Mandatory labelling for lupin starts soon

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is reminding food businesses that mandatory allergen labelling requirements for lupin begin on 26 May 2018.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said lupin is a legume which belongs to the same plant family as peanuts, and has the potential to be an allergen.

“In Australia, lupin has not typically been used in food, however, due to its high protein and fibre content we are seeing an increase in its use,”  Booth said.

“In 2017, lupin was added to the list of allergens that must be declared on food labels. Food businesses were given 12 months to meet these requirements.

“Any foods that contain lupin must declare it on the label from 26 May 2018 – even if it’s already on the shelf.

“Correct allergen labelling can mean the difference between life and death for people with food allergies so it is vital that food businesses get it right.

“Even if the food is not in a package (for example, food prepared at and sold from a takeaway shop), allergen information must be displayed in connection with the food or provided to the purchaser if requested.”

Two NSW deaths linked to listeria-infected rockmelon

The deaths of two people in NSW have been linked to a listeria outbreak. In addition, a further eight people in NSW, Victoria and Queensland have fallen ill as a result of the outbreak.

All 10 people consumed rockmelon prior to their illness.

The NSW Food Authority said in a statement it is advising consumers who are most vulnerable to Listeria infection such as older persons, and people who have weakened immune systems due to illness or pregnancy, to avoid eating rockmelon after a recent spike in listeriosis cases in elderly people has been linked to the fruit.

As a precaution, consumers particularly those who are elderly, pregnant or immune compromised who may have rockmelon already in their home are advised to discard it.

Listeria is found widely in the environment and rarely causes serious illness in the general population but for vulnerable people, such as those who are over 70, pregnant, or have diabetes, cancer or suppressed immune systems, it can be extremely serious or even life threatening.

The outbreak has been linked to a grower in Nericon NSW. The company voluntarily ceased production on Friday 23 February 2018, shortly after being notified of a potential link to illness and is working proactively with the Authority to further investigate how any contamination could have occurred in order to get back into production as soon as possible.

Any affected product is being removed from the supply chain, so consumers can be assured rockmelons currently available on shelves are not implicated in this outbreak.

Listeriosis starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea. The symptoms can take a few days or even up to six weeks to appear after eating contaminated produce.

People at risk should consult their local doctor as early as possible should symptoms appear.

Increase loading dock safety with Australia’s first telescopic lip dock leveller

The loading dock is a critical link for any business that ships and receives goods, so it makes sense that using the best equipment available is key in the efficient and safe handling of those goods. That’s why Assa Abloy has introduced the first telescopic lip dock leveler to Australia.

The DL6020T Teledock – available exclusively through Assa Abloy in this region –is suitable for every loading situation, regardless of its complexity. Unlike commonly used swing lip levelers, the Teledock has a movable telescopic lip, which provides a larger contact area between the vehicle bed and the dock leveller.

As a result it can be precisely positioned on the vehicle bed for optimal load utilisation and increased safety, explained Andrew Barker, national sales manager at Assa Abloy.

“If you are a large business that has a lot of containers coming into the country, they are usually loaded right to the rear of the trailer. What happens is that the swing lip dock leveller can’t engage with the back of the truck, meaning that the first row of goods has to be unloaded by hand before a fork lift can be used. This causes a slowdown in productivity and a slowdown in unloading and loading the truck,” he said.

“It also becomes a health and safety issue because there is a gap between the warehouse and the back of the truck where people are handballing the goods, meaning people could slip and fall down in between there.”

In the food manufacturing industry, which is governed by stringent regulations on the handling and transportation of food such as cold storage and protecting food from contamination, the Teledock can ensure a quicker unload, speeding up the transfer from truck to temperature controlled equipment in the facility.

The Teledock comes with the option of an Ergonomic Lip providing a bump free transition from the leveller platform to the lip. This makes the DL6020T Teledock ideal for operations with electrical pallet trucks.

It is also fully automated through the innovative and unique Assa Abloy 950 series docking control system that gives direct control of the dock leveler, dock shelter and door all in one control unit. With only a few self explaining buttons it is easy to operate, to meet the demands of modern logistics. Separate steering units or complex wiring are no longer needed.


Taking food safety to the floor

It may seem innocuous, but the level of attention that you pay to your factory floor will inevitably improve food and human safety in the workplace. Steven Impey takes a closer inspection.

Finding a balance between product and human safety in the workplace is one of the food sector’s ongoing challenges.

Even on highly automated factory floors, the footfall still remains high wherever quality control requires a keener eye for contamination and operational assistance.

Especially in facilities such as abattoirs, dairy processors, and food factories – where human hand meets the production line – companies must maintain the highest standards for worker safety as well as product integrity.

