Sweets make you popular, online ads tell kids

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Sweets make you popular, online ads tell kids



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Food manufacturers are using the internet to target their unhealthy products at young children with false claims, according to a new report.

Undertaken by campaign group Sustain for the publication 'Food Magazine', the report found that one of the chief benefits of online marketing for food companies is that they are not then bound by Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines.

Although the ASA's code of practice rules that children's "inexperience" and "natural credulity" should not be exploited through advertising, the body will not rule on internet complaints.

Websites were found to be targeting children as young as six using marketing techniques banned in print and broadcasting media.

The report argued that young people were being encouraged with numerous dubious claims that certain products would make them more popular or attractive.

Other websites offered free ringtones or opportunities to win prizes in return for children's consumer loyalty.

Jeanette Longfield, co-ordinator of the campaign, said: "Websites targeted at children often use some of the most insidious and manipulative marketing techniques, such as dubious health claims and marketing techniques that tell a child they will be more popular and attractive if they buy sweets."

Further information: http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1710212005

Points system to rank foods for health



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The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has come close to arriving at a definition of "junk food" with the launch of a new consultation into a proposed food classifying system.

A simple guide will rank foods according to their saturated fat, salt and sugar content.

The guide is designed to be a tool to help the independent regulator Ofcom set limits on food advertising, for example with a watershed system.

Foods that have been reported to fall outside of the acceptable points range include certain popular cereals, hamburgers, lemonade, crisps and chicken nuggets.

A spokesman for the FSA commented: "The model utilises a simple scoring system that rates the overall balance of nutrients in the food.

"This means the model identifies foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar, but recognises the importance of fruit and vegetables, cereal, meat and dairy-based products in the diet."

However, food industry representatives have urged the government not to "demonise" certain foods in a quest to tackle childhood obesity.

A Public Health White Paper has set out a number of measures designed to curtail this worrying trend.

Jeremy Preston, director of the Food Advertising Unit (FAU), called for a "balance between business needs and consumer protection".

The deadline for responses to the consultation is September 26th.

Further information: http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/articles/folder2005/07/julydaily/FSA-FAU-scorecard

Laser system aids food brand protection



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Companies Microtrace and Photoscribe Technologies have announced a partnership that will use the latter's laser technology to provide brand protection for food products coming off the production line.

The technology aims to help combat consumer piracy, which is a particular problem in the case of food imports.

The laser systems will be used in conjunction with Microtrace's 'Microtaggant' ink technology to create unique covert marks for a package, invisible to the naked eye but apparent at high magnification.

With a minimum size of around 30 microns, a variety of tagging formats are available to food producers, including logos, photo images, alphanumeric, serial numbers and 2D barcodes.

Furthermore, the 2D barcodes may be specially encrypted so that only certain software can gain access.

Microtrace also offers laser-markable compounded plastic resins, where a change of colour takes place when an image is made.

Brian Brogger, Microtrace vice president, said: "The addition of laser marking to a brand protection program allows unique and covert identification at the item level," according to website www.fibre2fashion.com.

Further information: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61637-laser-system-provides

Diet Coke more of a man's drink



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Diet Coke's increasing popularity among men lies behind Coca-Cola Enterprises' seven per cent increase in sales in the UK, the company has said.

Random surveys carried out have found that three fifths of men now say they drink Diet Coke on a weekly basis, compared to two fifths in January this year.

Overall, there has been an increase of 15 per cent in the number of people consuming the drink at least once a week.

The growth in sales also led to a 1.5 per cent increase in carbonated soft drink (CSD) volume share in the UK.

Coca-Cola Enterprises said that Diet Coke now had roughly 12 million regular consumers in the UK, accounting for approximately 39 per cent of the population and an increase of four per cent in the last two years.

Norman Brodie, marketing manager, said: "Diet Coke continues to lead through innovation in the CSD sector. Consumers’ response to Diet Coke with Lime has been very positive, with the brand now worth almost £16 million in the 26 weeks since launch," according to just-drinks.com.

An ongoing marketing drive should see one in eight UK adults receiving a free can of the drink.

Further information: http://www.just-drinks.com/news_detail.asp?art=28022

If chocolate and crisps be the food of love…



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New research has revealed that the much talked about "obesity epidemic" in the UK could be partly attributable to an unfortunate national character of sadness.

The Priory Group, which specialises in eating disorders, interviewed 1,000 British 15-to-65 year olds about their eating habits, and the results paint a bleak picture of the nation's collective happiness.

Almost three quarters of the participants said they comforted themselves with junk food, such as chocolate and crisps, in times of trouble.

The group most affected were adolescents, with 61 per cent of 15-to-24 year olds turning to chocolate and 43 per cent resorting to junk food.

This is compared to national figures of 52 per cent for chocolate and 25 per cent for fast food across the generations.

A third of young people also said the main reason for their "comfort" eating was a relationship in trouble.

