Posted by Andrew Wadge on 25 July 2007 in Science, safety and health
An Agency-funded project, published today, has looked at the formation of acrylamide by domestic cooking practices.
Acrylamide, first identified in food by Swedish scientists in 2002, is considered to be a genotoxic carcinogen. That means it's a chemical that may cause cancer. It was found that acrylamide is naturally formed in starchy foods during high temperature cooking processes such as frying and baking.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 24 July 2007 in Science, safety and health
For those of you who don't know me, I'm Judith Hilton. I'm a medical doctor and currently head up the Agency's Microbiological Safety Division. Andrew asked me to keep an eye on the blog while he's away.
Science doesn't stand still, when when our Chief Scientist is on holiday. Every day studies are completed and results published. Periodically we need to ask ourselves whether the evidence still supports our conclusions or whether we need to think again.
This is what is happening with the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) re-evaluation of food additives. Colours were first looked at by an EC advisory committee in 1974 and this is the first group of additives that EFSA is reviewing.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 20 July 2007 in Science in Government
This is my last blog before heading off for a two-week summer break. I've handed over the keys to a couple of colleagues who may well post in my absence. But before I sign off, I wanted to update you about yesterday's FSA open Board meeting in Cardiff.
I reported back to the Board on the openness and transparency of the eight scientific advisory committees (SACs) that currently provide the Agency with independent scientific advice. This was an opportunity to update the Board on progress since the Agency reported on the Scientific Advisory Committees in 2002, and to see how the SACs compare with The Government's Chief Scientific Advisers Code of Practice on Openness.
The work of the SACs is vital to the Agency's reputation for scientific quality and integrity. My work with the SACs identified the need for a more consistent approach to holding regular open meetings, and I'm pleased to say that I was able to report that this is now happening.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 18 July 2007 in Supporting consumer choice
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 12 July 2007 in Out and about
I spent last night with Aretha Franklin, Sherpa Tenzing, Sherlock Holmes, Steve Redgrave, Bob Geldof and Marie Curie. Well, the Agency equivalents of them - winners, in fact of the FSA's first staff awards. There was some healthy cynicism from staff when we launched the scheme, and not too many groans when the different categories were given the quirky names listed above.
I've blogged in the past about my interest in organisational development, and the work I led to develop the FSA's vision of Safe Food and Healthy Eating for All. That's why I volunteered to be a judge. The awards were all about recognising teamwork (the Steve Redgraves), communication with a passion (the Arethas), motivation and leadership (the Bobs) and the best use of evidence and information (the Sherlocks).
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 11 July 2007 in Supporting consumer choice
Understanding the science is always the starting point for us in developing policy on food, but it is, of course, much more complicated than that. There is a range of other information and evidence that needs to be obtained and analysed in order to develop robust evidence-based food policies. A key part of this how the science fits in with people's behaviours and preferences and we are trying hard to engage effectively with consumers to find out what they think.
Today we published the expression of interest to manage our Citizens' Forums on Food. This is a new mechanism we're developing to help us to listen to the views of individual consumers and to hear for ourselves what they think about a range of food issues.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 06 July 2007 in General interest
Although this blog is devoted to examining the science behind food issues, I am keen not to lose sight of the fact that eating and drinking with friends can be one of life's great pleasures. So I wanted to celebrate the fact that eating out in England has just got a lot more pleasant - and safer - with the introduction of the smoking ban.
By the way, I was delighted to learn this week that my blog's a finalist for a New Statesman New Media Award in the Information and Openness category. The ceremony's later this month, so I'll let you know how it goes. Please keep your comments coming. They've definitely helped to contribute to the blog's success.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 05 July 2007 in Supporting consumer choice
The debate about organic food is in the news again today as a long-term Californian study suggests that organically grown tomatoes contain more of two types of flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol. The leader of the research, Alyson Mitchell, suggests that this is because non-organic tomatoes are grown with fertiliser that makes nitrogen easily available to the plants. Flavonoids are produced by the plants as a defence mechanism against nutrient deficiency so, she concludes, less are generated when tomatoes are grown in this nitrogen rich soil.
Flavonoids are antioxidants. It has been proposed that they are one of the components present in fruit and vegetables that may be responsible for the relatively low rate of cardiovascular disease that has been associated with high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption. There is, however, not enough evidence to show that increasing intakes of flavonoid rich foods will reduce heart disease, because other factors associated with high fruit and vegetable intakes may be responsible for their cardiovascular protection.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 04 July 2007 in Science, safety and health
I was interested to read about a small but important Agency study examining consumer and healthcare professionals understanding of the term 'non-sterile', and their attitudes towards labelling and advice on powdered infant formula milk.
Although the concept of ‘non-sterile' was understood, very few of those questioned realised that powdered infant formula milk was actually a non-sterile food product and contains micro-organisms. There was an assumption that all canned and bottled foods are sterile, at least until they are opened.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 02 July 2007 in Science in Government
>It's based on a workshop the committee held on these new approaches, which was attended by many expert scientists.