Volume 10. Number 03. 2005

Acrylamide. The summary of a review of the current situation by WHO/FAO is on the web site under "links".

Many of IFT's publications are available to all at no cost at this URL:

Articles from the Journal of Food Science can be downloaded by non-members for about $10 each.

Student Employment

Company and custodian members are asked to try and make vacational employment available to our university students. If you can help a student please conatct:

University of the Free State. Prof. G Osthoff. Tel. (051)-401 2216.

University of Pretoria Dr Riette de Kock Tel: (012) 420 3238 E mail: Fax: (012) 420 2839 or Prof. Amanda Minnaar, Tel: (012) 420 3239 E Mail: Fax: (012) 420 2839

University of Stellenbosch: Dr Gunnar Sigge, Tel: (021) 808 3581, Fax: (021) 808 3510,

Statement On Sudan I By Indian Spices Board

In the UK Guardian (22/03/05), the Spices Board, India. has published its comments on the recent Sudan related recall of food products in the UK. The Board is clearly aggrieved by the level of adverse publicity which Indian spices have had in recent weeks and is seeking to set the record straight. One point made is that the natural carotenoid capsanthin, found in chilli powder, is chemically similar to the illegal dye Sudan I and could have been mistaken for it in HPLC tests.

Guidelines For Probiotic Yoghurts

A European panel of microbiologists, immunologists and gastroenterologists have expressed concern over the efficacy of the huge range of probiotic products appearing on the market. Many of them refer to "friendly bacteria" and suggest that they can help improve gut health.

According to Craig Brown, writing in the (26/10/04), the market for probiotic products has grown rapidly in the last few years and it is estimated that 3.5 million people in the UK take some form of probiotic supplement every day. However, the scientists say that rising demand means that many untested products are reaching the market. Indeed, research carried out by Professor Jeremy Hamilton-Miller from the Royal Free Hospital in London has shown that only one third of 39 products tested were actually effective.
The European panel consisting of Hamilton-Miller and colleagues from France, Germany and Sweden have laid down six criteria which they believe all probiotic products should meet. These are that the probiotics are:

  • safe for human consumption
  • have clinically proven health benefits demonstrated using rigorous scientific trials
  • clearly labelled, including the genus, strain and amount
  • shelf-stable, thus guaranteeing delivery of the quantity of probiotic until the date of expiry
  • clearly defined using modern biological detection methods
  • alive and reach the gut in sufficient number - surviving gastric and bile acid and digestive enzymes during transit
Commenting on these criteria, Dr Christine Hankey, a lecturer in Human Nutrition at Glasgow University, said that the guidelines seemed clear and sensible and should help protect consumers from claims which "overstep the mark". She also said that there is no real health risk from these products, it is more a case of them doing nothing at all!

Professor Jeremy Hamilton-Miller has published a number of articles on probiotics, including a comment in The Lancet in which he said that the general concept that the use of probiotics to modulate intestinal flora may produce various beneficial effects has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. He also made the point that a better knowledge of how probiotics work would be desirable, and that it was important to discover which probiotics are most effective, and for what disorders. In response to calls for this type of information, the Food Standards Agency has a project under way, further details of which can be found on its web site. (G01022: An evaluation of probiotic effects in the human gut - physiological, microbial and safety aspects). RSSL Food e-News 207 (Oct.2004)

Advertising Authority (Uk) Clamps Down On Organic 'Health' Claims

The ASA received two complaints against the Soil Association for describing organic as "healthy" and "more humane to animals".
But the ASA upheld complaints on two claims in a leaflet made by the Soil Association last year: that "organic farming produces healthy food" and that it is "more humane to animals".ASA said the claims could not be substantiated scientifically.
According to a report on the BBC, the organic industry body has recently submitted new evidence to the ASA which means it can now legitimately state that no other food has higher amounts of beneficial minerals and vitamins.

And it argues no other system of farming has higher levels of animal welfare 04/03/2005

Does Selenium Enhance Immune Function?

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that Se is involved in immune function. The bioactivity of Se is related to its chemical form. Recent IFR data indicate that selenomethionine has the potential to improve both humoral and cellular immunity and selenium methylselenocysteine (SeMC), as found in Allium and brassica vegetables, is an even more potent stimulator of immune response. The IFR work contributes to priorities identified in a recent FSA workshop on Se. The results will have important consequences for preventing influenza and similar diseases in the elderly, and can be used to support feasible public health strategies to increase the dietary supply of bioactive forms of selenium. IFR - Science + Innovation 1:05


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.