“What food manufacturers are looking for is product safety – that is the number one issue,” said Ray Schnitzerling, design director at Wiley, who design and build manufacturing facilities.

“You have to be able to clean your floors well and they need to have good drainage; but that doesn’t necessarily solve the human safety factor.

To stop people from slipping, you need to have good flooring systems – however, when you have really good slip assistance, it is going to be harder to clean.

“There is always this conflict between trying to provide something that is easily obtainable and drains well compared to an environment that is safe for workers and is suitable for pedestrian use,” Schnitzerling added.

Among some of the most common causes for injury within Australian industry, slips and trips are still prevalent.

The challenge is to have enough grit in the flooring that makes it easy to clean but remains safe to walk on.

Under section four of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety, expectations are set out for the production environment. This will include the layout and maintenance of the facility and equipment, cleaning, pest control, waste management and foreign body controls.

“It is always a struggle to provide that slip resistance rating as opposed to the cleanability of your floor,” Schnitzerling said.

“However, another thing that is an issue is where you have people standing in the same position for long periods.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 10.47.17 AM

At the top of the tree, stresses on the body are a major cause for long-term injuries, meaning a work environment must meet the needs on the people of the ground as well as the food and drink they produce.

One area that isn’t always taken into consideration is the type and standard of flooring a processing plant invests in.

For example, there are various floor materials that have rubber in them to combat body fatigue – although they are not always desirable in a food environment.

It therefore means knowing what sort of application you need to use in different work environments.

For example, in an abattoir, blood is very aggressive and requires a particular resin flooring that is not susceptible to blood corrosion.

In a milk factory, it is the same story. Whatever the food type you produce, you need to make sure that your flooring is resistant to corrosive food products.

At Flowcrete, the flooring design company based in New South Wales, its engineers work across a multitude of industries.

“Within food and beverage as well as other sectors, we try to work to educate people on what their specific requirements are,” said Ilona Osborne, Flowcrete’s marketing manager.

“Flooring is one of the most important things you can have in a food facility although, unfortunately, it really is an afterthought for a lot of businesses.

“That is why we try to work with businesses on the specification side of things and to look at how it benefits their facility.”

The non-slip issue can always be a safety problem, she explains – especially in wet-processing areas like abattoirs, which require flooring with quite a severe non-slip aggregate in it.

However, they can be quite difficult to clean so it is important to ensure that you have a good material that is easy to maintain and having the correct cleaning tools.

This may include an anti-microbial agent built into the resin which works to proactively kill bacteria on the surface of the floor and create a hygienic environment when accompanied by the correct cleaning procedures.

“We have been working with a lot of clients who have offered a lot of feedback. Traditional resin flooring systems can be difficult to clean which is why we have developed a gloss finish,” Osborne said.

“It’s all about continually looking at the facility and what the requirements are for an individual business and adjusting the flooring systems to suit.”

At Roxset, one of Australia’s leading flooring solutions providers, offering a one-to-one service is vital to getting the job done right first time and in a timely manner.

With profitability and production time now so tightly connected, knowing the ins and outs of the client’s targets is critical to making the right choice for any given floor surface.

Bruce Willan, Roxset’s managing director based in Sydney, explains why that is the company’s number one rule.

“It is a problem seen across the manufacturing industry, where people are becoming fascinated by the latest robotics and technology while the floor surface they work on is important to some but not necessarily to others,” he said.

“It is actually an integral part to any production business and, as an industry necessity, it is important that we provide a high quality food grade surface suitable for rapid installation while there is growing pressure in Australia to run your business 24 hours a day.”

Making sure that a client can easily maintain their floor and won’t need a recall after installation is a long-term investment and proves to be one of the biggest challenges across the industry.

“The time frame that we often work with is very limited – for the larger projects, it could take as few as five days to complete 1,000sqm – and requires, on our part, a good understanding of our clients and their needs,” Willan continued.

“At Roxset, we particularly like to interact with our clients directly so that they and their clients are best served rather than liaising with a third-party contractor.

“We therefore need to make sure to tailor each floor surface to each specific client and, on our part, requires a larger operation that can serve companies across the country, in any given sector, at any given time.”

Another area of importance is knowing a client’s internal traffic and the critical areas of the facility so that the architect can come up with a specific plan.

“Working with and learning from the client involved to achieve the best result means acting as one unit,” Willan said.

“More food processors are now dealing with clients on an international stage and want to look the part, so making sure your flooring is up to standards is the first step to making your factory look the part too.”

One of the misconceptions Osborne has recognised from events such as foodpro is the role resin plays in the maintenance of different industrial flooring.

