Sugar claims “misleading”: Organic producer hits back at Channel 7

Organic food producer Bellamy’s Organic has responded to claims made about the sugar content of some of its products on Channel Seven last night, labelling them “inaccurate,” and “misleading.”

Last night’s Sunday Night program on the Seven Network included an interview with David Gillespie, where he claimed Bellamy’s Organic Apple Snacks contained too much sugar.

“Bellamy’s Organic Apple Snacks is100% pure unadulterated organic apple and nothing else,” it said in a statement today.

“It is free of pesticides, colours, flavours and any other additives.

“As stated on the packaging, the product does not contain added sugar of any type.

“We recognise this is a controversial topic because many people believe excess sugar intake is inextricably linked to the obesity epidemic; however, David Gillespie is mistaken to criticise the sugar content of the featured Bellamy’s product.

“He has reduced serious debate about a properly balanced diet down to oversimplified pseudo-science.

“Almost all dieticians are constantly exhorting Australians, particularly children, to eat two pieces of fruit per day.

The company has also denied claims it adds sugar to the products.

“Guest reporter Peter FitzSimons also mistakenly confused added sugar to a product containing 80% naturally occurring fruit sugar.

“Bellamy’s organic snacks and cereals, including our Bellamy’s Apple Snacks, contain no added sugars,” the statement said.

“The sugar contained within the Bellamy’s Organic Apple Snacks is natural sugar and a scientifically recommended source of carbohydrate in everyone’s diet.

“The drying process that is used to make Bellamy’s Organic Fruit Snacks gently removes moisture from the apple without destroying the flavour and nutrients.

“Medical experts and most of the scientific community are in consensus that naturally occurring fruit sugar, (such as the fructose that is found in apples), as part of a balanced diet, has a positive effect on health.”

Bellamy’s Organic Pty Ltd is said they were not contacted by any representatives from Channel Seven prior to the story going to air.

School lunches still contain “pink slime” in US

Despite major fast food retailers banning the use of “pink slime” in its foods, the additive will still be used in cafeterias across the United States.

In January, McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell in the US announced they had finally agreed to stop using ammonia hydroxide in their hamburger meat.

The product, which is commonly known as ‘pink slime,’ is used to kill E-Coli, Salmonella and other pathogens mostly found in meat that is suitable for dog food.

Beef by-products including cow intestines, connective tissue and other parts that are not used in traditional beef cuts are used to make the slime, and due to their susceptibility to E. Coli and Salmonella, the ammonium hydroxide is added to kill the bacteria.

Industrial cleaning products and an explosive ingredient found in ammonia hydroxide led celebrity chef and health campaigner Jamie Oliver to call for the additive to be banned.

But while the fast food giants are self-regulating to protect the health and safety of adults and children alike, it seems places populated entirely by adolescents – school cafeterias – do not share the same sense of responsibility, with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) telling “The Daily” it is purchasing 7 million pounds of pink slime to use in school lunches.

Oliver has been campaigning not only for the pink slime to be banned in all foods in America, but has also been fighting to improve the quality of school lunches in the country.

The additive has not been banned at this stage and the decision not to use it comes down to individual companies.

The USDA has defended its decision in a statement to The Daily.

"All USDA ground beef purchases for the National School Lunch Program must meet the highest standards for food safety," it said.

"This includes stringent pathogen testing and compliance with all applicable food safety regulations.

“USDA would only allow products into commerce or especially into schools that we have confidence are safe."

But even if pink slime is in food products in the country, consumers would not know about it, because the Food Standards Authority considers ammonia “a processing agent,” which exempts it from having to be listed on packaging.

Health Reporter Dr. John Torres told The Daily that ammonia does not cause a major health risk to human bodies and he would be more concerned about the possible E. coli and Salmonella that could still exist in the beef by-products, even after the chemical treatment.

The by-products used do not have the same nutritional value as pure ground beef, which is also a point of worry for Torres.

"The big concern is that this is a chemically processed food, it doesn’t have nearly the nutrients of normal beef," he said.

"It’s one of those things, ‘Do I want my child to have this?’

“On a short-term, moderate basis: maybe. On a long-term basis: no."

Beef Products Inc, which produces the slime, estimates the slime is used in 70 percent of the ground beef sold in the United States.

Food Magazine contacted Hungry Jack’s and McDonald’s Australia in February to out whether pink slime is , or was, used here, and spokespeople from both confirmed that the products has not ever been used.

Is everyone intolerant to gluten?

Do you have a gluten intolerance? Well, join the club: but make sure there’s are not wheat products in the share plate you bring.

New statistics reveal that in 2010, $2.5 billion was spent on gluten free products, and in the next five years that is tipped to double.

Coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or celiac…which are you?

An article by Sarah Berry, published in the Sydney Morning Herald separates some of the fact from fiction in the hate-campaign against gluten.

Do you eat gluten, if not, why?

Nuplex Industries buys Acquos’s Masterbatch for $23.5 million

Nuplex Industries has today announced its acquisition of Acquos’s Masterbatch business.

Acquos Masterbatch manufactures additives known as Masterbatch that colour and enhance the performance of plastics, as well as industrial and agriculatural applications including wire coatings and plastic sheeting.

The $23.5 million purchase will add to Nuplex’s presence in the masterbatch industry, as it already owns and operates Culamix, which adds new colour technologies and manufactures black masterbatch.

The two companies will be combined to make Nuplex Masterbatch, which is expected to become the leading masterbatch supplier in Australia and New Zealand.

 

CSIRO developing better infant formula

The CSIRO has joined forces with ingredients manufacturer, Clover Corporation to develop nutritional ingredients for infant formulas.

“While natural breast milk is the gold standard, when infant formulas are needed to supplement or replace it, those formulas need to be as close to the real thing as possible,” said research team leader, CSIRO’s Ms Luz Sanguansri.

“Many of the bioactive components of breast milk are not stable and their inclusion in infant formula is not straight forward.”

The research will examine how nutritional bioactives can be combined in formulas with the natural essential Omega 3 fatty acid DHA, to improve the ability of infants to absorb bioactive ingredients that can boost their immune systems.

Sanguansri said there were also a number of scientific and technical hurdles to overcome before DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and bioactives can be added to infant formulas.

“For example, DHA is complex, fragile and is only found in significant amounts in a few foods so, we need to be able to protect, stabilise and deliver the DHA,” she said.

“We need to protect the bioactives of interest during the manufacture of the ingredient powder by Clover Corporation and during the manufacture of the infant formula by the many major global manufacturers they supply.

“It needs to remain stable from the time it’s manufactured, right up until it’s prepared in the home.

