Issue 80: 9 April 2010
“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”
Jonathan Swift, Anglo Irish satirist and writer
Food bites… Health claims hoopla
Editor’s Stuff -The anti-cancer promise of five-a-day is weak at best
IN a very quiet news week on the food front, grabbing the biggest headlines is a large European research project that will be a blow to those who pray at the alter of food as medicine.
The EPIC study of half a million Europeans has concluded that the potential of fruit and vegetables to reduce the risk of cancer is only very weak”. But that shouldn’t be any discouragement against a healthy fruit ‘n veg-laden diet – there are several other compelling reasons to follow one, not least a significant lower risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.
I rather like this perspective from one Yinka Ebo, health information officer at British charity Cancer Research UK, who says: Its still a good idea to eat your five-a-day but remember that fruits and vegetables are pieces in a much larger lifestyle jigsaw. There are many things we can do to lower our chances of developing cancer such as not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol, eating a healthy balanced diet, being physically active and staying safe in the sun.
Simply eating your five a day will not protect you against cancer
It has been a shibboleth of healthy living for decades: eat more fruit and vegetables to beat cancer. Now, scientists have found that the anti-carcinogenic properties of such a diet are modest at best. In one of the largest and longest studies into the link between diet and the killer disease, scientists surveyed the fruit and vegetable consumption of almost 400,000 men and women in 10 European countries over almost nine years, during which they developed 30,000 cancers.
They found that eating an extra 200g of fruit and vegetables each day, equivalent to two servings, reduced the incidence of cancer by about 4%. The finding confirms the pessimistic view of a growing body of scientists over the last decade: that the protective effect of fruit and vegetables against cancer is very limited. Read more
Enjoy this week’s read!
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SA nominations for Global Food Awards
The Global Food Awards are a highlight among many expected of the upcoming IUFoST 2010 congress in Cape Town. There were a record number of local entries for the 2010 event, with more than 30 nominations that had judges from around the country sampling, evaluating and enquiring about the items and later meeting in Johannesburg and Cape Town to carefully select the products considered to make the best impression in the finals.
After much consideration and deliberation, these 12 products, the maximum allowable of four in each of the three categories, were declared the winners and worthy representatives of the current South African market. Read more
Dried fruit company looks to brighter sales in 2010
Ceres-based dried fruit enterprise, At Source Homemade Foods, is in the news again. The company’s Handri Conradi (right) expects retail sales to start recovering this year, which will drive sales growth for the group through existing retailers. At Source produces 110 different product lines including traditional dried fruit, soft-eating dried fruit and dainties to retailers like Woolworths. Read more
New look for Cremora
Ever since the now famous advertisement . . . Its not inside, its on top, weve come to expect the unusual from Nestlés Cremora brand. The latest is a packaging revamp thats propelled the product to another level when it comes to shelf-shout. Read more
Some notable local food industry stories you may have missed last week with the Easter holidays:
|SA’s new draft regulations for trans fats.|
|On Woolies raising the bar again with an announcement that it’s removing all azo dyes from its private label foods.|
|The stylish packaging facelift Cadbury’s has given its best-loved choc, Dairymilk.|
International Food News
Scientists call for ban on BPA
A coalition of some of the world’s leading scientists has called on Britain to ban a widely used chemical linked to breast cancer, heart disease, obesity and hyperactivity. In a letter published in The Independent, the scientists from the US, Britain and Italy say the Government should ban bisphenol-A (BPA) in any plastic used for baby bottles or baby food containers following a growing body of evidence suggesting it is dangerous.
Their call coincides with the publication of four new scientific studies which have contributed yet more evidence towards the potentially harmful effects of BPA. Last week Denmark became the first European country to ban BPA in food containers for children under the age of three. Canada and three US states have also brought in bans and the French are considering following suit. Read more
Bad chemistry: The poison in the plastic that surrounds us
Could a ubiquitous chemical, found in everything from food cans to baby bottles, be killing us? In a special investigation, Martin Hickman of The Independent examines the evidence dividing scientists and big business on BPA, one of the commonest chemicals in the world. Since it was discovered that it toughened plastic in the 1950s, the chemical has become embedded in the stuff of everyday life. Every time you make a call on a mobile phone or tap something into a computer, handle a compact disc or sports equipment, put on sunglasses or paint your nails, drink water from your tap or run your tongue against a tooth filling, you may be in contact with BPA.
It is massively used by the food industry. As a transparent resin, it lines food containers on supermarket and kitchen, your kitchen, shelves. Most tinned food and drinks, including household names, are lined with a BPA membrane.
Most controversially of all, it is in baby bottles. Biomonitoring tests show that the chemical which can leach into humans is present in more than 90% of people; it is almost certainly in your bloodstream now. But why the concern? Read more
UK: Outsider in a hurry to shake up Unilever
The tall, fit-looking chief executive of Unilever breezes into the room. He is all smiles. Thanks to the new open-plan design on the top floor of the remodeled Unilever House, the companys headquarters by the Thames in Blackfriars, London, it had been possible to see Paul Polman (pictured) finishing off a last call before arriving for this interview. He clearly has not stopped all morning. In fact, he has not stopped since taking over as CEO 15 months ago …
Briskness seems to have characterised Mr Polmans leadership of the vast food and personal goods company so far. The first outsider to run the company in its 80-year history, he has led a management shake-up that has seen about one-third of the top 100 executives changed. Read more
EUROPE: Romania becomes first in world to tax junk food, and exposes the problems of doing so
As a standard-bearer for healthy eating, Romania is not the first country that springs to mind. The eastern European nation’s cuisine, rich in sour cream, butter and lard, is custom-made to clog arteries and stop hearts. Yet the Romanian government is seeking to become the first in the world to impose a tax on junk food. The proposed levy on “unhealthy” products high in fat, sugar and salt is aimed at improving the poor quality of its citizens’ diets but will also boost the national exchequer by an estimated £860m.