At Flowcrete, they are offering cementitious polyurethane resin flooring that can be used as an alternative option in the food and beverage industry across a variety of sub-markets.

These flooring systems are designed to work within a punishing environment and provide wear, impact and chemical resistance, which is a benefit to areas where implements can drop on to and cause damage to the floor.

Cementitious polyurethane resins are also able to withstand thermal fluctuations from -40°C to 120°C, which are often found at different stages and zones of production.

Furthermore, they can also feature natural antimicrobial additives, which provide additional protection against bacteria and fungi.

“In one facility, you may have smoke rooms and you may have areas where you are pulling out hot trolleys or you may have cold rooms for process packaging,” Osborne explained

“They all require different flooring technology – and you are not going to use the same flooring you use in a commercial kitchen as you would in a packaging area.”

The introduction of robotics into the workforce has also changed the way companies think about the surface they work on.

For example, processors may consider using their flooring to create zones where it is safe and not safe to work.

This could include painted patterns or lines in the floor’s material that show where people can walk and therefore requires a little bit more slip resistance.

“Factories will probably move to a lights out situation where there are no people within the factory during a period of time,” Schnitzerling said.

“Although there will be supervisors, who may only be allowed to enter the production area at a certain time, you are always going to have some manual processes in place.”

While most manufacturers are trying to replace manual work with automation, you still need floors that can be cleaned.

“That’s what food manufacturers are looking for most of all – a hygienic environment for the production of their food,” he added.


Automated food sorting machines to grow at seven per cent CAGR by 2021

Technavio market research analysts forecast the global automated food sorting machines market to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of close to seven per cent during the forecast period, according to their latest report.

The research company’s analysts highlight the following three market drivers that are contributing to the growth of the global automated food sorting machines market:

  • Retrofit activities carried out in aging food processing facilities
  • Rising demand for food products and shorter delivery cycle
  • Implementation of standards applicable to food processing

The food industry is the oldest industry that has gone through several revolutions such as Green Revolution, White Revolution, and Pink Revolution. Depending on the type of food products manufactured, there have been several changes in the methods of food processing witnessed in the industry. However, the introduction of automation in the industry is transforming the aging industry by integrating new methods and technique, according to Technavio.

“Automation has allowed the industry to reduce the manual work, improve hygiene, and speed-up the process. Also, realising the cost benefits achieved in terms of return-on-investment in the long run, small and medium-sized enterprises too have switched to automated machines to optimise industry operations,” says Sushmit Chakraborty, a lead analyst at Technavio for automation research.

Rising demand for food products and shorter delivery cycle

The improving economy of developing nations has witnessed a rise in the demand for different food products and changes in eating habits. To serve the growing need for food, the food industry is required to reduce the process time and delivery time. This can be achieved by reducing the process cycle time and implementation of automated machines.

Implementation of automated machines has drastically reduced the process time and increased the quality of food products manufactured. The demand for various food products such as dairy, fruits and vegetables, oils and fats, and meat and seafood can be fulfilled by integrating the processes that require minimum process and cycle time.

“Automated food sorting machines are used for different food items, thus making the processes faster and more hygienic. Industrial automation and information analytics allow the user to extract the data and perform the activities more accurately and fast, thereby reducing the delivery cycle,” says Sushmit.

Implementation of standards applicable to food processing

The food industry must adhere to food and safety standards that regulate and monitor the food quality. For every food product manufactured, there are a set of quality standards that are to be maintained during the manufacturing process. Traditionally, food industry involved manual efforts during the manufacturing processes. However, to achieve the quality standards decided by food safety and standard authority, it is necessary for food manufacturing companies to rely on food processing equipment.

Automated food sorting machines provide speed and allow the industry to optimise the quality standards. The improved quality achieved by implementing automated machines and integrating methods with artificial intelligence will result in the further growth of the market.

Image: BBC Technologies’ CURO 16

Anti-slip surface protection film

3M Anti-Slip Surface Protection Film can help minimise the impact liquid drips, spills, heavy traffic, rolling chairs and other finish-eroding events can have on floors and surfaces, while also keeping your premises safe.

This is a thin, almost invisible film that protects surfaces from everyday wear and tear. It has been certified to a P4 slip rating. The product comes in a 1.2m x 15m mini roll and a 80mm x 15m roll which is ideal for stair cases.

Reducing the number of stripping and recoating events required, the anti-slip film needs no special tools or techniques for installation or removal. The film is ideal for waxed vinyl, sealed concrete, marble, ceramic tile, terrazzo and more. In addition, it is compatible with standard floor cleaning procedures and cleaning chemicals.

