Staff Writer

New locally made milk brand for SA

A new South Australian milk brand released over the weekend is sourced only from two local dairy farms and available only through locally owned retailers and food service outlets.

Adelaide Now reports that South Australians can purchase the ‘Adelaide Hills Dairies’ brand through Foodland and IGA stores as well as some independent shops, and cafes and restaurants. The products will be made at at B.-d Farm Paris Creek’s processing facility in the Adelaide Hills

According to Ulli Spranz, managing director of both Adelaide Hills Dairies and B.-d. Farm Paris Creek, there are plans to also begin selling yoghurts and cottage-cheeses carrying the Adelaide Hills Dairies brand later this year.

“Consumers can be absolutely assured that by supporting this brand… they will also be supporting an important part of the South Australian economy, while enjoying premium local dairy products,” Spranz told Adelaide Now.

In February the South Australian Government granted B.-d. Farm Paris Creek a $900,000 Regional Development Fund grant to support the company’s $6.5 million into its Meadows-based operation.

The project will place the company among only a handful of producers in Australia capable of ESL fresh milk production.

Asia-Pacific leads market for membrane technologies in food and beverage industry

Asia-Pacific is driving most of the growth in the global market for membrane technologies in the food and beverage processing industry.

BCC Research reveals in its new report that the region, which also holds the largest market share among all regions, should lead the global market with a five-year (2015-2020) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4 per cent.

Membranes for food and beverage processing technology are used as a physical barrier, a porous filter or a membrane to separate particles in a fluid. These particles are separated on the basis of their size and shape with the use of pressure and specially designed membranes with different pore sizes. Separation science is essential to the manufacture of food and beverage products. Evaporation, centrifugation, media filtration, distillation and solvent extraction are just a few of the traditional processes used in solid/liquid and liquid/liquid separations.

The global market should increase from about US$4.2 billion to US$5.8 billion in 2015 and 2020, respectively, reflecting a five-year CAGR of 6.7 per cent. Nanofiltration technology, the fastest-growing technology segment of the market with a five-year CAGR of 10.6 per cent, should reach US$82.2 million and US$136.1 million in 2015 and 2020, respectively. Nanofiltration membranes can remove virtually all cysts, bacteria, viruses and humic materials, as well as eliminate water hardness.

Microfiltration membrane technology, the largest segment of the market, should grow from US$1.6 billion in 2015 to US$2.2 billion in 2020, reflecting a five-year CAGR of 6.9 per cent, which also is the second-highest rate among all tech segments. A key segment driver is the growing emphasis on limiting the concentration and number of chemicals used during water treatment. By removing pathogens, microfiltration membrane filtration can significantly reduce chemical additives like chlorination.

"Overall, Asia-Pacific's market for membrane technologies for food and beverage processing is expected to rise from almost US$1.9 billion in 2014 to nearly US$2.1 billion in 2015 at a year-on-year growth rate of 7.2 per cent," says BCC Research analyst Aneesh Kumar.

"This regional market segment should grow at a five-year CAGR of 7.4 per cent to reach nearly US$3 billion in 2020. Frozen shrimp and frozen boneless beef are becoming increasingly popular in China, India, Korea and Japan, driving solid growth for membrane technologies in that region's food processing segment."

Membrane Technology for Food and Beverage Processing: Global Markets (MST030C) analyses the industry by technology, by type, and by end-user application.

Is that muesli bar you put in your child’s lunchbox actually healthy?

There are rows upon rows of packaged snack foods in supermarkets, including snack bars made from muesli, cereal, nuts, seeds and fruit. Many of the labels on the packages shout out words such as “natural”, “protein”, “oaty”, “super-food”, “wholegrain”, “light”, “gluten-free” and “97% fat-free!”.

But these words can mask unhealthy products. Many processed snack bars are high in added sugar, refined starch and fat.

Knowing what is in snack bars is of particular importance to parents given nearly one in fivetwo- to 18-year-olds consume these muesli or cereal-style bars, and one in four Australian children are overweight or obese.

So, how do you navigate the confusing snack bar terrain? Here are five tips.

1. Check the ingredients on the packets

Choose more products that have the following ingredients in higher quantities. Some, such as nuts and oats, should be listed as the first ingredients on the back of the packet:

  • grains such as oats, barley and quinoa. Even if a product boasts it is “whole grain”, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice. Whole grain usually means higher in fibre, which is good, but can also mean high glycemic index (GI) if the grain has been overly processed
  • nuts and seeds, which provide beneficial nutrients including protein, good fats, fibre, micronutrients and phytochemicals (nutrients naturally occurring in plants)
  • dried fruit, which provides beneficial nutrients including carbohydrate, fibre, micronutrients and phytochemicals. Just remember dried fruit sticks to teeth and can contribute to tooth decay, and some dried fruit can have added sugar, such as cranberries. Whole fruit is always better
  • ingredients like “dietary fibre” (such as inulin or psyllium husk), milk powder or solids and whey/milk protein.