Consultant psychiatrist, Dr Peter Rowan, said: "There is a huge risk that by over-valuing food as a way of communicating our love, we diminish other ways of demonstrating it. Food then takes the place of love, rather than being a pleasurable way of reinforcing it.

"If current trends are continued, eating behaviour will become progressively more detached from food and health needs, and the number of young people with eating disorders will continue to rise."

Approximately 1.1 million people in the UK have been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder to date.

Further information: http://news.scotsman.com/health.cfm?id=1710342005

New icing sugar can be frozen and thawed



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British Sugar has launched a new icing sugar with freeze-thaw capability.

The company claims that it is the ideal solution for products that are frozen and then thawed along the supply chain, meeting variable demand with a fresher product.

Celebration FreezeThaw is an addition to the Celebration Icing Sugar range, according to just-food.com, and the manufacturers claim that the product keeps the shine on the icing, and the icing on the product.

The new icing is a blend of sugar, glucose and sorbitol. It works by minimising ice crystal formation and retaining moisture, which "ensures breakdown of the icing sugar is kept to a minimum".

Myra Hales, marketing operations manager, said: "It’s so easy to use. As it’s a dry powder there’s no need to melt it. You just add water."

"The mixing takes less than half the time of traditional fondant", she added, and British Sugar says that at 11 microns, the particle sizes are the finest available.

Celebration FreezeThaw Icing can be used on a range of foods, including cream cakes and slices, iced buns, Belgian buns, Danish pastries, luxury products and gateaux.

The product remains stable in storage with a shelf-life of up to six months.

Further information: http://www.just-food.com/news.asp

Some minimum salt levels raised



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The permissible salt levels in certain foods are set to remain the same, after a group of manufacturers told the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that desired reductions could not be met.

The group, which included heavyweights such as Heinz, Sainsbury's and Tesco, said that the proposed targets were unrealistic owing to "technical feasibility" and "consumer acceptability".

Affecting products such as baked beans, processed pies and bacon, the turnaround actually saw the FSA increase the salt limit for a number of products, including butter and ketchup.

A target of 0.5g of salt per 100g of dried soup was raised to 0.7g.

Unsurprisingly, the FSA came under fire from health bodies for caving in to pressure from manufacturers.

Professor Graham McCregor, Chairman of the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), dismissed the companies' grounds as "rubbish".

He suggested that if salt levels decreased over time, people's salt receptors would adjust simultaneously, with the effect that preferences would change.

"The way we work is based on evidence. Where is the evidence that salt cannot be reduced further? The fact is that there's no technical reason why salt cannot be reduced further," he said.

Further information: http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=1715832005

Atkins company files for bankruptcy



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Atkins Nutritionals, the company behind the much-hyped low-carb Atkins diet, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US.

The privately owned firm owes approximately $300 million, and has received $25 million in financing to function during the proceedings.

Following this, the company plans to focus on its nutrition bar and milkshake lines, widening its scope to target "more broadly…consumers who are concerned about health and wellness", according to president and chief executive, Mark Rodriguez.

The announcement has also led to a flurry of speculation that the low-carb dieting concept may have had its day.

Set up in 1989 by Dr Robert Atkins, the trend soared in the 1990s, bolstered by some very high profile celebrity advocates.

Followers of the regime were encouraged to cut carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bread and pasta, out of their diets completely, replacing them with as much protein and fats as were wanted.

Adverse publicity struck in April 2003, however, when a leaked post mortem examination after Dr Atkins's death suggested he may have had high blood pressure and he was reported to have been overweight.

Atkins Nutritionals said that it was claiming bankruptcy owing to a fall in demand and increased competition.

Mr Rodriguez said the organisation had been "adjusted…to accommodate a smaller business".

Further information: http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/aug2005/nf2005081_3951_db016.htm

Charity gives juice drink wholehearted support



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The functional food company Provexis has won the backing of the registered charity Heart UK for its new juice drink.

Sirco is based on a tomato extract that has been found to reduce the risk of thrombosis by boosting circulation. It will be launched commercially in the UK later this year.

The drink's packaging is now set to include the Heart UK logo alongside the claim: "Helps to maintain a healthy heart and benefits the circulation".

Heart UK and Provexis will also jointly embark on a range of educational initiatives to draw attention to heart health issues in the family.

In a recent results announcement, the firm also reported it was investigating the possibility of developing drinks with a cancer-combating property, according to nutraingredients.com.

However, the results showed that its Altu cereal bar line was not performing well, with 2005 sales significantly lower than had been expected.

Losses had increased from £855,000 last year to £1.8 million.

This was said to be due to the highly competitive market for cereal bars at the present time.

Dr Stephen Franklin, Provexis chief executive, said that the Sirco launch fell into line with the company's aim of developing functional foods "that taste great, deliver proven health benefits, and carry credible health claims supported by strong scientific proof".