“Finally we need to be sure that these bioactives reach the right part of the infant’s digestive tract, so that benefits for development and immune function are maximized,” Ms Sanguansri said.

Clover Corporation Limited, through its subsidiary Nu-Mega Ingredients Pty Ltd, is a leading international supplier of microencapsulated ingredients such as Omega-3 DHA and other beneficial bioactive nutrients.
Professor Ian Brown, the Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, said the current research agreement builds on collaborative efforts over 15 years between CSIRO and Clover Corporation on the development of functional ingredients.

“We have a long track record of extensive work with CSIRO, originally through our exclusive license to commercialise CSIRO’s MicroMAX technology,” Brown said.

“This latest investment by CSIRO and Clover Corporation will enable us to focus the expertise of both organisations on overcoming barriers to producing the next generation of nutritional ingredients for infant and medical foods,”

MicroMAX are CSIRO’s proprietary technologies designed to encapsulate and protect bioactives to ensure they reach targeted sections of the gastrointestinal track.

Previous research by CSIRO and Clover Corporation has helped protect DHA during manufacture of foods and mask its ‘fishy’ taste and smell, leading to successful commercial applications in products around the world.
 

Government, industry to address national label standards

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Australian and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council have agreed to undertake a comprehensive review of food labelling and its policies.

Former federal Health Minister Dr Neal Blewett will conduct the review, which will include two rounds of public consultations and address issues, including the accuracy, truthfulness and consistency of labelling; enforcement of labelling laws across jurisdictions; the cost to business and consumers in meeting labelling standards; and the difficulty consumers have in understanding and using the information contained on food labels.

“We felt that we needed a plan that laid down principles and criteria to provide future ministers with some policy reference to making specific decisions rather than just make them ad hoc,” Blewett told .

The ongoing battle surrounding the issue of food labelling has many sides and attempts to determine what is appropriate and what should be mandatory for food manufactures to include on packaging, as well as to resolve any confusion for consumers. Recent industry cases help illustrate the dilemma faced by manufacturers and government and industry bodies.

Last month, Standards Australia, in collaboration with the Australian Olive Association, called for the need to develop a national standard for olive oil because they said consumers are paying for premium-grade olive oil when, in many cases, what they’re buying is either a lower grade or not olive oil at all.

Another, more extreme, example saw Australia’s largest smallgoods manufacturer Primo charged with falsely labelling imported pork products as Australian. The NSW Food Authority found that imported pork middles were processed by Primo and labelled as “Product of Australia” and “Meat content 100% Australian.” The company pleaded guilty to 63 charges under the NSW Food Act 2003 relating to the packaging and the labelling of its meat and was fined $233,325 plus $200,000 in costs.

Geoffrey Annison, deputy chief executive of the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), said the food industry has been asking for the review for some time in order to avoid such situations.

“Food labelling has essentially become a battleground in the food industry,” he said, adding that the review will help bring consistency that current laws and policies related to food labelling lack.

“It’s mainly to make sure that the food industry can respond to consumer and community needs on food labels in their own way, but also to recognise that the government has a fundamental role to mandate information, particularly for public health and safety protection.”

In other words, the government also looks to identify issues that lie outside of food safety, but that still fall within the government’s responsibility, continued Annison.

Country of origin labelling, gene technology labelling – which reveals when there is genetic material in the food that might be modified – and labelling based on welfare concerns, e.g. environmental concerns about carbon footprint labelling, are issues Annison raised that fit within the categories of consumer choice and the right to know.

Under review

The first round of the Blewett Review commenced in October 2009 and asked the public to identify the food labelling issues it wanted considered in the review. The review panel received 6,000 submissions, many of which addressed four main issues: food technology; ingredients, including additives and allergy concerns; presentation of information on labels; and the enforcement of consistent food labelling.

“We might have ideas about labelling, but it was pretty important we got some insight into what consumers, what government agencies, what the industry, what medical professionals thought about labelling,” Blewett said. “And that was really a starting point to facing up to the issues.”

One of those submissions came from the AFGC. It explored the need for a national food policy to be consistent with international food trade obligations, the idea for the use of voluntary codes in food labelling and the need for clarity where food-labelling regulations intersect with other regulations.

“There are specific food regulations [that are mandatory], but there are also other regulations like the Trades Practices Act and also the Weights and Measures Act that govern food labelling,” Annison said. “They don’t always meld together.”

Following the first round of responses, the panel initiated a second and final public consultation, addressing issues on what people wanted from food labelling, including useful information on packaged, canned, processed and fresh foods. This resulted in another 700 written submissions from businesses, organisations and individuals, including Mars Australia, Fonterra Australia, Biological Farmers of Australia, New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, Anaphylaxis Australia and South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenephon.

Blewett said the panel hopes to have proposals in response to the feedback in March 2011.

“We hope to be able to respond with proposals that will deal with some of the issues that consumers have raised,” he continued. “This might impose extra burdens on industry, but at least it will provide a more effective framework in the way the industry does its labelling.”

Battle’s end

Annison said he hopes the final document will put food labelling as a battleground well behind the industry, as well as develop a transparent framework.

Not only to the food industry but to the community and consumers as to what information they can reasonably expect from food packs and what information the industry can reasonably be expected to provide. Ultimately it’s making sure consumers have all the information they need one way or another to make the choices they need to construct healthy diets.”

 

www.coag.gov.au

www.health.gov.au

www.afgc.org.au

The gloves are on

HACCP Australia’s Karen Constable discusses the pros and cons for wearing gloves in relation to food safety and worker protection.

Gloves have two main purposes in the food industry: to protect food from contamination from human hands and to protect workers from occupational hazards, such as microorganisms, cuts, chemical burns and thermal shocks.

In some instances glove perform both of these roles at the same time.

Gloves purchased for protecting food are usually single-use or disposable gloves, whereas gloves for personal protection purposes are more likely to be re-useable gloves. When choosing gloves, factors to consider include thickness, durability, elasticity, exterior texture, coatings, antibacterial additives and interior linings or treatments.

Disposable gloves are commonly made from latex, vinyl, nitrile or polyethylene co-polymer, with vinyl and polyethylene gloves being the cheaper options. Polyethylene (PE) gloves are very loose fitting, easy to tear and not suitable for applications involving heat. Vinyl (PVC) gloves provide a snugger fit, which improves dexterity; however they also have low durability. Nitrile and latex gloves are more durable and have good elasticity, which provides comfort and dexterity. Each of these different glove types has different chemical resistance properties, with PE and vinyl gloves showing little resistance to alcohol, and latex unsuitable for use with animal fats and oils.

Re-usable gloves for food contact applications are most commonly made from natural rubber. Nitrile re-usable gloves are a more expensive option, but provide added advantages, such as better strength, cut resistance and chemical resistance.

