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

 Slashing sugar: Biggest Australian beverage companies to cut content by 20% over next seven years.

A 20% sugar reduction across non-alcoholic products will take place in Australia by 2025, the nation’s Beverages Council has announced. Around 80% of the non-alcoholic beverage industry, including Coca-Cola South Pacific, Coca-Cola Amatil, PepsiCo, Asahi Beverages and Frucor  Suntory have pledged their commitment to the initiative.

The plan will be carried out in two phases, namely a 10% sugar reduction by 2020 from 2016 levels, which will then be followed by a total reduction of 20% by 2025. The sugar reduction plan will affect carbonated fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports and electrolyte drinks, frozen drinks, bottled and packaged waters, juice and fruit drinks, cordials, iced teas, ready to drink coffee’s, flavoured milk products and flavoured plant milks. The Council said the move is to promote healthier lifestyles and to tackle obesity in Australia.

“This commitment is the first example in Australia where an industry as a whole has self regulated its use of sugar in this manner,” said Geoff Parker, chief executive officer at the Australian Beverages Council. The companies’ progress in sugar reduction will be evaluated by an independent auditor, which will be appointed by the Council.

Bearing in mind the need for consumers’ choice, Mr Parker added that the high sugar versions of drinks such as Coke would “absolutely” still be available.

Source: https:///

Author: Tingmin Koe: 2018 William Reed Pty. Ltd 

Toothpaste and hand wash boost antibiotic resistance.

A common ingredient in toothpaste and hand wash could be contributing to antibiotic resistance, new research suggests. Scientists identified the chemical triclosan, a compound used in more than 2000 personal care products, which finds its way into the water system.

“Wastewater from residential areas has similar or even higher levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistant genes compared to hospitals, where you would expect greater antibiotic concentrations,” Dr. Jianhu Guo of the University of Queensland’s Advanced Water Management Centre, who led the study, says.

Dr Guo said that few researchers have focused on non – antibiotic, antimicrobial chemicals in connection with antibiotic resistance. “These chemicals are used in much larger quantities at an everyday level, so you end up with high residual levels in the wider environment, which can induce multi – drug resistance.”

Advanced Water Management Centre Director, Professor Zhiguo Yuan, said the discovery should be a wake-up call to re-evaluate the potential impact of such chemicals.


Credit:  22/6/18 Australia’s Science Channel 

Is Australia ready for a nationwide single – use plastics ban?

An Australian Senate Inquiry has recommended a nationwide ban on all single – use plastics, which will include plastic bags, takeaway containers, plastic – lined coffee cups and chip packets, by 2023. Separately, from July 1, single – use plastic bags have been banned in all but two Australian states, Victoria and New South Wales, while the top two supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, have also instituted a nationwide band.

The Senate’s comprehensive report into Australia’s ongoing recycling crisis called for the promotion of a national “circular economy”, in which all waste materials can be recovered and reused within the country. Vital to this is the recommended establishment of a National Deposit Container Scheme to collect waste and develop high – revenue streams.

Previously it has been reported that the Australian federal and state governments had set a target for all packaging in the country to be reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025. About 35% of Australia’s recycled plastics and 30% of recyclable paper and cardboard have been affected by China refusing to take our recycled waste from January this year, and has resulted in a shortage of landfills and an excess in stockpiles in the country.

Dr Robert Crocker, Carbon Reduction Commitment researcher at the University of South Australia, commented, “We presently lack industrial experience and expertise in the kinds of high – tech recycling currently undertaken in Europe and China. We need to invest in developing or redeveloping these skills in Australia so that we can responsibly manage our own wastes and re- use our resources more profitably. This will mean funding research and education in “resource management” and not just pretending it’s all about just “recycling” a few cans. Most single – use plastics are now produced in billions. We need to develop legislation that can weed out these problem plastics from entering the market before they take hold and become a danger to the environment.”

According to a Parliament of Australia report in 2016, Australians use 3.92 billion light weight plastic grocery bags in the year, and it is estimated that approximately 80 million bags become litter each year.


Author: Lester Wan: William Reed Business Media Ltd

Health snippet: At last! We now know how this anti-cancer gene works.          

Mutations in this gene are responsible for half of human cancers. Nearly 40 years ago a gene was discovered which laid the foundations of our understanding of how our own bodies stop rogue cells turning into cancerous ones. The gene, called p53 regulates how cells react to various stresses and instruct an out-of-control cell to stop multiplying or die.

For the first time, Melbourne scientists have found that a specific group of genes that work in the body’s normal DNA repair process, are vital to p53’s effectiveness in stopping cancer.

“It is defects (mutations) in this gene that actually causing 50% of human cancers,” says lead author Dr Ana Janic. “It’s really exciting because we’ve kind of opened the window for many new discoveries in this area.” The researchers meticulously screened more than 300 genes directly regulated by p53 to identify which ones were critical for its tumour – suppressing function. The research team discovered that the DNA repair gene MLH1 as well as other related genes are critical to p53’s ability to prevent the development of B – cell lymphomas.

Dr Janic says that while the results may take several years to translate into a treatment it provides a pathway for personalised treatment options for many types of cancer. “For instance, if a patient has lymphoma with a mutation that disables the DNA repair mechanism, doctors will now know to avoid certain DNA damaging treatments, like chemotherapy, that may only make the cancer more aggressive,” she said. The next steps will focus on understanding if the DNA repair process has the same cancer – blocking impact on cancers other than lymphoma, such as colon cancers in which 70% are caused by p53 mutations.

Source: Nature Medicine:

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AuthorRay Dennis