Volume 16. Number 1. 2011


The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) has released its outline plan of work for the global food science and technology community, known as the Cape Town Declaration. Its principles were unanimously accepted by delegates regarding the individuals' right of access to adequate and safe food.

"IUFoST delegates recognise the indispensable role of food science and technology in achieving these aims of eliminating food insecurity worldwide," said the Union.

Primary areas of work for food scientists, technologists and engineers outlined are:

  • Promotion of the safety and quality of all foods
  • Reduction of physical and nutritional losses in the food value chain
  • Adaptation and improvement of traditional foods and processes, while respecting the traditional, ethical, cultural and religious aspects involved
  • Beneficial application of science and technology
  • Development and dissemination of improved knowledge of food composition
  • Facilitation of domestic and international food trade
  • Development of food materials with improved functionality
  • More efficient and environmentally sustainable food production, processing and packaging
  • Education in nutrition, food science and technology at all levels 24-Nov-2010


IUFoST has released three new Scientific Information Bulletins (SIBs) on the topics of Dietary Sodium and Health, Nanotechnology and Food and Regulation of Natural Health Products. They explain the scientific principles involved in a topic, underpinned by the scientific expertise of the authors of each SIB and including provision of key and scientifically reliable online and other sources of additional information. Each SIB is prepared by an expert or small team of experts selected by the IUFoST Scientific Council. Each is reviewed and approved by the IUFoST Scientific Council. See for a list of topics covered.


The potential beneficial effects of probiotics are known to be strain specific, meaning that a potential immune-boosting effect of one strain is not matched by another. The formulation of functional foods presupposes the stability of probiotic strain in the final product, but actual studies to support this quality is lacking and 'surprising', according to researchers from the University of Turku in Finland.

Led by Lukasz Grzeskowiak, the researchers examined the effects of the processes used to produce a specific probiotic strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. Their research showed that the production process and conditions do indeed affect the strain's properties.

"This finding sets important prerequisites for quality control in probiotics," they wrote. "Ensuring the original properties is especially important when the strain or product is used in human intervention studies, as small changes may significantly influence the outcome.

The researchers note that there was also significant variation between the L. rhamnosus isolates tested on their ability to exclude and inhibit certain pathogenic bacteria.

"The results suggest that different sources of the same probiotic may have significantly altered strain properties," wrote the researchers., 12 Nov 2010.


A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that there may be no difference in the amount of flavonoids and phenolic acids in conventionally or organically grown onions and carrots.

The demand for organic food products is steadily increasing partly due to the expected health benefits of organic food consumption. Polyphenols, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, are a group of secondary plant metabolites with presumably beneficial health effects. Contents in plants are affected by, for example, plant nutrient availability, climate, pathogen infection, and pest attack. In the current study, onions, carrots, and potatoes were cultivated in two-year field trials in three different geographical locations, comprising one conventional and two organic agricultural systems. The contents of flavonoids and phenolic acids in plants were analyzed by pressurized liquid extraction and high-performance liquid chromatography-ultraviolet quantification.

The researchers found no statistically significant differences between growth systems for any of the analyzed polyphenols in onions and carrots. On the basis of the present study carried out under well-controlled conditions, it cannot be concluded that organically grown onions, carrots, and potatoes generally have higher contents of health-promoting secondary metabolites in comparison with the conventionally cultivated ones. IFT Weekly 10 Nov 2010


Direct conversion of cell types could offer safer, simpler treatments than stem cells.

Human skin cells can be transformed into blood cells without first being sent through a primordial, stem-cell-like state, according to a ground-breaking study.

The breakthrough, published online today in Nature1, follows work earlier this year showing that fibroblast cells from mouse skin, treated with the right cocktail of chemicals, can be transformed into neurons and heart muscle. However, it is the first study to accomplish this feat with human cells, and the first to create progenitor cells - in this case for blood.

The progenitors did produce all three classes of blood cells - white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets - all of which seemed to function as they should, according to a battery of experiments. The red blood cells made adult haemoglobin, not the foetal form. Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2010.588, 7 Nov.2010


UK-based life sciences firm Phytopharm has confirmed that it is in negotiations to sell off the rights to branded hoodia weight-management ingredient P57.

Widely sold as a weight-management product, Hodia gordonii is a rare succulent found in the South African desert that supporters claim fires satiety-stimulators in the brain when ingested, leaving people with the sensation of fullness.

But safety concerns and fake hoodia supplements flooding the market over the years have tarnished the plant's image.

Phytopharm alone holds an exclusive patent from the South African government in 1995 to isolate, extract and synthesise the steroidal glycoside molecule P57 that is widely believed to be solely responsible for the appetite-suppressant effects of hoodia gordonii.

The future looked bright in December 2004, when Phytopharm announced a 20m joint development partnership with Unilever to develop a P57-based SlimFast shake.

But in November 2008 Unilever terminated the partnership citing "safety and efficacy" concerns over the product - which was rumoured to cause digestive problems in a shake formulation because it was metabolised too quickly. 4 Nov. 2010


According to a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the majority of Americans and Canadians are getting enough vitamin D and calcium. IFT Weekly . Dec 1, 2010


Tocotrienols are a form of vitamin E that have traditionally been in the shadow of the more popular vitamin E form - tocopherols.

Overall, there are eight forms of vitamin E: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Alpha-tocopherol (alpha-Toc) is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol (gamma-Toc) is the most common form in the American diet.

Tocotrienols (TCT) are only minor components in plants, although several sources with relatively high levels include palm oil, cereal grains and rice bran.

In an interview with NutraIngredients last year, Barrie Tan, PhD , president of American River Nutrition explained that the only differentiation between a tocotrienol and a tocopherol is the tail, and that the tail of a tocopherol is longer, "so it anchors deeply in the [cell] membrane to protect the cell membrane from oxidation - most people know this - but the tail of the tocotrienol is shorter and it actually moves around in the membrane [] and it can actually cross over membranes"."In terms of benefits to the body, [tocotrienols] would protect a larger area of membrane in a cell, than a tocopherol that stays stationary in one place," added Dr Tan.

One of the earliest reports to link tocotrienols to heart health - via cholesterol reduction - was a paper by Dr Asaf Qureshi at the USDA. Writing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (Vol. 261, pp. 10544-10550.) in 1986, Dr Qureshi and his co-workers reported that the a cereal's ability to reduce cholesterol concentrations was directly linked to its tocotrienol concentrations, with barley and oats coming out on top, followed by rye, wheat and then corn.

Next to the cardiovascular health, cancer is the other main area of science commonly linked to tocotrienols. Specific types of cancer reported to be affected by tocotrienols include prostate and breast cancer.

Neuroprotective effects of tocotrienol have also been reported, and alpha-tocotrienol has again been highlighted for its activity.

A novel area gaining attention has been the potential of tocotrienols to increase hair growth in people with male pattern baldness. A study supported by tocotrienol supplier Carotech and performed at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Science Malaysia reported that eight months of supplementation with the company's vitamin E complex (total tocotrienol intake of 100 mg) was associated with a 42 percent increase in hair growth. The study is yet to be published in a peer-review journal and has not seen the full data. 3 Nov. 2010

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