Choose products that contain some:

  • honey, my preferred choice of sweetener, which can be low GI and provides small amounts of proteins, enzymes, amino acids, minerals, trace elements, vitamins, aroma compounds and polyphenols (micronutrients that can prevent disease)
  • coconut flesh, which provides nutrients including fibre, micronutrients and saturated fat, which is likely healthier than the saturated fat in meat, and likely less healthy than the fat and oils in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and fish
  • oils like vegetable oil, sunflower oil and canola oil. These contain n-6 polyunsaturated fats, which may protect the cardiovascular system, but they are also calorie-dense.

I would suggest the following snack bar products over other products (including alternative products made by same brand), as they likely provide better nutrition, including being higher in fibre and lower in GI: Carman’s fruit-free muesli barBe Natural Deluxe Nut Bars Nut Delight and Goodness Superfoods better for U! Cranberry Nut Cereal Bars.

Choose fewer products that have higher quantities of any combination of the following ingredients:

  • added sugars: the list of these is endless and includes sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar (also called sucrose sugar), glucose sugar, golden syrup, malt syrup, brown rice, rice, rice malt syrup and fruit juice. (I have particular issue with things like brown rice syrup, because people mistakenly think it’s “good for you”, when in fact it is a readily digestiblehigh GI sugar mix that provides little else than sugar. Added sugars are a real public health problem and intakes should be reduced in most people)
  • added fats such as butter and cream. These foods are high in saturated fat, which evidence shows can damage the cardiovascular system
  • processed high GI starches such as wheat starch, wheat puffs, wheat flakes, wheat flour, rice flour, rice crisps, puffed rice, maltodextrin and maize flour (the wholegrain options are better, such as wholegrain wheat flour)
  • chocolate or “yoghurt compound” (which is basically chocolate), which is high in saturated fat and sugar
  • salt, which is not good for your cardiovascular system in excess
  • artificial colours and flavours and other additives, which you will see on most ingredient lists of processed snack foods, such as soy lethicin (see below).

This list means trying to avoid a large percentage of the muesli/cereal/nut/seed/fruit bars out there.

2. Look at the food additives

Food Standards Australia New Zealand provides an online list of food additives. Additives are used in processed foods to improve taste, appearance, quality, stability and storage life.

Some people think all additives are bad. Some of them are in fact natural. Vitamin C/ascorbic acid (additive number 300) can be added to foods, but is also naturally present in fruit. The human body can’t distinguish between a chemical naturally present in a food and the same chemical present as an additive.

However, some additives may cause problems such as damage to the guthyperactivity in children and potential cancer links. Don’t demonise all additives but do decrease processed food intake – and for more reasons than just additives.

3. Look at the health star rating

The government’s health star food rating system has its flaws, including that it doesn’t take into account every nutritional aspect of a processed food product. However, it is useful when comparing different snack bars: if you choose one that has five stars it is likely better nutritionally than one with three stars.

4. Home-made is better than processed

This won’t be welcome news to your free time: home-made versions of processed snack foods are the best. Being able to make a muesli bar/slice that is packed with ingredients such as oats, nuts, seeds, free-range eggs and extra virgin olive oil (lightly flavoured) will provide a healthy snack for your child.

Luckily you can make one big batch that should last for a week’s worth of lunchboxes between a few kids. See hereand here for more lunchbox ideas.

5. Mostly and sometimes

I don’t believe in all-or-nothing when it comes to life, including nutrition. Maybe your little one really loves the chocolate- and yoghurt-covered snack bars? Well, perhaps one of each per week in his/her lunchbox is an idea.

You don’t want to be overly restrictive with your child’s food, because this may have the opposite effect to what you intended and increase their eating and weight over time.

 

Rebecca Charlotte Reynolds is a lecturer in Nutrition at UNSW, Australia.

This article first appeared in the Conversation.

Open and enclosed changeover and source selection switches

Kraus & Naimer have a range of open and enclosed changeover and source selection switches suitable for most applications including enclosed Mains – Off – Gen switches with appliance inlet.

The switches offer excellent performance characteristics and exceed the requirements of IEC 60947-3 with positive contact movement during making and breaking functions.

The switches have excellent AC-3 and AC-23 making and breaking capabilities and higher dimensioned air and creepage distances for 690 V or 1000 V providing additional safety advantage.

Accessories such gold or silver auxiliary contacts, late break early make neutral contact, base or panel mounting, door clutches, extension shafts, interlocks, padlockable devices and an extensive range of stainless steel, metal or plastic enclosures enhance the flexibility and versatility of this proven line of switches.

Traces of weedkiller found in German beer

Traces of a well-known weedkiller ingredient, glyphosate has been found in Germany's 14 most popular beers, according to a German environmental group.

Reuters reports that researchers from the Munich Environmental Institute tested the beers and found that all contained levels of glyphosate above the 0.1 microgram limit allowed in German drinking water.

The beer with the highest trace level was Hasseroeder, a beer brewed in Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany, which had 29.74 micrograms a litre; while the beverage with the lowest level was Augustiner, a Munich-made beer, with 0.46 micrograms a litre.

Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment pointed out that the results do not represent a risk to public health.

"An adult would have to drink around 1000 litres of beer a day to ingest enough quantities to be harmful for health," it said in a statement.

Glyphosate is found in the well-known weed killer, Roundup. The World Health Organisation's cancer research committee has said glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans.

