Science Shorts: FSANZ food-health claims governance, China's plant-based focus and cell-based meats feature in our round-up

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Australian researchers are calling for stricter governance over regulator FSANZ’s food-health relationship claims system. ©Getty Images
Australian researchers are calling for stricter governance over regulator FSANZ’s food-health relationship claims system. ©Getty Images

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FSANZ food-health claims governance, China's plant-based and clean meat focus and cell-based meats feature in this edition of Science Shorts.

'Lack of evidence': Researchers demand stricter FSANZ governance of food-health relationship claims

Australian researchers are calling for stricter governance over regulator FSANZ’s food-health relationship claims system​, after arguing that 40.3% of product claims have not been proven with substantial evidence.

Food-health relationships here refer to general level health claims that suggest a relationship between the product and health, for example that it contained calcium for strong bones, or fibre for heart health.

“There must be a nutrient mentioned, as well as a link to a health benefit,” ​Cancer Council Australia Nutrition Programme Manager and co-researcher on the report Wendy Watson told FoodNavigator-Asia.

A total of 67 such food-health relationship claims were reported to the FSANZ notification website between the years 2013 to 2017. Of these, 27 (40.3%) were found to be ‘concerning’​ to Watson and her team after conducting their own independent assessments of relevant existing literature, and were flagged to the respective state enforcement agencies.

China tops the US in embracing plant-based and clean meat products: Study

More well-educated and high income Chinese city-dwellers are embracing plant-based and clean meat​ as a healthier, more nutritious, and exciting option.

In fact, they prefer plant-based and clean meat more than the Americans, although the US is the innovation hub of alternative meat products, where companies such as Impossible Foods, JUST, and Beyond Meat are based.  

According to a study published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems​, more Chinese were “very or extremely likely” ​to buy clean meat when compared to the Americans and Indians.

The number of Chinese who were “very or extremely likely”​ to purchase clean meat was twice as much as the Americans at 59.3% versus 29.8% and 10% more than the Indians.

Cost, technology and regulations: Just how viable are cell-based meats?

It’s much hyped in the media and flavour of the month among investors, but how viable are cell-based meats as a ‘clean protein’ source to tackle global demand​?

That’s the question that Australian meat alternatives think tank Food Frontier set out to examine in its latest report, Meat Re-Imagined.

Cell-based meat involves taking animal cells, housing them in optimal conditions and feeding the cells with a ‘mixture of nutrients and signalling proteins’ ​to direct growth.

“The process mimics that of growing flesh on an animal, but removes the need for a live animal to produce the desired end-product,”​ said the authors.

Tackling the 'taste-health paradox': Indian snack manufacturers advised to focus on health, nutrition and 'Indian-ness'

Snack manufacturers in India have been advised to take a health and wellness and localisation approach​ to snack production to appeal to local consumers.

According to a new report from intelligence agency Mintel, 60% of Indian consumers snack at least twice a day and 15% snack four or more times daily, a reflection of the large value and potential of the snacks market in the country.

Along with this, 37% of snackers stated stress-relief as their reason for snacking, but increasing health and nutrition awareness in the country has raised the demand for functional snacks.

“Brands can tap into this by offering snacks that provide indulgence along with health and taste in today's world,” ​said Mintel Consumer Research Analyst India Minu Srivastava.

Tea quality and industry compliance in India ‘very good’: Newly accredited FSSAI lab

The Tlabs chain of laboratories has recently obtained official accreditation by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)​, and has been tasked with monitoring tea quality in the country according to FSSAI parameters.

Tlabs is a laboratory chain operated by the Tea Research Association (TRA) in India, and was initially established under the 11th​ Plan Project of the Tea Board of India as a pesticides residue lab in 2010/2011.

“We now also have a quality control laboratory, so [Tlabs] basically operates on both ends to investigate tea quality according to pesticide parameters in one lab, and quality parameters in the other,”​ TRA Secretary and Principal Officer Joydeep Phukan told FoodNavigator-Asia.

Parameters that Tlabs focuses on during its analyses are generally in accord with the ISO 3720 standards for tea, as well as according to FSSAI norms for the local tea market.

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