France to Ban Titanium Dioxide Whitener
As reported by Reuters, France will ban the use of titanium dioxide as a food additive from 2020 after the country’s health and safety agency said there was not enough evidence to guarantee the safety of the substance for human consumption. Titanium dioxide is widely used in industry as a whitener, notably for paint, and in the food sector, where it is labeled E171 and goes into products from chocolate to chewing gum. France had ordered a review of the substance in 2017 after a study found health effects in animals that consumed it. France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research and partners in a study of oral exposure to titanium dioxide had shown that E171 crosses the intestine wall in animals to reach other parts of the body.
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Quality Assurance International (QAI) is launching a new certification mark to help consumers understand that USDA organic certified products are required to be free of GMOs. In other words, “If it’s organic, it’s non GMO.” In a QAI study, 80% of participants said they were unaware that products with the organic seal were also non-GMO. Of survey participants who reported recently shopping at a well-known natural foods store, just one-quarter recognized organic products as non-GMO. The study suggests many consumers don’t understand organic products are non-GMO and may seek both labels to satisfy their needs. Makers of QAI certified products can choose to use the original QAI mark or the new “If it’s organic, it’s non GMO” mark.
The USDA Agricultural Research Service is redirecting its toxoplasmosis research, stating that the use of cats as part of any research protocol in any ARS laboratory is being discontinued and will not be reinstated. Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite causes toxoplasmosis, a disease considered to be a leading cause of death from foodborne illness in the U.S., especially for individuals with weak immune systems such as children and HIV patients. ARS research in this area has produced undeniable results—including helping to cut the prevalence of T. gondii by as much as 50% in the U.S. Over the course of this research, ARS worked to minimize reliance on cats—the only hosts in which T. gondii can complete its life cycle and produce oocysts (eggs)—as agency researchers worked to understand and combat toxoplasmosis.
Edible Insects Market Gaining Ground
The edible insects market is set to grow from its current market value of more than US $55 million to over US $710 million by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights. The global human population is anticipated to increase by more than 2 billion by end of 2050, giving rise to food problems. An increase in food production will lead to more pressure on the environment, so consumption of edible insects is one of the food alternatives through which one can get high-quality protein, amino acids, and vitamins at affordable costs. Edible insects possess high food conversion rate and emit less greenhouse gases than traditional livestock. Furthermore, insect farming is cost effective as compared to cattle farming.
Global Project to Fight Food Fraud
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s five-year research project with experts from 16 countries is working to apply nuclear-derived techniques to test for accuracy in food labels. The outcome of the project, carried out in cooperation with the FAO, will assist countries in combating fraud in high value food products, such as premium honey, coffee, and specialty rice varieties. It will help countries apply stable isotope techniques to protect and promote foods with added-value, such as organic food or products with specific geographical origins like Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The method works by looking at the ratio of stable isotopes in elements—such as hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon—and the concentration of elements in a sample of the product. These can provide a unique fingerprint that links a crop to the place where it is cultivated.