Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Food safety news: Eyes on Hema Shanghai on China food safety and traceability

More than 70 percent of Chinese consumers understood sustainable consumption, according to a report released by the China Chain Store and Franchise Association...."Safety and health" was the top reason for purchasing sustainable or green products and services. Environmental-friendliness and good quality were the next two most popular reasons.... According to the report, more than 70 percent of interviewees were willing to pay 10 percent more for sustainable products or services than non-sustainable ones.  Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-23 16:18

23 July 2017:  Eyes on Hema Shanghai on China food safety and traceability

Editor's note: I wonder which cooking oils Alibaba's Hema supermarkets will use. Note these are mostly in Shanghai and that this city is launching an upgraded food safety system (see below). As big China companies increase their international footprint, they too are moving on sustainability and traceability. Example,  https://www.cofcointernational.com/news/responsible-footprint-initiative. 

Alibaba's Hema supermarkets tap on app to drive 'new retail' experience... "Every product on sale has a scannable bar code such that customers can use the app to scan an item and find information such as its origin and backstory. Every purchase is recorded and used to determine customer preferences and offer personalised product suggestions...."
Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/technology/alibaba-s-hema-supermarkets-tap-on-app-to-drive-new-retail-9045892

18 Jul 2017: Shanghai food safety platform

Shanghai - Food safety platform marks city’s tough line By Yang Jian | 00:01 UTC+8 July 12, 2017 -- The food safety information management and service platform will include a dozen existing systems of the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration on license issue, supervision, punishment and inspection, the administration said in a report to local legislators. The integrated data will be analyzed and shared between city and district-level watchdogs to better ensure the city’s food safety, said Yang Jingsong, director with the administration. http://www.shanghaidaily.com/metro/society/Food-safety-platform-marks-citys-tough-line/shdaily.shtml

14 Feb 2017: Iran taxes palm oil higher on health concern, Thailand eyes sugar tax, UK candy-makers to reduce product size (but maybe not selling prices?)

Plantation Sector: Newsflow for week 6-10 February by AmInvestment
•     Iran's agriculture ministry has hinted that Malaysia has a chance for a better differential import duty for palm oil. The Star reported that Malaysia is negotiating for a further reduction of tariff on palm oil under a free trade agreement. Currently, palm oil exported to Iran has a 40% import duty while other vegetable oils are only taxed 24%. Malaysia was told that the higher import duty was due to health concerns over palm oil.  
•     Bloomberg reported that the Finance Ministry in Thailand is considering using tax measures to lower the sugar content in beverages. The ministry will carry out a study before issuing measures. Thailand may lower taxes for beverage companies that reduce the sugar content and vice versa.
•     In a related development, the Independent of UK reported that chocolate manufacturers are planning to reduce the size of some of their products by 20% to comply with new guidelines on sugar. Companies such as Mars, Nestle and Cadbury plan to shrink the size of chocolate bars like Kit Kat and Dairy Milk to reduce the level of sugar as part of a Public Health England plan to fight childhood obesity. The companies have not decided whether to cut the selling prices of the products in line with the reduction in the size of the chocolates. 

10 Feb 2017: More on palm oil and other veg oil health fears, Nature article on palmitic acid boosting metastases

Palm oil under fire as potential carcinogen 31/01/17 by Dyna Rochmyaningsi -- [JAKARTA] An Indonesian food technologist admits that palm oil — which is widely used in the processed food industry — has a potentially carcinogenic contaminant, but says no epidemiological study has been carried out on its impact on human health.... Controversy has raged over the carcinogenic potential of palm oil since May 2016 when the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claimed in a statement that palm oil “generated more of a potentially carcinogenic contaminant than other vegetable oils when refined at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius.”  ... “In risk assessments of such compounds, evidence from human epidemiological studies are not needed in order to conclude on the human health risk.” Hellen Knutzen, EFSA... In January, Nature published the results of a study which showed that palmitic acid (major part of palm oil) boosts metastases (spread of cancer) through CD36 — a specific protein found in cancer cells that is responsible for taking up fatty acids.... The EFSA statement said palm oil generates glycidyl fatty acid ester (GE) when the refining process reaches temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. Donald Siahaan, senior food technologist at the Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute, says that while GE has been proven to be carcinogenic, it still does not warrant a ban on palm oil....“Firstly, no international standard has been set for GE concentration in palm oil and the contaminant naturally exists in many foods including those processed from soybeans,” Siahaan tells SciDev.Net. Secondly, says Siahaan, research concerning GE has been limited to laboratories. “Food is complex. What happens in the laboratory does not always happen in our body because there are so many factors which influence chemical reactions.”... While EFSA is not empowered to make regulations, the European Commission is contemplating steps that may include setting permissible levels of GE in food items.....Siahaan says Indonesia’s agricultural ministry plans to conduct its own survey of GE concentrations in palm oil across the country. Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, has a target to produce 40 million tonnes of palm oil annually by 2020...http://www.scidev.net/asia-pacific/health/news/palm-oil-fire-potential-carcinogen.html 

