12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

  • Could a commonly used yeast cause drug-resistant infections?
  • Phthalate consumption found to effect brain growth in rats
  • Frozen vegetable recall which has killed 9 has affected 107 countries
  • Food fraud can affect the value of a product
  • EFSA update over 300 substances in chemical hazards database
  • Red meat linked to food allergies
  • BPA and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Rising ocean carbon dioxide levels and the effect on marine life

Could a commonly used yeast cause drug-resistant infections?
Findings published in PLOS Pathogens are indicating that a type of yeast used in the food industry is identical to one that causes severe drug resistant fungal infections.  This resistance is more serious for people with reduced immune systems. Researchers from University College Dublin analysed the DNA of two species, P. kudriavzevii (used in the manufacture of foods such as fermented cassava and cacao, fermented milk, and maize beverages.) and C. krusei (one of the five yeast species most prevalent in causes of clinical yeast infections). They found that P. kudriavzevii and C. krusei are one and the same species, with a 99.6% match of their DNA.  Both were found to be resistant to antifungal medications. A press release states that “The findings suggest that industrial yeast strains are capable of causing disease in humans, and caution may be needed in the use of drug-resistant P. kudriavzevii strains for biotechnology and food applications.”

Phthalate consumption found to effect brain growth in rats
A rat study is reporting that phthalates, which are often added to plastics to make them more flexible, transparent, durable and long-lasting, may reduce the number of neurons in the rat’s brain.  Previous research has reported an associated between phthalates exposure and developmental issues in the unborn child. This current rat study published in The Journal of Neuroscience investigates the effect of phthalates on the developing brain and cognitive ability. The rats were split into three groups: a control group; a low dose group; and a high dose group.  Rats were given phthalate containing cookies.  Pregnant and lactating rats also received a cookie daily.   The offspring of the rats given the phthalates were found to have “a significant lack of both neurons and synapses in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). This was the case for both of the phthalate groups when compared with the control rats.”  Cognitive ability was also analysed in the adult offspring using a set-shifting task.  The scientists found measurable deficits during these tests.  

Frozen vegetable recall which has killed 9 has affected 107 countries
According to the media, the Greenyard product recall regarding Listeria monocytogenes from frozen vegetables has affected 107 countries.  The outbreak has sickened 47 people in 5 EU countries and killed 9 people. EFSA reported in early July that frozen corn and possibly other frozen vegetables are the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has been affecting Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom since 2015. Food Safety News are reporting that a Greenyard statement states that “We have closed our plant in Hungary and have been conducting an in-depth review of the plant with a view to identifying the root cause of the contamination in full cooperation with the respective authorities and in dialogue with the customer.” The company continues by stating “We will not restart production in our Hungarian facility until we are fully satisfied with the results of these tests, for which we are working in continuous cooperation and consultation with the local authorities, and following the European guidelines.” (FSA)

Food fraud can affect the value of a product
Research has found that food fraud can have industrywide impact beyond just consumers. The study examines changing consumer behaviour toward extra virgin olive oil brands after an incidence of fraudulent activity.  Over 100 consumers were asked to value numerous virgin olive oil brands from Italy, Greece, and the US, after they read an article on food fraud involving Italian producers. The economists report that the value of the product from each country’s producer declined, with some declining by more than 50%. The Italian oils saw a 51% decrease, whilst the Greek oil 13% and US 9%.   The researchers are quoted on Phys.org as saying that "We've shown there's a negative spillover affecting all producers when consumers see this information. That has important policy implications because if there is negative activity going on in an industry, what should an industry do? This shows there needs to be a counteraction to that negative information."

Testing the authenticity of your commodity and speciality oils. RSSL can detect whether cheaper oils have been used to dilute pure olive oil and assess the authenticity of expensive speciality oils.  To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

EFSA update over 300 substances in chemical hazards database
EFSA’s OpenFoodTox database on chemical hazards now includes data on over 4,750 chemical substances following the addition of 321 substances.  The new version of the database also updates over 1,816 health based guidance values (e.g. acceptable and tolerable daily intakes). The data has been extracted from an additional 132 EFSA assessments in areas such as pesticides, contaminants, food ingredients, food and feed additives.  OpenFoodTox provides summary toxicological data used by EFSA for the setting of safe levels (reference points and reference values) of food and feed chemicals in humans, animals and the environment since EFSA’s creation in 2002. Since the database was first published in 2017, several key computer models have been developed for predicting toxicity of substance found in food and feed. Such tools can help to provide methods for risk assessment as alternatives to traditional toxicity studies using animals.

Red meat linked to food allergies
It has long been known that the high saturated fat levels of red meat contribute to heart disease, but a study published by a group of researchers in the journal Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (ATVB), suggests that those who are allergic to red meat, specifically to the allergen galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal), may also be at risk of heart disease. The red meat allergy can develop from a bite from the Lone Star tick which is most common in south-eastern United States, where there are increased rates of heart artery disease. The researchers wanted to see whether the allergic reaction to red meat made people more at risk of developing atherosclerosis, a build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries that hardens over time, narrowing the blood vessels. The study looked at the blood samples from 118 Virginia residents and whether they contained an antibody specific to alpha-gal. The marker was found in 26% of the participants and, as expected, this group had more arterial plaque than those who did not. In addition, the plaques in the allergic individuals were more unstable meaning they were more likely to cause heart attack and stroke. (Science Daily)

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

BPA and inflammatory bowel disease
A recent study shows that bisphenol-A (BPA), commonly found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, can increase and worsen symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. Previously, the results from trials looking at how xenoestrogens such as BPA play a role in colonic inflammation have reached conflicting conclusions. BPA has been known to increase estrogenic activity in the colon and alter intestinal function and this study looked at whether BPA increased colonic inflammation and how microbiota metabolites derived from amino acids changed in an acute dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis model. Mice were exposed to BPA for 15 days and then disease activity was measured. The exposure increased mortality and worsened disease activity as well as decreasing levels of tryptophan and other metabolites produced by gut bacteria associated with lower levels of inflammation in the colon. BPA is found most commonly in polycarbonate plastics which are frequently used in containers to store food and drink such as water bottles and it has previously been shown that BPA can seep into the products these containers.

Rising ocean carbon dioxide levels and the effect on marine life
A study by University of Exeter researchers is reporting that rising carbon dioxide levels in the ocean are causing fish to lose their sense of smell.  Ultimately this can affect the fish’s ability to find food, potential mates and lower their ability to detect predators in their vicinity. The team focused their research on the behaviour of young sea bass at existing carbon dioxide levels and forecasted levels expected at the end of the century.  Currently they found that in acidic water, sea bass swim less, and seem to be less aware of predators. Their findings published in Nature Climate Change add to a growing body of evidence about the dangers ocean acidification and marine life. Previous studies have reported that the acidic water are also affecting some species of fish hearing, which subsequently is affecting their ability to hear approaching predators.  (Independent)

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