In addition to meeting the slip resistance requirements the unique peelable feature of this product removes the need to use mechanical methods or harsh chemicals to remove and replace coating.

FSANZ calls for submissions on changes to maximum residue limits

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has called for submissions on a proposal to amend maximum residue limits (MRLs) for certain agricultural and veterinary chemicals.

FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth said the proposal aimed to harmonise limits in the Food Standards Code with limits used overseas.

“If a chemical is found in a food product that does not have an MRL for that chemical it cannot be legally sold in Australia,” Mr Booth said.

“Chemicals can be used differently around the world because of different pests, diseases and environmental factors. This means residues in imported foods may differ from those in domestically produced products, but that does not mean there is a safety issue.

“FSANZ has assessed the proposal and concluded there are no public health and safety concerns relating to the changes.”

All FSANZ decisions on standards are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation. The ministers can decide to adopt, amend, or reject standards or they can ask for a review.

Food safety and the laws of attraction

New magnetic separation technology is set to save food and dairy manufacturers from detrimental product recalls.

Braden Goddin (pictured below), Product Manager for Aurora Process Solutions, has the unpleasant task of sitting down with food producers and talking about product recalls.

“It’s a difficult topic to bring up,” he said. “A recall is one of the worst things that can happen to a food producer. There is the tangible cost of actually pulling the food off the shelves and disposing of it, and the intangible cost to a brand and its reputation in the marketplace.”

Sadly, product recalls are becoming if not common, at least regularly covered in the media, as companies find themselves in terrible situations. At best, a food recall costs a firm thousands of dollars– at worst, the recall can affect the health of consumers, leading to a public outcry against a brand.

Goddin is having these conversations, however, because he’s part of a team dedicated to helping companies avoid food recalls. His company is working to popularise magnetic separation in the Australasian food processing industry, specifically among powdered milk products. It’s what he called a “very cost effective insurance” for companies that risk contamination from metallic foreign objects.

“Keeping foreign matter out of your product it massive, it’s something you want to avoid at all costs. Just think about a food processing factory; say you’re making an infant formula. It’s a complex process. You might be pushing out tonnes of product an hour, moving through thousands of metal parts,” said Goddin. “Then you have the end consumer, the parent, literally sifting through the formula one tablespoon at a time. Then they find a black particle in the formula and their outraged reaction is understandable.”

In addition to risks to a producer’s reputation, and consumers’ health, Goddin said food producers must consider the risks to their processing equipment.

“Some products need to be ground, milled, minced, and mixed. This machinery operates at high speeds and tolerances and can become extremely dangerous if metal contamination is processed. This can escalate the impact of foreign matter,” explained Goddin. “In some situations there is the risk of explosion from sparks ignited from pieces of metal that are not supposed to be there. It’s not just about protecting the brand, but also about protecting your people, plant and equipment.”

Aurora 0020

He adds that by ensuring cleaner product is passing through a machine, manufacturers should be able to reduce the maintenance that’s needed on the equipment.

The use of magnets in food processing on its own is nothing new. Goddin explained, however the performance expectation of magnetic separators is changing considerably. Micro particles of foreign matter that used to be seen as acceptable are now targeted with consumers and regulators lifting the bar in terms of quality expectation.

Aurora stands out from its competitors as having developed its magnets hand in hand with actual food processors, working with major food & dairy manufacturers. The magnets themselves are rare earth magnets, meaning they require no power or consumable to operate. Traditionally, companies have just worked to make these magnets as strong as possible. What Aurora has done is work closely with its clients to develop a magnet that fits manufacturers’ needs, in terms of hygiene, design, product flow, and capacity requirements.

“We realised pretty early on that we had to design a range of magnets ourselves, utilising our global connections,” said Goddin. “We worked directly with the people on the floor, the people who were working day in, day out in these factories right through to laboratory technicians to come up with something that would revolutionise magnets from both a technical and operational perspective.”   

The result of that work is the Force10 range of magnets (pictured top), one of the industries only HACCP-endorsed magnetic separation systems. Although it works across most processing operations, Aurora has focused on the needs of the food and dairy industries.

Braden notes that processors that are already looking at their foreign matter, through the use of metal detection and X-ray technology, will still need to consider integrating the use of magnets, as they pick up critical brackets of foreign matter that are not captured by other means and also provide protection right through the process from intakes to packing.

“The magnets work hand in hand with these systems. Metal detection, X-ray, filtration and sifting technology have limitations, depending on particle size, orientation, product and process characteristics, and so on,” he said.

By implementing these systems, Godin said processors can rest easier at night, knowing that the products that travel out of the factory, onto retail shelves, then into a consumer’s pantry are clean.

