restrict calorie intake of the world’s lowest earners, potentially by up to 285 kcal per person per day. One other emission reduction strategy proposed by the study would be "soil carbon sequestration" which is using methods to help soil absorb carbon from the atmosphere. As well as reducing emissions, this can also help boost crop yields. The study suggests that such strategies could help reduce calorie intake reduction by up to 65%. Lead author Dr Stefan Frank is quoted by Carbon Brief as saying that “There are of course uncertainties related to the mitigation potential from soil carbon sequestration, but if these potentials were to be achieved, the impacts on food security could be significantly eased”. Frank added that "There are several other “win-win” options such as reducing food waste and harvest losses, or societal dietary change that were not explicitly assessed in this study but if realised together, they could even enable us to achieve this goal [of limiting warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels] without compromising food security at all." (Carbon Brief)

Australian activists try to block new enzyme application as it will not appear on the food labels
Activists are calling on Australia’s food regulators to be transparent about what foods contain.  A survey started by the consumer-led Food Intolerance Network, is opposing an application to use a new protein-glutaminanse to process foods as it will not be listed on the food label.  The enzyme, will improve emulsification, foam stabilisation, and gelling, and is to be used in food processing only.  Regulators are claiming that the enzyme would not function in the final product that Australiana consume as it is inactivated by cooking or by decreasing pH levels in the processed foods.  However critics are stating that the enzyme is a flavour enhancer, and therefore should be listed on the labels of food products, but as regulators are stating it’s a processing aid it won’t.  The FDA, describe the same enzyme as a flavour enzyme.  Howard Dengate, a food technologist-turned activist, is leading the campaign, and is quoted in The Guardian as saying “I don’t object to the enzyme, I’ve not objected to the last 10 enzymes that they’ve used as processing aids but I do object to the fact that they won’t tell us”.  He continues by reporting that the enzyme’s purpose is to free glutamates from chains of protein, which enhances flavour.

School’s unhealthy food ban in packed lunch divides parents
In a move reported widely in the popular press, the Shirley Manor Primary Academy in Bradford has banned foods deemed to be unhealthy, such as sausage rolls, from pupils’ packed lunches. Heather Lacey, the head teacher who introduced the ban, claims most parents have been supportive but while some parents have, others have been less keen. One parent, Alison Quemby, is quoted by the BBC as saying that “If the parents aren't going to teach their children to make healthy choices regularly, then school has to" while Steve Fryer said parents were "up in arms” after sausage rolls, including his son’s, were confiscated. The Department of Education issues strict rules for school dinners but for packed lunches in England they say it is up to individual schools to decide policy. The children’s Food Trust recommends that packed lunches include one food from the following categories: starchy food such as bread or pasta; fruit and vegetables; meat, fish, eggs and beans (such as strips of chicken etc.); dairy food; and a drink; with high fat, sugar and salt foods being avoided. New guidelines for school dinners say caterers must provide: meat, poultry or oily fish; fruit; vegetables; bread other cereals or potatoes. In a move aimed at preventing chips being served with every meal, caterers can’t server more than two portions of deep fried foods per week. (BBC)

Levels of magnesium in the blood found to be related to dementia
Whilst additional studies are need to confirms these findings, scientists are reporting that people with both high and low levels of magnesium in their blood may have a greater risk of developing dementia.  The scientists, reporting in the journal Neurology, came to these findings after testing blood from 9569 people, with an average age of 65 years.  The participants were followed for eight years.  During follow up, 823 people were diagnosed with dementia, of these, 662 people had Alzheimer's disease. The participants were divided into five groups based on their magnesium levels.  The team report that both the low and high groups were about 30 percent more likely to develop dementia than those in the middle group. Of the 1,771 people in the low magnesium group, 160 people developed dementia, which is a rate of 10.2 per 1,000 person-years. For the high magnesium group, 179 of the 1,748 people developed dementia, for a rate of 11.4 per 1,000 person-years. For the middle group, 102 of the 1,387 people developed dementia, for a rate of 7.8.  However the researchers state that there are limitations of the study including that magnesium levels were measured only once at baseline.