While the use of gloves can provide benefits to both food safety and occupational safety, there are potential food safety risks associated with their use. The foremost risk is one of cross-contamination from a dirty glove surface. Most Australian consumers are familiar with the sight of a gloved food handler collecting cash at the sandwich counter. A common phrase among food safety experts is ‘a clean hand is better than a dirty glove’.

The second risk to food safety is that of physical contamination of food by whole gloves or pieces of broken glove. Blue coloured gloves are a good choice for processing applications where gloves could get into mixers, vats or conveying systems.

The third risk to food safety is that of chemical contamination caused by migration of chemicals from the gloves into the food that they contact. Due to the nature of the compounds found in gloves, migration is more likely to occur when gloves are in contact with fatty, acidic or alcoholic foods for more than a few seconds.

Control of microbial and physical contamination hazards from gloves is easily achieved using good hygiene systems, food handler training, and GMP protocols. However, hazards arising from chemical contamination are not generally well understood.

Australian Food law states that equipment for food contact must be ‘made of material that will not contaminate food’, however more detailed requirements are not described in the legislation. In practice, most glove suppliers in Australasia use the requirements of the US FDA as a guide to choosing materials which are acceptable for food contact use. The US FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations provides long lists of materials which are permitted for use in food contact articles, including gloves. Additives used during glove manufacture, such as plasticizers, vulcanizing agents and accelerators are also regulated. Plasticizers used in the production of PVC items have attracted much negative attention lately, with a commonly used plasticizer now classified as a toxicant by the EU.

The Code of Federal Regulations and directives of the European Union also define acceptable migration limits for food contact materials. Migration tests typically involve immersing the material in a solvent or a food simulant for given times and temperatures and measuring the level/s of extractives. Choosing gloves which meet the requirements of the US FDA or the appropriate EU directives can provide assurance that chemical migration will be minimised. However, when inspecting marketing material for gloves, be aware that many of the standards, directives and regulations pertaining to gloves are specific only to parameters such as physical performance, dimensions, tensile strength and dermatological reaction risks. It is possible to purchase gloves which conform to many quality and performance standards but which are not compliant with chemical migration regulation.

HACCP Australia

Food exporters to Canada advised to go au naturale

Many of Canada’s largest food manufacturers are purging synthetic ingredients from products and exporters to the country should do the same, says New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The Canadian companies are following in the footsteps of many US processors, all of whom are driven by market research that shows consumers are gravitating to foods with natural ingredients and avoiding additives.

McCain Foods launched its ‘It’s All Good’ marketing campaign built around the reformulation of recipes for more than 70 frozen food products including pizza and French fries.

Campbell Soup Co. and Kraft Foods are also launching several new products that contain no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise says the country’s food companies that are exporting to Canada should consider the current market shift towards natural ingredients when determining which products to export.

Source: NZTE

Datamonitor forecasts in food and packaging trends for 2010

In packaging and food, here are Datamonitor’s tips for the near future.

Free ranging

Animal rights have emerged as a growing worldwide concern as consumers want to know more about how the foods they eat were raised and prepared. For example, the “free range” product claim commonly used to identify how poultry are raised has nearly doubled in frequency for new food products launched worldwide since 2006 according to Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics. Look for this trend to accelerate in 2010 as food service chains follow the trail blazed by leading-edge CPG companies into humanely-raised products.

Diamonds are forever, plastic now isn’t

One of the great attributes of plastic is that is lasts — for what seems like forever. But that’s also one of its greatest drawbacks. Plastic that is not recycled often ends up in landfills where it can persist for centuries. But that is changing. New types of degradable packaging now enable plastic to biodegrade in only years. The key is additives like EcoPure or Reverte that help plastic biodegrade more quickly and safely than it ordinarily would. The bottled water market has been ground zero for this trend with entries like Aquamantra Natural Spring Water in Enso bottles and State of Mind Bottled Water in Reverte Back to Nature bottles. Look for this trend to accelerate in 2010 and move beyond the bottled water market to other categories.

Meat not just in the sandwich

Meat’s burgeoning popularity on the flavour front helps to explain some of the more bizarre product launches over the past few months including meat-flavoured lollipops (Das Lolli Man Bait), potato chips (Mackie’s of Scotland Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper Potato Chips), chocolate candy (Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar) and even vodka (Bakon Premium Bacon Flavoured Vodka). Can meat-flavoured ice cream, yogurt or fruit juice be far behind?

More muscular functional drinks

A decade ago, a brand called Red Bull took the soft drink market by storm, creating a new niche for energy drinks. Is history about to repeat itself with a drinks brand called Muscle Milk? Quietly, the protein-enhanced exercise recovery drink brand from Cytosport has crafted a following that suggests significant cross-over potential for so-called “muscle” beverages that have long been aimed at weight-lifters and power athletes. Muscle Milk and similar healthy and active lifestyle beverages could be the next hot niche within the functional drinks market.

Superfruits get more exotic

Indiana Jones may be done looking for the Holy Grail and other antiquities, but searchers trekking through rain forests, jungles and the wilds of South America, South-East Asia and Africa are just getting started in their quest to find the next hot superfruit. Candidates for 2010 and beyond include Baobab (a tart African fruit high in anti-oxidants), Borojo (a natural energiser from the jungles of South and Central America), Maqui (a berry native to South America said to have eight times the anti-oxidants of blueberries) and Yumberry (technically “yang-mi” fruit — a super-high anti-oxidant tree fruit from China). Move over pomegranate, you’ve got some competition.

Ingredients: less is more

With “natural”’ and “organic” product claims displaying the same growth patterns as peak oil, the conundrum for packaged food and drinks companies around the world boils down to this: how do we say “better for you” and not just sing the same old songs? The newest technique is to take a machete to product ingredient lists. Out are ingredients that sound more at home in a chemistry lab and in their place are ingredients that most consumers recognise. Haagen-Dazs’ 5 Ice Cream illustrates the trend with just five ingredients for each ice cream flavour. Look for other packaged food and drinks makers to dance the limbo with product ingredient lists in 2010 and beyond.

Bamboo cleans up

Perhaps no substance has enjoyed more of a booster shot courtesy of the green movement than bamboo. Thanks to its outrageously-fast growth rate (it can grow as much as 24 inches in a single day); bamboo has become the material of choice for companies that want to bolster their sustainability credentials. The substance has shown up in recent launches as disparate as dish-cleaning sponges and paper plates to baby wipes and cosmetics packaging.

Have you had your “shots” ?

