Archive for March 2012

‘Cheapest’ lunchtime meal unveiled

Cheap as....

Britain’s ‘cheapest’ lunchtime meal has been unveiled – the toast sandwich.

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is reviving the mid-Victorian dish, which consists of two slices of bread around a slice of toast. The meal, costing 7.5p, was first promoted by Victorian food writer Mrs Beeton. It is taken from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management which became a best-seller when it was published 150 years ago.
To celebrate that anniversary, the RSC decided to focus on meals that reflected ‘stern days’ to come in Britain, rather than one of the book’s many ‘table-groaning creations’.

You simply put a piece of dry toast between two slices of bread and butter, with salt and pepper to taste. I’ve tried it and it’s surprisingly nice to eat and quite filling,

says the RSC’s Dr John Emsley.

I would emphasise that toast sandwiches are also good at saving you calories as well as money, provided you only have one toast sandwich for lunch and nothing else.

Use of food additives ‘safer and more transparent’ thanks to new legislation.


Safer and more transparent use.

The use of additives in food will soon become even safer and more transparent thanks to legislation adopted by the European Commission.

“This represents a landmark in our efforts to strengthen food safety in the EU,” says Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli (pictured). “The adoption of two regulations on additives will further empower citizens and industry alike as they will make it easier for everyone concerned to know exactly what additives are allowed in foodstuffs.”

The two regulations establish two new lists. The first concerns additives in food and will come into force in June 2013. This list will allow consumers to easily identify which additives are authorised in a particular foodstuff. The second list relates to additives in food ingredients, and will apply 20 days after its publication in the EU’s Official Journal.

Transparency is one major benefit of the new legislation as the new list makes it obvious that in some food categories the authorised additives are very limited or not allowed at all. This is the case, for instance, for unflavoured yogurt, butter, compote, pasta, simple bread, honey, water and fruit juice. In other categories, usually those concerning highly processed foodstuffs – such as confectionery, snacks, sauces and flavoured drinks – a large number of additives are authorised.

“Any initiative that helps educate and enlighten consumers is to be welcomed,” says an FAIA spokesman.

This legislation does just that, while helping to reinforce the message that authorised additives are not only safe but also play a key role in food safety.

Global additives market on the up


Global sales of food and drink additives reached £17.3 billion last year, according to a new report.

The best performing sectors include enzymes, acidulants and hydrocolloids, says Leatherhead Food Research’s report The Global Food Additives Market, with a growing demand for low fat, salt and sugar products – as well as functional health benefit products – driving demand for a host of additives including emulsifiers, hydrocolloids, sweeteners, vitamins and minerals, soya ingredients, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, prebiotics and plant stanol esters.

The report also says that while the global additives market has not been immune to the effects of the global economic downturn, a period of modest growth is forecast for the world food additives market over the next few years.

Some of the better performing sectors are likely to include natural flavours and colours, food hydrocolloids, enzymes and functional food ingredients.

E-numbers feast!


The day I ate as many E-numbers as possible!

Food labels such as ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ are confusing shoppers, according to a survey. But even more misunderstood are the E numbers that populate ingredient lists, says food writer Stefan Gates, who set out to see if additives are as bad as is often assumed Why would anyone do something as irresponsible as try to overload on sweeteners, flavourings, emulsifiers and preservatives, when food additives are a byword for culinary evil?

In Europe, these are given E numbers; in the United States and elsewhere, the full name is increasingly listed on food labels. Yet how many consumers would believe that such additives may actually be good for us? The boom in organic and natural foods in recent years betrays our trust in nature over science. Yet a survey by Which? magazine has found terms such as ‘natural’, ‘fresh’, ‘pure’ and ‘real’, which readily appear on the front of food packaging, are confusing consumers because they are largely unregulated.

Conversely, it is the additives tucked way in the small print of a product’s ingredients list that are heavily regulated. And when you look at clinical rather than anecdotal evidence, and speak to clinical dieticians, it appears these are actually good for us – and many seem to be very good for us indeed.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Salt in bread



A third of breads contain more salt than recommended under guidelines being introduced next year, according to campaign
group CASH (Campaign for Action on Salt and Health).

The figures came after the Department of Health announced that bread accounts for more salt in our diet than any other food, making up almost a fifth of our daily intake. However, manufacturers said many loaves with the lowest salt levels were supermarket brands, which were the most popular.


Despite salt levels in bread being reported to have fallen by about a third over the past decade, bread manufacturers are under mounting pressure to cut down further. However, in reducing salt levels further, manufacturers are faced with numerous technical challenges.

Firstly, salt influences the production process by improving the dough handling properties and also helps control yeast activity during fermentation. In addition, it influences the sensory properties of bread and is directly linked to consumer acceptance. For these reasons, it would be difficult to completely eliminate salt from the recipe. The main challenge in making low salt bread is that is becomes sticky and is less easy to process with lowering salt levels, meaning that there is a potential for the dough to stop processing lines, leading to down time and wastage.

Salt also plays a major role in achieving the flavour of the bread and, of course, on product shelf life. Products with reduced salt may require balancing of the flavours to achieve an acceptable product.

* Take the bread health scare with a pinch of salt…