Volume 15. Number 6. 2010

SAAFoST Snippets


2011 has been designated as the International Year of Chemistry. This has been an International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) project since 2007 and the idea is to promote the importance of chemistry to the public and students alike. One of the problems is that not enough students are taking chemistry as a major, mainly I suppose because they think it is a difficult subject, forgetting that it is really quite easy when properly taught and more importantly it is an interesting, indeed a fascinating subject.
SAAFoST has agreed to get involved with the initiative and we hope that each branch will be putting on at least one lecture evening devoted to the objectives of IYC during 2011.
An interesting facet of the initiative is the “GLOBAL EXPERIMENT” in which as many schools as possible will be involved throughout the world. They will be involved in doing some simple determinations on their water supply. The results are to be sent to an IUPAC central database and Google-type maps will be generated for the River, Spring, Pond and Tap waters. Of course water is a major raw material for the food industry so it will be interesting to see how these results agree with the figures provided by the government agencies.
In South Africa a special IUPAC approved kit is to be made available to schools at a cost of about R560/school which will allow them to do all the required experiments. (Yes, getting the kids involved.) Sponsorship of a school or area will be most welcome! Contact Dr. Erica Steenberg, - (Ed. Bernard Cole)


Crop scientists from the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NACRRI) in Uganda and collaborators will start planting drought tolerant maize in November for testing. NACRRI researchers have been preparing the site in Mubuku Irrigation Scheme in Kasese District for the planting season. The trials have been approved by the National Biosafety Committee under the Ministry of Agriculture.
"Once the seeds arrive in the country (Uganda), they will be immediately planted on the prepared 2.5 hectare land and the remaining seeds will be kept for 14 days, a legal requirement for these improved seeds," said site manager Joseph Stephen Ochen.
Visit for the rest of the story.
Crop Biotech Update 15 October 2010


In late September 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) updated its Opinion on BPA. EFSA experts embarked on a comprehensive review of the latest data, scientific literature and studies on the toxicity of bisphenol A (BPA) even at low doses. The Panel concluded that they could not identify any new evidence to revise the current Tolerable Daily Intake for BPA. A TDI is an estimate of the amount of a substance in air, food or drinking water that can be taken in daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk. The panel also concluded that the data currently available does not provide convincing evidence of neurobehavioral toxicity of BPA. More information about the EFSA Opinion is available at:


A University of Illinois study has shown for the first time that sulforaphane, the cancer-fighting agent in broccoli, can be released from its parent compound by bacteria in the lower gut and absorbed into the body.
“This discovery raises the possibility that we will be able to enhance the activity of these bacteria in the colon, increasing broccoli’s cancer-preventive power,” said Elizabeth Jeffery, Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois. “It’s also comforting because many people overcook their broccoli, unwittingly destroying the plant enzyme that gives us sulforaphane. Now we know the microbiota in our digestive tract can salvage some of this important cancer-preventive agent even if that happens.”
Although scientists had long theorized that the intestinal microbiota could perform this trick, no one knew it for certain. Now the researchers have proved it by injecting glucoraphanin, the parent compound for sulforaphane, into the ligated lower gut of rats and demonstrating that sulforaphane is present in blood from the mesenteric vein, which flows from the gut to the liver.
According to Jeffery, sulforaphane is an extremely potent cancer-fighting agent. “The amount that you get in three to five servings a week—that’s less than one daily serving of broccoli—is enough to have an anti-cancer effect. With many of the other bioactive foods you hear about, vast amounts are required for a measurable outcome.”
The study appears in Food & Function. IFT The Weekly: October 27, 2010


Leading Scientists Re-Examine the Role of Saturated Fat in the Diet
(Rosemont, IL) Oct. 1 – For the past three decades, saturated fat has been considered a major culprit of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and as a result dietary advice persists in recommending reduced consumption of this macronutrient. However, new evidence shows that saturated fat intake has only a very limited impact on CVD risk -- causing many to rethink the “saturated fat is bad” paradigm.
A series of research articles published in the October issue of Lipids provides a snapshot of recent advances in saturated fat and health research, based on science presented at the 100th American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) annual meeting in Orlando, Florida (May 2009). During a symposium entitled “Saturated Fats and Health: Facts and Feelings,” world-renowned scientists specializing in fat research analyzed the evidence between saturated fat intake and health, and overall agreed upon the need to reduce over-simplification when it came to saturated fat dietary advice.
“The relationship between dietary intake of fats and health is intricate, and variations in factors such as human genetics, life stage and lifestyles can lead to different responses to saturated fat intake,” said J. Bruce German, PhD, professor and chemist in the Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California at Davis. “Although diets inordinately high in fat and saturated fat are associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk in some individuals, assuming that saturated fat at any intake level is harmful is an over-simplification and not supported by scientific evidence.” Global Dairy Platform an AOCS release.
Visit to view the open access papers from Lipids.


Honey has long been consumed by humans. Reports suggest that it has been collected for at least 10 000 years, and, in addition to its use as a food source, it also has cultural and religious significance in many countries. Furthermore, honey has an extensive history of use in health care for the treatment of a multiplicity of ailments.
Among the many health benefits attributed to honey are its favourable effects on cardiovascular health. Compared to other sugar sources, evidence suggests that consumption of honey can lead to more modest rises in blood glucose and insulin. It has also been found to lower blood lipids and LDL-cholesterol, and elevate HDL-cholesterol. Honey has also been shown to have anticarcinogenic properties, with studies demonstrating its effects in a variety of cancer cell types. In addition, it is also claimed that honey can help improve sleep, reduce anxiety, enhance the immune system and positively affect heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, memory loss and dementia. Furthermore, it is known to possess antioxidative and antimicrobial activities, as well as wound healing properties.
IFIS Publishing, Lane End House, Shinfield Road, Shinfield, Reading RG2 9BB


Researchers at Queensland, Australia are improving the disease resistance and nutritional value of tomatoes through plant breeding techniques. According to State Government's Agri-Science Queensland group, the hybrid varieties of tomato exhibit better resistance to disease such as powdery mildew and yellow leaf curl.
Horticulturist Des McGrath stressed that these new varieties could also lessen the incidence of cancer. "Lycopene is a compound in the red skin of tomatoes which has been associated with better health outcomes for people over a long period of time," he said. "We have some sources of higher lycopene that we are introducing into breeding material and bringing them through into commercial varieties."
These new tomato varieties are expected to be available in the market by mid-2011. For more details, visit Crop Biotech Update 15 October 2010.


“Findings from our meta-analyses show a clear link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and type2 diabetes,” wrote the researchers, led by Vasanti Malik a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition, at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"Many previous studies have examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of diabetes, and most have found positive associations but our study, which is a pooled analysis of the available studies, provides an overall picture of the magnitude of risk and the consistency of the evidence," said Malik. 29 October 2010

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