“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” as World Health Organization defined.
Botanicals have been used for centuries for their attributed benefits to health. The consumption of teas, digestive drinks, juices, elixirs and extracts prepared from botanicals, used to sustain a healthy state of well-being, has become a long tradition and is a part of the European cultural heritage. Plant food supplements in the form of concentrated sources of single or combined plants derivatives are a modern-day extension of this process. Dose forms such as capsules, tablets and pills provide a fast delivery method of assumption and guarantee a most stable and effective result.
The R&D project PlantLIBRA, which has been co-financed by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme, will outline methods and assessment procedures to facilitate the task of decision-makers and professionals in the food supplement supply chain. The main goal is to provide tools to assess the risk/benefit relationship in food supplements containing plant or plant extracts. The project involves 25 entities representing the academic world, industry, not- -profit organizations as well as institutional bodies from 4 continents: Europe, Asia (China), South America (Argentina and Brazil) and Africa (South Africa). Since the project started in 2010, the three main objectives are well in progress: creation of a meta-database, development of a platform to assess risks – benefits, and the dissemination of the project results.
The now called ePlantLIBRA meta-database has been established and in the coming months it will be enriched with the data on composition, biological effects, and toxicants of the plants used in PFS. User testing will take place in Summer to update the system and undertake improvements.
An intake survey involving consumers of Finland, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Romania and Spain is being finalized and it will analyse the habits and consumption patterns of PFS consumers in the European countries mentioned.
Concerning the attributed plant benefits, project partners focused in five main health areas (inflammation, digestion, symptoms of menopause, bone health in postmenopausal women and the cardiovascular system) and analysed these through systematic reviews of epidemiological and clinical studies in the literature, which has allowed to identify some botanicals with promising effects.
The part of the project addressing the risks of Plant Food Supplements (PFS) is dived in two big components of research: the study and evaluation of risk/benefit assessment tools used by risk evaluators, and the study of specific toxicological models and single compounds found in PFS. Additionally, reports of adverse effects due to botanical products have been collected both from the literature and from international poison centers.
Regarding the methodologies to quantify and identify beneficial substances, toxicants or contaminants in plants and PFS, existing analytical techniques were reviewed, evaluated and a specific protocol was prepared to assist in the development of new methods for plant and phytochemical quantitative analysis.
The existing policies and regulations on PFS adopted at international level were collected and discussed in two reports, which were used as working documents during a first policy advisory board (PAB) meeting held in Brussels in September 2011. The participants were PFS regulatory authorities from 19 European countries in addition to a representatives of China and the USA.
Several dissemination events have been organized and several others are scheduled in the coming months to keep informing all the interested parties (academia, authorities and stakeholders) on project results, outcomes and joint debate on the regulatory situation of PFS in Europe.
All the activities of the project and news are available on the website.
Identified gene that enables rice plants to produce around 20% more grain
Scientists from University of Milan, in collaboration with researchers from Philippines and Japan, have pinpointed a gene that enables rice plants to produce around 20% more grain by increasing uptake of phosphorus, an important, but limited, plant nutrient.
The gene – called PSTOL1 which stands for Phosphorus Starvation TOLerance – helps rice grow a larger, better root system and thereby access more phosphorus, whose amount is often limited in those areas where rice is cultivated at most.
According to prof. Martin Kater, that coordinates the Italian research group “Phosphorus deficiency is a major yield limiting factor in rice, especially under upland (non-irrigated) conditions”. “The discovery of the precise PSTOL1 gene means that rice breeders will be able to breed new rice varieties faster and more easily, and with 100% certainty their new rice will have the desirable PSTOL1 gene and the ability to take up more phosphorus. Moreover, such varieties will reduce the use of fertilizers, thus even poor farmers that cannot afford phosphorous will manage to get optimal rice yields” kater added.
