Posted by Andrew Wadge on 30 January 2007 in Science, safety and health
Lots of people are talking about the Agency's Nutrient Profiling model. I've seen it reported in the media quite a bit lately - from the Manchester Evening News to the Romsey Advertiser!
The Nutrient Profiling (NP) model is a scientific tool, designed specifically for broadcast regulator Ofcom, to help it classify foods into what should and should not be targeted at children through TV advertising. Parts of the food industry, particularly some cheese manufacturers, are worried that some foods would be unfairly categorised as ‘less healthy' by the NP model. However, there is no getting away from the fact that most cheeses are indeed high in fat and salt.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 29 January 2007 in Science, safety and health
I was interested in my nutritionist colleagues take on last week's Daily Mail article, The Cholesterol Con?.
It challenges the medical orthodoxy about the role of statins for people (myself included) with high cholesterol. The Mail article, by GP Dr Robert Kendrick, followed up a report in The Lancet (Are lipid-lowering guidelines evidence-based?). It too examines the role of statins to prevent coronary heart disease (CHD).
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 25 January 2007 in Science, safety and health
There's been lots of press coverage about Food Allergy and Intolerance Week. All of it good awareness-raising stuff, particularly if it helps to clear up the confusion out there between food allergy and food intolerance.
The Agency spends £1m a year on scientific and consumer research into food allergy and intolerance to ensure our policies (negotiating on allergen labelling legislation in Europe, guidance for industry and the general public) are based on robust evidence.
My colleague Sue Hattersley, the Agency lead in this area, will no doubt be talking about our research programme when she appears before the House of Lords' Select Committee inquiry into allergy and allergic diseases next week
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 25 January 2007 in Out and about
I enjoyed Tuesday night's City Food Lecture at the Guildhall. Check out the webcast, and my earlier blog posting. Lord Peter Melchett's speech was about 'Food and values - the organic future', which stimulated a lively and at times robust debate. He painted a very optimistic picture of an organic future for agriculture in the UK, with a very personal account of his experiences growing up and farming in Norfolk, the use of pesticides and fertilisers in the post-war period, and more recent conversion to organic status.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 17 January 2007 in Science, safety and health
One of the things that excites me as a scientist is seeing how new scientific developments can lead to applications that bring great benefits to us all. A great example of this is the success of scientists at the Roslin Institute in creating a line of genetically-modified hens capable of producing drugs to fight cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
What really struck me about the story is the importance and complexity of making sure that we all get the benefits from new technology without any of its potentially harmful consequences. As new technology develops, it brings possibilities of producing foods (as well as drugs) in novel ways, as we have seen with GM foods, recent stories about the cloning of animals, and the use of nanotechnologies in food production and packaging. This can lead to very polarised debates about whether we are 'for' or 'against' a new type of food, while I would argue that we should be 'for' an open and transparent regulatory system that puts consumer interests first, and considers each issue on a case-by-case basis.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 09 January 2007 in Supporting consumer choice
There was lots of weekend media coverage about organic food, promoted by Environment Secretary David Miliband's comments about it being a ‘lifestyle choice' with no hard evidence that it's better.
The Agency's advice on organic food is often cited. Basically we're neither for nor against it, and we're guided very much by what the science says. We recognise the important role it plays in providing choice for consumers, but the balance of current scientific evidence doesn't support the view that it's more nutritious or safer than conventional foods.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 04 January 2007 in Supporting consumer choice
You may have seen reports in the media this morning about 'front-of-pack labelling' for fat, sugar and salt in food. The Agency welcomes this move by the food manufacturers and retailers as we know from our research that consumers want clear front-of-pack information on fat, sugar and salt in order to make healthier choices about food purchases.
There are currently two systems being used: one based on percentages of Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) of fat, sugar and salt (for example a portion contains 35% of your GDA of salt) and a traffic light system which gives numerical information with red, amber and green for high, medium and low amounts each of fat, sugar and salt.