Thank God it’s Friday! Quick news from the food world (Week 45)

Here’s my article selection of the week:

EU

– Environment Committee backs flexibility for EU countries to ban GMO crops, from European Parliament ENVI Committee: long-awaited draft plans to allow EU member states to restrict, or ban, the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms on their own territory even if it is allowed at EU level won the support of the Environment Committee on Tuesday. MEPs voted to remove the Council-backed idea of a phase of negotiations with the GMO company, and supported plans to allow member states to ban GMO crops on environmental grounds.

– Italy cracks whip on health claim abusers – fines could reach €5m, by Shane Starling+, on Nutraingredients: regulators in Italy’s €1.2bn food supplements market are cracking the harshest whips against health claims abusers in the EU – a firm was recently fined €250,000 – but will the wounds be deep enough to change the market?

 Fears that German avian flu outbreak could spread, by Ed Bedington, on Globalmeatnews.com: animal health experts are continuing to monitor the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 in Germany as the yearly migration of wild birds continues to cause concerns the condition might spread.

CHINA

– China Health Food: New Regulations on Nutritional Supplements, by Rachel Shen, on Chemlinked.com: on Nov. 5, 2014, CFDA released the draft of Administrative Provisions on Nutritional Supplements and Requirements on Dossiers for Nutritional Supplements, which gives detailed instructions on regulatory requirements for nutritional supplements in China. The period for public consultation is until Nov. 30, 2014.

NUTRITION

– Mediterranean diet has ‘lasting’ health benefits, say researchers, by Nathan Gray+, on Nutraingredients.com: the health benefits of switching to a Mediterranean style diet and upping the amount of time spent exercising for a period of just eight weeks can still be seen a year after stopping the regime, according to a new study.

USA

– Food Fraud: Money Scam and Health Hazard, by Beth Krietsch, on Foodsafetynews: despite the common belief that food fraud in the United States is a rarity, the globalized nature of our food supply chain means many of our favorite foods and ingredients travel far and wide before they reach our plates, making adulteration and other types of food fraud a considerate problem here as well.

– New App Shows Health Inspection Records for Nearby Restaurants, by James Andrews, on Foodsafetynews.com.

– Revised FSMA Provisions Need More Tweaks, by Lydia Zuraw, on Foodsafetynews.com: the public is generally pleased with the revised provisions of four rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but the public comments at the Food and Drug Administration’s public meeting Thursday suggest that the agency may have more tweaking to do.

– Unilever: “Just Mayo” Misleads Consumers Because It’s Not “Mayo”, by David Ter Molen, on FoodIdentityblog.com: on October 31, 2014, Unilever filed suit in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey against Hampton Creek, Inc. for false advertising and unfair competition for selling an egg-free spread under the brand name “Just Mayo.” According to Unilever, the lack of any eggs in the product precludes it from being labeled as “mayonnaise” under federal regulations and consumers are further misled in this regard by the egg on the product label.

Artificial Astaxanthin from DSM AstaSana® shown to be vastly inferior to Natural Algae Astaxanthin in Antioxidant Potential

The Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA) has obtained further comparative antioxidant testing results from a leading antioxidant testing laboratory showing that artificial astaxanthin produced from petrochemicals has vastly inferior antioxidant potential than natural astaxanthin from Haematococcus microalgae.  The results showed that algae-based astaxanthin was superior to DSM’s AstaSana in different antioxidant tests; the range was from 9 times more active against peroxyl radicals to over 100 times more active against singlet oxygen.

Results of previous head-to-head testing of algae-based astaxanthin versus artificial astaxanthin from petrochemicals were published in the peer-reviewed journal NutraFoods in December 2013.  These independent results from both Creighton University and an independent laboratory showed that algae-based astaxanthin is approximately 20 to 50 times more active in singlet oxygen quenching and free radical elimination than artificial astaxanthin.  However, the members of NAXA felt that further testing was necessary since the earlier tests were not done specifically with the DSM AstaSana product.

“We see the same results with the AstaSana product that we saw in earlier antioxidant testing of artificial astaxanthin,” said Robert Corish, MD, a member of NAXA and a worldwide authority on astaxanthin.  “Plain and simple, the two products are completely different — not only in antioxidant potential, but the molecules are also different in three crucial ways.  It’s only logical that these products will perform differently in antioxidant testing because they’re inherently different molecules.  And while all the human clinical research showing a wide variety of health benefits has been performed exclusively on natural astaxanthin from algae, we still don’t know how artificial astaxanthin will react in our bodies long term.”

Questions remain not only about the efficacy of artificial astaxanthin, but also about its safety and regulatory status.  Dr. Corish concluded, “There has not been one published safety study on direct human consumption of this synthesized molecule and it hasn’t gone through the FDA’s NDI (New Dietary Ingredient) process.  Frankly, we’re amazed that DSM launched it in the US market without going through these necessary steps.”