Fonterra opens new NZ mozzarella plant

Fonterra has officially opened a new mozzarella plant which has created 25 new jobs at its Clandeboye site on New Zealand’s South Island.

The plant has seen the company double its annual mozzarella production to 50,000 metric tonnes, over two facilities.

As stuff.co.nz reports, the opening comes at a time when local dairy farmers are being squeezed by low prices.

Speaking at the official opening, Fonterra director and Fairlie dairy farmer Leonie Guiney acknowledged that global oversupply was threatening the future of local suppliers, but added that the new plant which has been operating since last Mat was a milestone.

New Zealand Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew congratulated Fonterra on the opening.

“I commend Fonterra’s commitment to improving food safety and standards of quality, reliability and traceability. The expansion of the Clandeboye plant and initiatives such as these help to create a business environment that delivers more jobs, higher business investment and higher wages. I’d like to congratulate Fonterra for reaching this milestone,” Goodhew said in a statement.

Should we eat red meat? The nutrition and the ethics

Many types of red meat and red meat products are available, from farmers' markets, to supermarkets, to restaurants. The impacts of their production and consumption on human health, animal welfare and the environment are complex.

So what should we be thinking about when we’re deciding whether or not to eat red meat?

The nutrition

Consuming lean products and different cuts, or muscles, of meat from cattle, sheep, pig, goat and kangaroo is recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines as part of a balanced diet. Lean refers to animal muscle tissue that has lower amounts of total fat and saturated fat compared to higher-fat alternatives.

Most lean red meats are cuts, rather than processed products such as hot dogs or canned meat. Cuts provide many beneficial nutrients, including: protein, vitamin B12, zinc, iron and unsaturated fat (such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fats).

In comparison, fattier red meat cuts and most processed meat products provide higher amounts of potentially harmful nutrients, such as saturated fats, salt and sodium nitrate.

In general, horse and kangaroo meats have been reported to have the lowest total fat and highest polyunsaturated fat contents. Beef and sheep meats have the highest total fat and lowest polyunsaturated fat. Grass-fed beef is a better source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats compared to grain-fed beef, although fish provides significantly more omega-3 than any red meat.

Australian livestock is mostly grass-fed in fields, rather than grain-fed in feedlots. This is better for both nutrient levels in the meat and animal and environmental ethics. Feedlots are more common in the United States, for example.

The type of grain that is fed to an animal affects its muscle nutrient composition, as well as shelf-life, taste, colour and quality. For example, pigs can be fed on a certain amount and type of linseed to increase omega-3 polyunsaturated fat in their meat.

Associations with ill health

The links between red meat products and human health are not fully understood, but you may have seen recent media reports about processed meat and cancer risk.

It is likely that eating less processed meat will reduce your risk of getting cancer. It’s also probable eating less red meat will reduce your cancer risk.

Similarly, if unsaturated fats – especially polyunsaturated fats – replace saturated fats (for example, in red meat) in someone’s diet, the risk of coronary heart disease might be reduced. Further, processed meats have been linked to a higher incidence of coronary heart disease and diabetes.

The ethics

The ethics of consuming food, including animal produce, is a fraught topic for both animal welfare and environmental damage. The vast scale of commercialised livestock production is overwhelming.

Yes, any food that humans consume comes with consequences, especially when that food is mass-produced. However, with red meat, efficiency and cost can outweigh animal welfare when animals become “a commodity, a unit in the production line”. And there is huge environmental damage from livestock production, such as methane from manure and enteric fermentation (that is, farts!).

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations stated in 2006:

The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.

It must be hoped the animal welfare and environmental aspects of food consumption will be highlighted in future revisions of the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

What can you do?

You probably care about your health, and hopefully you care about other animals and the environment. Luckily, you can do a few things to try to improve all of these aspects of red meat and red meat product consumption:

  • When (or if) you eat red meat: choose leaner options that have less total and saturated fat, such as lean beef mince in place of standard beef mince; choose meats that contain more polyunsaturated fats, such as kangaroo or grass-fed beef (I don’t envisage many Australians eating horse, which is also higher in these fats); avoid processed meat such as bacon, sausages and salami; and buy from retailers and eat at restaurants where the red meat is sourced from more ethical, smaller-scale, local and sustainable farms
  • Eat less red meat (Meat Free Mondays is one good idea)
  • Join the 4% of the Australian population following vegetarian or vegan eating habits.

 

Rebecca Charlotte Reynolds is a lecturer in Nutrition at UNSW Australia.

This article first appeared in the Conversation. You can read the original here.

Compact and easy-to-install valve control

Compact and intelligent, Alfa Laval ThinkTop D30 is an easy-to-install integrated control unit for hygienic applications in the food, dairy, beverage, pharmaceutical and home & personal care industries. This reliable control unit offers an affordable and cost-effective alternative to conventional valve monitoring and control solutions.

Installation and setup is quick and easy, which eliminates fault handling during commissioning and production. It is designed to meet the market challenges for even more usability and hassle-free control of automated valves. Simply position the unit directly on top of the valve actuator, connect the air and then connect the cable to the PLC system. No special expertise, adapters or tools are required as well as no need to adjust the feedback position at regular intervals.

The unit detects loss of air pressure, which is one of the most common types of process failures. It withstands the effects of physical impact, vibration, water hammer, thermal variation and pressure shock.

