More protein doesn’t mean healthier diet: CSIRO survey

Our favourite burger, pizza and meat pie may need a re-think after new research by CSIRO shows Australians are not eating the right types, or the right quantity of protein for healthy weight loss.

The analysis from the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score survey, Australia’s largest nutrition study of almost 200,000 adults, showed people with low-quality diets obtained eight times more of their protein from junk foods than people with high-quality diets – and were more than three times as likely to be obese.

“Everyone’s protein needs are different, and not all foods that contain protein are good for you,” CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Professor Manny Noakes said.

“The current recommendations for protein intake underestimate protein requirements during weight loss – the latest science suggests eating 1.2-1.6 grams per kilogram of bodyweight for optimal weight loss.

“Often a relatively low figure of suggested protein intake is quoted for an average weight man or woman. However, most Australians are far from average with more than 60 per cent of us being overweight or obese.

“Our research also shows that many people are not getting their protein from healthy foods.”

CSIRO has developed a new free personalised protein calculator to provide a tailored estimate of how much protein and the types of protein needed to support healthy weight loss.

“As science advances, we are seeing the benefits of taking a more personalised approach to health and nutrition,” Professor Noakes said.

“By calculating your personal protein needs for healthy weight loss you may be able to more successfully achieve your weight loss goals. 

The new analysis showed that junk foods, such as pies, burgers, pizza with processed meats, chicken nuggets, sausages, cakes, ice cream and biscuits, were the second highest contributor to protein intake for people with low diet scores.

 In contrast, leaner people who tended to have higher-quality diets ate protein sourced from healthier whole foods, including chicken, red meat, fish, eggs, milk, cereals, nuts and yoghurt, and junk food only accounted for approximately three per cent of their total protein intake. 

“Higher protein healthy meals help to control appetite and can help to reduce the urge to indulge in junk food,” Noakes said.

The new personal protein calculator is free and available on the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet website at www.totalwellbeingdiet.com. Using your weight, it recommends the amount and types of protein you should be eating in a day to support healthy weight loss, and recommendations for how the daily amount should be divided across each meal.

A CSIRO review of the latest scientific evidence in January found support for the recommendation to eat at least 25 grams of protein at each main meal to help control hunger and enhance muscle metabolism.

Smartphones the stick needed to eat more carrots

Smartphone apps could be key to addressing Australia’s significant under-consumption of vegetables, especially with men and people who are overweight or obese.

Despite evidence that eating vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer, it is estimated that more than 19 million Australians aren’t meeting their minimum dietary guideline recommendation.

Launched last year, and commissioned by Hort Innovation, CSIRO’s VegEze app uses game-like features to encourage Australian adults to eat more veggies through a 21 day ‘Do 3 at Dinner’ challenge.

More than 4000 people have taken part in the study and of those who have completed the challenge, over 80 per cent are having three vegetables with dinner.

CSIRO scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie said the findings of the research showed that adopting a gamified approach, such as the VegEze app, was an effective way of helping improve Australia’s poor vegetable score-card.

“The app has helped tip the scales the most for obese people, with obese men consuming one extra serve and two extra types of vegetables per day, which is a significant increase,” Dr Hendrie said.

“By the end of the challenge, the percentage of obese men that were meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines vegetable recommendations had increased four times to 30 per cent.

“Men in general increased their vegetable intake by three quarters of a serve.

“This resulted in 10 per cent increase of number of men meeting the guidelines, but interestingly we only saw an increase of 1.4 per cent for women.”

A report published by CSIRO last year highlighted that women generally eat more vegetables than men, which may account for the smaller increase.

“It’s an encouraging sign of the times to see how technology can drive healthy eating habits, especially for those groups that need it the most, like men and obese adults,” Dr Hendrie said. 

“As Australia’s national science agency, we are focused on delivering solutions that are helping Australians live longer, healthier lives.

“We encourage people to take up the 21-day challenge which is free to download from the app store.”

The VegEze app helps people track their intake and tally up vegetable serves, with daily reminders and rewards to help people stay motivated and on-track.

The app and associated research was funded by Hort Innovation and developed in partnership with digital health solution provider SP Health.

Hort Innovation Chief Executive John Lloyd said the findings gave Australian vegetable growers a snapshot into the vegetable eating habits of Australians, with the aim to better serve consumers.

“Australian vegetable growers are constantly adjusting their business practices to best cater to shifting consumer demands,” Mr Lloyd said.

“We have seen this in the rise of easily accessible vegetable snacking options such as smaller-sized beetroots and carrots, cauliflower rice and pre-cut celery.

“With this insight into potential gaps in the market, growers can now see where innovations are needed to help Australians eat more vegetables, while giving them the best produce possible.”

Image:  ©Dario Gardiman

Hybrid mega-pest threatening global food crops

CSIRO scientists have confirmed the hybridisation of two of the world’s major pest species, into a new and improved mega-pest.

One of the pests, the cotton bollworm, is widespread in Africa, Asia and Europe and causes damage to over 100 crops, including corn, cotton, tomato and soybean.

The damage and controlling the pest costs billions of dollars a year.

It is extremely mobile and has developed resistance to all pesticides used against it.

The other pest, the corn earworm, is a native of the Americas and has comparatively limited resistance and host range.

However, the combination of the two, in a novel hybrid with unlimited geographical boundaries is cause for major concern.

The CSIRO researchers in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA  provides clear evidence of the hybridisation of the two moths in Brazil.

