Volume 10. Number 1. 2005

SACNASP. Members need to be aware that it is now COMPULSORY to register if you do any sort of work for payment in your capacity as a Scientist. Hence, if you act as a consultant or you sign, for example, analysis certificates on behalf of your employer, you need to be a registered Natural Scientist. (Act. 27 of 2003 - Natural Scientific Professions Act of 1993). There is an article (size 281k) on the subject on the SAAFoST web site Registration forms and instructions are available from any member of the SAAFoST Council or from the SACNASP web site -

Congratulations to Prof Pieter Marais, of TUT, who is now the President of the New SACNASP Council.

Jennifer Thomson And Pew Initiative On Biotech Is Among 2004 Technology Award Finalists

In the biotechnology category, Jennifer Thompson of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, was nominated for her research into genetically modified (GM) maize. "Maize is the staple diet of many Africans, often being eaten three times a day," says Thompson. "Two of the greatest scourges of maize in sub-Saharan Africa are the maize streak virus, and stresses such as drought and heat." Thompson's team is developing GM maize able to resist the virus -- which can wipe out entire crops -- and to tolerate environmental stresses such as drought conditions. From

FDA Allows Health Claim For Olive Oil

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the availability of a qualified health claim for monounsaturated fat from olive oil and reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). According to the FDA, there is limited but not conclusive evidence that suggests that consumers may reduce their risk of CHD if they consume monounsaturated fat from olive oil and olive oil-containing foods in place of foods high in saturated fat, while at the same time not increasing the total number of calories consumed daily. "With this claim, consumers can make more informed decisions about maintaining healthy dietary practices," said Dr. Lester M. Crawford, Acting FDA Commissioner. "Since CHD is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S, it is a public health priority to make sure that consumers have accurate and useful information on reducing their risk". A qualified health claim on a conventional food must be supported by credible scientific evidence. Based on a systematic evaluation of the available scientific data, as outlined in FDA's "Interim Procedures for Qualified Health Claims in the Labeling of Conventional Human Food and Human Dietary Supplements", FDA is announcing the availability of this claim on food labels and the labeling of olive oil and certain foods that contain olive oil. Although this research is not conclusive, the FDA intends to exercise its enforcement discretion with respect to the following qualified health claim: Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. One serving of this product [Name of food] contains [x] grams of olive oil." This claim is the third qualified health claim FDA has announced for conventional food since the process for establishing such claims took effect last year. IFT Newsletter November 3, 2004

An Apple A Day May Keep Alzheimer's Away

Quercetin, an antioxidant found in apples, may protect brain cells against oxidative stress, a tissue-damaging process linked to Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Researchers at Cornell University in New York pre-treated rat brain cells with either quercetin or vitamin C, and then exposed the cells to hydrogen peroxide to simulate oxidation. Brain cells pre-treated with quercetin showed significantly less damage to both cellular proteins and DNA than those pre-treated with vitamin C. The study is the latest in a bevy of research that suggests changes in diet could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders. "On the basis of serving size, fresh apples have some of the highest levels of [the antioxidant] quercetin when compared to other fruits and vegetables and may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimer's," says study leader C.Y. Lee, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Food Science & Technology at Cornell University in Geneva, N.Y. Lee recommends fresh apples over cooked or processed apple products because the compound is found more in apple skins than in apple flesh. Although any variety of apple has a high level of quercetin, red-skinned apples have the highest. Quercetin is also found at high levels in onions, blueberries and cranberries, as well as in other vegetables and berries.
Lee does caution that dietary protection against Alzheimer's is theoretical, and that more advanced research, particularly in animals, is needed to confirm the findings. The study will be published in the Dec. 1 issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. IFT Newsletter. November 17, 2004

Researchers Detail Process For Sugar-Induced Fat Formation

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas are one step closer to understanding how high carbohydrate diets lead to obesity and diabetes. Kosaku Uyeda, professor of biochemistry, has shown that a single protein called carbohydrate response element binding protein (ChREBP), discovered by his research group, activates several genes that cause cells in the liver to turn sugar into fat. Their work appears in two studies in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The first study, published in an earlier issue, is available online, and the second, also online, will appear in an upcoming issue of PNAS.
ChREBP is a type of protein called a transcription factor. Transcription factors work in the cell nucleus to turn genes on and off in response to a signal. In the case of ChREBP, the signal is glucose, a simple sugar formed when carbohydrates are broken down during digestion. Glucose enters the bloodstream and, through transport molecules, enters cells where it is broken down into even smaller pieces. These smaller pieces are diverted from the energy production pathway to build fat for energy storage when glucose consumption exceeds the body's energy needs. IFT NEWSLETTER. October 20, 2004.