The unit is both watertight and IP66/IP67-compliant, so it prevents condensation as well as stops dust, water and other particles from penetrating into the control head. This also means the control head can be hosed down with water or cleaning liquid without affecting its operation. This ensures maximum hygiene and effectively eliminates problems associated with corrosion and external contamination.

The unit features a digital interface with a 360-degree visual indicator, which makes it possible to enhance monitoring of air loss or leakage feedback from the energized and de-energized actuator. This contributes to more stable operation of hygienic processes, enhanced product quality and more uptime.

Woolworths announces $972.7m loss, appoints new CEO

Woolworths has posted a net first-half loss of $972.7m and appointed Brad Banducci as CEO and Managing Director.

The company said in a statement that the result followed a massive $3.25 billion loss from its Masters home renovations business.

In January, Woolworths decided to close the Masters chain which had failed to compete with Bunnings.

The appointment of Banducci takes effect immediately. He will also continue in his previous role as Managing Director of Woolworths Food Group until a replacement is decided upon.

“We undertook a rigorous international search process to find the best person to rebuild the Woolworths business and return it to sustainable growth. While there were several strong candidates, the Board was unanimous that Brad was the strongest of the field,” said Woolworths Chairman Gordon Cairns.

“Brad has had 25 years in retail, including 15 years consulting to some of the world’s leading retailers, as well as private equity experience in retail. He has had five years with Woolworths , including his role in leading the growth of Woolworths Liquor Group. During this time he was instrumental in the development of Dan Murphy’s, one of Australia’s great retailers.”

Banducci said he was honoured to lead Woolworths and its 200,000 employees.

 “I am an entrepreneur at heart, and a retailer by discipline, and I want us to take our company back to its best levels of performance. My goal as CEO will be to recapture the spirit of innovation and customer focus right across the business, and to grow a culture where our people once again feel a strong ownership of the business.

Hungry Jack’s bans added hormone beef

Hungry Jack’s has become the first major Australian fast food chain to eliminate added hormones from its beef patties.

Added hormones, or Hormone Growth Promotants (HGPs), were introduced in Australia approximately 30 years ago. However they are strictly banned in many regions around the world, including the European Union and China. Around 40 per cent of cattle in Australia are raised with HGPs.

Hungry Jack’s Chief Marketing Officer, Scott Baird said customers had been very receptive to the move to No Added Hormone beef and the introduction of the Better Beef guarantee, which took effect across the company’s network of more than 400 restaurants on Tuesday, 16 February.

“Our commitment to move away from caged-eggs by the end of 2017 has been just as positive and celebrated by customers and industry alike,” Baird said.

As the Huffington Post points out, the effects on the human body of eaten HGPs have yet to be established due to insufficient data. And that very lack of information has created caution amongst many consumers.

Cattle Council of Australia president Jed Matz told the Weekly Times, consumers would not be able to tell the difference between beef containing HGPs and beef without it.

Technical dinner on global packaging trends

The APPMA, in conjunction with the AIP, will be running a technical dinner on the 13th of April at Box Hill Golf Course, Victoria on ‘Global Packaging Trends – Global Growth Markets for Packaging’.

 The evening will be discussing the newly released Global Packaging Trends Report which is a market research study highlighting future packaging demand, product categories and opportunities for growth in packaging among fast-growing and maturing world economies.

Mark Dingley, Chairman of the APPMA, will speak to key trends that have been identified in the report including the three influencers making a mark in every region:

  1. Growing consumer awareness of health and wellness;
  2. Stronger influence of recycling and environmental issues;
  3. Increasing disposable income and purchasing power.

Other important regional trends that will be discussed in the presentation will include how globally, the report notes flexible plastic remains the dominant pack type, accounting for 29 per cent of the market, while PET bottles (12 per cent of the market) will be among the fastest growing, with 4.7 per cent CAGR. Bottled water is expected to add 135 billion units through 2019, accounting for 54 per cent of the absolute volume growth in PET bottle use. While beverage packaging drives growth in PET and glass, categories such as confectionery and biscuits prop up flexible packaging use.

Device to test the thickness of spaghetti, pasta and noodles

Lloyd Instruments has launched a test fixture designed to meet the quality assessment requirements of spaghetti, pasta and noodles producers. 

The Spaghetti and Noodle Compression attachment fits the TA1 texture analyser and other machines in the company's range. It is designed to take thickness measurements of the cooked product in order to calculate a range of parameters including sample compressibility. The accuracy and ease of use makes the test system ideal for R&D and Quality Control during food production.

A cooked product sample is placed onto the fixture's lower compression plate. With a single key operation, the testing machine automatically lowers the upper compression plate via a high resolution encoder and takes three thickness measurements at two specified loads of 15gf and 515gf.

The machine then stores and analyses the results in the operating software. Additional results are calculated from these three thickness measurements to evaluate sample compressibility and other parameters.

The entire test is driven by the company's powerful NEXYGENPlus materials testing software. Besides compressibility, the system evaluates product recovery, springiness and helps manufacturers calculate ideal cooking times (to ensure an ‘al dente’ product after cooking, for example), assess ingredients mixes, understand product behaviour after freezing and keep production costs low.

