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

Boosting allergen information: FSANZ launches new portal with industry backing.

Food standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has launched a new look Food Allergen Portal, following collaboration between the food industry and consumer and government stakeholders. The Allergen Collaboration, first formed in 2011, seeks to use the portal to provide different sectors in the community with links to best practice food allergen resources and key messages to promote knowledge and safety.

“Food allergies can be a matter of life and death, so it is vital that each sector can easily find the best available information to help those living with food allergies. All sectors of the community need to be aware of their responsibilities and how they can help people who have a food allergy,” said Mark Booth, CEO of FSANZ. Each sector’s page has his own allergy information, key messages or best practices and links to more resources. The Food Allergen Portal also reminds food manufacturers, retailers and importers to ensure the proper labelling of imports and to provide clear, up-to-date and accurate information about the allergen status of their product.

Source: http://www.foodnavigator-asia.com/Article/2018/08/07

Author:  Lester Wan 07-Aug-2018: 201 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Australia/NZ regulator seeks to overhaul charging structure for amendments to food standards code

Food companies seeking to secure amendments to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s Code of Standards could face a revised set of costs, under plans put forward for consultation. Acting FSANZ CEO Peter May, said the new Cost Recovery Implementation Statement (CRIS) reflected the administrative costs associated with certain applications to amend the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

“In the past, FSANZ has developed and implemented a cost recovery model that was based on a blended hourly rate applicable to the entire agency rather than an hourly rate for each staff level. In this CRIS, in response to industry submissions, we propose a new model that provides a fixed rate for those elements of the work schedule that are generic for all procedures and a variable rate for the variable elements,”said the regulator.

Decisions by the FSANZ board to approve variations in the code are subject to consideration by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation whose members are ministers from the Australian State, Territory and New Zealand governments. Less than 2% of FSANZ’s  total revenue is generated through cost recovery and only a small number of applications to amend the code incur costs.

Source: https://www.foodnavigator-asia.com/Article/2018/07/09

Author:  Lester Wan - 09-Jul-2018: 2018 - William Reed Business Media Ltd

Packaged foods in Australia: ultra – processed products making people “fat and sick”

Six out of ten Australian packaged foods are highly or ultra – processed, more than half are discretionary or junk foods, and just one third are healthy, according to a stark new analysis.

Researchers at the George Institute for Global Health, who published their findings in the journal Nutrients, warned that urgent action is needed to improve the nutritional make up of packaged foods. “Our research shows that Australia’s packaged food environment is full of foods laden in sugar, fat and salt that are also highly processed,” said lead researcher Michelle Crino.

Crino’s  team examined more than 40,000 packaged food items ranging from breads to sauces, confectionery, canned foods, oils and dairy products.

Based on their analysis the researchers found that 53% of Australian package supermarket foods are comprised of energy-dense and nutrient-poor discretionary products, such as sweetened soft drinks, biscuits, chocolate, meat pies, butter and salty snacks. Of the products analysed just over one third had a health star rating of 3.5 or higher, which usually indicates a basic level of healthfulness.

“It’s a sad reflection of the state of our food industry that half of all packaged foods are essentially junk foods that we should only be eating occasionally. We have to find a way to make junk food less profitable, because what works for the industry’s bottom line is a disaster for the nation’s waistline,” Prof Neil said. “Australians haven’t chosen to be obese - they are obese because selling cheap, unhealthy food everywhere, all the time, is how industry profits are maximised.” He urged the government to step in and find a balance between supporting the food industry while looking after the nation’s health. To do so doesn’t mean putting companies out of business, but promoting healthier options and devising better labelling,’ he added.

Source: https://www.foodnavigator-asia-com/Article/2018/07/24

Author: RJ Whitehead 24-Jul-2018: 2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Encapsulated curcumin shows potential to rival tartrazine as yellow food colour.

With demand for natural food colours continuing to increase, supercritical anti-solvent (SAS) technology may allow for encapsulated curcumin to replace artificial tartrazine, according to a new study from scientists in Colombia and Spain.

The global food colours market is predicted to reach 3.75 billion in 2022, according to Markets and Markets, with a compound annual growth rate of over 8% between 2016 and 2022.  Natural colours occupying the largest slice of the market, it added. Tartrazine is a synthetic yellow dye used in a variety of food and beverage products, but demand for natural alternatives has led to curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric (Curcuma longa L.)

Source: https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2018/07/12

Author:  Stephen Daniells: 2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd

Ed. Note: Tartrazine (102)  has long been associated with allergic response in some people and to find an alternative, particularly a natural alternative would be very welcome.

Sustainable sugar: Australia to employ blockchain to boost provenance and profitability.

The Australian sugar industry’s push for greater sustainability and traceability has received a shot in the arm, with its Coalition government providing an A$2.25 million grant to fund the Sustainable Sugar Project.

“The Sustainable Sugar Project aims to meet the needs of end-users who require sustainability-produced sugar and to develop transparency around the market for that sugar. By using Smartcane BMP and blockchain technology, Canegrowers is seeking to provide provenance for our product, increase our market access and provide greater value to growers and the market,” a spokeswoman from 

Canegrowers told Foodnavigator–Asia. Australia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources said big sugar buyers are likely to pay more in the future for sustainably-grown and fully-traceable sugar as their customers ask for it. The encrypted data in the use of blockchain can clearly shows buyers where the sugarcane came from and prove provenance and sustainability of that farm, said the government.

Source: https://foodnavigator-asia.com/Article/2018/07/31

Author:Lester Wan 31-Jul-2018: 2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Billerudkorsnas & Uppsala University to create paper battery for smart packaging. 

The above universities in Sweden are one step closer to making paper batteries, with pure cellulose from algae, for applications including smart packaging. The three-year project involves developing energy storage in fibre structures with electrically conductive polymers, that is the storage of electrical energy in a sheet of paper or cardboard. “Tomorrow’s packaging will offer consumers more functions than today. Electrical energy stored in the actual paper material opens up brand-new possibilities for creating these functions and we want to explore the conditions for this in collaboration with Uppsala University”, chief technology officer, Magnus Wikstrom of Billerudkorsnas said.

 “Storing energy in paper instead of in lithium batteries allows for bio-based batteries than can form part of a circular system, which provides major sustainability benefits’, added Wikstrom.

Source: https://www.confectionarynews.com/Article/2018/08/02

Author:  Jenny Eagle 02-Aug-2018:  2018 William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Note: Full texts of the articles may be found in the references.

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AuthorRay Dennis