Food in the News

Maple Syrup Science

The University of Vermont is applying science to Maple Syrup. They have just opened a state of the art center the Proctor Maple Research Center to see if the new technologies produce a product as good as the old technologies. Here they will be applying flavor and sensory chemistry to determine what makes a good maple syrup. Follow this link for more information about Maple Syrup science and news about the new center at UV.

Nanotech Database

Every wondered if you were already eating nanotech products? This database should help you find out. I was interested to find out what food products already contain nanotechnology, as I am intrigued as to what value could this add to a food product.

There is a canola oil containing micelles that are used as a carrier for phytosterols, which reduced cholesterol levels. Phytosterols are in Benecol as stanol esters, but not as nanotech micelles. The apparent advantage of Canola Alive is that the micelles will allow the product to reach the absorption site without being destroyed, either during cooking or digestion.

There are several nanotech dietary supplements or Nanoceuticals™ as the company calls them. Looking at the individual products, e.g. the chocolate shake, the main selling point is the usual dietary supplement blurb, ending with the FDA has not approved these statements or tested our products. The nanotech adds flavor. Chocolate is used to disguise bad flavors. You can do this at home. Make something tasting awful, add chocolate and the flavor is hidden. As they don’t have any other flavors, it makes me wonder – if I paid $36 for this product, I would convince myself it tasted good and I was losing weight.

Folic Acid Fortification

Adding folic acid to enriched flour has improved the health of Americans and Canadians. A recent article published in Circulation shows that there has been a population wide fall in homocysteine in response to the higher intake of folate. Low homocysteine levels is risk factor towards stroke. By increasing the homocysteine levels, stroke morbidity should decrease.

Over the last ten years, stroke mortality in America and Canada has fallen, particularly since 1998 when folate enrichment was mandate by the Federal government. In England and Wales, where it enrichment hasn’t occurred there was no change in stroke mortality. Does this make me pleased to have moved to the US or what? To my family in England, start taking those folate supplements NOW.

BTW the graphs presented in this article (here, not sure if need subscription) and below are not well drawn. Or perhaps it is a physical chemistry perspective vs. epidemiology. The y-axis could at least have the same scale for each population group. I might just have to use these for an exercise in class sometime.

Fig from circulation
Yang, Q. et al. Circulation 2006;113:1335-1343

Finally, I am off to the ACS meeting in Atlanta GA. I will be mostly at the “Color Quality of Fresh and Processed Foods? symposium. I don’t know if I will have time/internet access.

Back next week.