While the shot format has been around for some time in various world markets for dairy-based drinks, the format has exploded in popularity in other markets. Almost singlehandedly, shots have elevated the energy drink market to new heights. The latest “shot” trend is the polar opposite of energy drinks — new relaxation “shots” that offer a non-alcoholic way to reduce stress. Examples include Koma Unwind Chillaxation Shot and Tranquila Relaxation Shot. The number of new products featuring the words “shot” or “shots” has doubled since 2006, according to Datamonitor.

Gluten-Free products

Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics reports a doubling of new gluten-free products since 2005 with major consumer packaged goods companies now jumping on the bandwagon.

Datamonitor’s research covers six major industry sectors: consumer and retail; automotive and logistics; energy and utilities; financial services; healthcare; and technology.

China executes two over tainted melamine scandal

China executes two over tainted milk

China has executed a dairy farmer and a milk salesman for their roles in the sale of contaminated baby formula.

The men were the only people put to death in a scheme to boost profits by lacing milk powder with the industrial chemical melamine; 19 other people were convicted and received lesser sentences.

At least six children died after drinking the adulterated formula, and more than 300,000 became ill.

Beijing is eager to show it has responded swiftly and comprehensively to eliminate problems in its food production chain that have spawned protests at home and threatened its export-reliant economy.

The milk powder contamination struck a nerve with the public because so many children were affected, but was only one in a series of product recalls and embarrassing disclosures of lax public health safeguards.

Melamine, which is used to make plastics and fertilisers, has also been found added to pet food, eggs and fish feed, although not in levels considered dangerous to humans. The chemical, which like protein is high in nitrogen, fooled inspectors. It can cause kidney stones and kidney failure.

China has tightened regulations and increased inspections on producers and exporters in cooperation with US officials, who have noted a drop in the number of product recalls on Chinese exports. But Beijing continues to struggle to regulate small and illegally run operations, often blamed for introducing chemicals and additives into the food chain.

The country has 450,000 registered food production and processing enterprises, but many – about 350,000 – employ just 10 people or fewer. The UN said in a report last year that the small enterprises present many of China’s greatest food safety challenges. Zhang Yujun, the farmer, was executed on Tuesday for endangering public safety, and Geng Jinping for producing and selling toxic food, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Much of the phony protein powder that Zhang and Geng produced and sold ended up at the defunct Sanlu Group Co, at the time one of China’s biggest dairies.

The Xinhua News Agency said an announcement of the execution had been issued by the Shijiazhuang Municipal Intermediate People’s Court. Most executions in China are performed by firing squad. Of the others tried and sentenced in January in the scandal, Sanlu’s general manager, Tian Wenhua, was given a life sentence after pleading guilty to charges of producing and selling fake or substandard products.

Three other former Sanlu executives were given between five years and 15 years in prison. There was outrage after news spread of the doctored milk in September 2008, both because of the extent of the contamination and allegations that the government prevented the news from breaking until after the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The cover up accusations were never publicly investigated, and authorities have since harassed and detained activist parents pushing lawsuits demanding higher compensation and the punishment of government officials. Families were offered a one-time payout – ranging from of 2,000 yuan ($A318) to 200,000 yuan ($A31,500), depending on the severity of the case – to not pursue lawsuits.

Source: AP

Plastic additive companies facing multi-million Euro fines

Plastic additive firms face €173m price fixing fine

Dozens of companies that produce plastic additives for food, beverage and cosmetic packaging have been fined more than €173m for their part in price fixing and market sharing cartels over a 13-year period.

The European Commission (EC) announced 24 four firms from 10 different undertakings that make heat stabilisers and plasticisers for packaging for the food, drinks and cosmetics industries have been hit with fines totalling €173.86m for rigging the European market for these plastic additives between 1987-2000.

The companies involved in the criminal activity were Akzo, Baerlocher, Ciba, Elementis, Elf Aquitaine (Arkema France), GEA, Chemson, Faci, Reagens and AC Treuhand.

During this period, the companies “fixed prices, shared customers, allocated markets and exchanged sensitive commercial information for tin stabilisers (1987-2000) and ESBO/esters (1991-2000) heat stabilisers in the European Economic Area (EEA)”, said a statement from the EC. Heat stabilisers are added to PVC products in order to improve their thermal resistance and are used in packaging, food packaging, credit cards, bottles, coatings, flooring, artificial leather, plastic wallpaper and other everyday plastic products. The combined markets for tin stabilisers and ESBO/esters in the EEA were worth around €121 million at the time of the infringement. Fines Swiss-based Ciba, owned by BASF, was hit hardest with financial penalties totalling €68.4m, while Dutch giant Akzo faces fines of €40.6m. Elf Aquitaine, of France, was ordered to pay €28.6m and the joint GB-US group Elementis €32.5m.

US-based Chemtura Corporation, which took part in the price rigging, escaped any punishment after turning whistleblower to the EC. But Arkema France’s fine was increased by 90 per cent as it had previously taken part in similar cartels. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “These companies must learn the hard way that breaking the law does not pay and that repeat offenders will face stiffer penalties. The companies’ elaborate precautions to cover their tracks did not prevent the Commission from revealing the full extent of their determined efforts to rip-off their customers”.

BASF declared it would appeal against the Ciba fine, based on a statute of limitations clause. It said Ciba had sold the company involved in price fixing a decade ago. Elementis also said it would appeal, while Akzo said it would review its position. Cartels Between 1987 and 2000, Akzo, Baerlocher, Ciba, Elementis, Elf Aquitaine, Chemtura, Reagens and AC Treuhand (for various periods) participated in an EEA-wide tin stabiliser cartel. Between 1991 and 2000, Akzo, Ciba, Elementis, Elf Aquitaine, GEA, Chemson Chemtura, Faci and AC Treuhand (for various periods) operated an EEA-wide ESBO/ester cartel. For both products, the companies fixed prices, shared customers, allocated markets and exchanged commercially sensitive information.

The EC, which launched its probe in 2003 with a series of raids, said the main decisions for both cartels were taken at summits organised by AC Treuhard. The company allowed the groups to use its Zurich headquarters to map out the illegal scheme at monthly meetings for tin stabilisers and quarterly ones for ESBO/esters. Other meetings to fill in details of the scam on prices, customer allocation and markets were held throughout Europe, said the EC. Damages Anybody affected by the anti-competitive behaviour could bring legal action before national courts of the EEA to seek damages, said the EC.

It added: “The case law of the European Courts and Council Regulation 1/2003 both confirm that in cases before national courts, a Commission decision is binding proof that the behaviour took place and was illegal. Even though the Commission has fined the companies concerned, damages may be awarded without these being reduced on account of the Commission fine.”

Source: Food Quality News

Coopers to double exports to USA

Coopers Brewery is planning to double its beer exports to the United States in 2009-10.

