Volume 21. Number 5. 2016

Food Fraud Prevention - new IUFoST Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB)

The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) recently released its latest Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB), which addresses the evolving food industry focus on Food Fraud. The purpose of this IUFoST SIB is to provide an introduction to the issue, a review of incidents, the fundamentals of prevention and insights into the optimal role of Food Science and Technology. This SIB presents the latest authoritative science on emerging and headline food science issues. It is produced by IUFoST experts for legislators, consumers,

food science departments and the more than 300,000 members of IUFoST Adhering Bodies worldwide.

The role of food science and technology will be in developing the specific tests and methods that prevent food fraud and, most importantly, in taking a holistic, all-encompassing view of Food Fraud Prevention.
Download and read the complete SIB here.

Could eating insects help meet the nutritional needs of the world's growing population?

Scientists from King's College London, UK and Ningo University, China are reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that eating insects could be just as nutritious as sirloin steak with certain insect species showing they may be an excellent source of bioavailable iron.

According to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation it is estimated that around the world more that 2 million people already consume insects in their diet and globally 1900 insect species are documented as a food source. Latunde-Dada et al. aimed to investigate whether commonly eaten insects such as crickets, grasshopper, meal and buffalo worms could contribute to a nutritious diet. Previous research has indicated that insects are good sources of protein, however for insects to become a staple, they need to contain other essential nutrients including iron, if they are to replace meat. However knowledge of their nutrient composition and the bioavailability of minerals is currently sparse.

In conclusion the scientists state that "commonly consumed insect species could be excellent sources of bioavailable iron and could provide the platform for an alternative strategy for increased mineral intake in the diets of humans."

Currently European legislation (Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283), which was adopted on 25 November 2015 reports that all insect-based products (not only parts of insects or extracts, but also whole insects and their preparations) belong to one of the categories of "Novel Food". As there is no evidence available of a significant history of use in the European Union before 15 May 1997, the placing on the market of these products requires prior approval. The latest FSA Chief Scientific Advisor Report discusses insects as promising candidates as an alternative sustainable food source, noting however that recent research indicates that shrimp allergic individuals are highly likely to react to mealworms in the same way. RSSL Food e-news No.635. 9 Nov. 2016.

Researchers Create Plant that Grows Fast and Defends Itself from Insects

A team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) has developed a plant that can outgrow and outcompete its neighbors for light, and defend itself against insects and disease.
Led by Gregg Howe, MSU Foundation professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, the team modified an Arabidopsis plant by "knocking out" both a defense hormone repressor and a light receptor in the plant. This genetic alteration allowed the plant to grow faster and defend itself from insects at the same time.
In plants, more growth equals less defense, and more defense equals less growth, but Howe said that their "genetic trickery" can get a plant to do both. If the results of this breakthrough can be replicated in crop plants, the work could have direct benefits for farmers trying to feed a world population that is expected to reach nine billion by the year 2050. Crop Biotech Update. 7 Sep 2016.

Seven Food System Metrics of Sustainable Nutrition Security

Abstract: Sustainability considerations have been absent from most food security assessments conducted to date, despite the tremendous economic, environmental, and social implications of meeting accelerating food demand in the face of water shortages and climate change. In addition, previous food security work has generally focused only on achieving adequate calories, rather than addressing dietary diversity and micronutrient adequacy, both of which are critical to maintaining a healthy overall nutritional status. In response to the limitations of previous assessments, a new methodology is proposed here based on the concept of ?sustainable nutrition security? (SNS). This novel assessment methodology is intended to remedy both kinds of deficiencies in the previous work by defining seven metrics, each based on a combination of multiple indicators, for use in characterizing sustainable nutrition outcomes of food systems: (1) food nutrient adequacy; (2) ecosystem stability; (3) food affordability and availability; (4) sociocultural wellbeing; (5) food safety; (6) resilience; and (7) waste and loss reduction. Each of the metrics comprises multiple indicators that are combined to derive an overall score (0-100). A novel SNS assessment methodology based on these metrics can be deployed by decision-makers and investors to set meaningful goals, track progress, and evaluate the potential impact of food system interventions intended to improve sustainability and human nutrition outcomes. ILSI Paper Feb 23, 2016

Download the journal article here.

VIB Fact Series on Bananas and GM Food Safety Released

VIB, a life sciences research institute, based in Flanders, Belgium, published two new booklets as part of the Facts Series. One of the series is entitled Bananas: The Green Gold of the South, which elaborates on processes to produce new and improved banana varieties that contribute to sustainable, environmentally friendly, and economically viable agriculture. The booklet highlights the crop's history, its importance to the world's economy and threats to production. It also reviews various biotechnological applications in place that can save the banana.
The other booklet is titled Effect of Genetically Modified Crops on the Environment, which is the second booklet on food safety. It was released to call a halt to the polarized debate on the environmental impact of GM crops and to provide a nuanced response to the many concerns that exist. It highlights that the impact of biotech crops, whether favorable or not, is dependent on the crop trait and the cultivation technique, but not on the breeding technology utilized. Crop Boitech Update September 7, 2016.

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