“Foreign matter is a critical and escalating issue right now, it’s at the front of the market’s mind,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to add value to your brand.”

Qld meat processor shut down due to food safety concerns

A newly-opened Queensland meat processor has been forced to halt operations after Safe Food Queensland placed a suspension on activity.

Barco Queensland, owned by pet food manufacturer Millennium Pet Foods, opened its inactive game meat abbatoir in Charleville this March.

Safe Food Queensland has not yet listed the reason for the Charleville processor’s suspension, and has declined to clarify at this point.

Barco Queensland general manager Daniel McGettigan was told of the plant’s suspension, but has not yet received a suspension notice of the conflict, and is not aware of the reason for the suspension.

“[Operations have] come to a screaming halt for ourselves, for the shooters and for the workers as well,” he told the ABC.

If the suspension is not lifted, the company will consider leasing another abbatoir or expanding its existing plant in Helensvale to handle all the processing, according to McGettigan.

Despite the plant’s expansion, it has been doing well otherwise, processing 1500 carcasses per week. McGettigan has also reported that IGA supermarkets are handling more product than was initially expected, and supermarket chains have been making repeat purchases.

The plant employed 25 staff, and sourced product from around 30 shooters.

Lupin added to mandatory allergen labelling list

Lupin has been added to the list of nine allergens that must be declared on food labels, following consideration by ministers responsible for food regulation. Food businesses have 12 months from 25 May 2017 to meet the requirements.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said lupin (which like soy and peanut has the potential to be an allergen) has been recognised as a significant allergen in the European Union food regulations since 2007.

“Historically, most of the Australian sweet lupin crop has been used for animal feed or exported. However, because of its high protein and fibre content, lupin is increasingly being used in food for people.  Due to the increase in use in food and some cases of allergic response, FSANZ decided lupin should be one of the allergens requiring mandatory declaration,” said Booth.

“Australia and New Zealand have among the highest prevalence of allergic disorders in the developed world so it’s critical that food businesses get their allergen labelling right.

Booth added that some foods and food ingredients or their components can cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis. This is why there are mandatory allergen labelling requirements in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

“The ten foods/ingredients that must be declared are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, sesame seeds, fish and shellfish, soy, wheat and now lupin. These ingredients must be declared on the food label whenever they are present as ingredients or as components of food additives or processing aids,” he said.

Booth said if the food is not in a package or is not required to have a label (for example, food prepared at and sold from a takeaway shop), allergen information must either be displayed in connection with the food or provided to the purchaser if requested.

“If you run a food business you are responsible for understanding and meeting mandatory allergen labelling requirements,” Booth said.

“In addition to protecting public health and safety, awareness can save time and money for food businesses by avoiding food recalls of their products. Many food recalls occur because the food business hasn’t declared an allergen that must be on the label. Undeclared allergens were responsible for 33 recalls in 2016. Food businesses can easily avoid the costly and lengthy process of a recall by staying on top of their responsibilities regarding allergen labelling requirements.”


The connection between junk food packaging and addiction

Food is important for our survival, which is why all living beings have developed an urge for high energy foods, like those high in sugar and fat. Historically, this hadn’t been an issue, as energy dense foods weren’t always as available as they are today.

But in modern societies, we not only have easy access to cheap, high-energy food, we also have marketing companies pushing them at us. Food packaging plays a big part in triggering brain processes that influence our food choices – similar brain processes that get us stuck on addictive behaviours.

How our brain works in addiction

Some people who eat too much high-calorie food show similar behavioural patterns to those with addictions. An important behavioural component of addiction is a longing to experience the drug again and again, while in many cases, regretting that behaviour. This distinction between wanting something but not necessarily liking it is shown in many studies.

In the 1950s, two Canadian physiologists ran experiments with electrodes implanted in specific brain regions of rats. The rats were then given the opportunity to stimulate these brain regions, later termed “reward centres”, by pressing a button. Once they started pressing the stimulation button, they stopped doing anything else, which was the first hint of a strong behavioural reinforcing mechanism.

Since then, researchers have shown that this reward centre of the brain – termed the “ventral striatum” – is also involved in substance addiction, such as to heroin or cocaine. Just showing people drug-related pictures led to a strong activity in the parts of the brain related to craving for the drugs.

How our brain responds to junk foods

With methods like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows us to measure brain activity in healthy volunteers, researchers have started to investigate processes underlying how we eat and view foods.

Such studies robustly show that images of high caloric foods, like chocolate bars or cakes, lead to a stronger activity in the reward areas of the brain, in contrast to apples or salads.

Foods like cakes and burgers lead to stronger activity in our brain’s reward areas in contrast to apples or salads.