Further information: http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61657-provexis-gets-heart

Fructose sweetening linked to weight gain from soft drinks



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A new study carried out by the University of Cincinnati (UC) in the US has suggested a direct link between soft drink consumption and weight gain.

In particular, it raises questions about the use of the sweetener fructose, which appeared to increase body fat in spite of the fact that fewer calories were generally consumed.

In laboratory trials on mice, scientists observed their consumption of water, fructose sweetened water and soft drinks. The animals were given free access to all three as well as food.

Using magnetic resonance technology, the mice were then analysed for body composition.

The average weight before the testing began was 39g, but the mice consuming the fructose-sweetened water had gained an average 9g by the end, compared with the less than 5g gained by the other two groups.

The fructose mice had also acquired more than 90 per cent more body fat than the mice that only drank the water.

Author of the study, Matthias Tschop, said: "Our study shows how fat mass increases as a direct consequence of soft drink consumption.

"We were surprised to see that mice actually ate less when exposed to fructose-sweetened beverages, and therefore didn't consume more overall calories. Nevertheless, they gained significantly more body fat within a few weeks."

Based on this and previous research, the scientists concluded that fructose seemed to fail to trigger certain hormonal systems involved in controlling the body's metabolism.

The research is published in the July 2005 issue of "Obesity Research", which is the official publication of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO).

Further information: http://www.newsinferno.com/storypages/8-01-2005~002.html

"Healthy" ice cream solution meets consumer demand



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Tate & Lyle has announced that it has developed a new ingredient that aims to tap into the ice cream market in the US.

The Ice Cream Rebalance 500 range is designed to lead to an ice cream that is lower in fat and sugar but with no sacrifice in "creaminess" of texture.

It accomplishes this by replacing bulk sweeteners with its own range of tailored ingredients, including Splenda Sucralose.

This results in an ice cream with 59 per cent fewer calories, 76 per cent less sugar and 89 per cent less fat than a full fat brand, according to Food&DrinkEurope.com.

The solution's launch coincided with Tate & Lyle's annual general meeting last week, where chairman, Sir David Lees, also outlined plans to triple sucralose production.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently ruled that sucralose could be reasonably advertised as "tooth-friendly", as unlike sugar it does not cause organic acid to be produced on contact with plaque bacteria.

Mike Augustine, global vice president of applications and technical services, explained: "We believe that these ice cream solutions meet consumer demand and can help facilitate increased choice in the marketplace."

Further information: http://www.foodanddrinkeurope.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61645-tate-lyle-targets

China agrees to British pork safety



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China has acknowledged that British pork is free from Classical Swine Fever (CSE), meaning that the Chinese market could soon be open to the UK's pork producers.

Following outbreaks of the disease in 2002, the Chinese ceased importing UK pork products, and once the outbreak had been contained, unlike other countries, would not accept that British pork was CSE free.

Today's announcement marks the culmination of efforts by the British Pig Executive (BPEX), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the British Embassy in Beijing.

It paves the way to negotiations on protocols and export health certificates for breeding pigs, genetics, and pork and pork products, including offal.

BPEX chairman, Stewart Houston, said: "This is excellent news. We will continue to work with Defra and the CBBC to ensure we get access to this huge and valuable market as soon as possible."

The Chinese pork market accounts for half of global output.

In some cases, British processors currently have to pay for the destruction of pork offal that could otherwise be exported to China.

Further information: http://www.thepigsite.com/LatestNews/Default.asp?AREA=LatestNews&Display=9810

Defra report highlights UK's eating patterns



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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed the findings of its Expenditure and Food Survey for the period from 2003 to 2004.

The results present a snapshot of the country's eating and drinking habits, drawing on records kept by 16,965 people in 7,048 households over the course of two weeks.

In general, soft drinks, alcohol, milk, cheese and yoghurt all seemed to be growing in popularity, but sales of fruit and vegetables were notably down, as well as butter, sugar, tea and bread.

Brits now spend an average of £22.67 on food and drink each week, of which £2.65 goes towards alcohol.

This is a 10 per cent increase over the course of the last year, and compares with the £1.80 and £1,60 a week spent on vegetables and fruit respectively, excluding potatoes.

The average person is now eating 3.7 of the five portions of fruit and vegetables a day that the government has introduced as a guideline.

Although money spent on eating out has doubled between 1995 and 2004, the traditional favourites of Indian, Chinese and Thai restaurants saw a 12 per cent drop in custom.

Andrew Lansley, conservative health spokesman, said that the government's "nanny state approach has not worked", according to The Times.

"Unfortunately we are a society that is using alcohol a lot more, but people need to do it moderately and sensibly. People must know the risks and consequences of excessive alcohol and poor diet," he added.

Further information: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/articles/PA_NEWA122086451122995111A00?source=PA%20Feed

Ipsei - it sounds like Pepsi



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Coca-Cola is planning to launch a new "functional" soft drink in the UK to tap into the nation's growing appetite for health foods.