It now has two people working in the US to promote Coopers’ beers after reaching agreement with Coopers’ American importer, Priess Imports.

Coopers Marketing Director and Chairman, Glenn Cooper, said that Coopers’ Export Manager, Terry Miniken, had joined Priess as its Regional Manager for the East Coast of the US, with responsibility for the Coopers brand.

He will also coordinate other Coopers export activities. Another expatriate Australian, Michael Cameron, had also been employed by Priess as its National Beer Manager for the West Coast.

“The arrangements mean that Coopers effectively has two people on the ground working to develop the Coopers brand in the US, in conjunction with Priess,” Mr Cooper said.

“We see this as a great opportunity for us and one that will enable Coopers to make strong inroads into the craft beer market, the fastest growing sector of the alcohol market in America.”

Mr Cooper said beer exports globally currently made up about 3% of total sales for Coopers, but anticipated this figure could rise to 8% within five years.

“In the next 12 months, we are looking to increase sales in the US by another 140,000 cases a year,” he said.

“A number of new shipping and warehousing arrangements have also been put in place in the US which will help remove some of the internal transport costs and stabilise price differences between the East and West coasts.”

Mr Miniken, who has worked in the US for Coopers for the past 12 months, said there was a lot of interest in Coopers Pale Ale, Coopers Sparkling Ale, Coopers Stout and Coopers Vintage Ale across America.

“The Americans particularly like the fact that Coopers is still family owned after five generations, they enjoy the prominent kangaroo on the bottle’s neck label and they love the fact that the beers are made without preservatives or additives,” he said.

“There is also strong demand from Australian expats and visitors to the US who search out where Coopers is sold to get a taste of home.

“Coopers is available in major cities across the US including New York, where it is sold in such outlets as the Australian Bar, Eight Mile Creek, Bondi Road, Sun Burned Cow, Sheep Station, Wombat, and Gingerman. It is also sold in Outback Steakhouse across America.

“The craft beer market is the fastest growing sector in the American alcohol market and Coopers positions itself well in this sector.”

Mr Cooper said the American craft beer market was enormous. “By concentrating on the craft sector, we are confident we can achieve strong growth, making the US a valuable contributor to Coopers’ overall sales,” he said.

Banning hyperactivity-linked food dyes

The NSW Greens say regulators should ban or provide warnings about additives and colourings in food.

Consumer group CHOICE has found that more than half of 100 cakes bought from supermarkets contain artificial food dyes that some studies have found increase hyperactivity in some children.

The report says artificial food colourings only enhance the appearance of food and often allow the manufacturers to use cheaper ingredients.

Greens MP, John Kaye, said while some companies have voluntarily stopped using the additives, the responsible ministers and regulators need to act.

“Nestle Australia has banned these six food dyes but there are still a lot of manufacturers that are using them,” he said.

“They have no nutritional value, they have no purpose other than just to make the food look attractive, they’re a marketing tool and they’re a dangerous marketing tool that’s been proven to contribute to hypoactivity disorder in a number of children.”

He said food regulators overseas have removed the dyes from produce.

“In the UK, in the EU, and around the world food regulators are moving to ban them,” he said.

“In Australia there’s no movement at all. It’s time for food ministers to move a complete ban on these food colours, or at least have mandatory warning labels on the front of all packages.”

Woolworths said there are no plans to remove food colours from cakes both made in-house and sourced from suppliers.

Woolworths spokeswoman, Claire Buchanan, said labels show consumers what ingredients they contain, adding they are the same ingredients that a person decorating a cake they bake themselves would use.

— ABC News

Mac’s makes for Oz

Mac’s beer, one of NZ’s most successful craft brews, is aiming to win a slice of the growing Australian craft beer market, with a maverick attitude and tongue-in-cheek humour.

Mac’s won two trophies at last year’s Australasian Beer Awards, having started life as the ultimate ‘home brew’.

It was the creation of former All Black, Terry McCashin, a farmer and publican from Picton, NZ who couldn’t find a beer he wanted to drink, let alone one he wanted to serve his customers.

When told by one brewery rep that his pub would have to take what the brewery had on offer, McCashin decided to make his own beer.

The dream was not accomplished without difficulty. Six months of red tape were the first hurdle – no-one had asked about brewing a new beer for 50 years and the man who knew which forms to fill out had passed away.

The second problem came when local breweries bought out all stocks of bottles and caps.

This didn’t stop McCashin.

By then he had acquired a site for Mac’s Beers, the old Nelson cider factory and he found the solution to his bottle dilemma in the warehouse – hundreds of the factory’s original cider bottles complete with rip top caps.

In 1981, Mac’s beer came to life – in cider packaging – a unique style that sets the brand apart to this day.

With a state of the art brewery in Wellington enabling Mac’s to make naturally brewed beers without additives, Mac’s sources the most expensive hops and natural ingredients.

“We have our mainstay beers, but love to make a short-run limited release when the creative urges hit,” said Mac’s Australian brand ambassador, Kurt Gross.

Gross will introduce three Mac’s beers this year to Australian craft beer drinkers: Mac’s Gold, the original beer and biggest seller; Hop Rocker, the premium Pilenser; and Spring Tide, an all organic, lower carbohydrate style.

An Australian dog food blamed for another Chinese health scare

A brand of imported pet food is being pulled off store shelves in China after reports of dogs being sickened by it, a company official said Tuesday.

Natural Pet Corporation, which is the distributor for Optima dog food from Australia, has ordered a recall, according to the company’s general manager in Shanghai, Zhang Haobin.

Reports of sick animals have been coming into Edis Pet Supply Company in Shanghai, a retailer selling Optima dog food, a company representative said. Veterinarians have told Edis of four dogs poisoned by aflatoxin after eating Optima products.

Chinese media reports detail dozens of additional poisonings. Aflatoxin attacks the liver in several animal species.

Although rare in many parts of the world, the fungi that produce aflatoxins can contaminate cereal grains often used in pet foods.

Zhang said Natural Pet Corporation is fully aware of the reports of sick dogs and that the products are being tested.

No results are available at this time, he said.

Although this dog food is imported from Australia, tainted products have been a troubling trend in China. In 2007, the US Food and Drug Administration recalled more than 150 brands of cat and dog food after finding that some pets became ill or died after eating food tainted with melamine.

Contaminated additives used in the pet food came from China.

The chemical is commonly used in coatings and laminates, wood adhesives, fabric coatings, ceiling tiles and flame retardants.

Two Chinese businesses, a US company and top executives of each were indicted by a federal grand jury in February in connection with tainted pet food, which resulted in deaths and serious illnesses in up to thousands of US pets, federal prosecutors said.

There have also been recalls of tainted toys made in China and melamine-contaminated milk killed at least six infants in China last year and sickened nearly 300,000 more.

