12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

  • Trans fats now officially banned in the USA
  • Low level of food hygiene awareness among youth
  • Which? reveals Birmingham and Hyndburn as the worst areas for food hygiene
  • New measures announced to halve the number of obese children in 2030
  • Campylobacter levels remain low
  • Women in India, kills 5 people and hospitalises 88 after they ridiculed her cooking
  • PHE announce that children are consuming more than a year’s worth of sugar in 6 months
  • FSA publish Acrylamide and furan survey results
  • Composition of Complex Sugars in Breast Milk may Prevent Future Food Allergies
  • Britain still needs access to rapid food alerts after Brexit to prevent food safety risk
  • Predicted Environmental Changes Could Significantly Reduce Global Production of Vegetables
  • Kitchen towel could contribute to the growth of potential pathogens

Trans fats now officially banned in the USA
According to the media, artificial trans fats are now banned from US restaurants and grocery stores. In 2015 the FDA announced that food manufacturers had 3 years to phase out the ingredient, reporting that they raised bad cholesterol and contributed to heart disease. Over the last decade trans fats consumption has decreased, but 18 June was the date that trans fats were banned.  Michael F. Jacobson, the former executive director of the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest states that “The elimination of artificial trans fat from the food supply represents a historic and long-fought victory for public health. Ridding the food supply of partially hydrogenated oils will save tens of thousands of lives each year.” FDA has stated that while new products can no longer be made with trans fats, they'll give foods already on the shelves some time to cycle out of the market. But food makers and public health advocates agree that artificial trans fats are effectively no more. (Washington Post)

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory can determine the fatty acid profile of all dietary fats and oils including trans fats. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email  enquiries@rssl.com

Low level of food hygiene awareness among youth
Scientists from the University of Waterloo have found, after measuring 32 different food-handling behaviours among high school children (years 10 and 12), that less than 50% of recommended practices were followed by students. The researchers, reporting in Journal of Food Protection, observed the students in high school food and nutrition classes three times, once before the students took an Ontario standard food-handling training program, then two weeks and three months later. The program helped them improve their skills significantly, but many students continued to engage in risky behaviours known to lead to food-borne diseases. (EurekAlert)

Which? reveals Birmingham and Hyndburn as the worst areas for food hygiene
Which? are reporting, after analysing FSA data from 390 local authorities for 2016-17, that Birmingham and Hyndburn are the worst areas for food hygiene.  The consumer watchdog, examined data from high and medium-risk food businesses, stating that Birmingham City Council had a poor record for carrying out inspections within 28 days of a food business opening.  16% of Birmingham’s 8,000 food businesses were yet to be rated, and 43% have not met food compliance standards.  98% of the Hyndburn Borough Council businesses had been rated for risk, but just two in five of its medium and high-risk food businesses met hygiene standards. Erewash Borough Council was rated top for the second year in a row, ahead of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in Hampshire. (BBC)

New measures announced to halve the number of obese children in 2030
The Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has announced new measures to halve the number of obese children by 2030.  The measures are part of the childhood obesity plan and include preventing retailers from displaying unhealthy foods at checkout or including them in buy-one-get-one-free deals, the introduction of clear, consistent calorie labelling on menus in restaurants, cafés and takeaways, so parents can make an informed choice about what their families are eating.  The Department of Health and Social Care will also consult on the banning of the sale of harmful, caffeine energy drinks to children and consider the introduction of new TV and online restriction.  These will prevent children from being targeted by unhealthy products, and will incentivise companies to reduce the sugar and calories in the products they sell. This could include extending the current advertising watershed and considering limiting the number of unhealthy food adverts shown during children’s programmes up to 9pm. The plan also wants to promote the adoption of the daily ‘active mile’ initiative to every primary school.  Government will launch a 3-year programme to work closely with local authority partners to show what can be achieved within existing powers with a particular focus on inequalities, finding solutions to barriers and sharing best practice with others.

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. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Campylobacter levels remain low
The latest figures from the top 9 UK retailers show that the levels of campylobacter contamination in the UK remain low.  The figures which cover sampling from January to March 2018 show that 3.8% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of campylobacter contamination, demonstrating that the action being taken by retailers to reduce campylobacter contamination on fresh chicken continues to make a positive impact. (Food Standards Scotland)

Women in India, kills 5 people and hospitalises 88 after they ridiculed her cooking
The Metro is reporting that a woman in India is facing the death penalty after she killed five of her housewarming party guests because they kept ridiculing her cooking.  The women, Pradnya Survase, poisoned her guests, by adding pesticides to her dal, which led to hospitalising 88 people, after they starting complaining of nausea, vomiting and stomach ache.   The Hindustan Times report that ‘Pradnya claims that since her marriage two years ago, she has been insulted regularly for her dark complexion and accused of not being able to cook well.’

