Volume 20. Number 1. 2015

WHO calls on countries to reduce sugar intake

A new U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) guideline recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 g (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits. Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates.
“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity, and tooth decay,” said Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s Dept. of Nutrition for Health and Development. “Making policy changes to support this will be key if countries are to live up to their commitments to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).”
The WHO guideline does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars. IFT Weekly 12 March 2015.

FDA finds negligible drug residues in milk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released results from its milk sampling survey, which involved the testing of nearly 2,000 dairy farms for drug residues in milk. More than 99% of the samples are free of drug residues of concern—underscoring the safety of the U.S. milk supply.
The agency initiated the study to determine whether dairy farms with previous drug residue violations in tissue derived from dairy cows were more likely to have violative drug residues in milk than other dairy farms. The FDA tested samples from two groups: a “targeted” list of farms with known previous tissue residue violations and a control group of farms. Results show that the occurrence of drug residues in milk is very low, even in the targeted group. However, the limited number of residues detected involved drugs that are not included in routine testing under the current milk safety program. IFT Weekly 12 March 2015.

Foodborne Disease And Vulnerable Groups

The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) released its latest Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB), which provides information on Foodborne Disease and Vulnerable Groups for the global food science and technology community. The purpose of this IUFoST SIB is to look at the population groups who bear the brunt of the foodborne disease burden because of their higher disease incidence, more serious complications and/or greater mortality. This SIB provides guidance to the food science and technology community concerning preventive measures for those most vulnerable.
While general food safety messages are applicable to everyone, vulnerable groups and their caregivers should also receive targeted advice to ensure an appropriate level of foodborne disease protection. The food science and technology community is in the best position to serve as an advocate for greater food safety for vulnerable groups and to contribute to cost-effective solutions. Several groups are identified as being vulnerable to various foodborne diseases caused by both biological and chemical agents in food. For biological hazards, infants in developing countries suffer the greatest health consequences from foodborne diarrheal disease, which is a major obstacle in the realization of Millennium Development Goal No. 4 ("Reduce child mortality"). With safer weaning food, the incidence of diarrheal disease can be reduced and with it, child mortality. IUFoST SIB released 3 March 2015.

Yeast shown to be a revolutionary alternative to palm oil

Increasing controversy surrounding the palm oil industry has prompted significant efforts to introduce global standards to create sustainable sources and research alternatives. While the push to encourage sustainable production has gained traction, with 18% of global palm oil certified by the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), the environmental and financial impact of deforestation and displacement of other food sources for cultivation of palm oil still challenges this industry. Some research into palm oil alternatives have focused on microorganisms capable of oil production such as bacteria, fungi and yeast because they do not require precious agricultural land for cultivation. Researchers at the University of Bath have performed investigations into Metschnikowia pulcherrima, a species of yeast found in flower nectar and on the surfaces of fruit, which had previously been thought not to produce oil. By modifying the growth environment and introducing environmental stress in the form of nitrogen starvation, their studies demonstrate that a 40% lipid yield may be achieved. RSSL Food e-News 598 12-28 Feb. 2015.

Coca-Cola (History)

In 1886 John Stith Pemberton, an itinerant quack with a morphine habit, was dabbling in over-the-counter remedies, snake oil, hair dyes and cordials, hovering at all times between the likelihood of jail or the prospect of great riches, he, by what agency is not known, made a concoction that tasted better than mere medicine. Intended as a ‘brain tonic’ to alleviate dyspepsia and melancholy, it’s essential ingredients were the coca leaf and kola nut. This nut was presumed by the rainforest Africans who cultivated it to have a powerful aphrodisiac effect. Since Pemberton’s original formula probably included alcohol, sugar and caffeine as well, its immediate popular appeal is unsurprising. It quickly reached a constituency beyond the dyspeptic and melancholic. His bookkeeper, a man called Robinson, substituted a ‘c’ for a ‘k’ and Coca-Cola was born. Robinson’s handwriting became the cursive trademark. Despite narcotic cocaine residue being chemically removed in 1903, Coca-Cola flourished crazily. The Spectator. 7 February 2015.

How Can Peanut Allergies Be Prevented?

Findings from a large, randomized trial suggest early exposure may decrease risk by as much as 86 percent.
To keep your kids from developing an allergy to peanuts, should you give them nuts at an early age or withhold them? For years the debate has generated more heat than light, but today a landmark study led by King’s College London researchers offers some potent evidence that suggests giving peanuts to infants dramatically decreases the risk of developing an allergy to peanuts.
The researchers enlisted 640 children under the age of one to take part in a peanut allergy study. The researchers chose at random about half the kids to receive small peanut snacks each week until age five; they instructed the other half to avoid peanut products entirely. At age five all the children were given peanuts to test their reactions. The scientists concluded that early, regular introduction of peanut snacks can decrease the risk of developing peanut allergy by as much as 86 percent. “These results were remarkable,” says Matthew Greenhawt, research director for the University of Michigan Food Allergy Center, who was not involved with this study. Among kids who avoided nuts, 17.2 percent had developed allergies to peanuts; only 3.2 percent of the nut-eating kids became allergic. Scientific American. 23 February 2015.

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