Monday, July 31, 2017

Declaration of Lupin as an Allergen

On the 25th of May 2017 the Australia New Zealand Foods Standard Code added lupin to the list of allergens that must be declared on food packaging. This amendment to Standard 1.2.3 means that it is now mandatory for lupin to be declared when it is present as an ingredient, compound ingredient, additive or processing aid.

Lupin is a type of legume (like kidney beans or lentils) which is available in several formats including flakes, flour and whole beans and can be incorporated into grain foods such as bread, breakfast cereal or pasta. The decision to identify lupin as an allergen on food packaging will make it easier for people with a lupin allergy to identify and avoid foods containing lupin and enjoy those that are lupin free.

This amendment to the Food Standards Code occurs with a 12 month transition period, meaning that the food industry will have until 26 May 2018 to update product information and declarations. All products, new and existing, will be required to comply with this requirement. For more information, click here.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Increasing Legume Intake Among Australians

by Courtney Rose-Davis, APD, PhD Candidate

These days, we’re seeing more and more research suggesting that legumes possess significant health benefits, different to that of other food groups. Studies suggest that consuming legumes 4 times per week, compared to only once, reduces risk of coronary heart disease [1,2]. When legumes are added to our diet, levels of total and LDL cholesterol are lowered [3]. Legumes, including chickpeas, lentils, kidney, fava and black beans, amongst others, are a key feature of the Mediterranean diet, which is predominantly eaten by people living coastally in Southern Europe [4]. This balanced diet has been proven to lower our risk of heart disease and diabetes. Although just one part of this dietary pattern, legumes provide important nutrients including protein, fibre and other minerals, especially as the Mediterranean diet is low in meat. In terms of health benefits, one study showed that the Mediterranean diet would only be 90% as effective if legumes were excluded [5]. 

In Australia the story is very different, where adults eat very few legumes. Data from the most recent National Nutrition Survey suggests legume intake is only 20 g/week for males, and 16 g/week for females [6]. The health benefits of following a Mediterranean diet with legumes could be enormous; however this previously hadn’t been well studied. So we conducted a research trial where older Australians (aged >64 years) were asked to follow a Mediterranean diet for 6 months. Around 80 participants were asked to consume at least 3 servings of legumes per week, at a serving size of 75 g or half a cup (225 g/week). Three servings of legumes were provided to participants as canned legumes, to make this easier for them. The participants had their diets analysed before they commenced the study and median legume intake was 0 grams/week, meaning at least half the study participants were eating no legumes at all. The average intake however was 140g/week, which was quite high compared with national data, however still less than half the amount needed to provide health benefits.

Surprisingly, over the course of the study, legume intake increased to an average of 340g/week, with the median increasing from 0 to 231 g/week. Anecdotally, participants said they found legumes not only tasty, but versatile and useful when making filling lunches and salads. Recipes and instructions to incorporate legumes were provided, such as making legume patties and dips, adding legumes to soups, casseroles and salads and even replacing some meat with legumes.

It’s difficult to say with certainty which of these factors contributed to the legume increase, however, it appears that with some instruction and encouragement, older Australians could greatly increase their intake and enjoy legumes more often. The easy provision of legumes might have played a large role, although participants clearly went and bought their own on top of our provisions suggesting that participants genuinely enjoyed this part of their diet. It's most likely that several factors contributed, including providing them for free, provision of innovative recipes, additional suggestions on how to incorporate them in their daily diet, but most importantly - the enjoyment factor. Legume intake likely promoted the intake of other healthful dietary components too, like olive oil and vegetables, as these are often consumed together.

The potential health benefits of such a change are exciting! Legumes on their own have been associated with considerable health benefits, and even more so when being consumed as part of the Mediterranean diet. Our encouraging results suggest that given the right resources, such as recipe inspiration and handy tips, most people can become a legume fan. Here are our easy tips to help you enjoy legumes more frequently:

- If using canned legumes, make sure you rinse them well before using – this can help reduce the sodium content by up to 40%.

- If using dried legumes, soak and cook in large batches and freeze in individual portions for quick and easy additions to midweek meals.

- Use lentils or black beans as a substitute for mincemeat – mix into patties, meatballs, spaghetti bolognaise and taco mince.

- Add to salads for a filling protein and fibre hit.

- Add to soups and casseroles to bulk out.