  • Targeting metastasis-initiating cells through the fatty acid receptor CD36  by Gloria Pascual et al. 5 JANUARY 2017 | VOL 541 | NATURE | doi:10.1038/nature20791 - http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v541/n7635/full/nature20791.html 

Malaysia - Palm oil sector views process contaminants in vegetable oils seriously 3 February 2017 -- He said the 3-MCPD and GE were not found in the raw oil but when it was heated above 200 degrees celsius, a process that was common in processed food industry.... “(However) in the near future, palm oil produced in Malaysia will be free of these contaminants,” he said in response to a recent media report on consumption of Nutella, which uses palm oil as its major ingredient of causing cancer. A special allocation to assist in technology adoption to help reduce or eliminate these contaminants in palm oil was granted through the Malaysian government, he said. “We are currently executing measures to tackle these contaminants and possibly be ahead of all other edible oils in eliminating their occurrence in Malaysian palm oil,” said Kalyana.... As a first step and since palm oil is used in several leading infant food formulations, the occurrence of these contaminants was voluntarily reduced or eliminated in palm oil intended for infant formulations, he said. He said MPOC reiterated that the Malaysian palm oil industry viewed the occurrence of the contaminants 3 MCPD and GE with much concern, although the actual risk to human health has yet to be clearly defined, and appeared small in light of the accumulated data of potential exposures through foods.... “Meanwhile, we ask refrain from reference to palm oil and its association with cancer. There is no scientific evidence for these accusations,” he said. http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/02/03/mpoc-palm-oil-sector-views-issue-of-process-contaminants-seriously/

UK tabloid - Do YOU cook with vegetable oil? It could increase your risk of DEMENTIA, new research warns By Mary Kekatos For Dailymail.com 1 February 2017 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4181262/Vegetable-oil-drastically-increases-risk-DEMENTIA.html#ixzz4YF5Gl1ae 

26 Jan 2017:  Sat fats - diabetes - fatty liver link in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, sugar-obesity debate and acrylamide fear

A single cheeseburger can trigger changes in body linked to diabetes and fatty liver disease, study warns - Fatty food can reduce sensitivity to insulin and raise levels of fats linked to heart disease by Katie Forster 24 January 2017 -- Researchers at the German Diabetes Centre in Dusseldorf, Germany, gave 14 lean and healthy men aged 20 to 40 either given a vanilla-flavoured palm oil drink or plain water. The palm oil drink contained a similar amount of saturated fat as an eight-slice pepperoni pizza or a regular cheeseburger served with a large portion of chips. Tests showed that consuming the palm oil resulted in an immediate increase in fat accumulation and reduced sensitivity to insulin, the vital hormone that regulates blood sugar. It also raised levels of triglycerides – a type of fat linked to heart disease - altered liver function and led to changes in gene activity associated with fatty liver disease. A single high-fat meal “would probably be sufficient to induce transient insulin resistance and impair hepatic [liver] metabolism,“ wrote the team in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cheeseburger-metabolism-change-diabetes-fatty-liver-disease-palm-oil-german-dusseldorf-journal-a7542631.html

If Sugar Is Harmless, Prove It by David Bornstein JAN. 25, 2017 -- Still, it’s this energy balance thinking that leads us to blame the food industry for providing too much tasty food, and the individual who’s afflicted for not being able to eat in moderation and not being suitably active.... I’m arguing the reason we’ve failed to curb the obesity and diabetes epidemics is we’ve misunderstood the cause. We blame eating too much and exercising too little, rather than the carbohydrate content of the diet, specifically sugar. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/opinion/if-sugar-is-harmless-prove-it.html?_r=0