The PSTOL1 gene was isolated from the traditional rice variety Kasalath from India that grows well in soils low in phosphorus demonstrating the importance of conserving the genetic diversity of traditional crop varieties: a reservoir of “old” genes for new varieties. At the moment rice varieties containing the PSTOL1 gene are tested in the Philippines and Indonesia where phosphorus is limited and they produce up to 20% more grain than rice without the gene and they might be released to farmers within few years. This research, coordinated by dr. Sigrid Heuer, senior scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines, has been conducted in collaboration with the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, the University of Milano, and the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and is supported by the CGIAR Generation Challenge Program. contacts: dr. Paolo Pesaresi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Codex additives inclusions: good news for the dietary supplement sector
Codex Alimentarius’ decision to include Aspartame-Acesulfame Salt, Sorbates and Sucroglycerides in its official list of permitted food additives is a good move towards ensuring free trade for the dietary supplement sector, IADSA has said. Commenting on the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s (CAC) official adoption of the three additives for use in food supplements, the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations (IADSA) welcomed the approval of both Aspartame-Acesulfame Salt and Sorbates at a maximum level of 2,000 mg/kg, and Sucroglycerides at a maximum level of 2,500 mg/kg. The three additives will now be added to the Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) list, which sets down conditions for the use of permitted food additives in all foods. “We are pleased that these additives have been adopted at levels that are both safe for consumers and consistent with those widely used by the global food supplement industry,” said IADSA Chair Pete Zambetti. “Inclusion into the GSFA will encourage countries to change legislation that is not in conformity with these Codex standards. We support regulatory systems where the guidelines take into account the specific characteristics of our products, as this facilitates free trade and consumer access to safe and beneficial products.” Codex Alimentarius is the global food standards setting body formed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Its standards and guidelines serve as guidance for many of its 185 member countries in their development of regulations. The Codex General Standard for Food Additives is regularly updated to include new provisions adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
European Court of Justice confirms farmers’ right to cultivate GM crops
On 6 September, the European Court of Justice clarified the legal requirements for the cultivation of genetically-modified (GM) crops in the Member States of the European Union. The Court confirmed that additional national authorization procedures, introduced on top of the existing approval process conducted by the European authorities (European Food Safety Authority) to be unlawful. It also declared that coexistence measures are not mandatory to grow GM plants. “The cultivation of genetically modified organisms such as the MON 810 maize varieties cannot be made subject to a national authorisation procedure when the use and marketing of those varieties are authorized” said the Court of Justice. The relevant EU legislation “does not entitle a Member State to prohibit in a general manner the cultivation on its territory of such genetically modified organisms pending the adoption of coexistence measures to avoid the unintended presence of genetically modified organisms in other crops” added the European institution. The ruling concerns a GM product that is allowed for cultivation in Europe but the rights of farmers to choose this legally approved crop were denied in practice by some bureaucratic barriers created by the Italian authorities. Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, EuropaBio’s Director of Green Biotechnology Europe, commented, “In 2011, we saw a similar decision by the ECJ on the illegal French cultivation ban. Today’s ruling by the highest court in the European Union again confirms that national bans on GM crops are not legally defendable. Farmers’ rights to cultivate approved GM crops have to be respected”. Agricultural innovation brings positive outcomes for farmers by helping them cope with the various challenges of growing food. Benefits of using GM crops include yield increase, more resistance to target insects and pests, better quality protection after harvest, increased tolerance to stress such as frost, drought, salt or heat, and improved nutritional value of food in very specific ways. This is why more than 16 million farmers are growing GM crops around the world. A 2011 study (Brookes and Barfoot) evaluated that since 1996, farmers globally have gained more than € 44 billion in farm income thanks to GM crops, and 57% of this profit was due to increased yields.
EuropaBio - http://www.europabio.org/
Food supplements have little effect on the weight of malnourished children
Providing energy dense food supplements within a general household food distribution has little effect on the weight of children at risk of malnutrition. Giving energy dense food supplements— Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food (RUSF), a lipid-based nutrient supplement—to young children in addition to a general food distribution in a country with food shortages (Chad) did not reduce levels of wasting (low weight for height, a sign of acute undernutrition) but slightly increased their height and haemoglobin levels according to a study conducted by the international non-governmental organization Action Against Hunger-France (ACF-France) in collaboration with European researchers published in PLOS Medicine. In emergency situations, international aid organizations support affected populations by distributing food and sometimes by also providing nutritional supplements such as RUSF, to children at risk of malnutrition. In a cluster randomized controlled trial, researchers from Belgium and France, led by Lieven Huybregts from Ghent University in Belgium, investigated the effect of a targeted daily dose of RUSF in 6-month old children by randomly assigning fourteen household clusters in the city of Abeche, Chad, into an intervention or control arm. All the households received a general food distribution that included staple foods but eligible children in the intervention households were also given a daily RUSF ration. At the end of the study period, the researchers found that the addition of RUSF to the household food rations had little effect on the incidence of wasting. However, compared to the children in the control group, those in the intervention group had a greater gain in height-for-age, slightly higher hemoglobin levels, and lower rates of diarrhea and fever, as reported by the child's parents. The authors say: "Adding child-targeted RUSF supplementation to a general food distribution resulted in increased hemoglobin status and linear growth, accompanied by a reduction in diarrhea and fever episodes. However, we could not find clear evidence that adding RUSF to a household food ration distribution of staple foods was more effective in preventing acute malnutrition." The authors continue: "Other context-specific alternatives for preventing acute malnutrition should therefore be investigated." And in an accompanying Perspective article, Kathryn Dewey and Mary Arimond from the University of California in the USA (uninvolved in the study), say: "There is clearly a need for additional research to understand the potential growth-promoting effect of certain ingredients in Lipid-based Nutritional supplements (e.g., milk powder, essential fatty acids). The new study by Huybregts et al. is an important contribution to the evidence base." Dewey and Arimond add: "High-quality programmatic studies can help provide urgently needed information on the cost and comparative cost effectiveness of different integrated strategies for filling nutrient gaps and promoting healthy growth."
