Volume 10. Number 02. 2005

The FoodFacts website - - has a few new additions, olive oil and trans-fats included.

Please remember to consult the SAAFoST web site for information. The list of Custodian Members can be used as a database of sources of information on various aspects of food technology and food procurement.

Food Database Of Potential Carcinogens

Extending food scientists' understanding of potential carcinogens in food products and allowing food makers to quantify dietary exposure to these compounds, a group of researchers in Spain have compiled an extensive database of harmful compounds formed during food preservation and cooking.

Led by Paula Jakszyn at the University of Barcelona in Spain, the researchers set out to develop a food composition database of nitrates, nitrosamines, heterocyclic amines (HA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in foods.
Based on a literature search of nitrates, nitrites, nitrosamines, HA and PAH compounds in foods from 1980 onwards using medline and EMBASE databases, the final database includes 207 food items listing concentrations of nitrites, nitrates and nitrosamines, 297 food items giving concentrations of HAs and 313 food items with listings for concentrations of PAHs.
US Journal of Nutrition (2004) 134: 2011-2014 / Food Navigator 05/08/2004.

An Allergic Reaction To Peanut In An Exclusively Breastfed Infant

A 2 week-old boy, exclusively breastfed, was seen for frothy, unformed stools like 'cappucino mousse'. On the recommendations of her pediatrician, the mother eliminated all milk and soya products in her diet, without any improvement. Two weeks later, she decided to stop eating her daily toast with peanut butter. The infant's stool subsequently normalized. Skin prick tests, first performed at 10 weeks of age, were negative for milk, soya, egg, and wheat. No reaction was observed with a commercial peanut extract, but there was erythema with fresh peanut. At 12 months the skin prick tests showed a significant reaction to commercial peanut extract, with a wheal of 15 mm associated with a prominent lymphangitic reaction, and still negative for milk and soya. Specific IgE to peanut was positive at 0.47 IU/ml. Total serum IgE was in the normal range with a level of 18 ku/l. Allergy 2005 Feb;60(2):266-267. Allergy Advisor Digest January 2005

GI Diet Set To Supersede Atkins!

In collaboration with the Sunday Times (09/01/05), Tesco, one of the UK's major supermarket chains has launched its own diet regime based on the glycemic index (GI). Over the next four weeks it is hoping to sell up to 67,000 copies of its GI Diet book which offers an alternative to the Atkins Diet. The supermarket has already started re-labelling 1000 product lines to include their GI scores. The same topic is also covered by several other news sources including the Independent on Sunday and the Belfast Telegraph (09/01/5).Reading Scientific Services Food E-news 217 of 12/01/05.

Sweet And Umami Taste Receptor Research Published

Researchers at a company called Senomyx, based in La Jolla, California, have published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) a report on the understanding of sweet and umami taste receptors. Senomyx uses proprietary taste receptor-based assays and screening technologies to discover and develop novel flavours and flavour enhancers for foods and beverages. For more information, see . IFT Newsletter. Sept 15, 2004.

Molecular "Switch" In Liver Triggers Harmful Effects Of Saturated And Trans Fats

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers have identified a molecular mechanism in the liver that explains, for the first time, how consuming foods rich in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids causes elevated blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and increases one's risk of heart disease and certain cancers. In the Jan. 28 issue of Cell, scientists led by Bruce Spiegelman, report that the harmful effects of saturated and trans fats are set in motion by a biochemical switch, or co-activator, in liver cells called PGC-1beta.
"What we have found is a missing link, a mechanism by which saturated fats and trans fats can do their dirty work," said Spiegelman, who carries out basic research on fat cells and metabolic pathways in diabetes and cancer at Dana-Farber. "It offers the opportunity to try to understand what makes these fatty acids so deleterious, and what we need to avoid." For more information, see the Harvard University Press Release.IFT Weekly Newsletter. February 2, 2005

FSA Survey On Acrylamide In Food

The results of the Food Standards Agency's survey of acrylamide in total diet study samples have now been published on the FSA website together with an updated Questions and Answers section on acrylamide in food. The Agency says the survey results will not mean people will be advised to change what they eat.
Scientists from Stockholm University, unexpectedly discovered high levels of acrylamide in carbohydrate-rich foods cooked at high temperatures (J.Agric. Food Chem. 2002, 51(17), 4998-5006) researchers in the US and all over Europe have been investigating typical levels in foods and ways in which such levels might be reduced. Indeed, according to the FSA, there are now more than 200 projects on acrylamide underway on its toxicology, analytical methods for its determination, formation and potential methods of reducing it.
In common with surveys conducted elsewhere, the FSA has found levels which would mean that the amount of acrylamide that people actually eat is at least 1000 times lower that the doses reported to cause cancer in laboratory rats. The results of the survey form part of the wider international body of evidence which will be fed into the safety evaluation of acrylamide in food to be carried out from February 2005 by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Acrylamide was quantified in 7 of the 20 food groups tested, and as expected, cereal-based and potato products were the main sources of the compound in people's diets.