“A hybrid such as this could go completely undetected should it invade another country,” Research Director leading CSIRO’s Biosecurity Risk Evaluation and Preparedness Program Dr Paul De Barro said.

“It is critical that we look beyond our own backyard to help fortify Australia’s defense and response to biosecurity threats.

“As Australia’s national science agency, we are constantly looking for new ways to protect the nation and technology like genome sequencing, is helping to tip the scales in our favour.”

While a combination of insecticides currently controls these pests well in Australia, it is important to study the pests themselves for sustainable long-term management world-wide.

The scientists confirmed that among the group of caterpillars studied, every individual was a hybrid.

“No two hybrids were the same suggesting a ‘hybrid swarm’ where multiple versions of different hybrids can be present within one population,” fellow CSIRO Scientist Dr Tom Walsh said.

The bollworm, commonly found in Australia, attacks more crops and develops much more resistance to pesticides than the earworm.

A concerning finding among the Brazilian hybrids was that one was 51 per cent earworm but included a known resistance gene from the bollworm.

Lead author of the paper Dr Craig Anderson, a former CSIRO scientist now based at The University of Edinburgh, believes the hybrid study has wide-ranging implications for the agricultural community across the Americas.

“On top of the impact already felt in South America, recent estimates that 65 per cent of the USA’s agricultural output is at risk of being affected by the bollworm demonstrates that this work has the potential to instigate changes to research priorities that will have direct ramifications for the people of America, through the food on their tables and the clothes on their backs,” Dr Anderson said.

Platypus milk may help save lives

Platypus milk has taken a step closer to being used to fight superbugs and save lives, thanks to a team of researchers at CSIRO working with Deakin University.

In 2010 scientists discovered that platypus milk contained unique antibacterial properties that could be used to fight superbugs.

The new research solves a puzzle that helps explain why platypus milk is so potent. The discovery was made by replicating a special protein contained in platypus milk in a laboratory setting.

“Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry,” CSIRO scientist and lead author on the research published in Structural Biology Communications , Dr Janet Newman said.

“The platypus belongs to the monotreme family, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young. By taking a closer look at their milk, we’ve characterised a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties with the potential to save lives.”

As platypus don’t have teats, they express milk onto their belly for the young to suckle, exposing the mother’s highly nutritious milk to the environment, leaving babies susceptible to the perils of bacteria.

Deakin University’s Dr Julie Sharp said researchers believed this was why the platypus milk contained a protein with rather unusual and protective antibacterial characteristics.

“We were interested to examine the protein’s structure and characteristics to find out exactly what part of the protein was doing what,” she said.

Employing the marvels of molecular biology, the Synchrotron, and CSIRO’s state of the art Collaborative Crystallisation Centre (C3), the team successfully made the protein, then deciphered its structure to get a better look at it.

What they found was a unique, never-before-seen 3D fold.

Due to its ringlet-like formation, the researchers have dubbed the newly discovered protein fold the ‘Shirley Temple’, in tribute to the former child-actor’s distinctive curly hair.

Dr Newman said finding the new protein fold was pretty special.

“Although we’ve identified this highly unusual protein as only existing in monotremes, this discovery increases our knowledge of protein structures in general, and will go on to inform other drug discovery work done at the Centre,” she said.

In 2014 the World Health Organisation released a report highlighting the scale of the global threat posed by antibiotic resistance, pleading for urgent action to avoid a “post-antibiotic era”, where common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.

The team of scientists at CSIRO and Deakin are seeking collaborators to take the potentially life-saving platypus research to the next stage.

Image:  ©Laura Romin & Larry Dalton

 

 

 

Teff: from ancient grain to gluten-free food products

Teff (Eragrostis tef) is the world’s smallest grain and one of the oldest plants, originating in Ethiopia at least 5000 years ago. It is a major food crop in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Outside Ethiopia, teff is grown in Nevada and Idaho, USA, with about 1,200 acres grown each year. Apart from the McNaul family, it has been grown in Australia in experimental quantities in areas of Tasmania and around Tamworth in northern New South Wales.

Teff is a gluten-free wholegrain and as such it has the potential to become in high demand as suitable for consumption by gluten intolerant and health conscious consumers.

Teff’s nutritional content

The scientific literature shows that teff is highly nutritious. Its protein content typically ranges from 8.7 to 11 per cent, similar to wheat, and it has a good balance of amino acids.

Teff flour has a high fibre content (8 per cent dry basis) – several times higher than wheat and rice, higher than sorghum, lower than oat and rye. It also contains the fermentable fibre, resistant starch.

The high fibre content is thanks to its small size. The bran and germ aren’t separated during the milling process thus it’s always consumed in wholegrain form.

Teff is also a good source of minerals and vitamins. It’s high in iron – around two or three times higher than wheat, barley and sorghum. It is also high in calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and magnesium. Teff presents in various colours, from white to brown, which is due to the high content of phenolic compounds.

Outback Harvest and product development

Rice has been the traditional crop for NSW Riverina farmers, son Fraser and father Shane McNaul, and they also grow corn and a variety of winter cereals and legumes. But they decided a couple of years ago they needed to diversify their cropping program to become more sustainable and innovative.

The agriculturally rich and diverse Riverina, with its warm to hot climate and ample water supply, makes their farm the perfect place to grow the ancient grain emerging onto the Australian market, teff.

The McNauls planted two varieties of teff, brown and ivory, three years ago. They started a company, Outback Harvest, and approached CSIRO and Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL) to help them develop Australian-grown, gluten-free teff baked goods and extruded snacks that could bring this nutritious grain into the mainstream western palette.