Longitudinal studies, which follow people over a period of time, have shown that the stronger the reaction in the brain’s reward areas when confronted with these foods, the more weight people will gain over the next year.

These insights have made scientists think about how they could intervene to make people less reactive to foods high in calories. One important mechanism, which was researched by a team in California, is that of self-control.

Volunteers were able to regulate the reward-related brain activity towards junk food. While in an MRI machine, they were instructed to focus on health attributes while making choices for healthier food options. When doing so, another region of the brain strongly involved in self-control (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) was more active and regulated the spontaneous rewarding brain activity.

The main problem, though, is that people are not capable of applying self-control over longer periods.

A part of the brain’s prefrontal cortex is strongly involved in self-control.
CurtisCripe/flickr, CC BY

The impact of marketing

We may think our eating decisions are mainly driven by rational factors such as weighing up the different attributes of products – for example, prices and content. But research shows we are strongly influenced by environmental factors that nudge us into making different decisions.

Designs of packages, brands or claims on food products also influence how we value and consume them. These influences are of course extensively used by companies to affect consumers’ choices.

Companies make use of bright colours, and well-known characters from movies or other celebrities to distinguish their products from others. These visual properties act as signals that influence the way we value products and make people more likely to be attracted to certain items over others.

Some studies in children show food-directed commercials influence the amount of calories they consume, with this effect especially pronounced in overweight children.

Research has begun to reveal why we are compelled to eat what we eat. It shows that food packaging plays a big part in influence choices.

But the fact contextual factors play a strong role in the perception of foods can also be used to help consumers in their choices.

We conducted a study in school children where we presented the same cereals in different packages. One of these was especially designed to be more appealing to children – we created cartoon characters and placed them on the package.

The same cereal not only tasted better when it was in the more appealing package, but children were also willing to make more effort to receive it (by more strongly pressing on a specially designed hand lever).

This influence of marketing on the actual taste experience has also been referred to as the marketing placebo effect. Expectations consumers may have about a known brand or a nice design can lead to actual differences in taste and consumption patterns, probably by acting on the human reward circuitry and raising the subjective pleasure of the taste experience.

Bernd Weber, Professor, Centre for Economics and Neuroscience, University of Bonn

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

Fonterra introduces instantly traceable baby formula info

According to a story in, Fonterra has introduced new traceability technology allowing shoppers to instantly check the authenticity of infant formula products while they are still on the shelfs.

The Quick Read (QR) codes have been initially put on the co-operative’s infant formula brand Anmum in New Zealand stores, said the story.

Each baby formula can has a unique QR code when scanned connects the buyer to a webpage with information and a batch number verifying that it is authentic.

Consumers can also scan cans at any stage after they have bought it to get up to date information about the product.

By the end of this year, Fonterra says it will have 90 per cent of its global plants with traceability data electronically connected, with the remaining 10 per cent to be completed by 2019.

Food for thought? Diet helps explain unique human brainpower

It’s the mystery of all mysteries of science. Why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life? The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence. The Conversation

For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck by the fact that we are the only species capable of doing so.

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the evolutionary arrival of humankind – some 200,000 years ago – was a decisive moment in the long history of the universe. After 14 billion years in the making, and in the blink of an eye of cosmological time, human intelligence arrived and gave the universe the ability to comprehend itself.

Maybe this all seems a little too anthropocentric for your taste? Smacks of literary indulgence on my behalf? Perhaps. But the simple matter is that we can’t avoid the fact of human uniqueness, and explaining it is tied to understanding the evolution of our extraordinary brainpower.

The eighteenth century British anatomist and creationist Richard Owen, one of Charles Darwin’s foremost foes, thought humans were so unusual that we ought to be classified in our own sub-class – the ‘Archenecephala’ as he dubbed it – on account of our highly advanced brain.

It rather conveniently stood us apart from the apes, confirming his view of the specialness of humankind.

By the standards of today’s biological classifications this would place us in a position in the tree of life above all of the orders of mammals, making us about as exceptional as the monotremes are to the placentals.

But with the facts of our evolution now well and truly established we have a much better understanding our place in nature, as members of the primate order, and particularly as African Great Apes.

To really understand how the human brain emerged we must first recognise that we share big brains with other primates. It’s our evolutionary inheritance, as primates are among the brainiest of all mammals; when taken kilo for kilo against body size. And apes are especially well endowed in the brains department.

Why? Well, this has been a major puzzle for anthropologists for decades, and the most widely accepted explanation has been the cognitive demands placed on us by living in large social groups; the so-called ‘social brain hypothesis’ or ‘Dunbar’s Number’.