Now baby food and biscuits are linked to cancer: Food watchdog issues alerts for 25 big brands after claiming that crunchy roast potatoes and toast could cause the disease By Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor For The Daily Mail 23 January 2017 -- Crisps, biscuits and baby food have 'raised levels of cancer-linked chemicals'. Food Standards Agency says 25 products have higher amount of 'acrylamide'. Studies on animals suggests the chemical can trigger DNA mutations. Products including Kettle Chips, McVitie's and Hovis are on the danger list, -- Tests on best-selling crisps, biscuits and baby food showed raised levels of a chemical linked to cancer. The health alert comes just 24 hours after an official watchdog warned of the risks of eating burnt toast and roast potatoes.


Wikipedia: Acrylamide can be prepared by the hydrolysis of acrylonitrile by nitrile hydratase. In industry, most acrylamide is used to synthesize polyacrylamides, which find many uses as water-soluble thickeners. These include use in wastewater treatment, gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), papermaking, ore processing, tertiary oil recovery, and the manufacture of permanent press fabrics. Some acrylamide is used in the manufacture of dyes and the manufacture of other monomers..... The discovery of acrylamide in some cooked starchy foods in 2002 prompted concerns about the carcinogenicity of those foods. As of 2016 it is still not clear whether acrylamide consumption affects people's risk of developing cancer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrylamide

21 Jan 2017: Nutella maker defends palm oil (its oil is refined differently for low 3MCPD-GE), Turkey to investigate products using palm oil 

Wikipedia: 3-MCPD -- It has been found in some East Asian and Southeast Asian sauces such as oyster sauce, Hoisin sauce and soy sauce.[2] Using hydrochloric acid rather than traditional slow fermentation is a far cheaper and faster method but unavoidably creates chloropropanols. An EFSA report indicated margarine, vegetable oils (excluding walnut oil), preserved meats, breads, and fine bakery wares as major sources in Europe... 3-MCPD is carcinogenic in rodents via a supposed non-genotoxic mechanism.... and can be used as a rat chemosterilant.... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-MCPD 

Products including palm oil to be investigated: Agriculture Minister Çelik, ISTANBUL January/16/2017 -- Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Faruk Çelik has said his office has launched work to detect food thought to include palm oil in its ingredients, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported. The ministry issued a statement on Jan. 15 after media reports on controversial palm oil, saying it was considered necessary to conduct an investigation based on public health concerns. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/products-including-palm-oil-to-be-investigated-agriculture-minister-celik.aspx?pageID=238&nid=108606&NewsCatID=341

Nutella maker defends palm oil 12 January 2017 http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/01/12/nutella-maker-defends-palm-oil/

Deconstructed Nutella: nuts, cocoa – and 58% sugar - A photograph of its raw ingredients has shocked fans of the spread. But is it really any worse than jam or marmalade? -- Well, someone in Germany has recreated a jar showing the ingredients in layers, and you can see it’s basically half sugar. Holy moly! And about a third fat. Roly-poly holy moly! Indeed. People are often shocked to see what’s in their favourite snacks.... See! But have you ever made jam? I have not. Well, that’s got a lot of sugar in it, too: 50% in the case of Hartley’s strawberry jam; 65% in Daylesford Organic. Even Frank Cooper’s Original Oxford Marmalade is 54%. Rowse honey is 81%. Sweet spreads are mostly sugar. Just don’t eat bowls of them. How about the fat then? All right. There’s not much fat in jam. (Unless you butter your toast first.) Nutella, however, is 32% fat, most of which is palm oil. The second most evil of all the oils! ... How about the cancer risk? I heard palm oil gives you cancer. Look, high-temperature refining may lead to more potentially carcinogenic contaminants, according to the European Food Safety Authority, but it doesn’t necessarily think it’s unsafe. Besides, Ferrero says it doesn’t refine its oil that way. People want food to be simple and dramatic, when it’s a hugely complex web of … I’m bored. Yeah. That’s what I mean....

 What's in a jar of Nutella? A viral image shows the hazelnut spread is mostly sugar. By Alex Orlov  January 19, 2017 -- A viral image posted to Reddit on Sunday can give you a taste for just how much of the sweet stuff is in each jar. (The image previously appeared with ingredients listed in German when it was used in an article that published Saturday on Die Welt, a German news site. The original image was created by Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg — the consumer center of Hamburg, Germany.)


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