“Without CSIRO and FIAL all we’d have been able to do would be a grain and a flour product,” Fraser said.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do the value-added products so in the long term we’re vertically integrating and that’s helping us out as farmers.”

Fraser has moved to Melbourne to concentrate on developing packaging, marketing and distributing the first retail products, which have been endorsed as gluten-free by Coeliac Australia and Coeliac New Zealand.

Food applications and new markets

Teff flour is traditionally used to make injera (fermented flat bread), kitta (sweet flat bread), chibito (unleavened kitta in balls) and anebabro (double layered kitta).

Unlike flat breads, because gluten is essential to form the spongy texture of baked leavened bread, developing acceptable bread texture with gluten-free flours is an on-going challenge for food technologists. Bread high in teff flour appears to be no exception. Further research into thickening agents or structural ingredients would be needed to successfully develop a gluten-free bread with a high proportion of teff flour.

Teff grain and flour are being imported to the US, Europe and Australia from Ethiopia into the health food store and supermarket sectors and used for making biscuits, cakes, flat breads and muffins in the home. Brown teff produces a darker coloured flour that has a chocolate-like look and taste to it and so is ideally suited to a product like muffins. The ivory teff produces lighter coloured flour with a nutty flavour and is perfect for something like pancakes.

Value-added teff products such as ready-to-eat or convenience foods for retail markets or at commercial scale are emerging. At the time these products were under development for Outback Harvest, there were no others on the market in Australia, although some have come on since.

Owing to its documented nutritional properties, potential new markets for teff could include specialty products for weight management and high nutrient content products like baby food, traditional medicines or supplements. 

What CSIRO did

The aims of this work were to demonstrate it was possible to prototype several new gluten-free products using teff as the main ingredient, and to investigate the impact of teff flour on the texture, colour and flavour of new products. CSIRO developed muffin premixes, bread and a crunchy extruded ball, which has potential as a new snack product or breakfast cereal. The McNauls have just commercialised the muffin premix and launched it onto the retail and wholesale health food sector nationally, and in cafés in Melbourne, Geelong and the Surf Coast in Victoria. Other products CSIRO developed are currently being patented.

“There’s been a lot of interest in the products because they’re Australian-grown and certified gluten-free,’ Fraser said.

“With CSIRO’s expertise in food innovation and new product development, and their facilities and expertise helped make it all happen,” Fraser said.

“We’re also looking at other value adding opportunities like snack bars, tortillas and flat breads, and exporting to Asia.”

 

CSIRO gene silencing technology continues to benefit agriculture worldwide

RNA interference (RNAi), a technology patented by the CSIRO, has given the world potatoes that don’t go brown, animal feed that’s easier to digest, safflower with high oil content and more.

Global forestry company, FuturaGene is the latest of public and privately funded organisations worldwide to license the technology which enables scientists to reduce or switch off the activity of single genes, with enormous benefits, especially in agriculture.

CSIRO has provided research materials to 3700 laboratories around the world and has issued more than 30 research and commercial licenses for RNAi to-date.

FuturaGene, a leader in plant genetic research and development for sustainable plantation forestry, will utilise RNAi technology to develop more resilient forestry crop varieties, primarily eucalyptus and poplar.

Technologies for preserving and enhancing yield in renewable plantations are an imperative for meeting growing wood demand in the face of climate change and increasing pest and disease threats, while preserving natural forests.

Other uses of RNAi technology include developing potatoes that don’t go brown, animal feed that’s easier to digest and an improved industrial oil.

Senior Research Scientist with CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Ming-Bo Wang, was one of the scientists involved in RNAi’s development in the mid-1990s, and together with colleague Peter Waterhouse, received the 2007 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for the work.

“One of the projects we were working on at the time was with the potato chip industry; we were trying to develop a virus resistant potato,” Dr Wang said.

“We discovered that when plants are attacked by viruses they use double-stranded RNA to mount a counter-attack.

“We realised we could make use of this ‘virus immune’ response to develop a mechanism that would stop individual genes from passing on information.

“At first we didn’t think much of it but when we realised we’d uncovered a fundamental mechanism for silencing genes, we knew there would be widespread applications.”

The RNAi mechanism was used by US company, Simplot to develop the “Innate” potatoes which bruise less than other potato varieties.

The potatoes also produce less acrylamide, a chemical which can accumulate in starchy foods such as potatoes when they are cooked at high temperatures.

Simplot is hopeful non-browning potatoes will reduce the costly and environmentally damaging issue of waste in the industry.

Forage Genetics has licensed RNAi to develop an animal feed that is more easily digested.

Alfalfa (or lucerne) is an important source of cattle feed in many countries.

One major challenge for farmers is that if harvested late, alfalfa can contain high levels of lignin, the fibrous material that is important for binding cells, fibres and vessels in plants.

Animals are unable to digest lignin.

HarvXtra alfalfa has up to 20 per cent less lignin, making it much more digestible for cattle. It can also be harvested seven to 10 days late without sacrificing quality.

CSIRO itself has made use of RNAi to develop a safflower seed oil that contains over 93 per cent oleic acid, a valuable component in industrial chemicals and lubricants.

Super high oleic oil safflower is being commercialised by GO Resources.

Dr Wang said that while there are more recent gene editing tools, RNAi will have a major role to play for many years to come because of its ability to silence multiple genes at the same time and tone down the expression of essential genes without killing a plant.

He said that CSIRO was continually developing new tools, technologies and techniques to improve RNAi delivery, potency and ease of use.

