Volume 18. Number 3. 2013

Don’t ignore white veggies

When it comes to nutrient content, don’t judge a veggie by its color alone, said a panel of leading food and nutrition scientists at an American Society for Nutrition (ASN) pre-annual meeting session on April 19. Vegetables that are white in color (like the potato - Ed) are often overlooked as significant sources of key nutrients recommended in dietary guidelines, such as potassium and dietary fiber, two nutrients that Americans don’t get enough of but that are critical to good health. IFT-The Weekly: April 24, 2013

Researchers Find Details of Healthy Compounds in Colourful Whole Grain Rice

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and co-operators have provided details on the chemical composition and potential bioavailability of nutritious compounds in a representative group of five colorful rice varieties. The findings could help breeders select for these traits from among 18,000 rice samples, called accessions.
The team used analytical methods to determine the profiles of tocopherols, tocotrienols and gamma-oryzanol in white, light brown, brown, red, and purple bran. They found a wide variation in the concentrations of the two forms of vitamin E and of gamma-oryzanol. The team also analyzed other phytochemicals—specifically phenolics and flavonoids—in the same five color classes of bran. The study showed that the red and purple rice brans had higher phenolic and flavonoid concentrations than the lighter-colored rice brans measured. The researchers also identified one purple rice bran variety that was both high in phenolic compounds as well as vitamin E and oryzanols. Crop Biotech Update April 17, 2013
See ARS-USDA's news release at

Poor and Hungry – How little we know about what people eat in SA

In South Africa, poor rural households are particularly vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition (including overnutrition and undernutrition). The current economic climate and rising food prices are making it difficult for people to achieve a balanced diet. Healthy food seems to be unaffordable for many South Africans and, even more alarming, it appears that, in general, nutrient rich foods tend to have sharper price rises relative to less nutritious foods.
To cope with these conditions vulnerable communities employ various mechanisms, including decreasing their consumption of non-staple foods, such as meats, dairy, fruit and vegetables. This, in turn, increases their risk for micronutrient malnutrition where the body lacks the required vitamins and minerals it requires to function healthily.
One way of improving household food and nutrition security, particularly among the rural poor, is to promote home production of nutrient-rich foods. While many poor residents living in rural areas have access to land and water resources for productive use indications are that food produced at household level currently makes an insignificant contribution to the diet of rural households. In addition, while information is available on what people should be eating on a nutrient level, little is known about what people are actually eating.
Water Research Comission. ( Wheel 12.2. March/April 2013.

University of Pretoria, Autumn Graduation, Food Science PhD graduates.

Congratulations to:
Dr. Joseph O. Anyango. Thesis: Physico-chemical modification of kafirin microstructures for application as biomaterials.
Dr. Johanita Kruger. Thesis: Improved iron and zinc availability in sorghum by phytate reduction through genetic modification, fermentation and phytase addition.

Reducing food waste: A key element in feeding billions more people

John Floros, former IFT President and Dean of Agriculture & Director of KSRE at Kansas State University, shared insight in how to reduce food loss in the keynote talk at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
“We will need another ‘Green Revolution’ to feed the world by 2050,” said John Floros, referring to the development of high-yield, disease-resistant breeds of grain and other agricultural innovations that took root in the 1960s. “That will mean scientific innovations, such as new strains of the big three grains—rice, wheat, and corn—adapted for a changing climate and other conditions. It also will require action to reduce a terrible waste of food that gets too little attention.”
Floros cited estimates that in many developing countries up to half of the food harvested from farmers’ fields is lost before reaching consumers. That waste can occur due to spoilage from improper storage of grain during transportation or from pests. Rats and mice alone eat or spoil 20% of the world’s food supply due to contamination with their urine and feces.
“A different kind of waste occurs in the United States and some other developed countries,” said Floros. “Developed countries have much more efficient systems for preserving, storing, transporting, and protecting food from spoilage and pests. But as a nation—households, supermarkets, restaurants, other foodservice providers—we throw away about 4 out of every 10 lbs of food produced each year.”
Government studies show, for instance, that the average family in the United States throws away 20 lbs of food a month, more than $2,000 worth every year for a family of four. It includes food that has gone uneaten and spoiled in refrigerators and on pantry shelves, as well as food that people throw away after cooking. Uneaten food actually rivals paper, plastic, and other refuse as the number one material in some municipal landfills.
Several other food-related challenges lie ahead, Floros explained. Water, for instance, is becoming scarcer, as is fertile farmland. Global climate change may stress those resources even further. The demand for sustainable energy may divert more cropland to production of crops for biofuel production. Economic conditions threaten investment in agricultural research and development. Drought and other extreme weather could impact food production. And consumption of too much food and less nutritious foods underpins epidemics in obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“We’re not doing enough to resolve these complex issues that are critical for providing 9–10 billion people with a nutritious diet,” said Floros. “Consumers, industry, universities, and governments all need to pitch in. The first step is more awareness of these issues and the need for action on multiple levels of society.”
To learn more about how food science makes a difference in sustainably feeding a growing population, check out IFT's World Without Food Science page. IFT Weekly: April 10, 2013.