The main alternative has been that braininess evolved in response to the demands of sex. Polygynandrous species – where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season – possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy.

Now a new study by Alex DeCasien and colleagues published in Nature Ecology and Evolution has turned the debate completely on its head. They’ve found that the kind of diet a primate species consumes offers the best explanation for its brain size.

While this idea is not an entirely new one, their work provides strong validation for the diet-brain connection.

When it comes to apes it turns out that fruit eating – the dietary niche present in most living apes and the one our ancient ape ancestors indulged in – is so cognitively demanding that it led to a big evolutionary leap in intelligence when it began.

How come? Well, challenging diets require individuals to seek out or capture food; they have to judge whether it’s ready to be eaten or not; and they may even need to extract it, peel it, or process it in some way before it can be ingested.

Sound familiar? It should. Humans have the most specialised and challenging diets of all primates; and I have in mind here hunters and gatherers not urban foodies.

The human dietary niche is exceptionally broad and involves behaviours aimed at not only obtaining food but also making it more palatable and digestible; activities like extraction, digging, hunting, fishing, drying, grinding, cooking, combining other foods to add flavor, or even adding minerals to season or make food safe to eat.

What other species would so gleefully jiggle their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or lap up the tongue curling delights of a lemon?

What’s more, our large fruit eating ape brains got even bigger late in human evolution because our diets became ever more challenging to obtain and prepare, especially as a result of our ancestor’s penchant for eating meat.

Hunter-gatherers typically have a diet comprising between 30% and 80% vertebrate meat, while for chimpanzees it’s only around 2%. Instead, chimps get 60% of their diet from fruit, but hunter-gatherers typically obtain only 5% or 6 % (on the odd occasion a lot more) of their nutrition from fruit.

Humans rarely eat raw meat though, and we cook many of our vegetables as well, so even after expending huge efforts to collect it we still have to process much of our food in drawn out ways.

All of this throws up a paradox for us. Why is it that our closest and now extinct relatives, such as the Neanderthals, who were capable of complex behaviours like hunting, cooking and perhaps even cultural activities like art, lacked the smarts to ponder the ultimate questions of life?

Why is it us, and not them, that are capable of pondering and explaining the existence of life and the universe, including human life itself? There is clearly something very unique about human intelligence and a lot more to this evolutionary tale than mere food for thought.

Darren Curnoe, Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and Director, Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, UNSW

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

New study to determine supply chain effects on lamb

A new study is underway to determine the effects of long-haul shipping on Australia’s export lamb.

Murdoch University PhD candidate Maddison Corlett aims to determine whether the time spent in transit from Australia to the US changes the quality of chilled lamb cuts. This is in response to reports from American consumers that Australian lamb has a “gamey” flavour.

While these reports could simply be due to Americans’ preference for beef, Corlett believes that the ageing that occurs during long-haul shipping could also be responsible.

Corlett’s project will involve sending lamb aged at five days, 21 days and 45 days to Texas Tech University to be tested. The university will cook the meat and serve it to consumers, asking for their feedback.

WA food stocks hit after roads damaged by flooding

Agriculture and food minister Alannah MacTiernan has called for road repairs in Western Australia after the region was hit by flooding.

She has identified roads in Ravensthorpe, 540km south-east of Perth, as a priority after the collapse of the South Coast Highway has caused stock losses and damage to fences and top soil.

According to a report in The West Australian, MacTiernan said farmers had lost between 5 and 7 per cent of their arable land after the floods.

“It was important to see that damage that had occurred,” she said. “It’s pretty severe.”

Funding is expected to be reimbursed to primary producers which has up to $25,000 after the council collates more data of the damage caused. 

“The Shire wants early sign-off on the ability to use day labour,” MacTiernan continue.

“It was made very clear that the Shire needs to get moving on the roads. We understand time is of the essence, we certainly don’t want to prevent planting season.

“Until those roads are repaired, we can’t get the gear in.”

Foodpro returns to Sydney for 50th year

Australasia’s iconic food manufacturing event, foodpro, returns for its 50th year in 2017 to the new international Convention Centre at Sydney’s Darling Harbour from 16 – 19 July.

Food manufacturing makes up 23% of Australia’s annual exports; the food and agribusiness industry produced $53.9 billion of value added in 2014-15 alone.

Since it first ran in 1967, foodpro has played an important role in the growth of the food processing, manufacturing and packaging industries and has contributed to the development and significance the industry has to Australia.

The event showcases products and innovations relevant to all aspects of the food manufacturing industry including: meat and seafood, value-add processing, beverages, dairy, fresh food and shelf foods.

