Volume 19. Number 5. 2014

Some News from Nigel Sunley in Europe.

I'm pleased to advise that two South Africans were elected to the ICSU Executive Board (on the 3rd) at the 31st GA held in Auckland, New Zealand.
Prof Daya Pillay (UCT) was elected as President Elect and Prof Cheryl de la Rey (UP) was elected as an Ordinary member. The next ICSU GA will be held in Taiwan in September 2017.
Please inform your National Committee of this first for South Africa. Australia and France are the other two countries to have an officer and ordinary member on the two members on the 15-person ICSU EB.

Carrageenan (for use in infant formula and formula for special medical purposes intended for infants).

The margins of exposure (MOEs) between the NOAEL of 430 mg/kg bw per day (2250 mg/kg formula), the highest dose tested, from a neonatal pig study and human infant exposures at 2-4 weeks of age range from 2 to 12 on a body weight basis and from 2 to 8 on a concentration basis. The Committee noted that although the MOEs are small in magnitude, they are derived from a neonatal pig study in which the highest dose tested was without adverse effects on the gut or on immune parameters, supported by a neonatal minipig study. These new studies allay the earlier concerns that carrageenan, which is unlikely to be absorbed, may have a direct effect on the immature gut. The Committee also took account of the previous toxicological database on carrageenan, which did not indicate other toxicological concerns. It also noted that at carrageenan concentrations higher than 2500 mg/kg, formula becomes highly viscous, which adversely affects palatability and growth.
The Committee concluded that the use of carrageenan in infant formula or formula for special medical purposes at concentrations up to 1000 mg/L is not of concern. The Committee recognized that there is variability in medical conditions among infants requiring formulas for special medical purposes that contain the higher levels of carrageenan, and the Committee noted that these infants would normally be under medical supervision. JOINT FAO/WHO EXPERT COMMITTEE ON FOOD ADDITIVES. Seventy-ninth meeting, Geneva, 17-26 June 2014. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS. Issued 2 July 2014. (Some companys have been reported to have removed carrageenan from formulas due to public pressure. Ed,)

Prevalence of trans fats in packaged foods.

Although there is evidence that consumption of trans fat has declined in the United States, limited documentation exists on current levels of industrial trans fat in foods. A recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) study published in Preventing Chronic Disease shows that, as of 2012, industrial trans fat was still common in U.S. packaged foods, particularly in some food categories.
The researchers estimated the prevalence of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in 4,340 top-selling U.S. packaged foods. Although some foods contain naturally occurring trans fat derived from small amounts in the byproducts of ruminant animals, most dietary trans fat comes from PHOs. Because manufacturers are permitted to label products containing between 0 and 0.5 g of trans fat per serving as "0 grams" in the United States, the researchers identified products that contained PHOs by the presence of the words "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredient list.
The researchers found that products containing PHOs make up 50% of products in the seasoned processed potatoes category (15 of 30) and 35% of products in the cookies category (76 of 218). Over half of the food categories include at least one product with PHOs, including, but not limited to, many types of baked goods and snack foods (e.g., cookies, crackers, frozen entrees, and sides served in less than 6-oz servings).
The researchers concluded that the results provide evidence of the prevalence of industrial trans fat and show that most products that contain PHOs are labeled as containing 0 g of trans fat (84%). "This labeling is cause for concern because consumers, seeing the 0 g trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label, are probably unaware that they are consuming trans fat," wrote the researchers. IFT Weekly, 3 Sep. 2014

Scientists Develop GE Fruit Flies to Save Crops

Scientists at the University of East Anglia and Oxitec Ltd. have developed a genetic technique to control populations of Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly), a notorious plant pest causing extreme damage over 300 types of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Medflies are currently controlled by using insecticides, baited traps, biological control, and release of sterilized male insects that produce non-viable offsprings. Among these techniques, the sterile insect technique is considered as the most environment friendly. However, the sterilized males don't tend to mate because the irradiation method used for sterilization weakens them.
The scientists explored genetic engineering to develop healthier males. They introduced a female-specific gene into the insects that interrupts development before females reach a reproductive stage. Populations are grown in controlled environments and exposed to a chemical repressor. If this chemical repressor is absent in the GE medflies' diet, only the males survive. The surviving males are released, mate with female pests in the wild and pass the female specific self-limiting trait onto the progeny resulting in no viable female offspring. Crop Biotech Update 20 Aug 2014.
Read more at (media release) and (research article).

IFT issues food traceability best practices guidance doc

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC) has issued a guidance document on the best practices in food traceability. This document provides a comprehensive framework for six food industry sectors-bakery, dairy, meat and poultry, processed foods, produce, and seafood-and summarizes the similarities and differences among them in regards to traceability. Given the complexity of the global food system, guidance on improving traceability practices across the entire food industry is a challenge. The Weekly: August 20, 2014 Guidance document

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