The TA1 texture analyser and NEXYGENPlus food texture applications software can assess product quality on a wide range of food items including dairy products, bakery, confectionery, gels and more.

TA1 Key Features:

– Large work area

– Data sampling rate 8 kHz

– Save up to 600 test results

– 10 programmable test set-ups

– Multilingual and multi-unit display options as standard

– Export data directly into your Excel and Word templates

Lloyd Instruments’ products are distributed In Australia and New Zealand by Bestech Australia.

NZ v Australia in the Chinese food market – who is winning?

New Zealand and Australia food producers are competing for the hearts and minds of the Chinese consumer.

This infographic by Shanghai-based market research company DDMA compares how both countries are rated by Chinese consumers of imported foods.

Judging by this analysis, New Zealand is currently performing better than its trans-Tasman rival.

Not only are New Zealand's per capita food exports to China much higher Australia's, but it also outranks us on all areas investigated by researchers.

These include trustworthiness, use of new technology, environmental image, and quality.

DDMA-CHINA-MARKET-RESEARCH-CHINA-FOOD-MARKET-NEW-ZEALAND-VS-AUSTRALIA.jpg

Mars 55-country recall does not extend to Australia

The Mars voluntary chocolate recall affects 55 countries though not Australia, according to the company.

As reported yesterday, products made at a factory in Veghel, the Netherlands, have been recalled after a complaint last month by a German customer. The consumer found a piece of red plastic in a Snickers bar.

A Mars Australia spokeswoman told the ABC that chocolates in Australia were apparently unaffected.

"We are not aware at this stage of it affecting products brought into Australia by Mars Chocolate Australia and it does not affect any of the products made by us at our facility in Ballarat, Victoria," she said, in a statement to the ABC.

"While the number of products affected is limited, it is possible that some of the affected products have been shipped to duty-free retailers or brought into Australia by third-party importers that are not associated with Mars."

The company has refused to put a figure on the recall of the various products, including Mars, Snickers and Celebrations brands with expiration dates between May and October this year.

Analyst Neil Saunders of consultancy Conlumino said it was certainly in the tens of millions of dollars.

“The cost comes directly from the recall process, the loss of writing off products, and from lost sales,” he told The Guardian.

FactCheck: do Australians with an average seafood diet ingest 11,000 pieces of plastic a year?

Well, if you’ve got an average seafood diet in Australia today, you’re probably ingesting about 11,000 pieces of plastic every year. – Dave West, National Policy Director and founder of environmental group, Boomerang Alliance, speaking with a Fairfax video journalist.

Australians are growing increasingly aware of the real danger posed by the vast amount of plastic dumped in our seas every year. It’s an important issue, so it’s crucial we get the facts right.

Ahead of a Senate committee hearing on the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia, Dave West from the environmental group Boomerang Alliance told a Fairfax video journalist that an average seafood diet in Australia would result in ingesting about 11,000 pieces of plastic a year.

Is that accurate?

Checking the source

When asked for a source to support his assertion, West referred The Conversation to a BBC article published in October 2015 that said:

Prof Tamara Galloway of Exeter University quotes research estimating that anyone consuming an average amount of seafood would ingest about 11,000 plastic particles a year.

The Conversation asked Galloway, a professor of ecotoxicology, to clarify and provide sources. She said by email:

The stats came from another published paper, by [Belgium-based researchers] Van Cauwenberghe and Janssen in which the authors had made a Fermi estimate (or order of magnitude estimate) based on their field data for cultured shellfish.

Professor Galloway also said she had co-written a commentary article for the journal PNASwhich

covers a similar topic, but includes some data from another paper too, in which the authors found even higher concentrations of microplastics in seafood. Clearly, there is going to be variation in the levels of contamination depending on location and local sources of pollution, ocean conditions, etc. This does suggest however, that the Van Cauwenberghe results are not just a one-off.

You can read Professor Galloway’s full reply here.

The 2014 Van Cauwenberghe and Janssen paper to which Galloway refers was published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

However, that paper does not show that anyone consuming an average amount of seafood would ingest about 11,000 plastic particles a year. The figure of 11,000 is an upper-end estimate for Europeans who eat quite a lot of molluscs. The paper estimates that:

European top consumers will ingest up to 11,000 microplastics per year, while minor mollusc consumers still have a dietary exposure of 1800 microplastics year.

In that paper, the researchers note that shellfish consumption differs greatly among countries.

In Europe, for instance, mollusc consumption can differ over a factor of 70 between consumers and non-consumers. European top consumers can be found in Belgium (elderly), with a per capita consumption of 72.1g day, while mollusc consumers in France (adolescents) and Ireland (adults) have the lowest per capita consumption: only 11.8g day for both countries.

The researchers also noted that

The presence of marine microplastics in seafood could pose a threat to food safety, however, due to the complexity of estimating microplastic toxicity, estimations of the potential risks for human health posed by microplastics in food stuffs is not (yet) possible.

What does this mean for the average Australian seafood consumer?

The 11,000 figure applies to an estimate for “European top consumers” of molluscs, not an average Australian seafood diet.

We don’t yet have all the data needed to make a good estimate of how much plastic an average Australian seafood consumer ingests per year.

