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.
The selection of portion size and actual consumption are driven by many physiological, environmental, sensory and cognitive cues which surround the eating experience. Researchers from the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), in collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire, in the UK, and the University of Alberta, in Canada, recently published the results of a study regarding the impact of nutrition labelling on food and energy intake (i.e. how consumers derive meaning from nutrition labels and how this influences their consumption). The study revealed that nutrition information which indicates low levels of fat and energy can increase food intake by 28 grams (g) and energy intake by 39 calories (kcals), compared to the baseline. The authors conclude that such nutrition labelling may give permission to misperceptions in consumer’s minds with unintended and unwanted consequences on food intake.
Proactive social media strategies can enable positive engagement with target audiences and impact government policy
A case study of digital media strategies of the UK-based Food Standards Agency, by researchers from the FoodRisC project, has revealed that their approach has helped in responding to the public and encouraging education to target audiences on food safety and hygiene issues. Social media has enabled the Food Standards Agency to be more immediate and flexible, especially during a food crisis. This research is an example that other government departments developing similar processes can use in order to create value for the public.
Researchers from Europe and Asia have joined forces to undertake an international project regarding salt reduction among the general population. By means of a cross-sectional study, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours related to salt intake were investigated in eight developed and developing countries around the world. The study revealed that participants largely underestimated their individual salt intake and they also showed difficulties in identifying the main dietary sources of salt. Respondents further contradicted themselves as they showed low interest in salt reduction while, at the same time, such behaviour (i.e. salt reduction) was perceived as healthy and important. Based on these findings, the group of researchers offers advice in developing global intervention programmes for salt reduction, including nationally tailored strategies to engage and interest consumers.
A recent review by Belgian researchers, published in the international peer-reviewed journal Food Control, examined the risks and benefits associated with the consumption of raw and heat treated cow’s milk. The Review addressed microbiological, nutritional and health aspects. Raw milk is perceived to be associated with health benefits that are destroyed upon heating. However, the authors refute these perceptions and conclude that consumption of raw milk poses a realistic and unnecessary health threat from possible contamination with pathogenic microorganisms. Furthermore, they conclude that heat treatment does not alter the nutritional value of raw milk and it remains the most effective method to increase the microbiological safety of raw milk.
Researchers from the departments of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Biomedical Sciences of Iowa State University (USA), found that chewing food longer reduced appetite after eating, but did not lower food intake at the next meal. This was coupled with an increased blood glucose response and higher plasma concentrations of cholecystokinin (CCK) and lower levels of ghrelin, which indicate increased satiety. When the satiety of food is higher, it makes our appetite for eating again stay away for longer.
A recent study by a research team from the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre of Northumbria University, UK, published in the international peer-reviewed journal Appetite, examined the interactions of breakfast consumption and morning exercise on mental performance and mood in a physically active, male population, in a randomised controlled trial. According to the study, mental performance decreased when exercise did not follow breakfast consumption. However, when exercise was integrated in the intervention program, the latter effect was reversed. The authors conclude that the combination of breakfast and morning exercise has a beneficial effect on mental performance and mood during the day.
Personalised nutrition perceived positively by consumers but they lack confidence in health-data management
Dutch researchers from the department of Health Sciences and the EMGO Institute for Health Care Research of VU University, in Amsterdam, and the Division of Human Nutrition of Wageningen University, have published a paper in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluding that detrimental effects of industrial trans fatty acids (TFAs) on heart health are beyond dispute and that limiting their intake will likely lower cardiovascular disease (CVD). In addition, effects specific to trans fatty acids that are naturally present in dairy and meat and trans fatty acids produced as supplements for weight loss (conjugated linoleic acid) warrant further study.
The European Food Safety Authority recently published the findings from a European Union (EU) survey on the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in certain ready-to-eat foods, i.e. fish (hot smoked, cold smoked or gravad fish), packaged heat-treated meat products and soft and semi-soft cheeses. Overall, the proportion of samples exceeding the legislative limit for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods was low. However, considering the popularity of these foods and the severe implications that infection with Listeria monocytogenes can have on health, vigilance is required by everyone in the food chain.