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

Red and Processed meat under spotlight again with links to liver disease.

Red and processed meat consumption - already linked to cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease - has now been associated with a higher risk on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Writing in the Journal of HepatologyIsraeli researchers point to the foods’ intake as factors in the onset of NAFLD and insulin resistance (IR), regardless of saturated fat intake. In addition high consumption of meat cooked by unhealthy methods, and high heterocyclic amine (HCA) intake – a product of cooking meat at high temperatures – are associated with IR and thus contribute in the development of NAFLD.

“Unhealthy Western lifestyle plays a major role in the development and progression of NAFLD, namely, lack of physical activity and high consumption of fructose and saturated fat’, said Professor Shira Zelber-Sagi, lead investigator based at the School of Public Health, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Israel.

The conclusions come as the condition is increasingly being recognised as a major global health burden in both developed and developing countries.

22 March 2018. Published online ahead of print: DOI: 10-.1016/j.jhep.2018.01.015

Authors: Shira Zelber-Sagi, Dana Ivancovsky-Wajcman. Naomi Fliss Isakov, Muriel Webb, Dana Orenstein, Oren Shibolet, Revital Kariv, Will Chu.

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Credit: 2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd. 

Rivers clogged with micro–plastics – until the floods come

Sections of some rivers in the UK near urban areas can carry as much as 517,000 micro-plastic particles per square metre, researchers have found. While the issue of micro–plastics in the ocean has been well studied, their presence in freshwater sources have been largely overlooked.

Now research led by geographer Rachel Hurley from the University of Manchester UK, has found that it is very likely every watercourse in England, even the smallest, are contaminated. In a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Hurley and colleagues report sampling 40 freshwater sources in North – Western England and finding all of them carrying heavy loads of micro – plastics. Unlike oceans, rivers can be subject to national flushing systems – floods.

16 March 2018 


Credit: Australia’s Science Channel  16/3/18

Bayn uses E-sensory tech to enhance sugar-reduced gingerbread taste

The company Bayn details the use of electronic sensory (E-sensory) technology that determines the aroma profile of a sugar– educed food to mimic the taste of the original full sugar version. This technique, which uses gas chromatography to build up a database of molecule aroma profiles, isolated cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and clove as key ingredients in creating the gingerbread flavour. 

“By mapping the aroma profile, we found that possibly more cinnamon and orange peel could be added to the sugar reduced dough, recipe one, to make the aroma profile more like the original recipe,” the Swedish ingredient firm’s White Paper outlined.

By building databases of E-sensory data from a larger number of samples, changes to the texture, sweetness and matrix effects of the food as a result of the sugar reducing measures, can be mitigated.  To replace sugar is not an easy task for the food industry as sugar is not only added to sweeten, and also plays an important role for texture, taste and colour,” said Mathias Lundgren, physical chemistry, Bayn Europe AB. “Looking at results from the study I believe using modern technology, such as E–sensory, can be an excellent and effective tool to reach healthier sugar reduced products.”

9 April 2018

Author: Will Chu


Credit: 2018  William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Ultra-processed food may be linked to cancer: BMJ study

There may be a causal link between eating highly processed food and cancer risk, and four reasons why this could be, according to the authors of a 105,000–strong French study published by the British Medical Journal.

Looking at food consumption data for 104,980 individuals, the researchers noted that a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra processed foods in the diet was associated with significant increases of 12% in the risk of overall cancer and 11% in the risk of breast cancer.

The researchers took data from the French NutriNet-Sante cohort, which asked participants to fill in repeated 24-hour dietary records for 3,300 food items between 2009 and 2017. The scientists then used the NOVA food classification system, developed by Brazilian researcher Carlos Augusto Monteiro, to determine which food & drink products were “ultra-– processed”.

The NOVA classification system is relatively new, devised in 2009, and includes four groups:

Group 1: unprocessed or minimally processed foods such as fresh, dry or frozen fruit and vegetables; packaged grains and pulses; flours made from corn, wheat, rye; pasta; eggs; fresh or frozen meat and fish and milk.

Group 2: processed culinary ingredients such as sugar, oils, fats, salt and other substances extracted from foods or nature used to season and cook.

Group 3: processed foods such as vegetables in brine, fruit syrup, salted meat and fish, cheese and freshly made unpackaged breads.

Group 4: ultra–processed foods, including soft drinks, package snacks and confectionery; mass produced package bread; reconstituted meat such as hotdogs and chicken nuggets, instant soup and noodles and industrially preprepared pizzas, pies and ready meals.

“Ultra processed foods are also aggressively marketed often in big portion sizes and are typically designed to be consumed as snacks rather than as regular meals. All these factors induce energy over–consumption and thus overweight and obesity,” write the authors.

15 February 2018

Author: Niamh Michail 

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Credit2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

NOTE: Full copies off the papers may be obtained from the references.

AuthorRay Dennis