The Boomerang Alliance’s Dave West acknowledged the limitations of applying the 11,000 figure to Australia, telling The Conversation by email that:

Only comment I’d make is that I agree the comment referring to Australia rather than a generic average seafood diet was clumsy.

Small plastic particles can be ingested by bivalves (such as mussels, cockles, oysters, pipi and scallops) and remain there for some time. And these bivalves can be eaten by larger predators, pushing the plastic up the food chain.

It’s worth noting the important difference between eating fish and shellfish. Unless you’re eating sardines and anchovies, humans don’t typically consume the digestive tract of a fish (where plastics would be found). But if you’re eating molluscs and shellfish, particularly from urban centres, you may be adding plastic to your diet.

Australians are not the world’s top shellfish consumers, trailing behind Belgium, most East Asian countries, the US and many European nations.

Verdict

There is insufficient published research to support the statement that a person with an average seafood diet in Australia today is probably ingesting about 11,000 pieces of plastic every year.

The 11,000 figure applies to an estimate for “European top consumers” of molluscs, not an average Australian seafood diet. This is an important issue that needs more attention.

 

Britta Denise Hardesty is a Senior Research Scientist, Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship at the CSIRO.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

Image: Algalita Marine Research and Education

 

Cocoa Life Sustainability Program reports Strong Progress

Mondelēz International has published the first progress report on its Cocoa Life sustainability program, which highlights the wide-ranging impact and efforts to date across its six cocoa-growing origins. 

Since its inception in 2012 to the end of 2015, Cocoa Life reached over 76,700 farmers in over 795 communities, establishing a strong foundation and framework for the program.

Initial results show Cocoa Life farmers' incomes tripled since 2009, which is 49 percent more than control communities measured. Likewise, cocoa yield increased 37 percent more than the control communities.

The report also includes data from a needs assessment of the five regions where Cocoa Life is in place in Côte d’Ivoire and an Indonesia baseline assessment, which identifies key areas that will be targeted and measured for improvement. 

According to Cocoa Life Program Director Cathy Pieters, Cocoa Life integrates the work of stakeholders to achieve common goals in ways that can assist Cocoa Life farming communities around the world.

"This progress report brings together the voices of people in cocoa communities across all our origins and demonstrates how the program is working together with local governments, our suppliers and partners to build lasting change on the ground," Pieters said. 

As the world’s largest chocolate company and buyer of cocoa, Mondelēz International is committed to ensuring a sustainable cocoa supply chain. Today, 21 percent of the company’s cocoa is sustainably sourced and brands such as Côte d'Or and Marabou are now displaying the Cocoa Life logo. Cocoa Life is a long-term $400 million investment to empower 200,000 cocoa farmers and reach over one million community members by 2022. 

Cocoa Life is a part of Mondelēz International's Call For Well-being, a call to action focused on four areas that are critical to the well-being of the world and where the company can make the greatest impact: Sustainability, Well-being, Communities, and Safety.

Morrison ticks off sale of Australia’s biggest dairy to Chinese buyer

Treasurer Scott Morrison has approved the $280 million sale of Australia’s largest dairy farming business to the Chinese-owned Moon Lake Investments.

Morrison announced he had agreed to the acquisition of the land and assets of the Tasmanian Land Company (TLC), including the Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL) from New Zealand’s New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), subject to conditions on taxation.

He said his decision was consistent with the recommendation of the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Moon Lake is owned by Lu Xianfeng. Lu is the managing director and executive chairman of Kresta Holdings Limited, Australia’s largest window-covering retailer.

VDL, which dates from 1825, owns and operates 25 dairy farms in Tasmania, milking some 18,000 cows. The Treasurer pointed out that “VDL is currently a foreign-owned company that has always been owned by foreign residents”.

Morrison said he had considered the national interest test, including the likely impact on local jobs and increased investment to support economic growth. “In particular, the national interest test requires consideration of the impact on taxation revenue,” he said.

Approval of Moon Lake’s application is the first under new conditions, requiring it to comply with Australian tax law, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) directions to provide information about the investment and to advise the ATO if it enters into any transactions with non-residents to which the transfer pricing or any anti-avoidance measures in the tax law might potentially apply.

Morrison said Moon Lake had guaranteed all VDL employees would be offered jobs on terms no less favourable than their present ones.

It had also committed to investment projects on the VDL farms “which will provide additional economic activity to the Tasmanian economy, and based upon Moon Lake’s estimates will result in a near doubling of employment at VDL”, Morrison said. “This will guarantee more than 140 local jobs, generate an intended additional investment of over $100 million and an expected additional 95 jobs.”

Moon Lake planned to continue to supply the milk under the present contractual terms. This meant the supply of milk and milk products would not be affected – indeed supply might increase with more investment, Morrison said.

He said the VDL land had important cultural and natural heritage significance.

“Moon Lake has committed to honour the terms of all environmental and cultural agreements entered into by VDL, including with the local Aboriginal community. This also includes the ‘in principle’ approval for the construction of a Devil Proof Fence at its Woolnorth property to help reduce the spread of Devil Facial Tumour Disease among the Tasmanian Devil population,” Morrison said.

Businessman Dick Smith condemned the approval as a “disaster”. “You may as well not have borders if you are going to sell everything off,” Smith said.