 

 

 

 

CSIRO helps develop high-fibre wheat

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is part of an international team that has developed a new type of wheat with 10 times the amount of fibre of regular wheat. Read more

Why people find it hard to maintain a healthy diet

With almost two in three Australian adults overweight or obese, a new CSIRO report has analysed the five main diet related personality types of more than 90,000 Australian adults to gain a comprehensive picture of why many people find it hard to maintain a healthy diet.

In what is Australia’s largest-ever diet and personality survey, food cravings were found to be one of the most common reasons diets get derailed.

“For anyone who has found eating to lose weight difficult, your personal Diet Type, daily habits and lifestyle factors could provide the answer to why some weight loss methods haven’t worked for you in the past,” the report’s co-author, CSIRO Behavioural Scientist Dr Sinead Golley said.

CSIRO’s report focussed on the five most common diet personality types across the surveyed population, and looked at the major stumbling blocks for each personality type.

For the second-most common personality type, the ‘Craver’, the report found resisting certain delicious foods is a significant challenge.

“One in five Cravers have tried to lose weight more than 25 times and they say that chocolate and confectionery are the biggest problem foods to resist,” Dr Golley said.

“On the other hand, people with the most common diet personality type – known as the ‘Thinker’ – tend to have high expectations and tend to be perfectionists, giving up when things get challenging.”

Dr Golley said they also found some interesting food personality trends across generations.

“Baby boomers and the older, silent generation (aged 71 years and over) were more likely to be Socialisers and Foodies – suggesting lifestyle and social connections influence a person’s eating patterns at different stages of life – while millennials and Gen X were more likely to be Cravers, Thinkers and Freewheelers,” she said.

“We also found younger people commonly used fitness trackers and apps to lose weight, while older generations turned to diet books and support groups.”

Dr Golley said CSIRO’s online Diet Type survey can provide behavioural insights to increase a person’s potential to successfully lose weight.

“If you’re frustrated by unsuccessful weight loss attempts, having a better understanding of your personal triggers and diet patterns can be the crucial piece of the puzzle,” she said.

The five most common diet personality types found across the surveyed population, including differences in weight status, diet behaviour, gender and generation, were:

  • The Thinker (37%) is the most common Diet Type. Predominantly women (86%), Thinkers tend to over-analyse their progress and have unrealistic expectations. This can result in a sense of failure and derail a diet.
  • The Craver (26%) One in four respondents is a Craver and finds it hard to resist temptation. More than half of all Cravers (58%) are obese.
  • The Socialiser (17%) Food and alcohol play a big role in the Socialiser’s active social life, so flexibility is key to maintaining a healthy diet.
  • The Foodie (16%) Foodies are most likely to be a normal weight. Passionate about food, this type has the healthier diet with a high variety of vegetables in their diet. Alcohol makes up one-third of their discretionary food and beverage intake.
  • The Freewheeler (4%) Spontaneous and impulsive eaters, Freewheelers have the poorest quality diet. With a higher proportion of men in this group, Freewheelers avoid planning meals and over half (55%) are obese.

Drone and sensor technology coming to Australian farming

Australia’s agriculture sector will benefit from the use of the latest digital technology including drones and long-range sensors as part of a new industry partnership.

Agribusiness, Ruralco, has linked up with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to develop data-driven solutions for more efficient and sustainable farming.

Around $1.5 billion is invested each year in agricultural and rural R&D in Australia and contributes towards an annual 2.8 per cent productivity growth over the past three decades.

Through a series of projects to be rolled out in coming months, the partnership will draw on CSIRO’s expertise in data science research and engineering, and a proven track record of agricultural innovation.

Combined with Ruralco’s on-ground network, the partnership offers potential to deliver new digital solutions to farmers throughout the country.

The joint areas of focus for CSIRO and Ruralco will include:

  • Exploring the potential of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones in long-range livestock detection to improve muster effectiveness
  • Nutrient and fertiliser management in areas of high conservation value, such as the Great Barrier Reef
  • The development of long-range sensing to automate and streamline operations, including water management, livestock safety and security
  • Adaptation of geospatial tools to provide an interface between Ruralco customers and their advisers, making use of real time data for improved decision making and planning.

Travis Dillon, CEO and managing director of Ruralco, said he was delighted to be working with CSIRO to improve farm practices and better manage the environment.

“Drone technology is facilitating data-driven decision making in agriculture,” he said. “Farmers can better analyse issues which affect productivity and sustainability such as: effective nutrient delivery; plant growth; and combat bio-security issues such as invasive species and pest infestation.

Ruralco is well positioned to deliver innovative technology through our 600 national outlets. Aligned with American company PrecisionHawk, farmer-friendly apps also analyse agricultural data in the US, South America and Europe.

Adrian Turner, CEO of CSIRO’s data innovation group Data61, said that his team has deep, globally recognised capability in robotics, remote sensing and data analytics.

“This partnership is an example of us teaming up with Australian industry to help them capitalise on the next computing cycle, at the intersection of data and domains like agriculture,” he said.

“Our work in cyber physical systems, machine learning and analytics, software and computational systems and decision sciences will all play a role.

“Our technologies are capable of storing and distributing data efficiently and reliably over long distances. More importantly, we are helping to make remote sensing accurate, robust, secure and trusted.

Agriculture in Australia­ a sector that has always embraced innovation­ is worth more than $50 billion and grew by $3.1 billion in 2015-16.

