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NEW January 2014 Edition:
This Global Update seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of the state of play on the issue today: what are the major nutrition labelling initiatives adopted or in the pipeline to date? How do they work? What do the various stakeholders say? Where is the debate heading? What does the research show?
EUFIC and partner food information organisations have produced a January 2014 edition of the Global Update on Nutrition Labelling,
which can now be purchased here
. It is directed to those that have a particular interest in the state of nutrition labelling around the world, beyond a regulatory perspective. Browse the NEW Executive Summary
Eat a Variety of Foods
You need more than 40 different nutrients for good health and no single food can supply them all. Today's food supply makes it easy to eat a wide variety of foods whether or not you are buying fresh foods to cook, taking advantage of ready-prepared dishes and meals or buying "take-away" foods. Balance your choice over time! If you have a high-fat lunch, have a low-fat dinner. If you eat a large serving of meat at dinner one day, perhaps choose fish the next day.
On 10th December 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released its full risk assessment on the low calorie sweetener aspartame and concluded that aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of intake.
To carry out its risk assessment, EFSA undertook a rigorous review of all available scientific research on aspartame and its breakdown products, provided both by animal and human studies. EFSA concluded that the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40 mg per kg body weight per day is protective for the general population. With respect to pregnancy, the Panel noted that there was no risk to the developing foetus from exposure to phenylalanine derived from aspartame at the current ADI.
“This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken. It’s a step forward in strengthening consumer confidence in the scientific underpinning of the EU food safety system and the regulation of food additives”, said the Chair of EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Foods (ANS Panel), Dr Alicja Mortensen.
This risk assessment confirms previous findings on the safety of aspartame. The first safety assessment of aspartame carried out in Europe was published by the European Commission’s former Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 1984. Subsequent complementary assessments were made by the SCF in 1988, 1997 and 2002. Since EFSA’s establishment in 2002, the Authority issued advice on new scientific studies related to this sweetener in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Please click for further information on the EFSA aspartame press release
and on the risk assessment
For a small percentage of people, specific foods or components of food may cause adverse reactions. These are typically classified as food allergies (i.e. reactions which involve the immune system) or food intolerances (i.e. reactions which do not involve the immune system). Allergen terminology has been published by the World Allergy Organization and is based on terminology originally proposed by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).
A food allergy occurs when an allergen (i.e. a protein in the offending food, which in the majority of people will not produce an adverse reaction) sets off a chain of reproducible reactions involving the immune system. The reactions can be either antibody- or cell-mediated.
With only some basic data, the energy balance calculator defines your Body Mass Index (BMI), your daily energy requirements and if you are at risk for certain diseases.
Sugars, a type of carbohydrate, have been making media headlines repeatedly over the last years. Most strikingly, the debate tends to be based on gut feelings rather than solid science, often missing out on key studies and reviews. However, for policy makers to make informed decisions about sugar consumption in relation to health, they require a well-balanced reflection of the current scientific evidence. In this context, the European Food Safety Authority in its 2010 scientific opinion on dietary carbohydrates concluded that current data do not allow setting an upper limit for (added) sugar intake in relation to body weight, dental health and certain adverse metabolic effects.
Sugar is a common and important part of our diet and provides an essential fuel for our bodies. In fact, the brain and the red blood cells need glucose as an energy source since they cannot use fat, protein, or other forms of energy for this purpose. Sugar also makes our diet more palatable by adding sweetness to a large range of foods. As with any nutrient, excess consumption can have a negative health impact. Therefore, sugar should be eaten in moderation. Furthermore, an overall healthy lifestyle encompasses regular physical activity alongside a balanced diet.
To better understand sugars and their impact on health, EUFIC provides a range of information materials that cover many of the sugar-related topics and give an overview of the most recent scientific developments in the field.
In May 2013, the 20th European Congress on Obesity, hosted by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), took place in Liverpool. With the prevalence of obesity still on the rise, the objectives of this annual forum are to: communicate the state of the art research in the field of obesity, to foster innovative approaches for the prevention and treatment of obesity and its associated burden of diseases, and to bring together experts in the field of obesity research and management. The programme drew over 1,700 participants and covered a range of obesity-related topics. EUFIC interviewed 10 of the speakers at the conference, who summarised their research findings.
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