— CNN

Australian children consume low levels of food colours

Australian children are consuming low levels of food colours, according to a survey of added colours in foods released by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

FSANZ’s Chief Scientist, Dr Paul Brent, said the results of this survey are very positive and indicate that colours are not being used above maximum permitted levels, or at levels that would pose a risk to consumers.

“This survey provides significant reassurance that there is no public health and safety risk from the consumption of foods containing added colours as part of a balanced diet.

“The survey found that the concentrations of added colours in foods in Australia are very low, mostly less than 25% of the maximum permitted levels.”

The survey also showed that estimated dietary exposures to all permitted synthetic food colours were less than 10% of the Acceptable Daily Intake for all population groups assessed, even for high consumers of added food colour.

Additionally, the survey found that the average concentrations of synthetic colours in foods were well below the concentrations used in the recent UK Southampton study into colours and behavioural change, which found limited evidence that mixtures of certain colours and sodium benzoate had an effect on the activity and attention of children.

For example, the UK study assumed a concentration of 67 mg/kg of the colour tartrazine in confectionery, whereas the average concentration of tartrazine in confectionery in the FSANZ survey was only 10 mg/kg.

“Australian children are also consuming food colours at much lower levels than the amounts used in the UK Southampton study. For example, on average, 6 to 12 year olds in Australia are consuming the food colour tartrazine at 14% of the amount used for 8 to 9 year olds in the UK study and are consuming the colour sunset yellow at 21% and 8% of the amounts used in the UK study (in the two mixes).

“FSANZ does recognise that adverse reactions to foods and food additives occur in a small proportion of the population. These reactions are not the same as allergies but may include rashes and swelling of the skin, irritable bowel symptoms, behavioural changes in children and headaches.

“Additives (including colours) cannot be included in foods unless they are approved and included in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Food additives which are in a food or drink to perform a function must be identified on the label with either their name or its specific code numbers.”

The FSANZ survey found very good consistency with labelling requirements with nearly all colours detected listed on the food label.

“Parents can use food label information to identify when the additives included in the UK study are in their child’s diet, but it should not be assumed that simply taking these additives out of a child’s diet will eliminate these symptoms,” said Dr Brent.

“If you think you or your child has a food intolerance we recommend you seek advice from a medical practitioner or accredited practising dietitian.

“FSANZ has commenced dialogue with peak food industry bodies on the current and future uses of synthetic and natural colours in foods, to inform future work by FSANZ,” Dr Brent concluded.

Synthetic and natural colours are routinely added to food and beverages as a visual cue for quality, to induce the perception of flavour and to meet consumer expectations.

This analytical survey, commissioned by FSANZ, quantified actual levels of all permitted synthetic colours and two natural colours, annatto and cochineal/carmine in foods and beverages in Australia, in order to accurately estimate dietary exposure and assess the potential risk to human health for Australians.

Super-foods or super-frauds?

The news is in. Functional foods are super popular and suppliers cannot keep up with demand. But is the hype justified?

Açaí berry suppliers can not keep up with demand. Suppliers are operating at capacity every day of the week, and many promotional partners have been told to reduce advertising spending, or operate on their own risk, in order to decrease surplus demand.

At the same time two new super-foods are the latest in a list of three GM food products, claiming to improve health, which have passed preliminary research stages.

A purple tomato has been crossed with snapdragon genes to reportedly boost levels of the anthocyanins antioxidants in mice; and a GM soya-bean has been found high in long chain Omega-3 acids (chiefly found in oily fish) which proponents claim may stop heart attacks. The two join ‘Golden rice’ – a genetically-modified rice variety for elevated vitamin A levels.

While in the past it was pretty obvious if a food item was healthy – an apple, pear or even a banana, meant healthy; a deep-fried chocolate bar – not really; with modern possibilities, such black and white distinctions may have to remain right there, in the past.

Today’s foods can be filled with additives bold enough to turn the humble hamburger into a healthy healer. These nutrient-dense super-foods have many doctors and nutritionists believing in their ability to help prevent diseases. Examples of super-foods include spirulina, spinach, salmon, and of course all those super-berries.

In the world of functional ingredients, choosing what to incorporate into production can certainly be a confusing experience. So the question for manufacturers is how do the benefits of super-foods differ from other options available in the market?

According to the Garvan Institute’s Diabetes and Obesity Group’s PHD candidate, Jane Reznick, “super-foods contain a higher content of phytonutrients – plant derived chemicals believed to be beneficial to human health.

“There is a vast range of food available on the market, and some of it is nutritionally poor or even deleterious. For example foods that are high in sugar or trans-fats can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Not only do these foods present stress to the body but they do not provide any of the essential nutrients it needs for keeping healthy.

“Super-foods, however, have high nutritional content per calorie and therefore give added benefits to the body to help it keep healthy, while potentially guarding off diseases such as diabetes and cancer.”

With the hype surrounding these foods, and the further development and creation of GM super-foods, the question remains of whether there is any truth in the health claims, or whether the excitement is based purely on the glorification of the consumers’ wishful thinking.

“As scientific research gets more and more sophisticated, we’re discovering how our body functions and the chemical and molecular processes that occur in our bodies when we are healthy, and when we are sick,” said Reznick. “Naturally occurring super-foods are therefore very exciting as we discover that they contain the nutrients and chemicals that our body needs for some of its processes.

“As the causes of certain diseases become clearer, we begin to understand that a lack of particular nutrients can lead to some serious malfunctions, which then result in diseases. The lack of folic acid in a mother’s diet, for example, can lead to the baby being born with the debilitating disease spina bifida.

“Therefore the knowledge, which is becoming more apparent and readily available, that certain foods contain substances that help prevent such diseases and contribute to overall better health and longer lifespan, is incredibly exciting.”

For the food industry, there are plenty of possibilities to be found in these functional ingredients, according to DSN Nutritional Products’ business manager for human health and nutrition, Richard Dandan.

The benefits for both manufacturers and consumers when it comes to using super-ingredients, besides the obvious associated health properties, is the possibility of standing out on crowded supermarket shelves.

“When it comes to the beverage market, for example, where some manufacturers have already launched drinks with added vitamins, or other functional properties, my thinking is that manufacturers are finding ingredients that can make them different from the others,” said Dandan.

“Some of our ingredients are very flexible in terms of additions to food products. For instance, the green tea extract that we have is a functional addition, not just because of its health properties, but also because, for many consumers who don’t like the bitter taste of green tea, the benefits can be had without the taste.

“There is also no discolouration in the product, so it fits well with various applications in food. On the part of the consumers, they have the healthy benefit of this ingredient without any alteration of what they normally like in the products. We try to eliminate the negative taste associations, so that consumers can adapt to the use of the super-food products more quickly.”