Scientists Say Without Adequate Funding, Deadly Wheat Disease Could Threaten World's Food Supply

A global team led by researchers from the University of Minnesota warns that decreasing financial support for research and new strains of deadly viruses could threaten the world's food supply, leaving millions without access to affordable food. This warning was included in a new paper from a study that examined how Ug99 could continue its movement across Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia.
Despite the development of disease-resistant wheat in the past half century, which helped ensure steady world food supplies, new virulent forms of stem rust could threaten food supply for millions of people who depend on wheat. A number of projects aimed at developing resistance to Ug99, including the international consortium known as the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, a five-year effort funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Collaborators of the consortium include the University of Minnesota's Stakman-Borlaug Cereal Rust Center; the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Canberra, Australia; the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico; and universities in South Africa and Australia. Crop Biotech April 17, 2013.
For more about this initiative, read the news release available at

Irish company kept horse-meat secret

According to the Financial Times, an Irish meat plant uncovered several cases of contamination of its beef supplies with horse meat from June 2012 but kept it secret until February 2013. This information was discovered during the investigation by Ireland’s Ministry for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, and detailed in a report released in March.
QK Meats, a meat processor based just outside Dublin, Ireland, continued to order beef from its Polish suppliers in spite of positive DNA tests for horsemeat carried out in October, November, and December 2012 and January 2013. The company claims none of the contaminated beef entered the food chain. However, on March 5 Birds Eye identified QK Meats as the source of beef contaminated with horsemeat that was found in spaghetti and lasagna product. The report says the beef trimmings sourced in Poland by QK Meats were €400 cheaper than equivalent products in Ireland.
The report recommends that European regulations on identification and traceability should be reviewed and that it be a requirement across the EU for food business operators to inform authorities about mislabeling. New rules forcing meat traders to register as food business operators will also be introduced in Ireland. IFT Weekly Newsletter. March 20, 2013.

Researchers Confirm Bt Corn's Benefits Aside from Pest Resistance

It turns out that maize hybrids expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt corn) is not just a pest resistant crop, it also has significant agronomic benefits. This is the result of the study conducted by the researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Particularly, Bt corn was found to increase grain yield and nitrogen use.
For two years, the researchers conducted experiments by growing conventional and Bt corn applying five different amounts of nitrogen. The study found out that the insect resistant corn had higher yields than its conventional counterpart (nearly 21 bushels per acre) and more easily tolerated low nitrogen levels. The study further emphasized the role of biotechnology in promoting sustainable and resource use efficient maize production to feed a growing world population. Crop Biotech Update Feb 27, 2013


FAO proposes new protein quality measurement

The Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) has released a report recommending a new, advanced method for assessing the quality of dietary proteins. The report, “Dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition,” recommends that the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) replace the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) as the preferred method of measuring protein quality.
“Over the next 40 years, 3 billion people will be added to today’s global population of 6.6 billion. Creating a sustainable diet to meet their nutritive needs is an extraordinary challenge that we won’t be able to meet unless we have accurate information to evaluate a food’s profile and its ability to deliver nutrition,” said Paul Moughan, Co-director of the Riddet Institute, who chaired the FAO Expert Consultation. “The recommendation of the DIAAS method is a dramatic change that will finally provide an accurate measure of the amounts of amino acids absorbed by the body and an individual protein source’s contribution to a human’s amino acid and nitrogen requirements. This will be an important piece of information for decision makers assessing which foods should be part of a sustainable diet for our growing global population.”
Using the DIAAS method, researchers are now able to differentiate protein sources by their ability to supply amino acids for use by the body. For example, the DIAAS method was able to demonstrate the higher bioavailability of dairy proteins when compared to plant-based protein sources. Data in the FAO report showed whole milk powder to have a DIAAS score of 1.22, higher than the DIAAS score of 0.64 for peas and 0.40 for wheat.
DIAAS determines amino acid digestibility, at the end of the small intestine, providing a more accurate measure of the amounts of amino acids absorbed by the body and the protein’s contribution to human amino acid and nitrogen requirements. PDCAAS is based on an estimate of crude protein digestibility determined over the total digestive tract, and values stated using this method generally overestimate the amount of amino acids absorbed. Some food products may claim high protein content, but since the small intestine does not absorb all amino acids the same, they are not providing the same contribution to a human’s nutritional requirements. IFT Weekly. March 6, 2013
FAO report (pdf)

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