The decision follows controversy about the purchase and comes before Morrison must decide on whether to approve the sale of the pared-down Kidman empire to a Chinese buyer. Earlier he rejected the Kidman sale particularly on the security grounds that Anna Creek Station, the biggest working cattle station in the world, overlapped the Woomera Prohibited Area. Anna Creek has been removed from the restructured bid.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Coca-Cola Health Funding hits Sour Results

Coca-Cola is funding a campaign to focus the discussion about obesity in Australia on exercise, shifting away from dietary intake as the solution to the health epidemic. 

In August last year, Coca-Cola's global boss promised to publish all financing of health groups after revelations of astroturfing activities by the New York Times.

In the United States alone, it was revealed that Coca-Cola had given $US21.8 million ($30.5 million) to fund research and $US96.8 million to fund what it calls "health and wellbeing partnerships" in the United States.

EIM Australia was launched in 2011 at the General Practitioner Conference and Exhibition in Sydney with a presentation by EIM global executive council member Steven Blair, who as vice-president of the Global Energy Balance Network was involved in a funding controversy that engulfed Coca-Cola in the US last year.

Dr Blair, who has said there is "virtually no compelling evidence" that fast food and sugary drinks caused obesity, has received more than $US3.5 million ($4.9 million) from Coca-Cola since 2008, according to The New York Times.

Mrs Hobson-Powell said ESSA was not aware of Dr Blair's relationship with Coca-Cola at the time.

Dr Blair was most recently in Australia in October, as keynote speaker at an Australian Physiotherapy Association conference where he claimed that undue focus on diet could lead to flawed strategies for tackling obesity.

He presented a similar argument during a guest lecture to students at the University of Queensland's faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.

Timothy Olds, a professor of health sciences at the University of South Australia, also appears on Coca-Cola's funding list as one of 12 scientists who received a combined $US6.29 million ($8.8 million) grant to conduct an international study into the relationship between lifestyle and environment and childhood obesity.

Dr Olds said the University of South Australia received about $400,000 for his part in the research, which discloses Coca-Cola's involvement.

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola South Pacific said it would reveal all its Australian grants and gifts "in the coming months".

"This is a lengthy process as we are currently compiling details of the projects we have supported dating back to 2010," she said.

The spokeswoman said CCSP was "proud to support Exercise is Medicine Australia from 2010-2013.

The sponsorship agreement with Exercise & Sports Science Australia provided funding for ESSA to resource an EIM Australia project development officer whose responsibility it was to set up and implement the program in Australia.

"Coca-Cola South Pacific funding stopped in 2013 because the project was complete."

Snickers recalled as plastics found in chocolate bars

Mars, one of the world's biggest food companies, has recalled chocolate bars and other products in 55 countries after a piece of plastic was found in a Snickers bar in Germany, according to a Reuters report.

All of the recalled products, which include Mars, Snickers and Milky Way bars, were manufactured at a Dutch factory in Veghel, a Mars spokeswoman said on Tuesday. They were sold in European countries including Germany, France and Britain, and in certain countries in Asia.

"We cannot be sure that this plastic was only in that particular Snickers," a spokeswoman from Mars Netherlands said. "We do not want any products on the market that may not meet our quality requirements, so we decided to take them all back."

It was not immediately clear how much the complex recall would cost the company, which is unlisted and therefore does not disclose detailed financial information. The spokeswoman declined to comment on financial implications of the recall, which is the first to affect the factory.

Mars Netherlands said it was working closely with the Dutch food safety authority on the matter, according to a statement.

The recall affected all Mars and Snickers products, Milky Way Minis and Miniatures as well as certain kinds of Celebrations confectionery boxes with best-before dates ranging from June 19, 2016 to Jan. 8, 2017. Those dates may not be the same in other countries, the spokeswoman said.

Caffeinated water brands aim to take share as demand for functionality grows

Bottled water volumes continue to rise at the expense of carbonates. There is rising demand for beverages that offer functionality but without artificial ingredients and little or no added sweeteners. Viewing this as a “white space” opportunity, a number of companies have recently launched or relaunched caffeinated water in the US to target consumers looking for healthy and natural functional drinks. Caffeinated water joins other products such as electrolyte-enhanced water, protein-enriched water, and vitamin-enhanced water in the small but rapidly growing functional bottled water category.

The growth in products marketed as “water” reflects changing consumer sentiment. Consumers want the purity and simplicity of water and the benefits of functional drinks. Going forward, caffeinated water may have a chance to take some share from sports drinks and low calorie cola carbonates, as well as to attract older energy drinks consumers. Though these companies are currently focused on the US, there may be opportunities for caffeinated water to succeed in other parts of the world including Asia Pacific. In China, caffeinated water may be able to gain a presence by focusing on the energy-boosting aspects of caffeine to compete against carbonates and juice drinks.