The current super-face of the super-food trend is the açaí berry, which claims a host of health benefits, including antioxidant properties, Omega fatty acids, dietary fibres, and protein. The antioxidant content in açaí berries is thought to be as much as thirty times greater than red wine, and it is therefore claimed to contribute to better health, by slowing the ageing process and reducing the risks of stroke.

Super-far away

While the use of the açaí berry has been enthusiastically embraced, consumers and manufacturers are a lot more careful when it comes to further development of the super trend, including that of GM ingredients.

“The creation of GM foods is complicated. On the one hand, finding a gene that can cure disease or prevent a malady, and putting that gene into a food that is readily eaten, easily grown, and highly accessible, sounds like the answer we’ve been looking for. However messing around with genes is far more tricky than this,” said Reznick.

“Creating preventative medicines out of food by modifying their genetic makeup, is not as simple as it sounds. Scientists are nowhere near to a complete understanding what each gene does, and more importantly, how one gene on one chromosome interacts with another.

“At each step there is a long list of possible modifications, which occur within a cell, that alters their regulations or functions. These modifications are cell specific and so, if you find a beneficial gene in one organism, transfer it into another (such as a vegetable), the modifications occurring in the original organism may differ to the new host of this gene.

“This could either impact on the gene’s function or make it something altogether new, with potentially adverse effects. Because of these complications, the wonderland of GM foods is probably many years away.”

Agreeing with this assessment are claims by a CSIRO former scientist, Dr Maarten Stapper, who recently explained the reasons that so few GM super-foods have reached <[lb]>preliminary stages, with none released for public use.

“The GM industry has been making promises for thirty years on better food, but at the moment GM food released is still modified only at a production level for herbicide tolerance, and insect and disease resistance.”

While the limitations on super-foods, and our expectations of what they can deliver, are still quite separate, there are certainly many exciting possibilities for manufacturers in opening up their facilities to more functional ingredients.

What manufacturers need to consider, however, is whether the ingredients they are drawn to are actually permitted for use in Australia. “It’s pointless to develop a product that can not be sold in Australia. In this country there are very strict rules and regulations as far as adding additional ingredients to foods, and that is extremely important. In other countries, and other markets, manufacturers can much more easily use these super-ingredients in their finished products,” said Dandan.

“I think manufacturers should be more bold in coming up with new innovations and releasing new products into the market. Australian manufacturers tend to wait to see what their competitors are doing, rather than taking the first step in exploring and adding new ingredients to products. It’s time to take risks and go out on a limb in order for companies to be differentiated, and in order to compete well in the industry.

“I really do hope that manufacturers will consider adding more and more healthy ingredients into their products and I hope that the food industry grows through the possibilities of the new ingredients that are becoming available on the market,” concluded Dandan.

Better tasting beer

With Australia’s national drinking habits going through significant changes and despite a decline in overall alcohol consumption, premium, craft and low-carb brew production is on the rise.

Australians now drink a moderate 9.89L of pure alcohol each year, making us lesser drinkers than the English, yet bigger boozers than our US counterparts.

So, why is it that the craft, boutique and premium beer markets are growing – making up 7.8% of the 7.9 billion dollar beer industry?

According to Snowy Mountains Brewery founder, Kevin O’Neill, the evolution of the Aussie drinker means that “people are starting to realise and appreciate the differences between a mass produced standard beer and a crafted boutique brew.”

This is reflected in the growth figures of this market segment – showing continuing growth over the past five years with 11.3% recorded for last year.

Despite the global financial crises and a notable downturn across the retail sector, consumers tend to continue their alcoholic beverage purchases in tougher times. However, this too is undergoing change.

For O’Neill, these preferences “tend to be based on taste and quality, rather than on price. Ironically, people continue to buy alcoholic beverages, but the tendency is now more toward quality than quantity. This shows that it is more about enjoyment and appreciation than drowning one’s sorrows.”

Does size matter?

Boutique and craft breweries tend to follow traditional recipes, being committed to using quality natural ingredients, paying particular attention to the flavour of the unique ales they produce.

Using state of the art brewing technology and equipment, Snowy Mountains Brewery utilises the latest in closed-vat fermentation technology, which is reflected in the taste of the beers.

“This allows us to not only have the best brewing process, but to minimise water wastage and operate with as <[lb]>much energy efficiency as possible,” O’Neill explained.

Largely, the craft beer industry sticks to the four basic ingredients for their beers – barley, hops, yeast and water – without the use of adjuncts, chemical additives or preservatives.

Many mass produced liquid ambers are brewed using corn or rice grain for their higher levels of fermentable sugars, which reflects in higher yields, yet lesser taste. When produced in such masses, any degree of better yield can generate a much greater profit margin. While smaller breweries do need to look at yields, their smaller quantities of brews mean the focus can remain on taste.

Although not enforceable in Australia, and repealed in 1987, the oldest beverage law in the world, the German Reinheits Gebot (purity law) from 1516 stated that only the four basic ingredients are permitted for use in brewing beer.

Many craft brewers choose to comply with this traditional guideline in ensuring their beers are brewed without additives and adjuncts to offer the best quality and taste.

O’Neill, who also embraces the Reinheits Gebot, started the alpine craft beer label Snowy Mountains Brewery after he realised that there was no local Snowy Mountains brew, such as those found in other snow resorts around the world. Since his first batch in 2004, for which he actually transported the alpine snow to the brewery, the passionate skier has collected a keg full of awards for his four distinct brews – his Pale Ale, Red Ale, Hefeweizen (wheat beer) and Pilsner – all modern interpretation of traditional recipes.

It is becoming clear that Australian beer drinkers are moving more toward quality versus quantity, meaning choosing premium, craft and boutique ales over the middle of the road standard beers. In the face of financial turmoil, consumers choices are certainly changing.

World leaders in sustainability

New Zealand’s food and beverage industry has been creating a climate change of its own, setting a greening benchmark for the world.

The country’s food and beverage industry, highly esteemed worldwide for freshness and flavour, is now focusing more than ever before on its commitment to sustainability.

By 2010 all of the country’s wines will be required to participate in an independently audited sustainability scheme if they are to take part in the NZ Winegrowers’ global marketing programme, and by 2012 the aim is for all NZ grapes and wine to be produced under independently audited sustainability schemes.

NZ wine is contained in bottles from an estimated 66% recycled glass and wrapped in recyclable packaging from sustainable forests. The industry is pioneering a scheme to use the endangered NZ falcon to scare away birds that peck the grapes.