Future health risks for obese children may be greater than previously thought
Previous studies may have underestimated the effect on future health, say authors
Being obese as a child or adolescent may have a larger effect on future health than previously thought, suggests a study published on bmj.com. It comes as New York City passes a ban on large-size sugary drinks to help tackle obesity and related health problems in the US.
Researchers at the University of Oxford show that obese children and adolescents have several risk factors for heart disease including raised blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and a thickening of the heart muscle, compared with normal weight children. They warn that, if these risk factors are allowed to progress into adulthood, obese children could already be at a 30-40% higher risk of future stroke and heart disease than their normal weight counterparts. Being overweight in adulthood is well known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The effect of obesity on children is less well understood, but a growing body of evidence suggests a similar association.
So a team of researchers based at the University of Oxford set out to examine the scale of the association between weight and risk factors for heart disease in children.
They analysed the results of 63 studies involving 49,220 healthy children aged between five and 15 years old. Only studies conducted after 1990 in highly developed countries and published between 2000 and 2011 were included. The studies measured weight and one or more known cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Overweight was defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30 and obesity was defined as BMI of 30 or more. Differences in study quality were taken into account to identify and minimise bias. Compared with normal weight children, obese children had significantly higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Overweight children also had raised blood pressure, but to a lesser degree than obese children. Fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance (known markers for diabetes) were significantly higher in obese children, but not in overweight children. Obese children also had a significant increase in left ventricular mass (a thickening of the heart muscle and often a marker for heart disease) compared with normal weight children, even after adjusting for height. The authors say that the exact ages at which changes in a child’s risk factors begin need to be established to help build a more accurate picture of the cardiovascular risk these young people are likely to face as adults.
“Weight, and especially obesity, has a significant effect on the risk parameters for cardiovascular disease that are present in children from age five years,” they conclude. “This effect could give them a head start on their normal and even overweight classmates for future cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke.”
In an accompanying editorial, Lee Hudson and Russell Viner at the UCL Institute of Child Health in London, say this review “provides a stark illustration of the probable threat that childhood obesity poses to disease burden in the population.”
They say further work is needed to guide assessment and treatment decisions, and to tease out the effects of age and pubertal status on cardiovascular risk. In the meantime, the findings “challenge us to rethink our approaches to identifying cardiometabolic abnormalities in obese children.”
NEWS IN PILLS
Sensient has developed a range of palm-free products which take full advantage of the natural properties and differences of palm oil vs. sunflower oil. Its innovative research and development team identified solubilization and encapsulation systems which do not depend on palm oil based emulsifiers, enabling Sensient to create an entirely new technological platform in novel palm-free products. Sensient Food Colours offers its new range with the full palette of palm-free solutions containing natural colours and colouring foods to meet the needs of the food industry.
POSITIVE OPINION ON THE SAFETY OF NATURE-IDENTICAL ZEAXANTHIN
DSM Nutritional Products is pleased to report that on October 4th, 2012 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a positive opinion on the safety of nature-identical zeaxanthin as an ingredient in food supplements. This decision opens the way for DSM’s market-leading zeaxanthin brand OPTISHARP®1 to obtain a market authorization in the EU and underpins its importance as a nutritional ingredient. The panel concluded that based on the available data, intakes of up to 0.75 mg/kg body weight per day for zeaxanthin, corresponding to a daily intake of 53 mg for a person with a body weight of 70 kg, do not raise safety concerns.
TO DEVELOP TECHNOLOGIES
BASF, Cargill and Novozymes have signed an agreement to develop technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials. “BASF and Cargill are global leaders in their industries and we are very excited to partner with them” says Novozymes CEO Steen Riisgaard and continues: “By offering bio-based alternatives to fossil-based products we will take a big step towards a more sustainable economy”.
ROQUETTE OFFERS MULTIDISCIPLINARY SUPPORT
Food products displaying nutritional and health claims are part of a market undergoing regulatory restructuring. With the recent adoption by the European Commission of a list of 222 health claims, food producers have a six-month period to adapt their practices to the new requirements. In response to this situation, Roquette offers multidisciplinary support.