The recipe for Ipsei, already available in the Netherlands and Germany, includes water, grape juice, various vitamins and herbal tea.

It is to be marketed with the tagline "Think what you drink", and has already gone through the preliminaries of securing a UK launch, including applying for a UK trademark.

However, competitor Pepsi appears to be unhappy that Ipsei sounds so similar to the Pepsi name, and may pursue a legal challenge to have it changed.

Coca-Cola has reportedly been asking employees at the Royal Courts of Justice for their views on the name, informing them PepsiCo had conducted research suggesting it made them think of Pepsi, according to Brand Republic.

Ipsei derives its name from the Latin word for self, "ipse".

Coca-Cola is currently also planning an umbrella advertising campaign, including all 19 of its brands enclosed by the classic, instantly recognisable outline of the coke bottle.

Further information: http://www.just-drinks.com/news_detail.asp?art=28041

New procedure to help prevent BSE spread in humans



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Scientists from the University of Edinburgh have developed a new sterilisation process designed to help prevent the transmission of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in hospitals.

vCJD is the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), "mad cow disease", which has claimed over 150 lives since first being linked to eating contaminated beef in the 1990s.

Doctors had expressed concern that the current sterilisation procedures were ineffective at killing the infectious abnormal prion proteins that trigger vCJD as well as other incurable diseases.

Prion proteins are especially resistant to high temperatures and adhere to metal with a strong bond that is hard to break.

However, the new technique uses a high-energy gas, known as plasma, to achieve what the previous procedures could not.

Hospital officials are particularly concerned about vCJD because the prion locates itself in the lymphoid tissue, and infections could therefore spread through operations conducted on the spleen or tonsils using contaminated surgical equipment.

The project was funded by the UK's Department of Health, and details of the technique have been published in the Journal of General Virology.

Professor Robert Baxter explained: "This new technique is significant because, unlike viral and bacterial pathogens, prions are proteins which are resistant to high temperatures and adhere very strongly to metal surfaces.

"Our integrated strategy aims to provide a new approach to decontamination of surgical instruments and to ensure that decontamination is effective."

Further information: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/thehealthnews.html?in_article_id=357980&in_page_id=1797

OFT rules favourably on supermarkets



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The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has said that further regulation of supermarkets is unnecessary in a new report published today.

It advised that the Supermarkets Code of Practice should remain as it is, but should be be used more effectively, as consumers were reaping the benefits of competition in the current grocery market.

No evidence has yet come to light that the code is being breached by the retailers who pledged they would adhere to it.

OFT chairman, Sir John Vickers, said: "Natural justice and common sense do not allow regulatory intervention in markets without proper evidence," according to just-food.com.

"Our review, including public consultation on the findings of the OFT audit of supermarket compliance, has not yielded substantive evidence to show that the code is being breached or that competition is being restricted," he added.

The OFT said that it did not have grounds lo launch another review, nor to refer the matter to the competition Commission.

In 2000, the competition Commission suggested that all supermarket chains meeting the criterion of 8 per cent of groceries should provide undertakings that they would adhere to the code.

Asda, Safeway, Sainsbury and Tesco all obliged, as well as Morrisons, who volunteered this undertaking following its £3.3 billion purchase of Safeway last year.

Further information: http://www.sharecast.com/cgi-bin/sharecast/story.cgi?story_id=519481

New natural packaging product is eco-friendly



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A new type of biodegradable packaging has been US-approved, meaning that multinational companies can start to use it in Europe.

Grenidea Technologies' AgroResin product has already received EU approval, and makers hope it will be used by the fresh produce industry, according to FoodProductionDaily.com.

It can be used for packaging a variety of foods, including dried food, bakery products and frozen food.

Already available in Asia, it is made from natural substances such as palm-oil or wheat straw fibres, and is free of wood, pulp, emissions and chemicals.

One benefit is that it could help food producers to meet stricter recycling and pollution initiatives, such as the recently launched Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap).

The company has also said that manufacturers do not need to invest in new packing technology to accommodate the product. AgroResin can be used alongside a moulded pulp technique.

Further information: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61680-biodegradable-pack-certified

Dieters to benefit from power of suggestion



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A mind technique has been used in an experiment to see whether people can be "turned off" certain foods by triggering false memories of bad childhood experiences.

Elizabeth Loftus, professor of psychology at the University of California Irvine in the US, said the results "may have significant implications for dieting".

Approximately 200 volunteers, the majority of whom were students, were subjected to a process known as a false feedback technique.

The students filled out questionnaires about their likes and dislikes in terms of food, and received analysis back, including some false information.

For example, they were told they became ill after eating strawberry ice cream as a child.

In two separate techniques, 22 per cent and 41 per cent of the students were "persuaded" to avoid the food in future because of false associations.

However, similarly fattening and sweet chocolate chip cookies did not have the same effect, which backed up previous research suggesting the technique may only be successful with so-called "novel" foods that are not often eaten.

How recently the food had been consumed was not found to be relevant.

