Romer Labs, a provider of diagnostic solutions for the agricultural, food and feed industries, is announcing the opening its APAC Solutions Centre in Singapore. The centre extends the company’s capabilities in three important areas: analytical services, technical support and customer training programs.
The APAC Solutions Centre features new facilities for food allergen testing. Romer Labs can now serve the region with analytical services that cover gluten and the broadest range of allergenic analytes on the market. The Centre also brings augmented mycotoxin testing methods with screening services such as Multi-Mycotoxin Analysis 50+, which gives specific information on any of more than 50 mycotoxins in a sample in one report.
To complement these new capabilities, the Centre also provides enhanced technical support: sample validation, troubleshooting and insight into best practices are available. Romer Labs experts provide advice to help customers remain productive and compliant with local and international regulations.
The APAC Solutions Centre is also introducing a new service to the region: customised training programs. Workshops, webinars and personalised instruction are all designed to adapt to how, where and how often customers test. Romer Labs issues training certificates and other documentation that may be necessary for audits and accreditations.
Yong Wee Liau, managing director, Romer Labs APAC: “For years, we have prided ourselves on being an extension of our customers’ lab. With the Romer Labs APAC Solutions Centre, we aim to go beyond that by being with our customers every step of the way. The new Centre has been designed with their needs in mind to help them meet their food and feed safety goals.”
We all know that cola and lemonade aren’t great for our waistline or our dental health, but our new study on rats has shed light on just how much damage sugary drinks can also do to our brain.
The changes we observed to the region of the brain that controls emotional behaviour and cognitive function were more extensive than those caused by extreme early life stress.
It is known that adverse experiences early in life, such as extreme stress or abuse, increase the risk of poor mental health and psychiatric disorders later in life.
The number of traumatic events (accidents; witnessing an injury; bereavement; natural disasters; physical, sexual and emotional abuse; domestic violence and being a victim of crime) a child is exposed to is associated with elevated concentrations of the major stress hormone, cortisol.
There is also evidence that childhood maltreatment is associated with reduced brain volume and that these changes may be linked to anxiety.
What we found
Looking at rats, we examined whether the impact of early life stress on the brain was exacerbated by drinking high volumes of sugary drinks after weaning. As females are more likely to experience adverse life events, we studied female Sprague-Dawley rats.
To model early life trauma or abuse, after rats were born half of the litters were exposed to limited nesting material from days two to nine after birth. They then returned to normal bedding until they were weaned. The limited nesting alters maternal behaviour and increases anxiety in the offspring later in life.
At weaning, half the rats were given unlimited to access to low-fat chow and water to drink, while their sisters were given chow, water and a 25% sugar solution that they could choose to drink. Animals exposed to early life stress were smaller at weaning, but this difference disappeared over time. Rats consuming sugar in both groups (control and stress) ate more calories over the experiment.
The rats were followed until they were 15 weeks old, and then their brains were examined. As we know that early life stress can impact mental health and function, we examined a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is important for both memory and stress. Four groups of rats were studied – control (no stress), control rats drinking sugar, rats exposed to stress, and rats exposed to stress who drank sugar.
We found that chronic consumption of sugar in rats who were not stressed produced similar changes in the hippocampus as seen in the rats who were stressed but not drinking sugar. Early life stress exposure or sugar drinking led to lower expression of the receptor that binds the major stress hormone cortisol, which may affect the ability to recover from exposure to a stressful situation.
Another gene that is important for the growth of nerves, Neurod1, was also reduced by both sugar and stress. Other genes important for the growth of nerves were investigated, and just drinking sugar from a young age was sufficient to reduce them.
The rats were exposed to high sugar intakes during development, and the impact of the sugar is worrying as it may affect brain development, although further work is required to test this.
In this study, combining sugar intake and early life stress did not produce further changes in the hippocampus, but whether this remains the case over time is unclear.
What does this mean for us?
The changes in the brain induced by sugar are of great concern given the high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, with particularly high consumption in children aged nine to 16 years. If similar processes are at play in humans to what was found in our rat study, reducing the consumption of sugar across the community is important.
The fact that drinking sugar or exposure to early life stress reduced the expression of genes critical for brain development and growth is of great concern. While it is impossible to perform such studies in humans, the brain circuits controlling stress responses and feeding are conserved across species.
People who were exposed to early life trauma have changes in the structure of their hippocampus. In humans, those consuming the most “western” diet had smaller hippocampal volumes, in line with data from animal models.
Taken together, these findings suggest future work should consider possible long-term effects of high sugar intake, particularly early in life, on the brain and behaviour.
