Latest in an occasional series of articles by Elaine Attwood about food issues affecting consumers.

The world’s reliance on wheat threatens food security: new report

 Global farming practices – dominated by wheat, corn and rice – are playing havoc with the preservation of wildlife and putting food security at further risk, according to a new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). According to WWF’s David Edwards, there is a has been a 60% decline in wildlife populations since 1970, thanks – in the most part – to global farming. A new report from the environmental watchdog found that 75% of the food humans consume comes from just 12 plant sources and five animal sources, with three crops making up 60% of the plant-based calories in the entire human diet. It’s report – Future 50 foods: 50 foods for healthier people and a healthier planet – concluded that the preservation of wildlife, and even human survival, are linked to the way we eat. Repeatedly harvesting the same crop on the same land depletes nutrients in the soil, typically necessitating a higher use of fertilisers and pesticides, which damage the environment.

 The campaign’s 50 foods were selected for their high nutritional value, low environmental impact, flavour, accessibility and affordability. It includes ancient grains like fonio and teff, nuts and seeds, legumes, leafy veggies and mushrooms sourced from across the globe intended to make three important dietary shifts:

  • to increase the intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

  • to move reliance away from meat, poultry and fish, which is negatively impacting the                              environment

  • to promote agrobiodiversity.


Author:   Gill Hyslop

 Skipping breakfast increases the risk of heart disease, study claims

Researchers from the American College of Cardiology used self-reported data from 6550 Americans aged 40 to 75 (48% male 52% female), collected between 1988 and 1994 who had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer. They were asked,”how often do you eat breakfast?” And possible answers included “every day,” “some days,” “rarely”and “never”. Among the participants 5.1% never ate breakfast, 10.9% rarely ate breakfast, 25% ate breakfast some days and 59% ate breakfast every day. The health of the participants was then analysed through to 2011 using separate data. Within this period, 2318 participants died, and 619 of these deaths were due to cardiovascular disease. After making adjustments for age, sex, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, dietary and lifestyle factors, body mass index, and cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers concluded that people who never ate breakfast had an 87% higher risk of cardiovascular disease–specific mortality than those who consumed breakfast every day. It said missing breakfast was associated with an increased risk of obesity, elevated cholesterol or fats in the blood, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. “In a nationally representative cohort with 17 to 23 years follow-up, skipping breakfast was associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease,” concluded the research. “Our study supports the benefits of eating breakfast in promoting cardiovascular health.”


Author:   Oliver Morrison

Overfishing threatens food security

 Food security is being threatened due to billions of tonnes of small fish being taken from the wild every year to feed farmed fish, a damning new report has revealed. The practice, which has been branded “wasteful and unsustainable”, risks collapsing marine food webs, the joint review of the latest scientific research – where wild catch is turned into fish meal and fish oil (FMFO) - found.

 Published by CompassIon In World Farming and campaign group Changing Markets Foundation, the report - Until the seas run dry: how industrial aquaculture is plundering the oceans – said FMFO was made up mainly of small forage fish. This included sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herrings as well as crustaceans – mainly krill – in aquaculture feed. However the report authors warned that this multi–billion pound industry drove over fishing, illegal fishing and lacked transparency and sustainability.

Almost 70% of the landed forage fish are processed into FMFO, representing about 1/5 of the world’s total catch of wild fish – 90% of which is fine for human consumption, the report stated. It added that the industry is heavily reliant on wild–caught fish for feed, with over 69% of fishmeal and 75% of all fish–oil production used to feed farm to fish. Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food production sector.


 “Food fraud vulnerability”: Are Australia’s country–of–origin labels propagating fraud opportunities?

 A food fraud and labelling expert has accused Australia’s “kangaroo in a triangle” country-of- origin labels of making it easier for food fraud to take place, especially in international settings. “The Australian government has created a food fraud vulnerability in international markets,” Food Labelling Matters Lead Consultant and former food regulator Dr Janine Curll told Foodnavigator– Asia. “Scholars have identified that food fraud vulnerabilities, like other crimes, are created when

  • opportunities exist

  • motivations are present

  • controls are absent

and the situation now encompasses all these.”

According to Dr Curll, the logo itself provided the opportunity for fraud, as it could be “easily copied” and “unrestrictedly” applied to foods not of Australian origin. “(There) is even a country-of-origin style kit on government websites, available for anyone around the world to download and use on any food – without measures limiting its label application,” she added. “Australia has controls designed to curb fraudulent use if identified for responsible governments to enforce (but) critical control measures such as unique identifiers, registered and licensed logo use systems and/or surveillance of logo use outside of the country are absent.”

Added to this article was the following:-    ACCC, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Country-of-origin label owner (Australian Made Campaign Ltd) have declined to comment, each citing unsuitability to respond.


Author: Pearly Neo

Credit:    © 2019 - William Reed Business Media Ltd.

Note: For full transcript of the above articles, please refer to the references.

AuthorRay Dennis