Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood.  

Palm oil free certification scheme launched.

A new certification program, the International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Program (POFCAP), has been developed to enable food makers to demonstrate that their products were manufactured without the use of palm oil. The POFCAP trademark has been approved by regulators in Australia and the UK. A further 14 countries have applications pending for the certification scheme, which was established in response to growing consumer demand for transparency over the use of palm oil in products.

POFCAP is the first scheme that can certify that a product does not contain palm oil. Until now there has been no government-approved body able to certify if a product contains palm oil or not. The scheme differs from any existing scheme as the company is not involved in certifying anything to do with palm oil supply; they are only focused on certifying a product to be palm oil free. POFCAP aims to allow manufacturers who produce products without using palm oil to communicate this to consumers in a clear and trusted way.

(Source: Free Newsletter - Breaking News on Food and Beverage Development - Europe 19/8/17. Author:  Kay Askew)


CSIRO’s high tech sound and light show for furry farm pests.

Australian scientists have developed humane technology that could save farmers’ crops and livelihoods from pests. According to CSIRO, pest animals cost the economy up to A$1 billion a year. After their counterparts in Africa successfully managed to scare away elephants from farms and crops, CSIRO researchers are now trialling the so-called Vertebrate Pest Detect and Deter (VPDaD) technology in Australia against animals such as ducks, cockatoos, rabbits, wild dogs and more, starting in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley.  The technology consists of two systems: a motion sensor device, and a collection of cameras that can pick up images and heat signatures of animals, with lights and sounds which function as a deterrent for pests. CSIRO technology specifically developed for the camera program allows the computer to recognise and classify animals based on the images captured.

CSIRO’s Dr. Trews said, “One of the interesting issues with existing deterrent technologies is that, not only do animals become desensitised to them, but smarter ones can even learn to use the deterrents as an indication of a food source, which is the opposite of their purpose. Our autonomous technology allows the system to recognise animal behaviours in response to deterrence and modify the deterrence strategy until the desired effect is achieved.”

(Source: Free Newsletter - Breaking News on Food and Beverage Development and Technology - Asia-Pacific 22/8/17.  Author: R.J.Whitehead)


Scientists trial charged–water irrigation system to boost food safety.

Technology that allows vegetables to be cleaned with electrically charged water before harvest is being trialled in Australia. The research could also help keep irrigation pipes clean and give growers the ability to irrigate with water previously deemed too poor to be used on vegetables. Electrolysed oxidising water techniques (EO) are already used to sanitise water used on produce post–harvest to kill bacteria and extend shelf life but using them pre-harvest on a large-scale is a new concept. The water is sanitised when it passes electrodes, which convert chloride salts in the water into chlorine.

The three-year project began in June with growers recruited in South Australia and New South Wales for trials. University of South Australia scientist Enzo Lombi said, “The technology was scalable and could be used to sanitise thousands of litres of water an hour - enough to service entire farms. The technology would be most effective at treating leafy crops that are consumed fresh, such as lettuce, spinach and parsley.” The research will mainly look at human pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, but will also look out for any positive effects in eliminating crop diseases.

(Source: Free Newsletter - Breaking News On Food and Beverage Development and Technology – Asia-Pacific.10/8/17. Author: R.J. Whitehead)


Science agency launches food “innovation and entrepreneurship” roadmap.

New technologies could see Australians eating algae–based sources of protein, developing allergenic–free nuts and helping the environment with edible packaging, according to the CSIRO.  Launching its “Food and Agribusiness Roadmap”, the Commonwealth Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy said that innovation and entrepreneurship would drive new economic growth in the food industry. Developed with widespread industry consultation and analysis, the roadmap centres on keeping a greater share of food processing business and differentiating Australian food products from their competitors.

Dr Cole, CSIRO’s deputy director, said that “Advances are already being made through the use of block chain technology and the development of labels that change colour with temperature or time, or are programmed to release preservatives. This roadmap will set us on the path to sustainable growth in the sector.” Australia exports over A$40 billion of food and beverages each year, with 63% shipped to Asia. Much of the demand for these goods stems from the country’s reputation as a trusted and sustainable supplier of high–quality and healthy products, Dr Cole said.

(Source: Free Newsletter – Breaking News On Food and Beverage Development and Technology – Asia-Pacific. 20/7/17.  Author: R.J.Whitehead)


 ‘Shrinkflation’ must be clear to stop shoppers feeling “cheated”.

Food manufacturers have been urged to make it clear when they shrink products, to stop consumers feeling “cheated”. The recommendation was made by the UK consumer group Which? after analysis by the Office for National Statistics revealed that 2,529 products had reduced in size over the past five years, of which 2006 were food items.

“We have found that many popular household and food products have shrunk over the years, often with the price staying the same or increasing,” said Alex Neill, Which? home products and services MD. “Manufacturers and retailers should make any changes to their products clear, otherwise they risk people feeling cheated.”

Last November, Mondelez International suffered a social media backlash after changing the iconic shape of its Toblerone bar to offset rising costs. Consumers claimed they were “distressed” and “felt cheated” after Mindelez announced plans to increase spaces between ridges, and revealed the weight of 400 gram bars would fall to 360 grams while 170 gram bars would become 150 grams.

(Note: Which? is the consumer group in the UK, but consumers in Australia have also complained about ‘Shrinkflation’ of various food products)

(Source:  Free Newsletter – Inside Food And Drink Manufacturing. 29/7/17 Author: Helen Gilbert.)

NOTE: The complete text of all these articles may be found on the website of William Reed business media.


AuthorRay Dennis