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

Graphic warning labels ‘most effective in reducing consumers’ tendencies to buy sugar-sweetened beverages.

Front of Pack (FOP) labels with graphic warnings are the most effective in reducing intended sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) purchases, according to researchers from Australia.

They argue that labels showing decayed teeth and warning text are able to reduce the number of SSB consumers  by 36%.  SSBs refer to any non-alcoholic drink with added sugar including soft drinks, flavoured waters, energy drinks, iced tea and fruit drinks (with added sugar).

The research conducted by the Global Obesity Centre, Monash University Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, and the NSW Ministry of Health recruited 994 participants aged between 18 and 35 last year.

It was found that participants who were exposed to both graphic and text warnings were least likely to buy an SSB. Only 28% of them will choose an SSB, as compared to the control group, where 64% of them will choose an SSB. 

The study also suggested that the warning labels will raise the health awareness of the participants, influencing them to consider the healthiness of the drink, (HSR) before making the decision to buy the product. Of the four types of warning labelling, the HSR is the only existing FOP label in the Australian market, introduced by the government in 2014.

Source: Appetite DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2018.05.149

Natassja Billich, et al: ‘The effect of sugar-sweetened beverage front-of-pack labels on drink selection, health knowledge and awareness: an online randomised controlled trial.’  Foodnavigator 19/6/18, reported by Tingmin Koe: William Reed Business Media Ltd. 

Ground-breaking food bacteria scanner in New Zealand will have ‘global impact’

A ‘game-changing’ scanner that can quickly identify harmful strains of bacteria in food has just arrived in New Zealand.

The scanner, called a BEAM device, was developed at Purdue University in the United States with an initial focus on the US market. The only device of its kind outside the US, it has since been offered free of charge to Associate Professor Stephen On of Lincoln University in Canterbury, NZ.. This initiative was a result of a partnership between Dr On, a taxonomy expert – specialising in classification, especially of organisms – and two senior US food safety researchers.

Dr On recently received an $80,000 catalyst grant from the New Zealand Royal Society Te Aparangi to use the scanner for locally focused research that will complement the studies already being undertaken in the US. Lincoln University said the resulting data will be pooled for “maximum global impact”.

The  BEAM scanner is designed to better identify disease outbreak by providing a “specific fingerprint” of bacteria cultured on a standard agar media plate. This allows scientists to pinpoint strains of interest more quickly, with a particular focus on pathogens.

Dr. On said the economic and public health significance of pathogenic E. coli remained of critical importance and partners of the New Zealand Food Safety and Science Research Centre (including ESR and Plant and Food Research) had identified other bacterial pathogens of concern, such as Campylobacter and Listeria.

Source:…. campaign=03-May-2018&c=3m8edsarlGQn8GpqVYxSs74cRzQX6Jd9&p2

Author: Lester Wan: 2018: William Reed Business M:edia Ltd

WHO urges ban on industrial trans-fats by 2023.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called upon governments to eliminate industrially produced trans–fatty acids from the food supply by 2023. The agency estimates that every year trans- fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease. Industrially produced trans – fats are found in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine, and often in snacks, baked and fried foods. Manufacturers use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. Trans–fatty acids can also occur naturally in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, goats et cetera).

The six step guide called REPLACE comes after WHO opened a consultation until 1 June to review draft guidelines on intake of trans–fats and saturated fats for adults and children. WHO recommend total trans–fat intake be limited to less than 1% of total energy intake, which is less than 2.2g  a day with a 2000 calorie diet. It said diets high in trans–fat increase heart disease risk by 21% and deaths by 28%.

REPLACE means:-

  • REview dietary sources of industrially produced fats and the landscape for required policy change
  • Promote replacement of industrially-produced trans-fats with healthier fats and oils.
  • Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.
  • Assess and monitor trans-fats content in food supply and changes in trans-fat consumption in the population.
  • Create awareness of negative health impacts of trans-fats among policy makers, producers suppliers and the public.
  • Enforce compliance of policies and regulations.


Author: Joseph James Whitworth: 2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd

France looks set to ban titanium dioxide.

As France looks poised to ban titanium dioxide by the end of 2018, the government has praised “pioneering” manufacturers for voluntarily removing the colouring from food products. “We want to ban the use of this food additive in France by the end of the year,” Sec of State to the Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition, Brune Poirson, told French national Le Parisien last week. French policymakers have already prepared an amendment to the draft law as part of the General States of the Food Industry that allows it, “if necessary”, to ban titanium dioxide and its use in food by the end of 2018. The additive has no nutritional value and “it’s only virtue is aesthetic”, the government said.

Listed as E 171 in Europe, titanium dioxide is a colouring, mainly used in sweets, chewing gum, bakery and sauces to give a white, opaque or cloudy effect. It is also a principal component in sunscreen because it reflects UV light, and is used in toothpaste and paint.

However, the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified it as a possible human carcinogen.


Author: Niamh Michail : 2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd 

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AuthorRay Dennis