Canadian-based Renaissance Ingredients has said it has perfected its acrylamide-reducing (AR) baker’s yeast for applications in the global bread and baked goods market.
The company’s non-GMO AR baker’s yeast strains (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) have been found to reduce acrylamide by up to 95% in a variety of food products by degrading the precursor compound asparagine.
In this test in both white and whole wheat bread and toast, the use of AR baker’s yeast delivered an average reduction in acrylamide of 80% relative to conventional baker’s yeast.
This reduction was observed in the bread prior to toasting, as well as across three degrees of toasting (low, medium and high/dark). Importantly, no changes to the bread-making or baking processes other than the use of AR yeast were required in order to achieve these reductions.
“We are very pleased with the performance of our AR yeast in bread and toast. These results confirm the efficacy, simplicity and seamlessness of using our AR yeast in all varieties of baked goods,” said Renaissance Ingredients’ President, Dr. Matthew Dahabieh.
“We are also exceptionally pleased with the consistency exhibited by our AR yeast in reducing acrylamide across all levels of toasting. In most cases, the acrylamide content of toasted bread made with our AR yeast is less than that of untoasted bread made with conventional baker’s yeast. Essentially, our AR yeast eliminates the acrylamide potential of toasting conventional bread.”
Highly elevated acrylamide levels in toasted bread
It is well known that cooking at high temperatures significantly increases the acrylamide content of food. For example, in Renaissance’s tests, white bread baked with conventional yeast contained 30 parts per billion (ppb) of acrylamide, while dark toast made from the same bread increased the acrylamide content by 6.5 times to 195 ppb. In the case of whole wheat bread, dark toast had higher acrylamide levels of 8.9 times (34 ppb in bread increases to 301 ppb in dark toast).
However, when produced with AR yeast, dark toast made from the white and whole wheat bread (that contained just 5 ppb prior to toasting) contained only 36 and 40 ppb of acrylamide, respectively, after toasting.
“Our studies show that common restaurant and consumer cooking practices can result in highly elevated levels of acrylamide in toasted bread. However, our data also show that AR yeast has the ability to mitigate this ‘acrylamide potential’ in baked goods without any changes to the cooking process. This greatly reduces the health risk that acrylamide formed during cooking poses to end consumers,” added Dahabieh. “We are now looking to work with collaborative partners at the pilot and industrial scale to confirm and refine the efficacy of AR yeast in these settings.”
AR yeast applications: baked goods, potato products, snack foods and coffee
Renaissance Ingredients’ AR yeast strains are traditional baker’s yeast with an accelerated natural ability to consume the amino acid asparagine, the precursor to acrylamide. In baked goods in which yeast has always been used as an ingredient, AR yeast can seamlessly replace conventional baker’s yeast with no disruption to the baking process.
Importantly, AR yeast also can be used in foods in which yeast is not normally an ingredient. Renaissance Ingredients has conducted numerous successful studies on the feasibility of using AR yeast in novel ways for foods containing yeast extract, chemically leavened foods, or foods exposed to soaking steps during processing. These foods include potato-based products such as potato chips and French fries, savory snack foods, cereal products and coffee.
“Our in-house studies highlight the versatility and efficacy of our AR yeast in reducing acrylamide not only in baked goods and toast, but also in potato products, snack foods, cereal products and coffee. We are now looking to demonstrate this efficacy in pilot-scale trials by working closely with additional interested industry partners,” adds Dahabieh.
DataTrace technology is set to be used for Australian export food & wine authentication, Security & Safety.
DataDot Technology Limited (DDT) says it is pursuing opportunities in the growing export food and wine authentication market through its newly established joint venture with Beston Pacific Group.
DDT and Beston subsidiary company, Grape Ensembles (GE), have jointly established Brandlok Brand Protection Solutions, and over the next nine months Brandlok will develop labels and other devices to authenticate and provide information on wine, dairy, seafood, health food and meat products to be exported to China, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Europe and Middle East.
DDT has granted an exclusive 5-year licence of its DataTrace authentication technology to Brandlok for incorporation into the labels and devices to prove authenticity for these exported products so that customers can track and trace the ingredients from paddock to plate and verify for themselves that the products are safe to eat.
Bruce Rathie, Chairman of DDT, said that the Brandlok joint venture and its arrangement with the new company BGFC focused on food exports to China and other markets represents a significant opportunity to capitalise on major concerns regarding food security, safety and counterfeiting in these emerging export markets.
“We have seen a number of food and other product counterfeiting issues especially in places like China.”
“This technology is a mixture of labels, barcodes and apps that can be used on mobile devices allowing them to check the authenticity of what they are buying,” he said.