Safety First: Food allergies, false COVID-19 claims, honey adulteration and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Food allergies, false COVID-19 claims, honey adulteration and more feature in this edition of Safety First. ©Getty Images
Food allergies, false COVID-19 claims, honey adulteration and more feature in this edition of Safety First. ©Getty Images

Related tags Food safety

Food allergies, false COVID-19 claims, honey adulteration and more feature in this edition of Safety First.

Food allergies in children: More credible labelling policies as well as avoiding cross contamination crucial – HealthNuts study lead

More effective policies to prevent allergen cross contamination are needed in Australia’s food industry, while voluntary labelling needs to more accurately reflect the risk profile, said a lead investigator of HealthNuts, the world’s largest comprehensive study on childhood food allergy.

The HealthNuts study has been ongoing for some 15 years, comprising data from children across Australia, Singapore, South Africa, 10 countries in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.

According to HealthNuts project lead and Co-Group Leader of the Population Allergy group Dr Jennifer Koplin, there needs to be an effective strategy to protect children both pre and post allergy.

For the latter, she pointed out that allergen labelling could be confusing for parents.

“When a child has already developed a food allergy, better allergy label usage, and parents reading these labels properly, is really important to protect them.

Coronavirus crackdown: Japan’s consumer chiefs warn against labelling foods and health products with false COVID-19 claims

Japan Consumer Affairs Agency (CCA) is warning general food and health food manufacturers against labelling their products as being effective in preventing or treating COVID-19, to avoid consumer misunderstanding and harming public health.

According to CAA, some manufacturers have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by labeling their products with protective health claims against the virus, which they say is “irrational”​ considering that not all the properties of the coronavirus is known yet.

CAA has urged manufacturers to ensure their labels do not display inappropriate information or false claims, and continues to monitor and alert the general public on such false advertising.

Sticky situation: Criticism voiced over India’s nationwide investigation into widespread honey adulteration

The Food Safety and Standards Authority India (FSSAI) has launched a nationwide investigation into a widespread local honey adulteration scandal and is mulling ‘better’ test methods – but researchers are calling for the agency to take more ‘stronger, public action’ before the situation worsens.

The honey adulteration scandal was recently triggered when Indian research organisation Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) published a report revealing how 77% of local honey samples tested were found to be adulterated with sugar syrup – with many of these samples coming from big, established honey brands such as Dabur and Patanjali.

“A total of 13 honey brands were tested, [eight being] big brands and five niche brands. Overall, 17 out of 22 samples (77%) [of local honey] were found to be adulterated,”​ CSE said in the original report.

‘Nuclear foods’ progress: Just 15 countries worldwide left still restricting Japanese food from districts stricken by Fukushima disaster

Only 15 countries worldwide are still implementing import restrictions on food items from Japanese districts that were stricken by the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown disaster in 2011 – but progress with those that remain may be hard to achieve in the short term.

Over the past few months, several countries in the Middle East have progressively removed all import restrictions previously imposed on foods coming in from Japanese prefectures within the vicinity of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster, deemed to be associated with radioactive ‘nuclear food’.

Egypt abolished all import restrictions in November 2020, followed by Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates in December, and most recently Israel last month.

“The Government of Japan welcomes this decision by the Government of Israel [to] remove all regulatory measures to mandate inspections or radioactive material inspection reports for all food products from [Japan],”​ said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) via a formal statement.

Toxicity tracking: New Australian data reveals vitamin and mineral cases rising by 9% per year

Reported toxicity cases involving vitamins and minerals increased by 9.6 per cent each year between 2014 and 2019 in Australia, according to new data.

During the five-year period, there were 10,944 VMS related poisoning cases reported to the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre (NSWPIC).

Of which, most of the cases were related to multivitamins (3,610 cases), followed by vitamin D (2,080), iron (1,533), and magnesium (804).

As a result, 17.7 per cent of cases were hospitalised, with the vast majority (77 per cent) managing to address the problem at home.

This is said to be the first study analysing cases related to VMS poisoning in Australia.

Related topics All Asia-Pacific Food safety

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