Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood. This issue of Food Bites contains some interesting information on the use of nanotechnology
New sustainable fish scheme launch in Australia based on Coles’ sourcing framework.
A new framework based on retailer Coles’ Responsibly Sourced seafood project has been launched by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) of Australia to help food firms secure sustainable produce.
whichfish.com.au informs the seafood industry about the stock and environmental and management risks involved with specific species of wild-caught Australian seafood.
At a click, food firms can find a list of target species, state of jurisdiction, fishery, method of fishing, the environmental impact, and so on. The Outlook section in Risk Scores indicate for each particular species if the situation is improving, worsening, stable or uncertain. Risk assessment reports are available from the website. The entire list can also be downloaded in Excel format for future reference. There are currently close to 30 species on the list, and the number will grow throughout the year. Some of them include Australian Sardine, Balmain Bug, Black tip Shark, Saddletail Snapper, Brown Tiger Prawn and Western King Prawn.
Author: Lester Wan 15th Mar-2018 -William Reed Business Media Ltd.
Nanomaterials for beer protection
UV radiation comes from the sun and with prolonged exposure to this, “skunked” or “light struck” beer is formed. Such beer takes on an unpleasant tasting odour which is similar to that given out by skunks. (and other obnoxious tastes and odours). It has been suggested to prevent this problem beer should be stored in the dark, however it is exactly under such dark conditions that bacteria and fungi thrive. Most antimicrobial materials require light activation to perform. The presence of spoilage bacteria and fungi damage barley, and during brewing develop biofilms that cause oxidation and damage the quality/taste of beer.
Nanomaterials designed to have enhanced UV shielding to ensure better beer longevity preserved taste while simultaneously minimising packaging and storing costs, are now on the market. One company supplying the market is called ‘NANOARC’ in Estonia, and its publicity states that ‘With NANOARC quantum materials additives, you upgrade your product’s quality, despite the challenges of tropical climate or summer heat’.
Source and credit: NANOARC Quantum Material Division. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gold coated nano wires return sight to the vision impaired
Diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration are responsible for around 50% of all cases of blindness in Australia. They lead to a constant degrading of vision, with every day getting slightly worse, the edges darkening and closing in until its like looking down a narrow pipe. However a team of Chinese researchers have sparked hope of a treatment for degenerative eye diseases, developing nanowires which can be implanted into the eye and restore sight.
The team of researchers, led by Jiayi Zhang from Fudan University in Shanghai, coated titanium dioxide nanowires with gold nanoparticles. These gold particles just 10 nm in size and tightly bound to the titanium wire, create a photovoltaic effect similar to that of solar cells on the roof of your house. When exposed to light, the gold/nano wire complex generates a voltage which can then be transmitted to the neighbouring neurons. These voltages can help restore vision signalling.
Source and credit: Australia’s Science Channel March 8th 2018:
UK government’s energy drinks Inquiry to assess effect on the young.
The UK government’s Science and Technology Committee is to launch an Inquiry into the consumption of energy drinks in youngsters to assess its health effects and retail’s role in the drink’s availability. “We know that young people in the UK are the biggest consumers of energy drinks in Europe for their age. We need to understand how the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks might cause negative health outcomes’, the committee stated. Meanwhile, some retailers have chosen to ban their sale, and some have not,” said Norman Lamb MP, chair of the Science and Technology committee.
Along with retail action, regulatory opinion is also shifting after a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that 68% of those aged 10 to 18, and 18% of those aged 3 to 10 were consumers of energy drinks. A Durham University study has highlighted that for children, EFSA’s guideline limit is exceeded by a single can of some energy drinks.
The committee is also interested in submissions that detail how marketing affects consumption, including for example links to “gaming”. It is not just the caffeine but the health effects also extend to the drinks’ sugar content. The world health organisation highlights that an average can of energy drink contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar – almost the daily maximum limit recommended for children.
Author: Will Chu 09-Mar-2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.
