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Protozoa aid Salmonella
Microbiologists with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service have learned that microscopic protozoa may actually help to spread Salmonella.
Throughout their lives, Salmonella may come in contact with the protozoan called Tetrahymena. The research shows that after Tetrahymena ingests a species of Salmonella known as Salmonella enterica, it cannot digest or destroy it; rather, the protozoa expel the Salmonella encased in pouches called food vacuoles. The problem that researchers discovered is that these vacuoles protect Salmonella—twice as many Salmonella cells stayed alive in water if they were encased in these vacuoles than if they were not encased. Also, the Salmonella cells encased in the vacuole were three times more likely than those not encased to survive exposure to a 10-min bath of 2 ppm of calcium hypochlorite. This compound is often used to sanitize food and food-processing equipment.
Researchers hope that this information may lead to new, more powerful, and more environmentally friendly ways to reduce Salmonella in meat, poultry, and fresh produce.
Ireland addresses functional foods
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has published a brochure that addresses the topic of functional foods, discusses the regulatory environment as it pertains to functional foods, and reinforces the legal requirement for functional foods to have accurate and legitimate labeling.
According to FSAI, the functional food market is popular in Japan and the United States, and there is currently a growing interest in research and development of these foods in Ireland. Functional foods are promoted as helping to prevent or reduce disease risk factors, and FSAI said that its role is to ensure that the labeling of these foods is correct and that health claims are not misleading.
"There is now a proliferation of foods making claims in relation to nutrition or health benefits, with many more in the pipeline, and this leaflet will assist the industry to understand the legal parameters currently governing such products and any claims made," said Pat O’Mahony, Chief Specialist of Biotechnology. "Food labels cannot refer to the prevention or potential cure of disease, as this would in effect place them in the category of medicines, regulated by the Irish Medicines Board."
FSAI was established under the Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act of 1998 and is responsible for ensuring that food produced, distributed, or marketed in Ireland meets certain standards of food safety. Visit www.fsai.ie to view a copy of the brochure Functional Food.
Trans-fat labeling triggers an oil change
In January, Food Technology and IFT asked our readers and members: "Which strategy or strategies have you employed to reduce or eliminate trans fat from your ingredients or finished food products?" About 58% of respondents said they switched to a different oil. Nearly 19% said they used a combination of strategies, primarily product reformulation and alternate oil. About 12% chose product reformulation. Genetic/breeding techniques and processing changes each garnered 2.3%.
Resource checks added sugars
A new online database now lets people look up the amount of added dietary sugars, total sugars, and total carbohydrates in more than 2,000 foods.
Produced by researchers at the Nutrient Data Laboratory, part of the Agricultural Research Service’s Human Nutrition Research Center, the database defines added sugars as those sugars added to foods and beverages during processing or home preparation. The data reported are estimated values based on added sweeteners listed under the ingredients decks on package labels of processed foods and beverages. These added sweeteners include honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, and malt syrup.
According to researchers at the center, U.S. consumers eat about 74 lb of added sugars/year, which is about 23 teaspoons of added sugars per day.
The resource, USDA Database for the Added Sugars Content of Selected Foods, is available at www.ars.usda.gov.
FDA issues response plan
Four U.S. agencies have developed a model Food Emergency Response Plan Template to enhance the protection of the U.S. agricultural industry and food security through prevention, detection, response, and recovery.
The template gives states a guide to develop either a stand-alone emergency response plan for responding to a food-related emergency or an addendum to an existing all-hazard state emergency response plan. Additionally, the template provides information for decision makers on how to handle various emergencies and defines the roles and responsibilities of agencies from the federal to local level.
The Food and Drug Administration, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security collaborated on the project.
Visit www.fda.gov or www.nasda.org for more information.
EU considers labeling issues
The European Union Health and Consumer Protection Commission is reviewing several labeling issues, including food, nutrition, GMO, health warnings, and country-of-origin. Currently, many different EU rules govern labeling issues, and the commission is calling for a more streamlined and homogeneous approach to labeling issues across the EU.
A background paper, Labelling: Competitiveness, Consumer Information and Better Regulation for the EU, is available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/food/labellingnutrition/betterregulation/competitiveness_consumer_info.pdf. Comments about the document can be sent to [email protected] before June 16, 2006.
by Karen Banasiak,