Dr Dave Henry, digital agriculture lead with CSIRO, said he was looking forward to working with Ruralco on furthering digital agriculture to support the continued growth of Australian agribusiness.

“It’s early days with the use of drones in agriculture and this partnership with Ruralco will allow us to explore and quantify those situations where the use of drones will aid farmer decision-making in livestock and cropping,” said Dr Henry.

CSIRO maps out Australia’s food future

New technologies could see us eating algae-based sources of protein, developing allergenic-free nuts and tolerable varieties of lactose and gluten, and reducing environmental impact through edible packaging.

Speaking at the launch during the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s (AIFST) 50th Anniversary Convention in Sydney, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy , highlighted the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in driving new economic growth in the industry.

Keeping a greater share of food processing onshore and better differentiating Australian food products are major themes across the Roadmap, which calls on businesses to act quickly or risk losing future revenue streams to the competitive global market.

Developed with widespread industry consultation and analysis, the Roadmap seeks to assist Australian food and agribusinesses with the desire to pursue growth and new markets.

Deputy Director of CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Dr Martin Cole said Australia was well positioned to act as a delicatessen of high-quality products that meet the needs of millions of informed and discerning customers both here and abroad.

“Australian businesses are among the most innovative in the world, and together with our world-class scientists, can deliver growth in the food and agribusiness sector amid unprecedented global change,” Dr Cole said.

“Less predictable growing conditions, increasingly global value chains and customers who demand healthier, more convenient and traceable foods are driving businesses to new ways of operating.

“Advances are already being made through the use of blockchain technology and the development of labels that change colour with temperature or time, or are programmed to release preservatives.

The Roadmap was developed in collaboration with the government-funded food and agribusiness growth centre: Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL).

Recently, FIAL launched their Sector Competitiveness Plan, which outlines the over-arching industry vision to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace and the necessary strategy to achieve the vision.

“With the growing Asian middle class, Australia is in the box seat to take advantage of the many emerging export opportunities,” FIAL Chairman Peter Schutz said.

“Consumers are looking for differentiated products that cater to their needs.

“This is especially exciting for Australian food and agribusinesses which have the capability to respond with customised and niche products.”

Currently, Australia exports over $40 billion worth of food and beverages each year with 63 per cent headed for Asia.

Dr Cole explained that Australia is a trusted supplier of sustainable, authentic, healthy, high quality and consistent products.

“We must focus on these strengths and enhance the level of value-adding to our products,” DrCole said.

“Recent Austrade analysis shows early signs of such a shift, as for the first time in Australia’s history value-added foods have accounted for the majority (60 per cent) of food export growth.”

The Roadmap outlines value-adding opportunities for Australian products in key growth areas, including health and wellbeing, premium convenience foods and sustainability-driven products that reduce waste or use less resources.

Five key enablers for these opportunities are explored in the Roadmap: traceability and provenance, food safety and biosecurity, market intelligence and access, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and skills.

These enablers align with FIAL’s knowledge priority areas that are central in helping the food and agribusiness industry achieve its vision and deliver increased productivity, sustainable economic growth, job creation, and investment attraction for the sector.

The Roadmap calls for improved collaboration and knowledge sharing to generate scale, efficiency and agility across rapidly changing value chains and markets.

“To survive and grow, the challenge facing Australia’s 177,000 businesses in the food and agribusiness sector is to identify new products, services and business models that arise from the emerging needs of tomorrow’s global customers,” Dr Cole said.

Roadmap charts course for future of food and agribusiness

CSIRO has released its Food & Agribusiness Roadmap, charting a course for products, technology and innovation to secure future success in the sector.

New technologies could see us eating algae-based sources of protein, developing allergenic-free nuts and tolerable varieties of lactose and gluten, and reducing environmental impact through edible packaging.

Speaking at the launch during the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s (AIFST) 50th Anniversary Convention in Sydney, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy, highlighted the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in driving new economic growth in the industry.

Keeping a greater share of food processing onshore and better differentiating Australian food products are major themes across the Roadmap, which calls on businesses to act quickly or risk losing future revenue streams to the competitive global market.

Developed with widespread industry consultation and analysis, the Roadmap seeks to assist Australian food and agribusinesses with the desire to pursue growth and new markets.

Deputy Director of CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Dr Martin Cole said Australia was well positioned to act as a delicatessen of high-quality products that meet the needs of millions of informed and discerning customers both here and abroad.

“Australian businesses are among the most innovative in the world, and together with our world-class scientists, can deliver growth in the food and agribusiness sector amid unprecedented global change,” Dr Cole said.

“Less predictable growing conditions, increasingly global value chains and customers who demand healthier, more convenient and traceable foods are driving businesses to new ways of operating.

“Advances are already being made through the use of blockchain technology and the development of labels that change colour with temperature or time, or are programmed to release preservatives.

“This Roadmap will set us on the path to sustainable growth in the sector.”

The Roadmap was developed in collaboration with the government-funded food and agribusiness growth centre: Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL).

Recently, FIAL launched their Sector Competitiveness Plan, which outlines the over-arching industry vision to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace and the necessary strategy to achieve the vision.

“With the growing Asian middle class, Australia is in the box seat to take advantage of the many emerging export opportunities,” FIAL Chairman Peter Schutz said.

“Consumers are looking for differentiated products that cater to their needs.

“This is especially exciting for Australian food and agribusinesses which have the capability to respond with customised and niche products.”

Australia exports over $40 billion worth of food and beverages each year with 63 per cent headed for Asia.

