Science Shorts: Clean label meat technology, 3D food printing, cross-country sodium research and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

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Clean label meat technology, 3D food printing, cross-country sodium content research and more feature in this edition of Science Shorts. ©Getty Images
Clean label meat technology, 3D food printing, cross-country sodium content research and more feature in this edition of Science Shorts. ©Getty Images

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Clean label meat technology, 3D food printing, cross-country sodium content research and more feature in this edition of Science Shorts.

Clean label processed meats: Australian industry says high pressure processing tech is way forward – but cost a major hurdle

The Australian meat industry and state research body CSIRO believe that high pressure processing (HPP) tech is the way forward to create truly clean label processed meat products such as sausages and hams, though current high cost hurdles still prevent this from becoming mainstream.

The processed meat industry has long suffered a poor reputation over products such as sausages and hams due to the inclusion of additives such as nitrates and nitrites, which many believe have various negative health impacts from being a carcinogenic risk to increasing risk of heart disease.

Australian meat industry body Meat and Lifestock Australia (MLA) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) thus recently conducted government-funded research on potential technologies to create clean label processed meat products in hopes of finding the optimal solution.

MLA Program Manager for Food Innovation John Marten confirmed that the main driving factor for the industry to create clean label products is rising consumer awareness and factors affecting their purchasing choices.

“Consumer demand will ultimately be the driver for continued investment into cleaner technologies that deliver similar shelf life [for meat products] without the use of traditional preservatives,"​ he told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

$900 for 1.5cm 3D-printed steak: Scientists construct wagyu-like structure using bioprinting tech

Scientists in Japan have found a way to 3D-bioprint wagyu beef by assembling muscle fibre, fat fibre and blood vessels into a steak-like structure similar to actual meat.

Conventionally, cultured meat companies produce cultured beef by assembling muscle fibres, which is essentially the main part of animal meat.

But animal meat isn’t all about the muscle, with the presences of fat tissues and blood vessels play a role in giving meat that steak-like structure.

For cultured beef, creating a steak with a composition and a structure similar to real steak still remains a challenge, which involve fat cells and aligning muscle cells together.

Wagyu has a marbling structure due to its fat composition. So, we wanted to construct a structured wagyu beef similar to the actual wagyu beef by assembling three types of bovine cell fibers (muscle, fat, and vessel​),” said Professor Michiya Matsusaki from the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University.

Salt reformulation struggles: China tops list for sodium levels in processed fish and meat products – new data

China has topped the charts for the levels of salt (sodium) in processed meat and fish products in a five-country study, followed by the USA, South Africa, Australia and the UK.

This is despite the fact that 85% of the products assessed in China meet the country's salt reduction goals, suggesting that public health regulations have some way to go meet global norms.

A total of 33,955 processed meat and fish product labels were scanned, of which 7455 (22%) were excluded because of missing or duplicate information, leaving 26,500 (78%) products for analysis. The total number ranged from 885 for the UK to 17,098 for the USA.

Overall, China had the highest salt level (1050 mg/100 g) for all products, ranking it the country with the saltiest products for both meat (1066 mg/100 g) and fish products (942 mg/100 g), followed by the USA, South Africa, Australia and the UK (432 mg/100 g).

One small step to space food production: Japan seeks firms to develop regenerative food supply system for space exploration

The Japanese government is searching for food firms and other institutions with the technology and insights to develop a regenerative food supply system for astronauts participating in the upcoming international space exploration program, the Artemis Program.

The Artemis Program is an international programme headed by the United States, and Japan announced last year that it will be participating in this programme which aims to return humans to the surface of the moon by 2024. It would be the first manned lunar landing mission since Apollo 17 back in 1972.

“In order for human beings to stay and work in outer space for a prolonged time [to carry out the mission objectives of] the Artemis Program, it is important to develop a practical space food solution to support this,”​ Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) announced via a formal statement.

China leads COVID-19 research in traditional, complementary, and integrative medicines, followed by India, US

China leads the world with the highest number of research publications on traditional, complementary, and integrative medicines (TCIMs) in relation to COVID-19 clinical trials, followed by India, US, and Iran.

Products that were being studied the most were Chinese medicine, individual health supplements (vitamins, minerals), combination health supplements and others (Ayurvedic medicine).

In 2020, there has been an increasing number of studies to include TCIMs in the management or treatment of COVID-19.

These TCIMs have shown positive effects on improving clinical symptoms and complementing standard medications.

Researchers from South Korea sorted through online databases to study the trends in COVID-19 publication trends, and published the findings in Integrative Medicine Research​.

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