Undercover investigation shows supplier altering poultry use-by dates
Following an undercover investigation, The Guardian and ITV News have revealed that they have recorded footage of tampering with food safety records at a plant owned by 2 Sisters Food Group. The company provide poultry products to leading supermarkets including M&S, Tesco, Sainsburys, Aldi and Lidl and are thought to supply around a third of such products eaten in the UK, processing around 6 million chickens per week. The footage shows workers changing the slaughter date which could then extend use-by dates and so potentially result in consumers purchasing products past their real use-by date. Unlike best-before dates, it is illegal to place incorrect use-by dates on foods. The investigation also found evidence of chicken returned from distribution centres being repackaged and sent out again and chicken dropped on the floor being returned to the production line. All five retailers indicated they would launch investigations immediately. Prof Chris Elliott, Queen’s University Belfast is quoted by the Guardian as saying that "Over the past three to four years I have conducted many inspections of food businesses right across the UK. I have never seen one operate under such poor standards as your video evidence shows. I think [this] absolutely calls out for a full investigation". Food law expert Dr Richard Hyde is quoted as saying that "If you are placing a use-by date that is incorrect that is a breach of law. If you place food on the market that doesn’t have the correct traceability information that is a criminal offence".  2 Sisters Food Group’s legal advisers indicated in a letter that "Food safety and hygiene are 2SFG’s top priorities. To the extent that you have identified any shortcomings (which is not admitted), these could only be isolated examples which our clients would take very seriously, and they are investigating the allegations made." The company also released a statement indicating that "We have been made aware of several broad allegations made by the Guardian/ITV in relation to inappropriate procedures, food safety and hygiene issues at two of our poultry processing facilities. We view these allegations extremely seriously. However, we have not been given the time or the detailed evidence to conduct any thorough investigations to establish the facts, which makes a fulsome and detailed response very difficult. What we can confirm is that hygiene and food safety will always be the number one priority within the business, and they remain at its very core. We also successfully operate in one of the most tightly-controlled and highly regulated food sectors in the world." The statement concluded that "If, on presentation of further evidence, it comes to light any verifiable transgressions have been made at any of our sites, we will leave no stone unturned in investigating and remedying the situation immediately". (Guardian)

Ice cream that doesn't melt
Japanese scientists have developed an ice cream that doesn’t melt, using an extract from strawberries.  The discovery was made after a chef in Japan found that strawberries caused cream to solidify.  Kanazama scientists examined this finding and found that polyphenols within the strawberries were responsible for solidifying the cream.  The extract, they discovered, makes it difficult for water and oil to separate. When the strawberry polyphenol extract is added to ice cream it prevent the ice cream from melting.  According to phys.org, the natural extract is available to shop owners in Japan, who have already been selling ice cream containing the extract.  Reports from the local newspapers indicate that the ice cream still taste good, and maintains its shape for several hours in warm weather, and still feels cold in the mouth. Food Navigator is reporting that scientists are now investigating the use of the polyphenol extract in other foods.

Organic food consumers stick to their guns
Research investigating the shopping habits of nearly 10,000 households over 20 months has indicated that once you’ve brought your first organic milk, it is highly likely you will continue to buy organic milk and increase the number of organic foods on your shopping list over time.  The research from Aarhus BSS published in the Journal of Consumer Research reports that the typical consumption pattern is that consumers go from dairy products to vegetables, eggs and baking ingredients until they are consistently buying organic products. Whilst the researchers don’t know the reasoning as to why this is the case, they suggest that buying organic products is associated with our perception of ourselves, and once the connection has been establish, it tends to persist. 

Call for evidence on how the littering of plastic, metal and glass drinks containers could be reduced
The government has invited views on how reward and return schemes for drinks containers could work in England by issuing a call for evidence. More than eight million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the world’s oceans each year, putting marine wildlife under serious threat. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has asked organisations and individuals to share their views with the government on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of reward and return schemes for plastic, metal and glass drinks containers that could help reduce the number of bottles entering our waterways. (quoted directly)

share this article
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.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry