Food & Science in the News

In Britain a drug trial went wrong when the six testers ended up being hospitalized (here). [New Scientist also has a report but subscription might be needed.] TGN1412 is a humanized monoclonal antibody, a genetically engineered protein that is part mouse but mostly human. It was designed to treat leukemia and autoimmune diseases such a multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, the drug caused massive inflammation of tissue and internal organs. It also caused massive organ failure. Oops. I hope the testers recover soon, umm, when the doctors work out how to treat them. Scary.

Meanwhile in the US, the House of Representatives passed a bill that removes the responsibility of individual states to set their own food safety laws. Umm, that was the least political way I can think of putting it. Some very good links are here, here, here, and here. The Center of Science in the Public Interest and the Natural Resources Defense Council has put together a very good report (here) that shows how this bill would effect your state. Obviously, I checked Delaware and there are four laws that would be over-ridden by the new law: Milk safety, regulations for restaurants, shellfish safety and rules on the use of artificial sweeteners.

lava fudgeEver wondered when you make fudge, why it has gone wrong. Well, perhaps food chemists can learn from geologists. Fudge was used by a geologist to create a model of lava flow.

Chili pepperCapsaicin kills cancer cells (also New Scientist) and from Google News: here, and here. It seems that capsaicin, the compound that causes chilies to be “hot? may also reduce prostrate cancer:

“In conducting their test, researchers fed capsaicin orally to mice. Thank goodness they ate the stuff. One of the researchers reported that the feeding was equivalent to a 200 pound man eating from three to eight of the ultra-hot habanero peppers three times a week?

Perhaps the British male machismo of eating hot spicy curries is actually an evolutionary step. On second thoughts, remembering times with some such men, may be not.

FDA posts updated guidelines for assessing the safety of food additives.

Nutritional content of fruit and vegetables has fallen over the last 50 years, reports Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas. While the article here, suggests that organic produce might be better, the report does not say if there is a difference in nutritional value between conventionally grown and organic produce. Previous studies have typically shown no significant difference between them.

Finally, don’t forget to raise a glass of green beer for St Patrick’s Day
Green Beer