Published in the online "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science", Dr Loftus and her team now intend to investigate whether people could be persuaded that they had enjoyed eating certain vegetables as a child.

Further information: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=28485

FSA publishes salt consultation



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The UK's food standards agency (FSA) has published a consultation on proposals to set targets for salt levels in food sold in the UK.

The news comes after a number of similar targets were made less stringent earlier this week following industry complaints they were unrealistic and would impact on trade.

Commitments from a range of more than 50 food companies to reduce salt levels have now been updated.

Concern for the nation's salt intake intensified at the end of July, when a survey commissioned by Food Magazine found unexpectedly high levels in certain brands of cakes and desserts.

The saltiest product assessed was a strawberry sponge pudding from the Morrison's supermarket chain, found to contain 6g per single serving.

This is the equivalent of an adult's entire recommended daily intake according to the government's current targets. Children should consume significantly less, with the amount dependent on age.

Campaigners for salt reduction in foods have accused the industry of hiding salt levels, although this has been disputed by the deputy director general of the UK's Food and Drink Federation.

Martin Paterson commented: "Claims that the industry hides salt in food are inaccurate, misleading and unhelpful to consumers," according to Food-navigator.com.

The FSA has requested responses to the consultation by October 24th this year.

Further information: http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61679-fsa-targets-salt

Organic farming attracts more wildlife



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A comprehensive study of the UK's farms has found that organic farming methods significantly improve biodiversity.

Scientists investigated the differences between pairs of organic and non-organic cereal-producing farms from Cornwall to Cumbria, and found that organic crops contained 85 per cent more species of plants.

Numbers of spiders, birds and bats were also counted, and were found to be 17 per cent, five per cent and 33 per cent more prevalent respectively.

Fields were generally smaller, hedges cut less frequently, and crops sown later, all of which served to encourage wildlife to stay on the land.

Dr Lisa Norton from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said: "Organic farmers try to work with natural processes to increase productivity, using sustainable farming practices. Increased biodiversity is a happy by-product of this approach."

She pointed out that hedges on organic farms were often kept in stock-proof condition, as organic methods made substantial use of livestock.

This meant the hedges contained more berry-producing shrubs, which attracted birds, insects and bats.

The study of 160 farms was a collaboration between the British Trust for Ornithology, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of Oxford University.

The results were published in the Royal Society Journal.

Further information: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3367289a3600,00.html

Modular wrapping machine with added extras



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A new modular shrink wrapping machine that can be taken apart for cleaning will be launched in Europe at this year's Processing and Packaging Machinery Association Exhibition in Birmingham.

The Shanklin Omni, from US firm Sealed Air, also allows further accessories to be attached, which is a particularly useful feature for the food processing industry.

Modular packaging units are in particular demand at a time when food contamination is coming under increasing scrutiny, as the parts can easily be accessed for washing.

The sealing area has a cover swing opening, and the electric motor can be accessed through a swing out open box.

The modules can also be switched in three minutes, enabling multiple food products to be processed at the same time.

Infeeds, conveyers and others accessories are available separately, including single belt infeed, flighted infeed and dual infeed conveyer machines.

New features of this machine are modular plug and play, advanced control and dual product flow configurations, and there is a touch-screen for device recognition and maintenance, allowing operators to program as many as 100 package types or recipes.

The company will also introduce the Pfankuch 450 sealing machine at the exhibition, which takes place from September 27th to 29th.

Further information: http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61697-wrap-machine-features

Survey finds juice drinks as sugary as coke



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A survey of "juice drinks" targeted at children has revealed that some could contain more sugar than Coca-Cola but still be marketed as "healthy".

The website DailyDietTracker.co.uk analysed beverages sold in a range of supermarket chains, including Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda.

The website found the prime offender to be an apple and blackcurrant juice drink from the Sainsbury's Blue Parrot Cafe range for children.

The drink was found to contain 14.4g of sugar per 100ml serving, which compares to the 10.7g per 100ml of Coca-Cola.

Dietician, Jacqueline Hewitt, told the Daily Mail: "By calling itself a juice drink it is suggestive of being the juice from a fruit, leading the parent to believe they are purchasing a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks such as Coke but in fact it only contains 10 per cent juice concentrate."

This was "far too much sugar in one serving", she added.

Children's favourites Ribena and Five Alive were found to contain 12.1g and 11.6g of sugar respectively.

Further information: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/thehealthnews.html?in_article_id=358085&in_page_id=1797

Suppliers angered by OFT statement



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Farmers' groups, organic associations and campaigners have reacted with anger to the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) statement that the voluntary code of conduct governing the relationship between supermarkets and suppliers is sufficient.

The OFT said yesterday that consumers were benefiting from the current competitive climate, seeing no reason to establish an independent ombudsman to process suppliers' complaints.

Auditors found no evidence that the code was being breached by Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda or Morrisons, it said.