PHE announce that children are consuming more than a year’s worth of sugar in 6 months
According to figures from Public Health England (PHE), children in England are on track to consume around 4,800 cubes of sugar by the end of the year, more than double the maximum recommendation. Children aged 4 to 10 years should have no more than the equivalent of 5 to 6 cubes of sugar each day, but are consuming on average 13 cubes. Sugary soft drinks remain one of the main contributors of free sugars to children’s diets, more than ice cream and puddings combined. Apart from fruit juice, which counts as one of our 5 A Day, the other main sources of sugar in children’s diets are: Sugary soft drinks (including squashes, juice drinks, energy drinks, cola and other fizzy drinks) 10%; Buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies 10%; Sugars, including table sugar, preserves and sweet spreads 9%; Biscuits 9%; Breakfast cereals 8%; Chocolate confectionery 7%; Sugar confectionery 7%; Yoghurt, fromage frais and other dairy desserts 6%; Ice cream 5% and Puddings 4%.

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. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

FSA publish acrylamide and furan survey results
The Food Standards Agency has published the result from their latest study looking at levels of acrylamide and furan in an extensive range of UK retail foods. In brief they have found that based on 271 products from an extensive range of UK retail foods the levels of acrylamide and furan found over the period of January to December 2017 do not increase FSA’s concern about the risk to human health. FSA will not be changing their advice to consumer.

RSSL offers a robust method to the food industry to quantify acrylamide. By carrying out  a survey routinely (many clients opt for an annual assessment), RSSL can help manufacturers understand which parts of their manufacturing process impact  acrylamide formation. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Composition of complex sugars in breast milk may prevent future food allergies
According to a study carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, complex sugars referred to as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) present in breast milk, could be linked to the prevention of the development in food allergies in children. HMOs are not present in infant formula, therefore breastfed babies may be less likely to develop food sensitivities or allergies. In the largest study of this subject to date, analysis of breast milk samples and allergy testing of hundreds of infants has been carried out over the last 10 years and it has been found that infants breastfed with milk containing HMOs were less prone to developing allergies. However composition of HMOs in breast milk is variable and further research into these complex sugars and their connection with allergy prevention is needed to identify the specific complex sugars linked to this potential health benefit and the depth of the role they may play. This could be very significant for food allergy research.

RSSL can provide you with a complete food allergen management solution. We provide a comprehensive range of analysistraining and food allergen consultancy services to help you control and manage allergens within food manufacturing and retailing. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Britain still needs access to rapid food alerts after Brexit to prevent food safety risk
According to the Metro, the Local Government Association is reporting that if Britain and the EU can’t agree a Brexit deal on exchanging information on public health, then Britain could miss out on food poisoning alerts, warning that food safety standards could be put at risk.  Currently the UK receives information on food contamination incidents, if the UK doesn’t receive these rapid alerts, then according to Kevin Bentley, chairman of the organisation’s Brexit taskforce, we could lose “vital intelligence about the origin of food, feed and animal products, and won’t be aware when rapid alerts are issued to the rest of the continent”. The Metro quote LGA as saying “Councils are warning of the increased risk to public health if regulators are not able to access these systems and are calling on the Government and the European Union to ensure that, regardless of what form the final Brexit agreement takes, the UK’s access to these key mechanisms is maintained.”

Predicted Environmental Changes Could Significantly Reduce Global Production of Vegetables
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), suggests that average yields of vegetables and legumes could fall if no action is taken to address predicted environmental changes. The researchers estimate that the yields of vegetables and legumes could be reduced by 35 percent and 9 percent respectively. After searching through 174 articles published between 1975 and 2016 reporting 1540 experiments they also estimated the yield various due to several changes in environmental conditions. Specifically, they looked at tropospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and ozone (O3) concentrations, water availability, salinity and ambient temperature. Although they found that a 250ppm increase in carbon dioxide would increase yields by an average of 22 percent, the other changes counteract this increase. They saw that a 50 percent decrease in water availability would decrease yields by 34.7 percent, a 25 percent increase in ozone would decrease yields by 8.9 percent, a 25 percent increase in salinity would decrease yield by 2.3 percent, and a four degree Celsius increase in temperature in warmer regions would decrease yield by 31.5 percent. To lessen the risk that predicted environmental changes have, the researchers say that priorities must shift towards various ways of improving agricultural production.

Kitchen towel could contribute to the growth of potential pathogens
At the annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) in June 2018, it was reported that kitchen towels could potentially harbour bacteria responsible for food poisoning, depending upon their usage and the conditions in which they are kept. The study performed by researchers at the University of Mauritius examined 100 kitchen towels after one month in varying socio-economic status families with different family sizes and assorted dietary requirements. It was found that at least 1 in 6 towels were positive for coliforms (bacterium type of E. Coli)  and Enterococcus spp, types of bacteria which are typically present in human intestines, and 7% of the samples tested positive for S. aureus, a bacterium which can cause illnesses such as skin infections and food poisoning. They concluded the microbial load on kitchen towels is largely affected by hygienic practices and family size, with larger households increasing bacterial growth, as well as the presence of children and extended relations. They also determined that factors such as multipurpose usage, higher towel humidity, and non-vegetarian diets could lead to the growth promotion of the pathogens responsible for food poison.

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