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

Foods containing GM golden rice can be sold in Australia and New Zealand.

Products containing traces of golden rice, which is genetically modified to produce beta-carotene, should be able to be sold in Australia and New Zealand, regulators have ruled. It follows an application to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) from the humanitarian organisation, International Rice Research Institute, which cultivated the GR2E Rice line to mitigate vitamin A deficiency in developing countries. The regulators stressed the application was based on trade issues and did not permit the rice to be grown in Australia or New Zealand.

“FSANZ has determined that golden rice would contain novel DNA and novel protein, as well as an altered nutritional profile (contains beta-carotene), and would be required to carry the mandatory statement “genetically modified” on the packet label,” it stated.

“This requirement would apply to rice sold as a single ingredient food (e.g. a package of rice) and when the rice is used as an ingredient in another food (e.g. rice flour, rice milk).


Author: Gary Scattergood, 3rd January, 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Anti-GM group calls for golden rice review in Australia and New Zealand

Campaign group GE free NZ wants regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to review its draft approval for golden rice, which is genetically modified to produce beta-carotene.

Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ, questioned the efficacy of the product and urged the Minister for Food Safety Damien O'Connor to ask FSANZ to review its draft. She said, “A person would have to eat 4 kg of cooked rice, “assuming it was fully absorbed and eaten immediately after harvest with minimal cooking’,  to get the same level of vitamin A that one medium carrot or 1 teaspoon of parsley would provide.”

The International Rice Research Institute, wants the GR2E rice for developing countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines which are at high risk of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and where 30 to 70% of energy intake is derived from rice. While acknowledging that GR2E rice will not solve the issue of population-based VAD for these countries, it believes it can be a major part of an overarching strategy to reduce deficiency.

Source: https://food

Author: Gary Scattergood, 29January, 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

Diet high in salt causes cognitive decline – but it can be reversed.

Excessive salt consumption creates a gut-brain axis that leads to deficits in cognitive function, a new study on mice suggests. While a considerable number of studies have linked high salt intake to blood pressure and heart disease risks, researchers said less attention had been paid to potential cognitive effects.

Writing in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers stated, ‘We investigated the mechanisms of the harmful effects of dietary salt on the brain.  It has long been known that a high salt diet leads to alterations in endothelial function of cerebral and systemic vessels resulting from reduction in endothelial nitric oxide (NO). However most studies focused on salt induced hypertension, and it has remained unclear how long-term dietary salt intake altered cerebral vascular regulation and brain function independently of blood pressure.”

Within a few weeks, the high salt diet led to endothelial dysfunction, a reduction in cerebral blood flow and cognitive impairments in several behavioural tests, but no changes in blood pressure. These experiments were carried out on mice, but the researchers also showed similar effects for human cerebral endothelial cells, suggesting that a high salt diet might also negatively impact brain health in humans, regardless of its effect on blood pressure.

However, the effects of the high salt diet were found to be reversible after the mice were returned to normal diet, or by pharmacological intervention, suggesting that a change in lifestyle or new prescription drugs could help reverse or prevent these effects.

The researchers concluded, “While these findings highlight the key role of cerebral endothelial function in brain health, they also unveil a previously undescribed gut-brain axis whereby dietary habits compromise the brain microvasculature, leading to altered brain function and cognitive impairment.”

Source: Nature Neuroscience:

Authors: Guiseppe Franco, et al, 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

Makin’ bacon healthy: nitrite free version launches in the UK for 2018.

Nitrite free bacon that uses Mediterranean fruit and spice extracts to replace the cancer-causing chemicals used in the manufacture of traditional bacons, will be available in supermarkets later this month. (This is in the United Kingdom)

Northern Irish artisan and food manufacturer Finnebrogue claims the product, Naked bacon, will be the UK’s only bacon to be free from nitrites, preservatives, E numbers and allergens. The product is a response to comments made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which stated that nitrites found in various processed meats were as dangerous as asbestos and smoking.

It led the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to announce back in 2015 that consumption of processed meat was “carcinogenic to humans.”

Whilst the flavour is already used in continental style hams in the European Union, this will be the first time the technology has been applied to British bacon and available to UK customers, following a £14 million initial investment from Finnebrogue.


Author: Willi Chu, 3rd January, 2018 - William Reed Business media Ltd.

‘Paddock to Plate’: Beef blockchain technology to fight food fraud

A research project designed to track beef from paddock to the plate and to protect Australia’s reputation for quality production has been launched in Queensland. The BeefLedger is an industry led project bringing together design, business, technology, and food research, and is supported by the Queensland University of Technology-based $200m Food Agility CRC.

The project also features a BeefLedger token (BLT)  - a new digital crypto-currency for people to contribute to and participate in the project.  ‘The BeefLledger, is being developed as part of the design and implementation of the world’s first application of distributed ledger or block chain technology to the entire beef supply chain,” said Marcus Foth, Professor of Urban Informatics at the QUT Design Lab.  “It has the potential to revolutionise the industry by limiting price fluctuations supporting food provenance and preventing food fraud, which is a growing problem in international export markets. So whether you are a farmer, a supermarket, a butcher, a restauranteur, a consumer or another interested party, you will be able to access the entire history of the meat electronically by scanning a barcode for QR Code."


Author: Gary Scattergood, 13th December, 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd

 Note:  Full content of the articles may be found by clicking on the links above. 


AuthorRay Dennis