Furthermore, the OFT said that no complaints had proceeded to mediation since the voluntary Supermarkets Code of Practice came into effect in 2002, although suppliers insist this is because complaining would place their contracts in jeopardy.

Deputy president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), Peter Kendall, said: "A climate of fear still exists and the OFT’s conclusions have by no means given supplier/retailer relationships a clean bill of health," according to Retail Week.

"There is little in this statement that will stop or reduce the bullying tactics that some companies apply to their suppliers. This is unlikely to be influenced other than by a tougher statutory code," he continued.

This was echoed by the consortium "Breaking the Armlock Alliance", who said that the statement "beggars belief" and branded the findings "a supermarket-friendly report".

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) observed that while supermarkets are adhering to the code, "suppliers are not making use of it".

Further information: http://www.retail-week.com/nav?page=retailweek.news.detail&resource=2895924

Ozone cleans without the chemicals



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UK distributor CIProcess is bringing a new line of food cleaning equipment to food processors in the UK and Ireland.

Manufactured by US-based OzoneSafeFood, the equipment uses ozone instead of the more common sanitiser chlorine, because it is 51 times as powerful, 3,000 times as fast, and requires no chemicals, thereby reducing operating costs.

Chlorine has also been linked to potentially carcinogenic byproducts, trihalomethanes, formed when it reacts with organic matter in water.

OzoneSafeFood's new equipment can be used in the sterilising of produce against Listeria, E.coli and Salmonella, and owing to ozone's rate of decomposition, unlike chemicals it does not build up on food surfaces.

The method would typically be used to treat produce including beef, pork, poultry, seafood, dairy produce, drinks, fruit and vegetables.

The company explained: "Our patented vortex technology entrains ozone into the water until it is fully suspended; the natural process of reverting back to oxygen becomes delayed, allowing the water stream to exit the confines of a pipe with its natural micro organism killing power still in effect," according to FoodProductionDaily.

Further information: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/productnews/news.asp?id=61732&k=ozone-eliminates-chemical

New ale is a stinging sensation



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UK Brewer Hall & Woodhouse is set to launch a new premium bottled ale later this year, which includes nettles among its ingredients.

The nettles in question have been sourced from the River Cottage estate of celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, author of the best-selling "River Cottage Meat Book".

Hugh is renowned for championing traditional recipes, and said: "The links between real food and real beer are clear", according to the Publican.

"I think we have a delicious and refreshing beer with character and real depth; properly hoppy with that little tingle of stinger from the nettles. It's good summer drinking, and seems to be slipping down a treat with barbecued mackerel," he continued.

Nettle beer is an old English tradition, brewed as a remedy for gout and rheumatics.

"Stinger", as the beer is known, was launched at the Great British Beer Festival in London, running from August 2nd to 6th.

Some of the proceeds from sales will be presented to Rural Revival, an organisation that supports community projects.

Further information: http://www.drinks-business-review.com/article_news.asp?guid=D87EDA15-5B04-40D8-B06A-ADF0F401671A

Scientific link between alcohol and cancer strengthened



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Scientists have announced they have identified the biochemical basis for the link between alcohol and gastrointestinal cancer.

Acetaldehyde, suspected of having carcinogenic properties, is formed as the body breaks down alcohol, and research has found it to react with natural compounds known as polyamines.

Polyamines are usually associated with the protection of DNA from oxidative damage.

However, although essential to cell growth, the reaction of polyamines with acetaldehyde has been found to trigger further reactions that damage cell DNA, including the conversion of acetaldehyde into crotonaldehyde.

Although other studies have previously made the link, they have always focused on high concentrations of acetaldehyde.

The new study showed that the comparatively low level of acetaldehyde in saliva containing alcohol would be sufficient to trigger the reactions.

The report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was published in the journal "Nucleic Acids Research".

NIAAA director, Ting-Kai Li, commented: "We've long suspected acetaldehyde's role in the carcinogenicity of alcohol beverage consumption, but this study gives us important new clues about its involvement.

"This work provides an important framework for understanding the underlying chemical pathway that could explain the association between drinking and certain types of cancer."

Further information: http://www.foodconsumer.org/777/8/Study_shows_how_alcohol_causes_cancers.shtml

Unilever profits hit by Atkins fallout



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Unilever has blamed a 20 per cent drop in second quarter profits on tough competition in the European market and a disappointing performance from its Slim-Fast dieting range, bought in 2000.

Profits fell to £777.4 million for the three months to June 30th, partly attributed to a £245 million write-down in the value of the Slim-Fast brand.

It is the second write-down this year, following a cut of €650 million made in February, the Guardian reports.

The 50 per cent fall in sales from the dieting drinks, bars and ready-meals has been partly attributed to the declining popularity of low-carb, high protein diets such as the Atkins.

Some solace may therefore be taken in Atkins's filing for bankruptcy protection in the US earlier this week, announcing debts of $300 million.