It is considered to be a driving force behind the Australian food processing industry with global leaders presenting their latest technology, services and ideas.

With industry added value increasing annually for the past five years, foodpro 2017 is sure to be a popular event on the calendar and will feature four key precincts: food processing technology, food packaging, plant equipment and food technology.

Access to new trends will be priority as well as insight into key issues facing the industry such as traceability, food safety and sustainability.

Australia has a global reputation for high safety and quality standards; in order for food manufacturers to stay up to date they must be compliant and competitive, adapting to new technology and staying ahead of developments within the industry.

With education a key focus for the show, foodpro will provide answers and expertise with seminars covering a range of topics such as trends, insights and case studies geared to the Australian market. Visitors will have the opportunity to hear from industry experts, engage in topical discussions and learn from peers.

Running in conjunction with foodpro 2017 will be the annual AIFST (Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology) Convention.

Over 400 delegates are expected to attend the Convention’s 50th year to hear about topics such as the future nutritional needs, technology driving innovation, regulations related to imports as well as a roundtable discussing financing innovation and growth in the food industry.

 For more information, see:

‘Made in Australia’ label ranked #14 globally


A study by statistics firm Statista researched 43,000 consumers from 49 different countries to determine the world’s most respected ‘Made in’ labels. According to the study, Australia ranks 14th.

Germany ranked first, receiving 100 index points, closely followed by Switzerland with 98 index points.

Other nations in the top five include the EU as a whole, the UK and Sweden.

Australia’s 14th place ranking puts the nation just above New Zealand (ranked 15th), and below the Netherlands (ranked 13th).

At the end of the spectrum were China on 28 index points and Iran on 27 index points. Statista noted the irony of the fact that Germany scored the top rank, considering that the

‘Made in’ label was introduced by Britain at the end of the 19thcentury to protect its economy from “cheap, low quality and sometimes counterfeit” imports from Germany.

Patties CEO says more takeovers on the table

Australia’s ready-meal sector will surpass $1 billion in the near future and a shift towards healthier eating is playing a major part, it has been claimed.

Paul Hitchcock, CEO of Patties Foods, has said the company is seeking new acquisitions with projections showing the huge growth in the market. 

Having recently acquired Australian Wholefoods, he also believes the sector is now providing far more than TV dinners” and told the AFR it will grow by more than 10 per cent annually.

“The category is still relatively new,” Hitchcock told the AFR. “It’s trending toward $1 billion but we’re not there yet.

The chilled ready meals category grew by 13 per cent in the past year for the retailer “as customers continue to look for convenient and affordable meal solutions”, according to a Woolworths spokesman.

“Busy lifestyles mean consumers are attracted to convenience meals by their relatively low cost, ease of use and variety,” a spokesman for Coles added.

Patties Foods was acquired by the provate equity firm Pacific Equity Partners for $231 million last year.

Patties Foods buys up Australian Wholefoods

According to the AFR, Patties Foods has swallowed up South Australia’s Australian Wholefoods.

In what is looking very much like a pattern, Pacific Equity Partners (PEP), which bought out Patties Food in 2016 and then followed that up by buying Leader Foods, has now devoured Australian Wholefoods, thereby allowing it to push into additional categories of the food services sector.

Australian Wholefoods employs about 130 people and its says it produces more than 100,000 chilled ready meals every week.

The company has introduced a number of new product lines like Clever Cooks, a fresh-food brand free from artificial colours or preservatives.

The latest acquisition has triggered speculation that PEP will sell the combined food business it to Asian buyers, which, the AFR noted, have shown a “keen appetite for Australian food manufacturing assets in the last few years.”

Bellamy’s investors in class action

A shareholder class action against troubled infant formula supplier Bellamy’s has been filed in Victoria to give investors try try and claw back some of their losses.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn lodged the action in the Federal Court in Melbourne on Tuesday on behalf of aggrieved investors who bought shares between April 14 and December 9 last year.
It will be a new challenge for Bellamy’s brand new chairman, Rodd Peters, who was appointed after most of the board resigned or were dumped in a recent shareholder backlash.
The Tasmanian company has suffered a massive plunge in share price and flagged a significant drop in sales in China, and twice downgraded its full-year earnings forecast.

The rebel shareholders who dumped the board at a fiery meeting on February 28 said a turnaround would be complex.
But they said they had a plan to address problems related to product distribution and pricing in China.
Maurice Blackburn principal Ben Slade said the class action was a chance for investors to seek some justice.
“We’ve put together a comprehensive set of pleadings that we’ve now filed with the court, and we are confident that will give aggrieved shareholders the best chance possible of achieving financial redress for some of their losses,” he said in a statement.