Margaret Malochleb

Margaret Malochleb

Food scientists

Rising food safety concerns will fuel a significant increase in the use of rapid technologies and culture-independent diagnostic tests, such as PCR assays and other antigen-based tests. © valentinrussanov/E+/Getty Images Plus

Food scientists

Rising food safety concerns will fuel a significant increase in the use of rapid technologies and culture-independent diagnostic tests, such as PCR assays and other antigen-based tests. © valentinrussanov/E+/Getty Images Plus

Food diagnostics market to attain 7.2% CAGR

The food diagnostics market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.2% from 2020 to 2025, to reach $19.2 billion, according to research from MarketsandMarkets. Growth will be driven by outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, rising food recalls, and the expansion of international food trade.

Food safety concerns among consumers are also a driving factor and have led to an increased emphasis on the microbiological quality and chemical analysis of food, as well as the introduction of regulations requiring rigorous testing of food products. Consumer concerns will also be translated into the necessity for new, improved, user-friendly, and cost-effective diagnostic kits and assays. Additionally, regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are using technologies such as whole-genome sequencing for fast and efficient monitoring of sources of foodborne illnesses, which is shifting the focus from conventional testing methods to automated and novel technologies. Many key players in the market are integrating technologies, and the partnerships will further create growth opportunities.

The European region currently accounts for the largest share of the food diagnostics market due to stringent regulations implemented by the regulatory bodies in the region. Recent foodborne outbreaks in Spain and increasing contamination of meat products in the United Kingdom are also projected to fuel market growth in Europe.

Cell-based meat faces regulatory hurdles

The cell-based meat industry, which has grown to about 80 startups in 2021, faces a major challenge in regulatory approval, according to Lux Research.

In an overview of the global regulatory landscape, Lux details Singapore’s recent approval of cell-based meat, which has spurred momentum in an industry where there is largely “still a lack of clarity on global regulations,” according to a statement by Lux Analyst and author of the research Harini Venkataraman, in a press release.

The path to approval for cell-based meat varies greatly by country. In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plan to create a joint regulatory framework for approval of products derived from livestock and poultry. Seafood will fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA. In the European Union, the Novel Food regulation, published in 2018, requires 18 to 24 months for product approval, which is causing some European startups to focus their market entries on other countries. Israel, on the other hand, is considered to have a favorable regulatory landscape, having received government support; however, as of June 2021, cell-based meat products are not regulated there.

“Singapore’s regulatory approval is a positive development in the industry that sets the stage for other countries to follow suit,” said Venkataraman. “Although countries like Singapore and Israel have favorable regulatory landscapes, these small markets will not be enough for widespread adoption and market penetration. Larger nations will need to remove regulatory barriers to unlock a mass market.”

Some startups are turning to hybrid products, which offer another entry point to the market. However, no streamlined regulations for plant- and cell-based meat hybrids currently exist, and it is likely they will need to go through the same regulatory approval as cell-based meat. In light of this, Lux predicts more developments on the global regulatory front to streamline approval.

Whole grains may lower heart disease risk

A study at Tufts University found that increased consumption of whole grains in middle- to older-aged adults was associated with smaller increases in waist size, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, all of which have been linked to elevated risk of heart disease.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, took data from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort, which began in the 1970s, to analyze health outcomes associated with whole- and refined-grain consumption over a median of 18 years. During each four-year interval, the results showed an average increase in waist size of one inch in low-intake subjects versus about a half inch in the high-intake group. Average increases in blood sugar levels and systolic blood pressure were also greater in low-intake subjects.

“There are several reasons that whole grains may work to help people maintain waist size and reduce increases in the other risk factors,” said researcher Caleigh Sawicki in a press release. “The presence of dietary fiber in whole grains can have a satiating effect, and the magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants may contribute to lowering blood pressure. Soluble fiber in particular may have a beneficial effect on post-meal blood sugar spikes.”

Meat, plant-based meat differ nutritionally

Although plant-based meat is often positioned as a healthy substitute for traditional meat products, a research team at Duke University showed significant nutritional differences between the two, with the greatest distinctions occurring in amino acids, dipeptides, vitamins, phenols, and types of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

Using metabolomics to examine nutritional content, the scientists found that beef contained 22 metabolites that the plant substitute did not. In addition, the plant-based substitute contained 31 metabolites that meat did not.

As the building blocks of the body’s biochemistry, metabolites play a vital role in many functions, including energy conversion, signaling between cells, and the building and tearing down of structures. About half of the metabolites circulating in human blood are estimated to be derived from diet.

Among the metabolites found either exclusively or in greater quantities in beef were creatine, spermine, anserine, cysteamine, glucosamine, squalene, and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. “These nutrients have potentially important physiological, anti-inflammatory, and or immunomodulatory roles,” the authors said in the paper.

“It is important for consumers to understand that these products should not be viewed as nutritionally interchangeable, but that’s not to say that one is better than the other,” said lead researcher Stephan van Vliet in a press release. “Plant and animal foods can be complementary, because they provide different nutrients.”

fermented foods

A study by Stanford Medicine scientists found that subjects who increased their consumption of fermented foods showed greater microbiome diversity and a reduction in inflammatory markers. © kajakiki/E+/Getty Images Plus

fermented foods

A study by Stanford Medicine scientists found that subjects who increased their consumption of fermented foods showed greater microbiome diversity and a reduction in inflammatory markers. © kajakiki/E+/Getty Images Plus

Eating fermented foods reduces inflammation

New research from the Stanford School of Medicine indicates that a diet rich in fermented foods can reduce the signs of inflammation while increasing the diversity of the gut microbiome.

The 10-week study was conducted among 36 healthy adults who were randomly assigned to either a high-fiber diet or one that included fermented foods. Participants on the fermented foods diet saw an increase in overall microbial diversity. “This is a stunning finding,” said researcher Justin Sonnenburg in a press release. “It provides one of the first examples of how a simple change in diet can reproducibly remodel the microbiota across a cohort of healthy adults.”

Additional results for the fermented foods group showed less activation in four types of immune cells as well as a decrease in the levels of 19 inflammatory proteins measured in blood samples, one of which has been linked to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and chronic stress.

By contrast, none of the 19 inflammatory proteins decreased in the subjects assigned to a high-fiber diet rich in legumes, seeds, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. The diversity of their gut microbes also remained stable. “We expected high fiber to have a more universally beneficial effect and increase microbiota diversity,” said researcher Erica Sonnenburg in a press release. “The data suggest that increased fiber intake alone over a short time period is insufficient to increase microbiota diversity.”

In future studies, the scientists plan to explore whether high-fiber and fermented foods synergize to influence the microbiome and immune system and to see if consumption of fermented foods decreases inflammation or improves other health markers in patients with immunological and metabolic diseases.

About the Author

Margaret Malochleb,
Associate Editor,
[email protected]
Margaret Malochleb