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CAFFEINATED WATER AS REPLACEMENT FOR LOW CALORIE COLA CARBONATES

Among the consumers targeted by caffeinated water producers, regular drinkers of low calorie cola carbonates appear to be the biggest group in the US. Industry observers state that many drinkers of low calorie carbonates are avid users, consuming it several times, both in the morning and as an afternoon pick-me-up. The media has increasingly focused on low calorie carbonates by questioning the safety of artificial sweeteners and citing studies linking weight gain with low calorie carbonates consumption. Negative reports about low calorie carbonates have led to their continuing decline in the US despite initiatives such as PepsiCo removing aspartame from Diet Pepsi and replacing it with sucralose and acesulfame potassium in August 2015, and the November 2014 launch of mid-calorie Coca-Cola Life with stevia. Many of these diet carbonate drinkers are believed to be switching to bottled water to improve their health. Hint Water CEO Kara Goldin has said that, “Most of our customers are on to health concerns about sweeteners, telling us that they have definitely moved away from diet sodas.” By offering the energy boost of caffeine to water and positioning itself as a healthy functional beverage, caffeinated water has the opportunity to take share from diet carbonates.

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AN ENERGY BOOST FOR OLDER CONSUMERS

Energy drinks continues to be the fastest-growing category in global soft drinks, with off-trade volume sales growth of 9% in 2015. Makers of energy drinks have been able to attract young consumers through sports and music marketing and the offer of functionality to improve mental and physical performance. However, energy drink companies have generally not been successful in reaching older consumers who turn to coffee, cola, or energy tonics when they want an energy boost. By offering a caffeine boost minus taurine and artificial flavours and sweeteners, caffeinated water may hold appeal for older consumers. Avitae USA LLC CEO Norm Snyder said that Avitae caffeine + water’s third leading consumer group is older energy drinkers. He said that “As you get over 24, you get more concerned about health”. Among older consumers, caffeinated water may have growth potential in the workplace. Speaking about the company’s Water Joe caffeinated water, Andrea Mace, Premium Waters Regional Sales & Marketing Manager, said she has seen “increased interest in our products from technology industries”. Gaining access to the office market is likely to be challenging as most offices in the US already offer free coffee and tea. But in technology and sales companies, caffeinated water may hold appeal because of speed (no need to wait for coffee to brew) and smell (no coffee breath).

CAFFEINE FOR SPORTS ENHANCEMENT

Coconut water sales have grown rapidly and outperformed other juices in the US and beyond as producers have been able to successfully market it as nature’s sports drink by emphasising its naturally high electrolyte content with no added sugar or preservatives. With the rise in the popularity of athletic activities such as spinning and yoga, caffeinated water may be able to gain some of these active consumers, especially women, who may not have related to sports drinks marketing or who were put off by its sugar and caloric count. Sports drinks have historically targeted men by featuring male athletes such as Michael Jordan. Caffeinated water producers state that one of their main consumer groups is people who work out. Avitae’s Snyder says that “Caffeine is becoming a popular pre-workout supplement for people that work out.” Hint Water’s Goldin stated, “A number of athletes drink Hint Kick, before a tennis game, before playing basketball.” Some studies have shown a link between caffeine consumption before a workout and enhanced athletic performance. However, drinking coffee before exercise is not a common ritual because it takes time to brew and drink hot coffee. Caffeinated water offers the advantage of zero or few calories, no or minimal amount of sweeteners, and no artificial colours and flavours.

STRONG DEMAND FOR FUNCTIONAL BOTTLED WATER IN CHINA

As health awareness and concerns about obesity and sugar consumption increase worldwide, more consumers are expected to look for healthier beverages. Some countries in Asia Pacific including China could be receptive to the idea of caffeinated water as a healthier alternative to carbonates and juice drinks with less or no sweeteners and no artificial ingredients. Euromonitor International’s December 2015 article on Get Moving! Consumers and Exercise in the Asia-Pacific Region talks about the rise of obesity in the region as well as how fitness fever has hit Chinese women. Hectic lifestyles, growing health awareness, and a rise in disposable incomes are benefiting sales of all functional beverages in China including functional bottled water. Driving the growth is Groupe Danone’s Mizone vitamin-enriched water with 15% off-trade volume growth in 2015. Mizone’s success ties into the new trend of emerging refreshing drinks in China which offer lighter taste profiles. In a sign of potential growth opportunities in Asian functional bottled water, the private investment arm of Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka Shing, reportedly the richest person in Asia, announced a strategic investment in US-based Agua Brands. His Horizons Ventures invested in the maker of Agua Energy Water (a caffeinated water made with caffeine from the guarana berry) and Agua Fruit Essence (an electrolyte-enhanced water). The October 2015 press release announcing the deal stated that “The investment will kick-start Agua’s international expansion plans, beginning in Asia – the perfect launch market to introduce a healthier pick-me-up energy beverage.”

33.jpgFUTURE PROSPECTS

As sales of low calorie cola carbonates are expected to continue their decline globally over the forecast period, other beverages will take its place. The future of functionality is likely to be a growing interest in “natural” hydration where beverages offer the simplicity of water (no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives) with functional benefits. PepsiCo’s January 2016 announcement of an upcoming organic version of Gatorade sports drink in the US reflects the change in consumer sentiment towards more natural beverages amid growing competition from “plant water” such as coconut water and electrolyte-enhanced water. In the years ahead, there is likely to be a growing convergence between bottled water, juice, and sports drinks.

Virginia Lee is a Senior Beverages Analyst at Euromonitor International. Read the original article here.

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