The Allergic Risk Of Dietetic And Medicinal Products

The consumption of dietary foods and the use of medicinal plants is constantly increasing. Certain foods and dietary supplements are used for their particular natural character, for their vegetal nature and their richness in vitamins and for the fact that they are "biological" products. Phytotherapy, considered to be medicine of the past, is likewise now considered to be a "medicine of the future", in part because of the numerous active principals remaining to be discovered in plants. There are many reasons for this trend: the idea of returning to a more natural life (for some, to a primitive past); the search for a better gustative quality of food; for the prevention of and the fight against diseases thought to be related to pollution caused by synthetically-produced chemicals; for conservation or amelioration of the physical form of food; etc. At an individual level, the fact that plants are the source of a large number of products actually in use should cause allergists to be alert, because the risk of pollen and non-pollen allergies is well-known. The review will cover the well-known and accepted risks of allergy to products from beehives, to newly discovered foods (in particular, to ancient cereals), to new foodstuffs, and to medicinal plants, especially exotic ones. The aim is not to alarm consumers but to show them that the evolution of our behaviour goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of the risk of new allergies, meaning that control and vigilance are required. People allergic to pollen and to moulds should use dietary products of plant origin and medicinal herbs with prudence. Allergy Advisor Digest January 2005 /

Curcumin Under Human Trials For Alzheimer's Prevention

Curcumin,a yellow pigment in curry spice, is to be investigated for its potential in prevention of Alzheimer's disease after tests on mice found it to be more effective than drugs currently being investigated for treatment. A dietary staple of India, where Alzheimer's disease rates are reportedly among the world's lowest, and 4.4 times lower than in the United States amongst 70 to 79 year olds, curcumin appears to block and break up brain plaques that cause the disease.The spice has also been found to correct the cystic fibrosis defect in mice, prevent the onset of alcoholic liver disease and may slow down the blood cancer multiple myeloma as well as multiple sclerosis.Reporting in the 7 December online edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles also revealed that curcumin is more effective in inhibiting formation of the protein fragments than many other drugs being tested as Alzheimer's treatments.In earlier studies published during 2001, the same research team found curcumin has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which scientists believe help ease Alzheimer's symptoms caused by oxidation and inflammation.The body of research has prompted the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) to begin human clinical trials to further evaluate its protective and therapeutic effects. 4/1/2005

Chocolate Lamb May Attract Asian Markets

Scientists in South Australia plan to feed chocolate to lambs in a bid to offer a range of flavours for consumers who normally dislike lamb and which may even attract interest from China, Korea and Japan. Dr Zibby Cruk from the University of Adelaide believes leftover chocolate from chocolate factories could be one way to win over cooks in China, Korea and Japan. "In this project we would like to use basically some leftovers from the vegetable industry, or maybe sugar industry or chocolate production industry which can affect the flavour," he said. "If we find out that the flavour of the lamb which has been fed with the chocolate is favourable with many consumers it can bring some success." SAMIC NEWSLETTER NR 12 - 2005-04-08

Lactobacillus Species May Cause Or Protect Against Colic In Infants

Intestinal colonization by lactobacilli is suggested to be a prerequisite to normal mucosal immune functions. An inadequate level of lactobacilli may be involved in appearance of allergic disease of which, infantile colic, is often considered an early clinical manifestation. The aim of this study was to evaluate intestinal lactobacilli in breast-fed infants with infantile colic and healthy infants. Fifty-six breast-fed infants, aged 15-60 days were enrolled in the study and divided into two groups: colicky (30 cases) and healthy (26 cases) according to Wessel's criteria. Different colonization patterns of lactobacilli were found among colicky and healthy infants. Lactobacillus brevis and L. lactis lactis were found only in colicky infants while L. acidophilus was found only in healthy infants. The authors suggest that Lactobacillus brevis and L. lactis lactis might be involved in the pathogenesis of infantile colic increasing meteorism and abdominal distension and that further studies are required to underst and how the observed differences may be involved in the pathogenesis of this common disorder. Allergy Advisor Digest March 2005

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