2008 FOOD Challenge Awards Winner, and the first fresh meal manufacturer in the world to become carbon neutral, Pitango has implemented an internationally recognised carboNZero programme, boasting an emissions’ management strategy that reaches all aspects of production, distribution and administration.

Meat is a cornerstone of the NZ economy with the sheep and beef industries having already achieved the targets set by the Kyoto Protocol. Emissions are now 17% below 1990 emissions – despite an increase of more than 12% in production.

The NZ meat industry is committed to reducing its impact on the environment, with more than $30m investment over the next five years in pastoral greenhouse gas emission reduction, including research into a sheep and cow vaccine to immunise the animals against the organisms in their stomachs that produce methane.

NZ is also recognised as a world leader in fisheries management, with rigorous mechanisms and controls in place for managing quotas, ensuring sustainable harvests and continual renewal of ocean habitats.

In 2007 the Minister of Fisheries allocated more than $4 million to securing inter-national sustainability certification for NZ’s entire fisheries.

NZ Greenshell mussels, highly regarded around the world and distinguished by their emerald green shell markings and distinctive green lip, seal in their flavour without the use of additives such as fertilizer, herbicide, pesticides or artificial foods.

Enviro-Mark NZ is an environmental management system marketed and supported throughout NZ by Landcare Research. The company provides the country’s food and beverage businesses with a framework to systematically assess their performance against agreed global standards of sustainability for health, safety and the environment standards.

An example of the milestones achieved so far can be found in the fact that the proportion of NZ food and beverage companies certified to International Organisation for Standardisation standards is one of the highest in the world. At the same time, two of NZ’s organic certifications, BioGro and AgriQuality, have been approved under the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Programme.

It would seem that the island nation has truly managed the perfect marriage of great taste and commitment to sustainability and living green.

Pitango Innovative Cuisine

  • became the world’s first carbon neutral fresh meal manufacturer through the carboNZero programme;
  • implemented an emissions management strategy with the aim to reduce its carbon footprint;
  • have made the most of a unique opportunity to educate consumers on their indirect role in making a difference to cleaning up the environment.

Phoenix Organics

  • joined the GreenFleet programme, reducing vehicle emissions to save around $30,000 annually;
  • chose glass for packaging as it can be recycled;
  • use vegetable-based inks as much as possible in all packaging;
  • source paper and cardboard for labels and packaging from a sustainable mill;
  • collect rainwater from the roof of their factory to use for the pasteuriser, where it’s safe to do so, and not in contact with food.

King Salmon

  • became the only salmon in the world that doesn’t use any antibiotics in rearing;
  • use fish farming as a highly efficient use of marine space;
  • constantly monitor the environmental impact of operations to ensure the good health and productivity of salmon, as well as making certain that farms are not significantly affecting surrounding water quality or the natural marine ecosystems;
  • have installed state-of-the-art feed control equipment, making more efficient use of feed and reducing any adverse environmental effects of waste drifting from the sea cages;
  • make every effort to use resources and energy efficiently and responsibly and to minimise or recycle waste.

ZESPRI

  • have integrated the traceability from orchard to retail shelf, committing the company, its growers and suppliers to health of the environment, the people who produce and handle the kiwifruit, and those who eat the products;
  • introduced a full traceability system in 2000, meaning fruit can be traced from orchard to retailer, with the system remaining a world-leading environmental management system.

New Zealand Wine Company

  • became the first winemakers in the world to achieve carboNZero certification in 2006;
  • produce UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s house brand, largely as a result of becoming carboNZero certified;
  • now have their products stocked by Tesco, Wholefoods and Thresher, and produce carboNZero Marlborough wines for the Thresher ethical brand Origin;
  • identified and implemented significant packaging changes to reduce waste and save on overseas freight costs, sourcing lighter wine bottles and thinner glass, allowing the use of smaller cartons, fitting more on a pallet;
  • established vineyards planted in longer rows, reducing the number of times the tractor needs to turn around; and consequently reducing the diesel consumption per hectare.

    — Tim Green is the regional director of AusPac.

Pork CRC helps cut costs and push production

At a time of great challenge for the Australian pork industry, research by the Pork CRC in the last year has reduced feed costs and improved herd production efficiency, while working to improve pork’s consumer appeal.

Speaking at the release of the Pork CRC’s 2007/08 Annual Report, Pork CRC Chairman, Dr John Keniry, said the Centre’s work was vital to maintaining Australia’s strong domestic pork industry and its international competitiveness.

Among the report’s major highlights were the development of two barley varieties, two triticale varieties and a field pea, Maki, all of which will be released in 2009.

“The Pork CRC triticale project, with the University of Sydney, has identified and developed two varieties, one of which is about to be released, with 8-16% higher yields than current benchmark varieties. This is a major breakthrough,” Dr Keniry said.

The Pork CRC’s development of Near Infrared Spectrometry (NIRS) calibrations for rapidly determining the Digestible Energy (DE) and other nutrient contents of grains will revolutionise the accuracy and cost effectiveness of pig diet formulation.

“This will not only benefit the pork industry by allowing grains to be more accurately valued, but it also applies to other animal industries,” Dr Keniry said.

Research on feed efficiency will reduce the cost of production for pork producers and increase income.

“Pork CRC research discovered that increasing the dietary DE content for lactating gilts increased the number of sows having a second litter by 30%, a finding which will significantly increase revenue for the Australian pork industry,” Dr Keniry said.

Research has also demonstrated the benefits of strategically using the additives Paylean and Porcine Somatotropin in pig feed.

This has been shown to deliver potential increases in profit from $5.10 to $7.50 per pig and deliver big gains in feed use efficiency, a vital benefit given the current high cost of feed.

Increasing the level of fat in the diet of finisher pigs has been shown to improve carcase weight and feed efficiency.

“This important finding has clearly demonstrated that current pig nutritional standards need to be questioned if Australia is to reduce the cost of production that’s required for sustainable and profitable pork production,” Dr Keniry said.

The Pork CRC will continue to trial the benefits of combining fat and fibre in pig diets, as well as investigating the adequacy of amino acids in the diets of grower pigs.

Working with the Australian Pork Farms Group (APFG) and the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (VDPI), the Pork CRC has developed a vaccine and vaccination procedure for the disease Actinobaccillus pleuropneumoniae (APP).

This highly effective vaccine is faster, easier to deliver and cheaper than current vaccines.

In the area of diet and human health, the Pork CRC’s innovative research work is examining nutritional strategies to increase pork’s selenium and iron content for better health.

It’s also investigating how pork’s high thiamine content might help manage and control Type 2 diabetes.

“The Pork CRC’s important work to reduce costs, increase production and research pork’s advantages for human health will continue to benefit Australia’s pork industry and economy into the New Year and beyond,” Dr Keniry concluded.