In this section, we feature scientific publications of new research from Europe and the rest of the world, that may be of interest to EUFIC readers. EUFIC was not involved in this research, unless stated otherwise.
On 4 June 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released its scientific opinion on acrylamide in food. The conclusion was that based on evidence from animal studies, dietary exposure to acrylamide potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers in all age groups. Acrylamide forms particularly in plant-based, carbohydrate-rich foods during high temperature cooking (usually above 120 °C) as a consequence of the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a reaction between a reducing sugar and an amino acid that results in the “browning” and characteristic flavours of certain foods, cooked at high temperatures. Besides these sensory changes, the Maillard reaction can also result in the formation of undesirable substances such as acrylamide.
On 27th May 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its scientific opinion on the safety of caffeine consumed through the diet. The report, prepared by the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), concluded that for healthy adults, with the exception of pregnant women, single doses of caffeine up to 200 mg (approximately 2 ½ espressos or 4 cups of tea) and total daily caffeine consumption of up to 400 mg are safe.
Although insects are not traditionally eaten in Western countries, other regions around the world have long considered them acceptable on the menu. A recent paper published in the journal Food Quality and Preference provides new insight into the way cultural background and individual experience may influence acceptance or rejection of edible insects.
By comparing opinions of consumers based in the UK with those in Ireland, researchers have found that while people in both countries prefer services to be driven by their governments, only those in the UK expect a free service, at point of delivery. But, paying for advice may increase the motivation to stick to the service longer. The research is published as an open-access paper in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Researchers from the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) found that an increase in physical activity (PA) reduced the risk of mortality, particularly when comparing inactive people with those that were moderately inactive. The researchers concluded that these findings provide evidence that even a small increase in the amount of PA by the most inactive members of society should be encouraged. It has the potential to greatly improve public health-related outcomes.
A cutting-edge research project comprising research institutes and communication experts across Europe has set out to study the role of health-related claims and symbols in consumer behaviour.
On 21 January 2015, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released its scientific opinion on the risks to public health related to the presence of bisphenol A (BPA) in foodstuffs. The conclusion was that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group at current exposure levels.
Two international groups of researchers have independently studied the effects of omega-6 fatty acids on the risks of death and coronary heart disease, respectively. For both studies it was concluded that the risks were lowered with high intake of linoleic acid, the main omega-6 fatty acid, widely present in vegetable oils.
In an extensive scientific review published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, researchers from the EU-funded NeuroFAST project conclude that ‘food addiction’ is a misnomer because of the ambiguous connotation of a substance-related phenomenon. They propose the term ‘eating addiction’ to underscore the behavioural addiction to eating. The researchers stated that, similar to other addictive behaviours, eating can become an addiction for susceptible individuals, in situations where palatable energy-dense foods are readily available. This research could lead to better-focused treatment and prevention strategies for public health.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Public Health has identified uncertainty surrounding sweeteners among dietitians, which is reflected by the diversity of positions taken by the media, public health information and non-governmental organisations. Researchers from the University of Bath and Plymouth University, based in the UK, and the European Food Information Council, in Belgium, examined dietitians’ perceptions of sweeteners and the practical advice they provide about them.