However, Unilever chief executive, Patrick Cescau, said the effect of the demise of Atkins was that consumers were increasingly dropping dieting products from their shopping baskets altogether.

"The people who have left Atkins have left the category", he told the Guardian, adding that the Slim-Fast range would now be re-evaluated, including the possibility of cutting the amount of sugar in its products.

In general, however, Mr Cescau remained positive, saying: "Looking forward, we do not expect significant change in the market environment in the rest of the year.

"Input costs and investment behind our brands will increase the pressure on margins. Against this background, we remain focused on the job of improving our competitiveness and restoring top line growth."

The company, whose brands also include Hellmann's mayonnaise and Lipton Tea, said underlying quarterly sales had risen by 3.3 per cent.

Further information: http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=2818377&fSectionId=613&fSetId=662

Microwavable fish packaging developed



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Canada-based Graphic Packaging International has developed a new microwavable packaging product made of aluminium and polyester.

The product was re-designed at the request of US firm Raw Seafoods for its "Cape Cod Cuisine" gourmet line, having previously been supplied for lasagna meals in Europe.

It took five months to bring the dual paperboard tray to the point that it cooked the fish evenly and quickly without a loss of moisture.

Graphic Packaging explained: "They wanted a package that would work with the microwave to cook their products thoroughly and quickly, without making the food dry or tough," according to FoodProductionDaily.

"Historically, these results are only achieved in a conventional oven, which requires lengthy cooking times," the firm added.

According to a report from Datamonitor the global packaged food market increased by almost four per cent in 2002, with Eastern Europe identified to be a key area of future growth.

Further information: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61748-microwavable-package-developed

Project sees protein potential in bioinformatics



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A new research project could help food companies to meet EU regulations on allergens coming into force this November.

A team of UK scientists from the Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Centre (CCFRA) are embarking on a yearlong analysis of bioinformatics to determine whether it can be used to collect and collate detailed information about food proteins.

Bioinformatics is defined by the CCFRA as "the collection, classification, storage and analysis of biochemical and biological information using computers", according to FoodProductionDaily.

By creating a database of protein information, companies may be able to identify potentially allergenic protein structures, and replace or remove them to reduce the likelihood of a consumer developing an allergic reaction.

From November 25th this year, all companies working in the EU will be required to declare whether products could contain food allergens on their labels.

As well as identifying potentially allergenic proteins, the same technology could help tap into the burgeoning market for functional food, and pinpoint the sources of microbial infections.

However, the technology is still in its infancy because protein behaviour is hard to predict even if proteins seem to resemble one another.

Changing or removing proteins could also have unexpected side effects.

John Dooley, scientist at the CCFRA, said: "At this stage the information is not there, but the project will help the industry to know that they could have it in the future."

Further information: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61754-bioinformatics-may-isolate

Students design new M&S sandwich packaging



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Academics from Sheffield Hallam University have invented a new sandwich wrapping design, now being used by Marks & Spencer.

Calling themselves the Packaging Partnership, they are part of the Design Futures Group at the university, and their creation is a cardboard pack that splits open to serve as a smart looking plate to catch the overspill from well-filled sandwiches.

The Packaging Partnership is one of three divisions that use experts to explore ideas related to packaging design, product design and field research.

Janet Shipton, packaging innovation and creative director, outlined what happened when Marks & Spencer commissioned the group for its "Food to Go" products.

"A challenge like this is our forte and we handpicked a team of our own design staff as well as postgraduate and undergraduate students," she said.

The group discussed the project at length before deciding that environmental packaging was high on the consumer's agenda.

Further information: http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=56&ArticleID=1103163

8th aug onwards

Omega-3 oil patent upheld by EPO



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Martek Biosciences Corporation has announced that its patent on docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) oil has been upheld by the opposition division of the European Patent Office (EPO).

The patent covers the company's DHA line of microbial oils and methods for producing them. The product, which is an omega-3 fatty acid, is used in infant food formulas, as well as functional foods and dietary supplements.

The challenge was made by Aventis and Japanese company Nagese & Co, and follows Martek's suing of Germany's Celanese over patent infringement last year.

A competitor of Martek, Celanese's Nutrinova manufactures a similar product to DHA, also derived from microalgae.

Henry Linsert, Jr., Chairman and CEO, commented: "Today's favourable ruling confirms Martek's strong intellectual property position in Europe for DHA oil and the production of DHA oil and further strengthens our extensive patent portfolio for Martek's DHA and ARA oils that provides us with critical competitive advantages."

Martek says that its specialty nutritional oils are designed for formulas that assist in the development of the eyes and the central nervous system in newborn babies.

Its other nutritional supplements and food ingredients may be found to promote mental and cardiovascular health throughout life.

The opposing parties in the patent case are permitted to appeal the EPO's decision within two months of a written opinion being issued.

The company is also hoping to have the patent rights on arachidonic acid (ACA) confirmed, also used in infant formulas.