 

Mapping out Australia’s food future

CSIRO has released its Food & Agribusiness Roadmap, charting a course for products, technology and innovation to secure future success in the sector.

New technologies could see people eating algae-based sources of protein, developing allergenic-free nuts and tolerable varieties of lactose and gluten, and reducing environmental impact through edible packaging.

Speaking at the launch during the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s (AIFST) 50th Anniversary Convention in Sydney, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy, highlighted the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in driving new economic growth in the industry.

Keeping a greater share of food processing onshore and better differentiating Australian food products are major themes across the Roadmap, which calls on businesses to act quickly or risk losing future revenue streams to the competitive global market.

Developed with widespread industry consultation and analysis, the roadmap seeks to assist Australian food and agribusinesses with the desire to pursue growth and new markets.

Dr Martin Cole, deputy director of CSIRO Agriculture and Food, said Australia was well positioned to act as a delicatessen of high-quality products that meet the needs of millions of informed and discerning customers both here and abroad.

“Australian businesses are among the most innovative in the world, and together with our world-class scientists, can deliver growth in the food and agribusiness sector amid unprecedented global change,” Dr Cole said.

“Less predictable growing conditions, increasingly global value chains and customers who demand healthier, more convenient and traceable foods are driving businesses to new ways of operating.

“Advances are already being made through the use of blockchain technology and the development of labels that change colour with temperature or time, or are programmed to release preservatives.

“This roadmap will set us on the path to sustainable growth in the sector.”

The roadmap was developed in collaboration with the government-funded food and agribusiness growth centre: Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL).

Recently, FIAL launched their Sector Competitiveness Plan, which outlines the over-arching industry vision to grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace and the necessary strategy to achieve the vision.

“With the growing Asian middle class, Australia is in the box seat to take advantage of the many emerging export opportunities,” FIAL Chairman Peter Schutz said.

“Consumers are looking for differentiated products that cater to their needs.

“This is especially exciting for Australian food and agribusinesses which have the capability to respond with customised and niche products.”

Australia exports over $40 billion worth of food and beverages each year with 63 per cent headed for Asia.

Dr Cole explained that Australia is a trusted supplier of sustainable, authentic, healthy, high quality and consistent products.

“We must focus on these strengths and enhance the level of value-adding to our products,” Dr Cole said.

“Recent Austrade analysis shows early signs of such a shift, as for the first time in Australia’s history value-added foods have accounted for the majority (60 per cent) of food export growth.”

The roadmap outlines value-adding opportunities for Australian products in key growth areas, including health and wellbeing, premium convenience foods and sustainability-driven products that reduce waste or use less resources.

Five key enablers for these opportunities are explored in the roadmap: traceability and provenance, food safety and biosecurity, market intelligence and access, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and skills.

These enablers align with FIAL’s knowledge priority areas that are central in helping the food and agribusiness industry achieve its vision and deliver increased productivity, sustainable economic growth, job creation, and investment attraction for the sector.

The roadmap calls for improved collaboration and knowledge sharing to generate scale, efficiency and agility across rapidly changing value chains and markets.

“To survive and grow, the challenge facing Australia’s 177,000 businesses in the food and agribusiness sector is to identify new products, services and business models that arise from the emerging needs of tomorrow’s global customers,” Dr Cole said.

The promise of blockchain technology for the food industry

CSIRO’s Data61 has delivered a comprehensive review of how blockchain technology could be adopted across government and industries, including the food sector, to deliver productivity benefits and drive local innovation.

Over the past year, CSIRO’s Data61 Australia’s data innovation group has engaged extensively with industry and government to deliver two reports on the regulatory, technical and societal implications of using blockchain based-systems across various industries.

Adrian Turner, Chief Executive of CSIRO’s Data61 said Australia must be at the forefront of the technology.

“The pace of change we are experiencing as a nation is exponential and we can’t afford to be followers in the adoption of emerging technology like Blockchain,” Mr Turner said.

“It has potential to reframe existing industries like financial services and seed new ones like food provenance and personalised health.”

The Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, said the reports would help Australia build on its existing position as a leader in developing blockchain technology.

“It will give decision makers in business and government guidance on matters they need to consider in developing a system that uses blockchain technology,” Mr Morrison said.

“The reports demonstrate the benefits of this technology could be profound – delivering productivity, security and efficiency gains.

“We should all be interested in blockchain developments and its potential application, right across our economy.”

The first report developed by Rob Hanson and Dr Stefan Hajkowicz in Data61’s Strategic Insight Team explores four plausible adoption scenarios of blockchain technology in Australian in 2030 including: aspirational, transformative, new equilibrium and collapse.

“Scenarios allow decision makers to consider if similar possibilities were to occur, what should they do to prepare for the future ahead of time,” Mr Hanson said.

“Most importantly, each scenario examines the aspects of critical uncertainty for the use of blockchain technologies; human behaviour, technology and development, regulation and user adoption.”

The second report takes a technical approach by exploring design alternatives for blockchain systems in three illustrative use cases: remittance payments, open data registries and agricultural supply chains.

“Looking at the range of critical requirements in these specific context helps us understand how blockchain-based systems can support new markets and business models,” Group Leader CSIRO’s Data61Dr Mark Staples said.

The study highlighted that the path towards widespread adoption of blockchain based systems is still not clear.

Further research is required to create evidence that blockchain systems will work as intended and how they will operate with legacy systems.

It was recommended that further trials of blockchain systems should demonstrate responses to ‘rainy day’ scenarios when problems arise like disputed transactions, incorrect addresses, exposure or loss of private keys, data-entry errors or unexpected changes to assets on blockchains.

