The Health News – 5 February 2016

Overview:
• Australian researchers hope a new database called “ProCan” will eventually lead to real changes in the way doctors diagnose and treat cancer. This project is led by the Children’s Medical Research Institute, could help children in the future

• Introducing the word ‘imitation’ to the labels of highly processed food products could be the answer to solving the obesity epidemic, according to an American economist from the University of Otago.

• A national voluntary recall has been issued for prepackaged lettuce from the Victorian-based Tripod Farmers company, after a higher-than-usual number of salmonella cases were reported in the state.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 5th February 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-04/hopes-cancer-database-will-change-diagnosis-treatment-options/7140360

Australian researchers hope a new database they are setting up will eventually lead to real changes in the way doctors diagnose and treat cancer.

The ProCan project will analyse the proteins of tens of thousands of cancer samples over a period of about five years.

The ProCan project, led by the Children’s Medical Research Institute, could help children … in the future.

The researchers will feed the information gathered through analysing the proteins of 70,000 cancer samples into a database which will be made available worldwide.

The long-term goal is for the database to become a valuable reference in recommending the best known treatments for patients.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-04/expert-calls-for-‘imitation’-food-labels/7140940

Introducing the word ‘imitation’ to the labels of highly processed food products could be the answer to solving the obesity epidemic, according to an American economist.

Australia’s obesity rate is larger than ever, with more than 63 per cent of adults and a quarter of Australian children now overweight or obese, despite consumers having access to highly detailed food labels on packaged food.

Economist Dr Trent Smith, from the University of Otago, is currently in Canberra for the Annual Conference of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

Dr Smith has studied the history of food labelling and behavioural psychology in food choices.

He said it should be the responsibility of governments to ensure companies label their food clearly, so consumers can make simple choices.

“Trans fats are a very good example of a success story,” Dr Smith said.

Trans fats were introduced to the food supply in 1913, by the American company Crisco.

They marketed their vegetable shortening product as a more digestible, hygienic option than animal fats.

“But by the early 1990s, the science was pretty solid that these trans fats were causing heart disease and killing people by the tens of thousands,” Dr Smith said.

It was not until 2006 that the US introduced mandatory trans fat labelling on products.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand said it is still not compulsory for manufacturers to declare trans fats on food labels in Australia.

Despite food labels in Australia already displaying information including the energy, sugar and salt content in packaged foods, the obesity epidemic proves that this does not deter consumers from making unhealthy choices.

But Dr Smith said history shows that including just one word — “imitation” — on processed foods can drastically change consumer behaviour.

The producers realised consumers would not buy their products if they were too processed, so ensured they processed foods below the “imitation” level.

While this policy worked for almost 40 years, the US Food and Drug Administration eliminated the law in 1973.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-04/prepacked-salad-mixes-behind-salmonella-cases/7140646

A national voluntary recall has been issued for prepackaged lettuce from the Victorian-based Tripod Farmers company, after a higher-than-usual number of salmonella cases were reported in the state.

List of recalled products:

  • Woolworths brand: Spinach 100g, Rocket 100g, Salad mix 100g
  • Wash N Toss: Watercress 100g, Sorrell 50g, Baby Cos 100g, Spinach 100g, Salad Mix 100g, Rocket 100g, Kale 100g
  • Coles brand: Spinach 60g, Rocket 60g and 120g, Spinach and Rocket 120g, Spinach 120g, 4Leaf 120g and 200g
  • SupaSalad: SupaSalad 180g, Green Coral 180g, Supamix 1kg, Spinach 1kg, Rocket 1kg, Baby Cos 1kg, Spinach 180g

The recall was issued after Victoria’s Department of Health said there had been 28 salmonella cases so far this year, and the lettuce was the common source.

Tripod lettuce is sold at Coles and Woolworths in both supermarkets’ prepackaged salad mixes, including Coles 4 Leaf Mix, Woolworths salad mix, SupaSalad Supamix and Wash N Toss salad mix.

A recall notice on Food Standards Australia’s website listed outlets in all states and territories, excluding Tasmania and Western Australia.

While the department said the recall was for products with best-before dates leading up to and including February 14, Coles said their affected products were those with a use-by date up to and including February 11, 2016 from VIC, NSW, ACT, NT and SA stores only.

Coles said any of their salad mixes with a use-by date on or after February 12, 2016 were safe to consume.

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