Further information: http://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/newsmaker_article.asp?idNewsMaker=8785&fSite=AO545&next=2

Kerry Group buys into Asian chilled food sector



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The food group Kerry Food has acquired the Asian chilled ready meals business Noon Group for £124 million.

Noon produces meals and snacks from a factory in Southall, London, primarily for shipping to British retail chains.

The firm's Chief Executive, Hugh Friel, said that the UK chilled ready meals sector was now valued at approximately £1.4 billion, expanding at between five and seven per cent each year.

Mr Friel said that the purchase of Noon "significantly advances" Kerry's leading position in the sector, where it will join other brands such as Mattesons, Ballyfree, Denny and Dawn.

Based in Tralee, Ireland, Kerry Group supplies more than 10,000 foods, food ingredients and flavour products worldwide.

In June 2002, the group launched "Mastertaste", a new global flavour division following on from its acquisition of Dalgety in 1998.

In May 2004, following the purchase of what was formerly the Quest Food Ingredients Business, the company established a Bio-science division to lead research and innovation in bio-ingredients and pharma-ingredients.

Further information: http://www.rte.ie/business/2005/0808/kerry.html

Japan launches strawberry sausages



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A Japanese sausage company has made a bid to revive declining sales by offering fish sausages in a new unlikely flavour, strawberry milk.

Nippon Suisan Kaisha came up with the idea following a survey of children, which found strawberries to be their favourite fruit.

The firm's new fish meat sausages, enhanced with strawberry juice and milk, will therefore go on sale in Japan from September 1st this year.

The flavour has been designed so that the original flavour and texture are not masked, but that an aftertaste remains.

Japanese sausage sales totalled 46.5 billion yen in 2004, expected to rise to 47 billion in 2005.

A spokesperson for the company said: "It's an unexpected combination, but a taste that children will like," according to the Mainichi Daily News.

"Strawberries go well with minced fish," he added.

The news comes as the British Sausage Appreciation Society has decided to instigate British Sausage Week, running from October 24th to 30th this year. Britain alone has around 400 named varieties.

Further information: http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20050806p2a00m0na029000c.html

Folate in food more effective than supplements



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Pregnant women who increase the amount of folate in their diet could give birth to heavier babies, new research has revealed.

Scientists have found that expectant mothers who had lower folate levels gave birth to lighter, less healthy children than those with more significant folate levels.

The research will reiterate the message that scientists have been giving for some time now, namely that high folate levels increases the chance of having a healthy baby, writes Nutraingredients.com.

Scientists have been campaigning for foods to be fortified with the nutrient and want the government to adapt its food policies to implement this.

The case study from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne looked at 1,000 pregnant women and will give further weight to the folate drive.

Babies most need folate in the early stages of pregnancy says Dr Caroline Relton, one of the scientists who worked on the research, and when folate is given at the first check-up, this is too late for many women.

"Fortifying a range of foods promises to be a more effective solution than a campaign to encourage women to take folic acid supplements," suggested Dr Relton.

Further information: http://i-newswire.com/pr40480.html

Soft drink sales fall over year



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A new report has provided further evidence that soft drinks are losing ground to healthier alternatives such as fruit juice and bottled water.

However, in spite of poor sales in 2004, the data provided by Zenith International still suggests that UK soft drink consumption is growing steadily in the long term.

The report found that consumption of soft drinks decreased by two per cent in 2004, down to 13.7 billion litres from 13.9 billion litres in the previous year.

Nevertheless, the total for 2004 was still almost double that in 1994, and 18 per cent higher than in 1999.

The popularity of bottled water also continues to increase, as the British public become increasingly aware of the importance of hydration.

In general, the report finds that notions of "no added sugar" and "added functionality" are increasing their grip on the market, according to Foodnavigator.com.

Further information: http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61769-health-concerns-seeb

Newspaper uncovers UK GM loophole



Article Text

Farmers in the UK are able to grow genetically modified (GM) crops without notifying the necessary authorities by applying for a sample pack of seeds, it has been claimed.

The Guardian newspaper tested the "loophole" by applying to biotech firm Monsanto for a sample of GM maize.

The only restrictions met with were that the farmer in question sent the test results back to the company and gave an undertaking not to breach patents, the newspaper reports.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) conceded that the current regulations did not prevent farmers from growing GM crops approved elsewhere in the EU, saying: "It seems unlikely that anyone would want to do".

The loophole arises from the fact that varieties of maize known as MON 810 gained EU approval in 1998, before widespread public concern led to later applications being refused.

Following protests where GM trials were sabotaged, the environment minister at the time, Michael Meacher, ordered trials to investigate claims that GM crops were harmful.

MON 810 was developed to be poisonous to the extremely invasive borer insect.

However, Monsanto spokesman, Tony Combes, said that no trial seeds would actually have been sent, as a mandatory research agreement had not been processed.

Further information: http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2005/08/08/88440/Legal+loophole+allows+growers+to+grow+GM+crops+in+secret.htm

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