In 2008, blockchain emerged as a technology to support digital currencies and it has quickly generated interest for its broad application across various domains such as health records, banking, voting, government services and provenance of data.

A report by the World Economic Forum in 2016 found over $1.4 billion was invested in blockchain technology in just three years.

Australia already has a number of world recognised blockchain developments including the work of the Australian Securities Exchange in collaboration with Digital Asset Holdings, to examine the use of this technology in its clearing and settlement system for the Australian equity market.

Momentum in exploring these technologies has been building recently with developments by Australian firms including major banks, Australia Post and AGL; and blockchain innovators such as the agricultural supply chain application AgriDigital.

 

Intermittent fasting leads to new flexi diet

CSIRO has launched a new diet that includes intermittent fasting three days a week.

The weight loss program is based on research carried out by CSIRO scientists which found that fasting can be an effective way to lose weight and stay healthy.

Participants in the 16 week trial lost an average of 11kg and saw improvements in cholesterol, insulin, glucose and blood pressure.

“This was the largest study exploring the effects of an intermittent fasting style of diet on weight loss, health and nutrient status,” CSIRO Research Dietitian Dr Jane Bowen said.

“In addition to improvement in weight loss and overall health, we also observed psychological improvements, with participants indicating better control over eating habits.”

Intermittent fasting (and the similar style – alternate day fasting) has recently gained scientific and consumer interest.

The research combined intermittent fasting with meal replacement shakes and a ‘Flexi’ day where participants had one day a week to enjoy the food or drinks they love.

Traditional diets rely on energy to be restricted every day in order to achieve weight loss, which can be difficult for people to maintain long term.

A number of relatively short studies have shown that intermittent fasting results in equivalent weight loss and metabolic improvements, including loss of fat mass, blood pressure, glycemic control and markers of cardiovascular disease risk.

Few studies have compared the effects of intermittent fasting and continuous energy restriction longer term.

The CSIRO study took a novel look at using meal replacements as part of an intermittent fasting regimen to measure the effects of intermittent fasting for weight loss on nutritional status.

The new Flexi diet has been launched today in collaboration with industry partner and creators of the Impromy weight loss program, Probiotec.

“Losing weight can be challenging with results often limited by an individual’s ability to stick with a diet,” Dr Bowen said.

“The Flexi program offers a flexible alternative to traditional diets, which could help Australians to fit a weight loss diet around their busy, social lifestyles.”

The “Flexi” program includes a recipe book and a website that includes personalised meal plans, progress tracking tools and a tailored virtual consultation designed by CSIRO dietitians and behavioural scientists.

As dieters progress through the program towards their goals, meal plans can be modified to incorporate more whole foods for a long term approach to weight maintenance.

The Flexi program is available now in pharmacies.

Aussies not eating enough fruit and veggies – report

Four out of five Australian adults are not eating enough fruit and vegetables in order to meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines, according to a report by the CSIRO.

The Fruit, Vegetables and Diet Score Report released today, found one in two (51 per cent) adults are not eating the recommended intake of fruit, while two out of three adults (66 per cent) are not eating enough vegetables.

The report, produced by the CSIRO and commissioned by Horticulture Innovation Australia, compiled the dietary habits of adults across Australia over an 18 month period.

With 145,975 participants nationwide, the survey was the largest of its kind ever conducted in Australia.

The overwhelming message is that most Australians are not as healthy as they think, and need to eat higher quantities and a greater variety of fruit and vegetables every day to meet the minimum Australian benchmark.

Percentage-of-men-and-women-who-meet-the-guidelines

To help meet the benchmark, CSIRO suggests adults eat at least three serves of different vegetables every dinner time.

“Many Aussies believe themselves to be healthy, yet this report shows the majority of those surveyed are not getting all the beneficial nutrients from fruit and vegetables needed for a healthy, balanced diet,” Research Director and co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Professor Manny Noakes said.

“One simple way to boost your intake is to eat three different types of vegetables with your main evening meal.”

One of the key findings in the research is that a focus on variety could be the solution to boosting consumption.

CSIRO researchers analysed this data to develop a comprehensive picture of the country’s fruit and vegetable consumption.

Women reported slightly better fruit and vegetable consumption with 24 per cent meeting both guidelines, compared with only 15 per cent of men surveyed.

When comparing the figures by occupation, construction workers and those in the science and programming sector recorded the poorest fruit and vegetable eating habits.

On the other hand, retirees and health industry workers were more likely to meet the recommended dietary guidelines.

The report also found that the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score (which measures overall diet quality on a scale of zero to 100) is positively correlated with fruit and vegetable intake.

To take the free CSIRO Healthy Diet Score visit www.csirodietscore.com

 

Aussies diets leave a lot to be desired: CSIRO

The 2016 CSIRO Healthy Diet Score report, released today, canvassed the dietary habits of more than 86,500 adults across the country over a 12-month period.

An early snapshot of the survey results released in August 2015 awarded the nation’s diet a score of 61 on a 100-point scale.

With almost 47,000 additional surveys completed since then that figure now stands at just 59 out of 100, confirming that Australian diets are worse than first thought.

“We have an image of being fit and healthy, but with a collective diet score of 59/100 that image could be very different unless we act now,” CSIRO Research Director and co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, Professor Manny Noakes said.

According to the 2016 Healthy Diet Score, 80 per cent of respondents received an individual score below 70, which is a benchmark figure.