- Mix in with pasta dishes - this works especially well with lentils and chickpeas.

- Make nachos with kidney beans or black beans.

- Add mixed legumes to tomato, onion and canned fish and drizzle with olive oil  and lemon juice for a delicious, Mediterranean salad.


 References


Thursday, July 20, 2017

What’s trending in grains?

By Alexandra Locke

After a 30% drop in grains consumption in 2014 (1) and plenty of talk about the benefits of the paleo, diet, the dangers of gluten and the plus side to cutting carbs, we’re now seeing a shift in media perspective,  with a much  more positive outlook for grains overall! With the right conditions, it’s high time to start promoting the benefits of grains again and get consumers back on board.

But where do the opportunities lie? There are three key trends where we see grains leading the charge in innovation…

Digestive Wellness

More than ever before, consumers are paying attention to how a specific food can make them feel, so they’re consciously looking for the benefits that certain foods can provide. What’s more, they want to feel assured that they’re promoting their digestive health and overall wellness when making food choices – these consumers will pay a premium for products which taste good and offer functional digestive benefits.

And this is where grains, whole grains specifically, come in – whole grains exhibit an impressive nutritional profile, providing dietary fibre, protein and are a healthy source of carbohydrate , also contributing nutrients like magnesium, folate and iron to our diets. Fibre intake is directly related to our digestive health so the opportunities for whole grain innovation in this category are big!
Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

Over the past year or so we've increasingly seen consumers understanding that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbs, with an emphasis on the importance of choosing the most healthful carbohydrate format. Both the media and consumers are becoming more aware that carbohydrates are essential as part of a healthy balanced diet, focusing on crowding out refined and processed carbohydrates by increasing intake of whole grains, wholemeal bread and pseudo-grains, as well as eating more ‘alternative’ forms of carbohydrates, think sweet potato toasts and zucchini noodles.

With ‘healthier’ forms of traditionally carbohydrate heavy foods now on the rise, we’re seeing significant movement towards alternatives such as ancient grains, legumes flours and even substitution of flour with pureed veg! But again, with consumer awareness of whole grains on the rise, grains can still play a significant part in the healthful innovation of this category.
Snackification

And finally, the rise of snackification is promoting massive innovation. The Australian snacking market is now worth more than $2 billion and climbing fast (2) and Australians are now snacking four times as much as 10 years ago.

And it would appear that anything goes with this trend, any food can be engineered to be thought of as a snack, any time of day is open to snackification and there are no limits on product development - almost any ingredient that can be dried, pureed, shaped, extruded or frozen is open to innovation. Whilst grains traditionally dominated this category, we’re still seeing big opportunities for grain foods moving forward. More food than ever is being consumed on-the-go, especially at breakfast and manufacturers are innovating with grains to make healthy choices more convenient for today’s busy lifestyles.

Whilst these trends clearly present big opportunities for manufacturers and retailers, there are also significant opportunities for those at the very beginning of the supply chain – for the growers and the farmers.

These mega-trends have paved the way for several smaller trends within the grains space…

Ancient Grains 

Quinoa is now found on nearly every trendy café menu in some form or another with this group of grains being seen as untainted and intrinsically healthy. Perhaps their alternative title of pseudo-grains has helped with the allure, but this presents opportunities for diversification on farm and many young farmers are doing just that. And perhaps fonio is the next big ancient grain?

Back to Basics with Oats 

This humble grain has seen a huge resurgence in popularity in recent years and manufacturers have already taken advantage of this opportunity. Now’s the time for growers to reap the rewards of increased demand for this crop and add value in the form of exclusivity… think single origin oats, exotic flavours and on-the-go formats.

Provenance 

Consumers want to connect with their food more than ever, so now is the time for growers to tell their story. With social media at our fingertips and whole communities of consumers ready and waiting, the desire to understand where our food comes from is strong. And consumers are actively seeking out those products with a story behind them.

Now is the time to connect with consumers, tell them the story of how their product got from farm to store and enrich them with the knowledge of understanding where their food comes from. We can’t leave it just to the marketers and manufacturers to promote this category anymore – we all need to be involved with spreading the story and helping to bring back the belief in grains!


References

1. GLNC. 2017. Consumption & Attitudes Study. Unpublished.
2. Innova Market Insights Report. 2016