Science Shorts: China consumer FOPL preferences, Singapore 2030 food security goals, Australia microplastic fears and more feature in our round-up

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Science Shorts: China consumer FOPL preferences, Singapore 2030 food security goals, Australia microplastic fears and more feature in our round-up

China labelling: Consumers want packaged foods to carry traffic light and warning labels for ‘negative’ nutrients​

Chinese consumers have determined the traffic light labelling system as well as distinct warning labels highlighting ‘negative’ nutrients such as sugar, salt and saturated fat to be the most effective forms of front-of-pack labelling (FOPL), according to a new study.

The study was jointly conducted by multiple health and nutrition organisations in China including the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Chinese Nutrition Society, as well as several population health research bodies in Australia including the University of Wollogong and University of Sydney.

The researchers performed a cross-sectional study using a questionnaire to survey 2,407 parents of students in primary and secondary schools across 72 schools in six Chinese provinces (Beijing, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Henan, Sichuan and Heilongjiang). The locations were selected to reflect the preferences of consumers across both urban and rural regions.

Securing Singapore? Scale of city state’s food security 2030 challenge underlined by new data​

The scale of Singapore’s challenge to achieve 30% food self-sufficiency by 2030 has been underlined by new data released by the city state’s national food agency.

According to the inaugural Singapore Food Statistics 2021​ by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Singapore is currently producing 4% of vegetables, 8% of seafood and 30% of hen shell eggs domestically. It has ambitions to achieve an overall domestic production target of 30% by 2030 (also known as the ‘30 by 30’ target).

Based on these figures, chapter two of the report suggested a two-pronged approach to remedy the situation domestically – optimising the space available for the agri-food industry and providing more funds to boost production capabilities and capacities through R&D and tech adoption.

“Food security is an existential issue for Singapore. Today’s fast-evolving and complex operating landscape have accentuated Singapore’s vulnerability in food safety and security.”

Microplastic misery: Researchers warn of risk to food supplies after new Australia study​

Broken-down microplastics have been found in blue mussels and water within the intertidal zone at some in southern Australia’s, sparking fears they are now finding their way into food supplies.

Researchers from Flinders University warned that this could affect wild-caught and ocean-farmed fish and seafood sourced from the once pristine Southern Ocean and gulf waters of South Australia.

“Our findings shed light on the urgent need to prevent microplastic pollution by working with the communities, industries and government to protect these fragile marine systems,”​ says Professor Karen Burke da Silva, senior author of a new article just published in Science of the Total Environment.

GABA innovation in functional foods: Ingredient added to chocolate, rice products in Japan​

There has been a slew of product innovation surrounding gamma-aminobutyric acid – better known as GABA – in Japan, with the ingredient incorporated in an array of dosage formats under the Foods with Function Claims (FFCs) framework.

Examples of recently approved GABA-containing FFCs include Van Houten chocolate and rice products by Deria Foods.

GABA can be found in food sources such as soya bean, cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, rice, and chestnut.

Best known for its relaxing effects, GABA was one of the most commonly used ingredients in FFCs, alongside black ginger and indigestible dextrin, in 2020.

Fish oil supplementation lowers blood pressure in seniors but no impact on cognitive health – 12-month RCT​

Fish oil supplementation has shown to lower blood pressure increase in seniors, but no significant improvement was seen in cognitive health, according to a 12-month RCT conducted in New Zealand.

In addition, it has shown to reduce depression and anxiety. Findings of the study were published in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry​The RCT was conducted by researchers from Massey University. Seventy-two adults between 60 and 90 took part in this trial.

One of the criteria they must meet is having a subjective memory complaint which was confirmed by a friend or family member.

They were then randomised into two groups, where the intervention group was given three capsules of fish oil per day – equivalent to a daily dosage of 1,491mg of DHA and 351mg of EPA.

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