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Science Briefs

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.


Coffee consumption does not increase the risk of chronic disease but could lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Germany Study conducted by researchers from the German Institute of Nutrition Research, the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine, and the German Cancer Research Center.


This paper, commissioned by the ILSI Europe Food Allergy Task Force and published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, outlines a risk analysis framework to underpin decision-making in the area of allergen cross-contact. The latter may arise for a number of reasons, for instance the presence of residues in inaccessible shared equipment and airborne dust. The paper identifies challenges relevant to each component of the risk analysis framework. These are risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. It concludes that risk management decisions must be informed by a clear understanding of the risk assessment’s outputs and limitations. Clear, consistent and trustworthy communications involving all stakeholders underpin these activities. This is the third paper in a three-part series.


The risk from the unintentional presence of an allergen in a food product must be assessed before it can be managed effectively. Using probabilistic modelling, the risk can be assessed by combining data on the minimum eliciting doses (MEDs) in the allergic human population with exposure data (consumption and contamination data). This paper, commissioned by the ILSI Europe Food Allergy Task Force and published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology,discusses the strengths and limitations of this approach. It is the second paper in a three-part series.


This paper, commissioned by the ILSI Europe Food Allergy Task Force and published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, discusses advances in the risk management of allergens which are unavoidably present in food products as a result of cross-contact. The latter may arise for a number of reasons, for instance the presence of residues in inaccessible shared equipment and airborne dust. The conclusion is that precautionary labelling based on quantitative action levels (i.e. maximum levels of unintended allergens above which precautionary labelling is deemed necessary) provides optimal protection for allergic consumers. This is the first paper of a three part series.


Research conducted by five universities in Texas, USA, with African American and Hispanic families underscores the relation between portions offered by caregivers and the amounts children consume. The team of researchers performed an in-home observational study with 145 families in Texas to investigate how the amounts served and consumed by children might be associated with the amounts parents serve themselves.


Personalised nutrition advice provides consumers with individual dietary recommendations based on individual genotype and phenotypic data such as height, weight and blood type. Personalised Nutrition Offerings (PNOs) refer to the delivery of a personalised nutrition product or a service, thus sharing similarities with business models. Although several PNOs are available in the marketplace, many have failed to develop into viable businesses. A search and analysis of the currently available PNOs were undertaken by researchers from Wageningen University and Research Centre, Netherlands and the company Bio-Sense in Brussels, Belgium, who are involved in the Food4Me project ( Their findings were published in the journal, Genes and Nutrition.


Researchers from University College London, UK, performed a large-scale twin study to investigate the relative contribution of genetic and shared environment factors to children’s preferences for certain food groups. The study revealed a substantial genetic influence on preferences for fruits, vegetables and proteins. Further analyses showed that a shared environment has more impact on preferences for dairy, starch and snacks. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that both genetics and environment may influence children’s food preferences.


Sustainability labelling on food and drink products informs consumers about environmental and ethical issues related to food choice and consumption. However, it is unclear what impact this information has on consumer behaviour, in light of the number of other types of information also found on food and drink packaging, including price and nutritional value. Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark and the European Food Information Council in Belgium have published the results of a pan-European study about consumers’ concerns, understanding and use of sustainability labels on food products. Examining consumers in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Poland revealed that even though the use of sustainability labels is associated with consumers’ concerns on sustainability issues and understanding of sustainability labels, the influence of sustainability labels on food choice is still limited and competes with other product-related attributes.



A team of researchers from a variety of Italian universities investigated methods of effectively communicating food safety risks to children. The researchers conducted a study in primary schools to evaluate children’s understanding of microorganisms, following either a practical or theoretical teaching approach. After the study, all the children were found to have an improved understanding of microorganisms and their functions. Furthermore, it was found that children who were given the opportunity to actively participate in practical classes were more likely to have a stronger understanding of the context in which microorganisms are found, and their impact on people and the environment.


Researchers from the Department of Human Biology, Health Food Innovation Management, Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and the Plant Biology and Crop Science group of Rothamsted Research, UK, concluded from their review of the scientific literature that the alleged adverse effects of wheat consumption on human health, caused by mechanisms related to eating behaviours, could not be substantiated. On the contrary, whole-wheat consumption has been associated with significant reductions in risks for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and improved long term weight management. The findings clarify some recently heard misconceptions concerning the consumption of wheat appearing in media, and were published in the Journal of Cereal Science.

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The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet.

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This site was last updated 22/04/2014
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