Peanuts Protected From Aflatoxin-Producing Fungi

Peanut farmers now have a biological pesticide for protecting their crops from fungi that produce aflatoxin. A biological pesticide developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists recently received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Section 3 registration. Circle One Global, Inc. (COGI), of Cuthbert, Ga., the sole licensee of the ARS treatment, will begin producing the biopesticide, called Afla-Guard, for use in 2004. ARS scientist Joe W. Dorner and colleagues at the agency's National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., made the biological treatment from spores of a nontoxigenic strain of Aspergillus flavus that is applied to barley kernels. The kernels are then applied to the soil beneath the plant canopy, where the fungus colonizes the barley and establishes itself to compete against toxigenic strains of A. flavus that are naturally present. Other strains of A. flavus, as well as A. parasiticus, are the primary producers of aflatoxin. Afla-Guard, in field trials, reduced aflatoxin typically 70 to 90% after the first application. Repeated applications in subsequent years reduced aflatoxin by as much as 98%. IFT Newsletter. June 23, 2004

Ridascreen "Fast Peanut"

Is a rapid and safe tool to determine peanut contamination in foods.
Ulrike Immer et al. International Journal of Food Science & Technology 204, 39, 869-871

Healthier Than Olive Oil - A New Blend

21/10/2004 - Spanish nutritional oils company Genosa I+D has launched an olive oil-based product, enriched with fish oil and antioxidants, to give it an ideal balance of fatty acids.
"We think olive oil is the most important fat in the world but it is not complete," Carlos Pena, Genosa president told "We have added omega-3 from fish oil and also natural antioxidants to protect it as it is very unstable."
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by abundant plant foods, virgin olive oil as the principal source of fat (oleic acid) and fish consumed in low to moderate amounts. It has been credited with giving Mediterranean people one of the world's longest life expectancy and lowest mortality rates from heart disease. Studies at the University of Málaga in Spain have found the new ingredient to offer significant protection of heart health, by several actions, including an anti-platelet aggregation effect seen from the first week of treatment, reaching its maximum affect after one month. 21/10/2004

South African Hoodia Gordonii To Fight Obesity

Phytopharm joins Unilever in Hoodia gordonii development.
Phytopharm plc. announced that it has granted an exclusive global license to its Hoodia gordonii extract to Unilever plc, the global consumer products company and owner of a number of the world's leading brands. As part of the agreement, Unilever will commit to initial payments totaling approximately 12.5 million out of a potential total of $40 million in payments to Phytopharm. In addition Phytopharm will receive an undisclosed royalty on sales of all products containing the extract. The extract of Hoodia gordonii, a South African plant, was licensed exclusively by Phytopharm from the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 1997. Phytopharm has been actively developing the extract for incorporation into weight loss products. IFT Newsletter December 15, 2004

Pint-Sized Cows Shake Milk Farmers

Rancher Raul Hernandez's cows look just like any other breed - only they are no larger than big dogs. They're a perfect source of milk for Cuban families, he says. Standing 58cm to 71cm tall, the mini-cows can be kept in a small area and they feed on simple grasses and weeds, Hernandez says. "They are patio cows, easy to work," the 74-year-old says, smiling under the broad hat he wears to keep off the tropical sun. "They give up less meat, but they can deliver four or five litres of top quality milk to a family," he says.SAMIC NEWSLETTER NR 31 - 2004-09-17

Who Releases Annual Food Additives Report

The Joint FAO-WHO expert committee on food additives released its 61 st annual report this month. Entitled the "Evaluation of Certain Food Additives and Contaminants," the report represents the conclusions of a joint FAO-WHO committee of expert panelists who were convened to assess the safety of various chemical additions to food. The panel's specific charge each year is to recommend daily intakes and prepare specifications for the identity and purity of food additives.
The first part of the 176-page report includes a general summary of the toxicological guidelines used to evaluate the food additives and contaminants. It also describes how intake assessments and food additive specifications are made or modified. The bulk of the report comprises reviews of the Committee's evaluations. (An annex at the end summarizes ADIs of the food additives, recommendations on flavoring agents considered and tolerable intakes of the contaminants considered.)
The data within this year's booklet are gleaned from the Joint FAO-WHO meeting, held June 10-19, 2003 in Rome. The cost of the report is $31.50. To order, click on

Breakthrough For Mad Cow Disease Research

02/08/2004 - Science is getting to grips with mad cow disease. Researchers have designed a synthetic protein (prion) that makes mice display symptoms similar to those of the brain-wasting condition, as well as offering the potential for new therapies and quicker diagnostic tests. The findings demonstrate that prions, a class of infectious proteins, can make copies of themselves without the presence of viral DNA or RNA, damage brain tissue, and cause neurological diseases.
Reporting in the 30 July 2004 issue of Science (305. 673 - 676 (2004)), Nobel laureate Stanley B. Prusiner, and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, and Heinrich-Heine Universitat in Germany demonstrate that they have produced a prion protein that can trigger the development of a neurological disorder in mice that is similar to "mad cow" disease.
For the study, Dr. Prusiner and his colleagues produced prion protein fragments in bacteria, folded them into larger protein structures called amyloid fibrils, and then injected them into the brains of susceptible mice.
The mice began exhibiting symptoms of disease in their central nervous systems between 380 and 660 days after they were given the synthetic prion proteins. The amyloid form of the prion protein, which is thought to cause prion disease, was also found in the brains of the diseased mice. This suggests that the synthetic prion did not merely activate a pre-existing prion in these mice and that the synthesised prion protein itself is sufficient to make infectious and disease-causing 2/08/2004.

Snippets - contributions are welcome. Edited and produced by Dr. B Cole. – / Fx 011 660 6444 with the help of the Northern Branch Committee.