2016 CSIRO-HDS_Aussie diets fail the test

 

“If we can raise our collective score by just over 10 points, we help Australia mitigate against the growing rates of obesity and lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and a third of all cancers, Professor Noakes said.

“All people need to do is halve the bad and double the good. In other words, halve the amount of discretionary food you eat and double your vegetable intake.”

People across Australia, in all occupations and age groups were invited to participate in the online survey between May 2015 and June 2016.

CSIRO researchers have used this information to create a detailed picture of the country’s eating habits.

The closest we get to meeting Australian Dietary Guidelines is the fruit food group where 49 per cent of respondents meet the recommended intake.

That means one in two of us still have room to improve.

But of greater concern is dietary performance in regard to discretionary, or junk foods.

Just 1 per cent of Australians are abstaining from junk food, while more than one third admitted to eating more than the recommended maximum allowance.

“We find that there is often a tendency to under-report on certain types of food, so in all likelihood that figure is even higher,” Professor Noakes said.

The report showed that women have better nutritional levels than men (60 v 56/100).

Construction workers were among those with the poorest diets, while public servants, real estate agents and health industry workers reported some of the healthiest eating patterns.

The 2016 CSIRO Healthy Diet Score also tracked food avoidance in diets for the first time, and found that approximately one in three Australian adults are avoiding one or more foods such as gluten, dairy or meat.

To get involved CSIRO is asking people to undertake The Healthy Diet Score – a free online assessment which evaluates diet quality and identifies individual areas of improvement, as well as providing a personal diet score out of 100.

“It is never too late to eat better and increase your score, and the nation’s,” Professor Noakes said.

“We encourage people to also take the test regularly to ensure they are improving their eating behaviour and overall health and wellbeing.”

 

2016 CSIROHDSAustralias average intake of discretionary foods exceeds

CSIRO takes food manufacturing innovation to IFT16

Megasonics processing, gluten-free barley beer and ready-to-eat high pressure thermal processed meals were some of the world-first innovations featured by CSIRO’s food innovation centre at the IFT expo last month in Chicago.

CSIRO had a significant presence, with scientists presenting at technical sessions, holding symposia, on committees, judging posters and also exhibiting for the first time, the only Australian organisation to do so this year.

Advances in safe, high-quality stabilised fruits and vegetables; emerging nonthermal separation technologies; novel membrane technologies and next-gen extrusion processing were among their presentations.

The world’s first land-based source of long chain omega 3 oil from canola, the manufacture of specialised protein isolates and nutraceuticals for healthy ageing, and super healthy BARLEYmax products were among the expertise CSIRO had on offer for discussion with industry at their booth.

IFT attendees were also keen to learn more about the world’s first gluten-free barley beer using CSIRO’s ultra-low gluten Kebari barley. The Pionier beer, produced by German brewer Radeberger, was launched in Germany in April, 2016. CSIRO is working with manufacturers to bring a range of foods and beverages containing Kebari barley to consumers.

Successful commercialisation of megasonics technology in the palm oil industry earned them a prestigious IFT innovation award. Megasonics processing uses sound waves to enhance oil extraction from milling processes. CSIRO holds the worldwide patent for megasonic processing of edible vegetable oils and are also developing applications in the olive, coconut and soybean industries.

The team presented their advances in the emerging disruptive technology, high pressure thermal processing (HPTP), including their ground-breaking, patented invention that will allow manufacturers to adopt this technology on a commercial scale using existing high pressure processing machines.

CSIRO also featured their new commercialisation venture, Meals by Design, which will harness HPTP to deliver a taste revolution in healthy, chilled convenience meals. Concept products have been developed using recipes from Australia’s most popular weight management program, CSIRO’s Total Wellbeing Diet, and the Impromy program, with plans to roll out a premium, chilled meals range to Australian consumers.

Austrade USA and CSIRO partnered on attracting companies potentially interested in working with Australian researchers and collaborators.

IFT, the Institute of Food Technologists, hold one of the world’s largest food industry events annually, attracting over 23,000 visitors and more than 1000 exhibitors.

 ‘Slimtember’ raising money for kids with Type 1 Diabetes

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet has launched a new initiative, ‘Slimtember’, a four-week campaign encouraging Australians to start eating better and losing weight, while helping to raise money for a great cause.

A portion of the funds raised through Slimtember will be donated to JDRF Australia (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) to help treat and cure Type 1 diabetes in children. The campaign commences on 5 September and registration opens today.

According to CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Online, September is an ideal time to shed any excess weight accumulated over winter and the opportunity to contribute to a worthy charity might help to double the motivation to act now. It is hoped that everyone who wants to improve their health and lose weight – including work colleagues, families, friends and individuals, will get on board with the campaign.

“We believe Slimtember will provide extra motivation for Australians to eat healthier and lose weight and also raise funds for a worthy cause,” said Professor Manny Noakes, CSIRO Research Director for Nutrition and Health and the co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet.

According to JDRF Australia CEO, Mike Wilson, Type 1 diabetes currently has no cure and represents 95 percent of all diabetes cases amongst children.

“Both children and adults with T1D need to stay fit and healthy like everyone else. While Slimtember can’t stop T1D, it can help fund vital medical research. It is the support of the public through initiatives such as Slimtember that can make a real difference,” said Wilson.

To join the Slimtember campaign, participants need to register at www.slimtember.org. Registration costs $69 with $10 of the signup fee donated to JDRF Australia.

To help them succeed in the four week challenge, registered participants will be sent a ‘Slimtember’ kit.