Calorie management in meat products with PARGEL®, beauty from within concepts with VERISOL®, mobility solutions with FORTIGEL® and FORTIBONE®, protein enrichment with PEPTIPLUS® and significant reduction of cross-linking in gelatine capsules with GELITA® RXL are the highlights of GELITA.
GALACTIC HAS GOT A CERTIFICATE
Galactic has received the Food Safety System Certificate (FSSC 22000) granted by ISACERT, one of the world’s leading internationally-recognised certifying bodies. FSSC 22000 ensures high quality and safe products vis-à-vis our customers based on international standards and requirements. FSSC 22000 is the latest and most complete certification programme for food safety management systems and is based on ISO 22000, the global food safety management system standard, and PAS 220 which is a standard developed to address prerequisite program requirements for food product and ingredient manufacturers.
SEPPIC has launched its new thickening and texturizing polymer of 100 percent plant origin: SOLAGUMTMTARA. This natural gum is a polysaccharide derived from Tara seeds (an emblematic shrub native to the Andean valleys of Peru). SOLAGUMTM TARA can be used to thicken and stabilize emulsions and cream-gels. It also acts as a texturizing agent by providing them with a structuring effect and soft feel. Marketed as a powder that hydrates instantly in water, this non-ionic polysaccharide can be used hot or cold. SOLAGUMTM TARA is recommended for medium or thick consistency formulations in concentrations ranging from 0.5 to 2 percent.
NEXIRA IN INDIA
Nexira is now opening its 11th subsidiary in Mumbai, India. This subsidiary is a perfect opportunity for Nexira to reinforce its global growth and to support Indian and South-East Asian markets in order to be closer to our customers’ needs, to provide technical assistance and innovative solutions. Nexira India, under its Food division, will offer a wide portfolio of products including emulsifiers and stabilizers for beverages, coating and texture agents for confectioneries, carriers for encapsulation and protection of actives and natural flavours.
ARTINIA® SPECIALTY FIBER
Stratum Nutrition has conducted research programs independently and in collaboration with the Wenger Technical Research Facility in Sabetha, KS and the Food Processing Centre at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln to investigate their ARTINIA® specialty fibre in extruded breakfast cereals. Sensory evaluations included appearance, flavour, texture, crunch vs. sogginess over time in milk, along with physical characteristic analysis.
NOVOZYMES & TERRANOL
Novozymes has announced an agreement that will ensure the final optimization of the Terranol C5 yeast strain and give Novozymes the rights to register and market Terranol’s C5 yeast technology. C5 yeast is an essential component in the production of cellulosic ethanol, and the partnership will allow Novozymes to speed up global rollout of Terranol’s yeast to customers in the cellulosic ethanol industry.
NEXIRA GROUP & TOURNAY BIOTECHNOLOGIES
Nexira Group acquires Tournay Biotechnologies, a European expert in the extraction of active botanicals for the neutraceutical and dietary supplements industries. With this new acquisition Nexira, one of the world’s leaders inc natural ingredients, is expanding its range of ingredients and reinforcing its positioning towards the health and wellness market, which will soon represent 35 percent of its commercial activity. Nexira confirms its growth target of 125 million euros in consolidated sales by 2015.
EXTRACTS FOR YOUR SENSES
The new "Extracts for your Senses" product concept devised by the Plantextrakt Business Unit of the Martin Bauer Group revolves around the sensory activity of beverages. Oliver Hehn, Marketing Manager at Plantextrakt, is convinced: "Our extracts can offer many different sensory experiences. We would like to use this concept to draw our customers' attention to the vast range of possible uses, giving top priority to naturalness and best possible quality". Examples of products range from beverages and fruit gum, right through to hard caramel candy.
GELATINES AND COLLAGEN PEPTIDES
Rousselot® presents its gelatines and collagen peptides. Rousselot® Gelatine has many properties that make innovation easier and enable formulators to lighten their recipes in terms of sugars, fats and calories, whilst retaining taste, texture and develop its satiety potential. Moreover, Peptan® collagen peptides maintain mobility for seniors. Scientific studies have shown the beneficial effects of collagen peptides on bone and joint health. A pure protein, Peptan® is also efficient in preventing the loss of lean muscle mass in older people (sarcopenia).
CONFIRMED NOVELTY AND INVENTIVENESS
Aker BioMarine is pleased to announce that, during re-examination proceedings requested by Neptune Technologies & Bioressources, Inc. ("Neptune"), IP Australia has confirmed the novelty and inventiveness of the broad krill oil composition claims in its Australian patent #2008231570 (the "Patent").