Scientific spotlight: The Top 10 most read science, research and technology stories in 2022

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

See our top 10 most read science, research and technology stories from 2022.
See our top 10 most read science, research and technology stories from 2022.

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See our top 10 most read science, research and technology stories from 2022, featuring scientific updates on alcohol and COVID-19, gluten-free diets, cultivated meat and more.

Alcohol and COVID-19: Good news for red wine drinkers, but blow for beer boozers?

People who consume red wine between one to more than five glasses a week had a 10 to 17% lower risk in contracting COVID-19, but beer drinkers had a heightened risk, according to a 2022 study.

Conducted by researchers from Shenzhen Kangning Hospital and Southwest Hospital, they analysed 473,957 subjects from the UK Biobank cohort to investigate the association between alcohol consumption with COVID-19 risk and mortality. 

It was also revealed that white wine and champagne drinkers who consume between one to four glasses per week had a 7 to 8% lower risk for COVID-19, compared to non-drinkers. This protective effect was not significant when they consumed five or more glasses per week.

Deficiency dilemma: Long-term gluten-free diets for celiac women leads to nutrition shortfall – Study

Women with celiac disease following a strict, long-term gluten-free diet could face major deficiencies in major nutrients, including vitamin D, folate, calcium and iron, according to a Saudi Arabia study.

These findings were highlighted in a cross-sectional study titled “Long-Term Effect of Gluten-Free Diets on Nutritional Status, Body Composition, and Associated Factors in Adult Saudi Females with Celiac Disease” ​published in the journal Nutrients.

“Currently, the prevalence of celiac disease is rapidly increasing worldwide, as well as in the Arabian region, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has the highest rate (3.2%),"​ said the researchers.

"In addition, clinical reports also show that the prevalence of celiac disease is higher in females as compared to males. Yet, the gluten-free diet intake remains the most available therapy to alleviate intestinal damage and reduce nutrient absorption in those patients."

Big stride: Shiok Meats confirms 2023 commercial launch plans as cultivated shrimp reaches US$50/kg milestone

Cultivated seafood pioneer Shiok Meats revealed earlier this year that its production costs have dropped to the coveted US$50/kg milestone, bringing it closer to realising its commercial launch plans by the end of 2023.

When we last discussed cultivated shrimp pricing with Shiok Meats’ Group Co-Founder and CEO Sandhya Sriram back in 2020, the price per kilogramme was hovering at around US$7,000 – demonstrating the enormous progress the firm has made over the last two years.

“This US$50/kg milestone is really a big milestone and a huge win for us compared to the US$10,000 or US$5,000 that we were at previously, it’s a huge update we’re very proud to be sharing with the industry,”​ Sriram told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Clear and present labels: Thailand mandates GMO declarations in latest food labelling regulatory update

The Thai government announced several updates to the national food labelling regulations earlier this year with food firms required to declare any use of genetically modified ingredients on food labels.

Previously, Thailand did not have specific regulations in place to govern the labelling of genetically modified ingredients on food product packages, but in 2022 the Thai Ministry of Public Health announced that all food manufacturers handling GM products must now declare their use of these on their labels.

“The clear statement ‘genetically modified’ must be declared alongside the food name on the label if the product contains only one ingredient, and if it uses multiple such ingredients these must also be clearly declared accordingly alongside each ingredient,”​ Thailand Deputy Minister of Public Health Dr Satit Pitutecha said.

Era of processed foods: South Korea government survey reveals rise in consumer purchases

A 2022 South Korean government survey revealed a significant boost in processed food sales over the previous year, with both the number of purchases and frequency on the rise.

The data was revealed by South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), which published the results of its annual 2021 Processed Foods Consumer Survey.

“This survey is conducted yearly to better understand local consumer trends regarding the processed foods sector, and this year we surveyed a total of 2,193 households in Korea nationwide,”​ MAFRA Minister Kim Hyeon-soo said.

Fishy fraudulence: Supermarkets identified as main source of seafood adulteration in Singapore

Supermarket-bought imported seafood was identified earlier in 2022 as the main source of seafood adulteration in Singapore, with calls for new technology to tackle the problem.

Singapore is heavily reliant on seafood as a protein and nutrition source, with an average consumption of 22kg per capita, but according to a Yale-NUS (National University of Singapore) study, over a quarter of this protein source could be fraudulently labelled and a potential threat to public health.

The researchers utilised DNA barcoding technology to identify the species of 89 seafood samples collected from restaurants and supermarkets across Singapore. Of these 89 samples, 23 or 25.8% were found to be mislabelled.

COVID-19 contamination: Frozen food can carry virus, claims Chinese public health authority study

Frozen food from meat- and poultry-processing plants or markets can be contaminated with the COVID-19 virus, according to a paper published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) in 2022.

The CCDC is an independent agency of the National Health Commission, which falls under the Ministry of Agriculture.

These findings were highlighted in a study titled “Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 Contamination in Frozen Food-Related Samples — China, July 2020 – July 2021” ​published in the China CDC Weekly.

The scientists collected and analysed over 55 million swabs of imported and domestic cold-chain foods and their outer or inner packaging during slaughter, production and processing, storage, transportation, and retail between July 2020 and July 2021.

Eco be-leaf: Researchers develop bioplastic based on lotus leaf that's suitable for food packaging

Researchers developed a self-cleaning bioplastic inspired by the lotus leaf that is sturdy, sustainable and compostable, and ideal for fresh food packaging this year.

The innovative plastic developed at RMIT University in Australia repels liquids and dirt – just like a lotus leaf – then breaks down rapidly once in soil.

RMIT PhD researcher Mehran Ghasemlou, lead author of the study published in Science of the Total Environment​, said the new bioplastic was ideal for fresh food and takeaway packaging.

“Plastic waste is one of our biggest environmental challenges but the alternatives we develop need to be both eco-friendly and cost-effective, to have a chance of widespread use,”​ Ghasemlou said.

Plant-based 3D printing: China and Australia identified as key markets for new Wagyu launch

Hong Kong 3D food printing firm Alt Farm highlighted China and Australia as its first key target markets earlier this year, revealing it hopes to launch a prototype plant-based A5 Wagyu Beef product wihtin 12 to 18 months.

Alt Farm is a spin-off from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and has developed a patented 3D food printing technology with a nozzle that enables it to print foods with specified textures, a considerable difference from conventional 3D printed foods that are usually gelatinous before any additional processing.

“Most of the 3D food printing technology currently available is focused on applications for the elderly to produce soft foods that can be swallowed easily, or to be used with chocolate to personalize shapes – our technology is nothing like that, the target for us is to make regular food using 3D printing,”​ Alt Farm Managing Director Kenny Fung told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Singapore food innovation drive: New facility aims to encourage 400 new products by 2026

Plans to help 200 Singapore food manufacturers develop 400 new products by 2026 have been unveiled on the back of the launch of a shared foodtech facility earlier this year.

Firms wishing to produce small batches of food as testers or experiment with the latest technology are able to utilise Singapore’s first shared facility named FoodPlant.

FoodPlant, a joint effort of local university Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and government agencies Enterprise Singapore (Enterprise SG) and JTC, is an SGD$13m (USD$9.5m) facility aiming to bolster innovation in the Singapore food scene.

According to SIT’s Vice-President (Applied Research), Associate Professor Dr Susanna Leong, the team took four years to set up the facility after consulting industry players.

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