Note: It would be interesting to know the situation in Australia with regard to children consuming energy drinks. When introduced they were said not to be aimed at children.
GM food: Australian and New Zealand food regulator (FSANZ) seeks views on new generation of gene technology.
The organisation has released a consultation paper, with CEO Mark Booth, encouraging views to be submitted on new breeding techniques and how laws should apply to food derived from them.
So far all genetically modified (GM) approved food in Australia and New Zealand have used trans- genesis – where plants have been modified by inserting new DNA. However FSANZ states that new breeding technologies (NBTs) encompass a diverse new set of procedures that are being developed across plant and animal breeding.
“A degree of uncertainty exists about whether foods produced using NBT’s are “food produced using gene technology” because some of the new techniques can be used to make defined changes to the genome of an organism without permanently introducing any new DNA,’ stated FSANZ. “There has been ongoing scientific and public debate about the nature of the risks associated with food produced using NBT’s and whether premarket assessment and approval is appropriate for those foods,” it added. “The issue being considered for this review is whether (and the extent to which) the food products of NBT’s require pre-assessment for safety, before they can be sold as, or used as ingredients in food.”
This latest development comes amid heightened interest in the regulatory status of the new generation of gene technology. Recently reported was that Australia’s gene regulator proposed reducing regulations around some gene editing techniques, which would result in some of them not being classed as “genetic modification”.
Author: Gary Scattergood 20-Feb-2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.
A treat for the eyes: Children are more responsive to unhealthy food cues.
As part of a research group on advertising and media effects, the researchers from the University of Vienna used eye tracking devices to determine the level of attention children gave to both healthy and unhealthy food cues embedded in a cartoon film. As well as testing the different types of foods, the scientists also varied the “level” of the food cue, comparing one in which there was no interaction with the food cue, to eating and handling the food. They then evaluated how susceptible the 56 boys and girls aged between six and 12 were to the various cues by measuring the impact they had on their hunger levels.
“Our results indicated that unhealthy food cues attract children’s visual attention to a larger extent than healthy cues. However, their initial visual interest did not differ between unhealthy and healthy food cues’, they wrote. “We conclude that especially unhealthy food cues with an interactive connection, trigger acute reactivity in children.” The researchers said they had “concerns” about how food cues were presented in children’s media, and hoped their study would spark further research.
It is estimated that for every one pound spent by the World Health Organisation promoting healthy food, five hundred pounds is spent in advertising by the food industry promoting foods high in salt, fat and sugar. “Our key message to the food industry and especially to food marketers is to cut back the marketing of unhealthy food to children by increasing the marketing of healthy food,” Dr Brigitte Naderer, co-author of the study told FoodNavigator. ‘Several studies have shown the negative effects of unhealthy food marketing on children’s eating behaviour with long-term consequences such as the global increase in childhood obesity’, she said.
Author: Niamh Michael 21-Feb-2018- William Reed Business Media Ltd.
Researchers create edible graphine tag, which can be etched onto bread.
Researchers at Rice University have created a way to etch a graphene “label” on to food like bread, coconuts and potatoes, which could embed RFID (radio-frequency) technology to track data on products. The findings draw on similar work the team did developing material called laser induced graphene (LIG), using a laser to heat the surface of the material to create a flaky, foamy form of graphene (a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice)‘This is not ink. This is taking the material itself and converting it into graphene’, said Professer James Tour, chemistry Department, Rice University, Houston Texas. ‘Perhaps all food will have a tiny RFID tag that gives you information about where it’s been, how long it’s been stored, its country and city of origin and the path it took to get to your table. All that could be placed not on a separate tag on the food, but on the food itself.”
Tour Claims because then graphene etchings are conductive the LIG tags could be used as sensors that detect E. coli or other microorganisms on food. LIG also protects surfaces from bio fouling, the buildup of microorganisms, plants or other biological material on wet surfaces.
Author: Jenny Eagle 05-Mar-2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.
NOTE: For the full details of the above, please check the references.