Food group
Acrylamide concentration
12 g/kg
Miscellaneous cereals, including biscuits and breakfast cereals
57 g/kg
Carcass meats, mostly baked
10 g/kg
Meat products including sausages and pies ready for consumption
13 g/kg
Poultry, baked or grilled
6 g/kg
Sugars and preserves, including chocolate and confectionery
23 g/kg
Potatoes, cooked fresh and processed potatoes
112 g/kg

Acrylamide was not quantifiable in samples of offal, fish, oil and fats, eggs, green vegetables, other vegetables, canned vegetables, fresh fruit, fruit products, beverages, milk, dairy products and nuts.
Exposure to acrylamide in female adults was estimated to be in the range 0.3 - 0.6 g/kg bodyweight(bw)/day. For male adults it was 0.4 - 0.6 g/kg bw/day. For young people over the age range from 4 -18 years old, it was 0.5 - 1.6 g/kg bw/day. Toddlers aged 1.5 to 4.5 years were exposed to 1.0 - 1.8 g/kg bw/day while elderly people and vegetarians could be exposed to acrylamide at levels ranging from 0.3 - 0.7 g/kg bw/day.
A press statement on Food Survey Information Sheet 71/05 and the full acrylamide survey (13 pages) can be downloaded from the FSA web site. To keep up to date by e-mail with developments in relation to acrylamide and other food contaminants contact Mr Aziz Badoui, Chemical Safety Division, Food Standards Agency, Tel: + 44 (0) 207 276 8710, Fax: + 44 (0) 207 276 8717. RSSL Food E-News 217, 12/01/05

GM Plants Will Be Used To Create Aids Vaccine

GM plants are to be used to grow vaccines against rabies and AIDs, scientists have announced. Europe's first field trial is likely to be carried out in South Africa because of fears of crop vandalism in Britain. The GM crop could dramatically reduce the cost of producing vaccines with estimates ranging from one tenth to one hundredth of the price of conventional immunization. Dubbed "pharming" by its oponents, this is the latest step in technology which allows medicines to be grown in plants. Although the project is concerned with injectable vaccines, other trials under consideration involve extending the research to oral vaccines which might be grown in edible raw food such as bananas. South Africa's CSIR is participating in the research and is particularily interested in potential vaccines for HIV. The Friends of the Earth GM campaigner Clare Oxborrow said: " Growing medicines in plants has serious implications for human health and the environment. We recognise the need for affordable medicines to be made available to people with life-threatening illnesses but this research could have widespread negative impacts." On the other hand the cost of doing nothing is measured in millions of people who will die from preventable diseases! Original story by Steve Connor. The Independent. 13 Jul 2004.

Finally - Proof That Your Children Make You Sick

Food safety week 8 - 13 November 2004.
Professor Tom McMeekin. Chair of the Food Safety Information Council, today launched Food Safety Week with a message to parents to reduce the risk of their children being among the 5.4 million Australians who suffer from food poisoning each year. 'Small children are far more likely than adults to suffer from gastroentertitis and, as every parent knows, there is now evidence that they'll probably pass it on to the rest of the family. So it really is true that your children can make you sick,' Professor McMeekin said. "It is never too early to teach your children good hygiene.Teaching children to wash their hands before eating will greatly reduce their risk of food poisoning. They should always wash their hands under running water using soap and dry thoroughly:

  • Before touching or eating food;
  • After blowing their nose; and
  • After playing with a pet
'You should never prepare food for others if you have gastroenteritis as this will just pass it on. Finally, even though there is a drought on, never scrimp on water when washing your hands or getting your child to do so. Always wash your hands and fresh fruit and vegetables under running water as that removes the bacteria. Washing in just a bowl of water will just re-contaminate your hands or the fruit and vegetables,' Professor McMeeking concluded.
Food safety week 8 - 13 november 2004

Turmeric Extracts Suppress Increase In Blood Glucose

Turmeric seems to be in danger of up-staging green tea in the number of health benefits ascribed to it. Food e-News has recently reported that it may able to reduce the number of malarial parasites and stave off the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. Now a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that curcuminoids and sesquiterpenoids from turmeric may be able to suppress an increase in blood glucose levels in diabetic mice.
For the full story:
Food E-news 220, 26 Jan-2 Feb 2005.

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