Kebabs and pizzas have now been exempted from the proposed and now delayed new tax, according to reports, as legislators struggle to identify upwards of 40,000 products that will carry it. The scale of the challenge has only slowly dawned on the government and accounts for the delay. Read more
Nestlé tops in the patents game
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) recently announced its list of top patent applicants in 2009. Despite the difficult economic climate last year, Nestlé continued to invest in R&D and intellectual property and has increased its ranking in the WIPO list – it has now entered the top 100 and is the top patent applicant for the food and beverage industry.
Leading edge technologies and highly differentiated products, solutions and benefits are key to its four growth drivers, says a corporate press release, for its global brands such as Nespresso, Nan, Nescafé, Nido and Purina. Nestlé files over 250 patent applications per year and manages a global patent portfolio of about 20,000 patents. Read more
Sold up but not sold out, Ben and Jerry are still the poster boys for fair trade
Two of America’s most famous food industrialists, though they’d hate that description, discuss American pie, greenwash and giving Unilever some sticky moments. The pair, raised on Long Island, New York, and both 59, were in London to promote the announcement that Ben & Jerry’s planned to take all the ingredients in its ice cream from Fairtrade sources by 2013. Read more
Meat meets meat in KFC’s no-bun sandwich
KFC is putting its chicken where its buns were. Next week, the US’s largest chicken fast-food chain will nationally roll out a breadless chicken sandwich that uses two boneless chicken fillets as the bun then squeezes two pieces of bacon, two slices of cheese and some sauce in between.
The $5 sandwich, dubbed the Double Down, comes complete with 1,380mg of salt (about 60% of what the federal government recommends for an entire day’s consumption) and 10g of saturated fat (about 50% of a day’s supply), would seem to be a slap in the face to nutritionists and nutrition advocates such as Michelle Obama calling for more restraint from the nation’s foodmakers. Read more
The fine dining trends inspiring packaged food innovation
The techniques and ingredients used to produce foods in cutting-edge restaurants could be translated for use in packaged foods, by adapting culinary inspiration for large-scale practicality. The key question is how to go from a saucepot to many thousands of litres? Read more
Health and Nutrition Stuff
How much water do you need?
Water is a vital nutrient. We cant live without it. But how much do you need? In a review recently published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that people should drink about 1.5 litres per day.This estimate is based on a thorough understanding of water requirements by individuals at different stages of the life cycle and under different environmental and physiological situations. Read more
Sugar substitutes dont increase hunger
A new study published in the March 2010 journal, Appetite, reveals low-calorie sweeteners do not increase hunger levels or cause people to eat more food. In fact, subjects who received the sugar substitutes consumed significantly fewer calories and there was no difference in hunger levels despite having fewer calories overall. Read more
Nutrition doesn’t wane when you open a can
One nutrition myth that has prevailed over the years is “fresh is best” when eating fruits and vegetables. The truth is canned produce shares many of the nutritional benefits and sometimes may actually be healthier. A study funded by the Canned Food Alliance reviewed nutritional comparisons of canned, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Findings showed that canned foods can be an important part of the mix when it comes to nutrients, variety and taste satisfaction. Read more
Cleverest women are the heaviest drinkers
Women who went to university consume more alcohol than their less-highly-educated counterparts, a major study has found. Those with degrees are almost twice as likely to drink daily, and they are also more likely to admit to having a drinking problem.
A similar link between educational attainment and alcohol consumption is seen among men, but the correlation is less strong. The findings come from a comprehensive study carried out at the London School of Economics in which researchers tracked the lives of thousands of 39-year-old women and men, all born in the UK during the same week in 1970. Read more
Genetically modified fish could soon be on the table
The Belgian blue is an ugly but tasty cow that has 40% more muscle than it should have. It is the product of random mutation followed by selective breeding as, indeed, are all domesticated creatures. But where an old art has led, a new one may follow. By understanding which genetic changes have been consolidated in the Belgian blue, it may be possible to design and build similar versions of other species using genetic engineering as a short-cut. And that is precisely what Terry Bradley, a fish biologist at the University of Rhode Island, is trying to do. Instead of cattle, he is doing it in trout. His is one of two projects that may soon put the first biotech animals on the dinner table. Read more
Japanese guts are made for sushi
Americans don’t have the guts for sushi. At least that’s the implication of a new study, which finds that Japanese people harbour enzymes in their intestinal bacteria that help them digest seaweed enzymes that North Americans lack. What’s more, Japanese may have first acquired these enzymes by eating bacteria that thrive on seaweed in the open ocean. Read more
Common gums may mask bitter taste of antioxidants
The common food gum CMC may mask the bitter taste of polyphenols and allow the formulation of foods for delivering the antioxidant compounds, suggests new research. The study, published in Food Quality and Preference, found that the CMC (carboxymethylcellulose) outperformed other common gums, including guar, xanthan, and arabic, in the masking of the astringent flavour of polyphenols. Read more
Army food: the battle of the bulge in Afghanistan
Where the armed forces of America have gone during the War on Terror, the deep-fat fryers of Americas fast-food franchises have trailed doggedly in their wake. But the cultural variations inevitable in a 38-country multinational force are rarely more divisive than on matters culinary. A brief and fascinating tour of the rations delivered to different Nato nations in Afghanistan is instructive. Read more
A good night’s eat?
Researchers still aren’t sure why some people raid the refrigerator at night – while they’re asleep. These sleep eaters tend to zero in on sugary foods and won’t stop even when taking sleeping pills, which at times can worsen the problem. Some sleep eaters will raid the fridge up to five times a night. Read more
That’s all the stuff for this week!
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