In this June 2013 news round up we bring you new on free online industry conference, a new consumer app to help consumers access trusted food product allergen information through to further development into a coeliac vaccine.
Food Safety Live 2013 – free online conference for food safety professionals
On June 26th the world’s first exclusively online conference for food safety will be broadcast to a global audience of 1000+ industry professionals, academics and scientists. Food Safety Live 2013 is the inaugural annual conference of the International Food Safety & Quality Network (IFSQN), in association with Safefood 360.The event will feature 14 hours of back to back presentations from esteemed international speakers representing the GFSI, IFS, SQF, FSSC 22000, LRQA, SAI Global, Leavitt Partners, The Allergen Bureau (Robin Sherlock), Mettler Toledo and Cardiff Metropolitan University, among others.
The purpose of FSL13 is to further educate the global community on important and current food safety issues and trends. Presentations will focus on the key challenges faced by businesses and food safety professionals operating in the global food industry, while providing solutions and practical ideas for improving food safety management system performance.
The conference is completely free to attend and has already attracted over 1,000 registrations from 95 countries around the world. Registered attendees will have exclusive access to all presentation downloads as well as access to the conference networking and discussion forums throughout the event.
For more information and to register for this exciting event click here: www.foodsafetylive.com
About the IFSQN
The International Food Safety & Quality Network is the world’s leading food safety networking website connecting food safety professionals to each other, and to information. The purpose of the IFSQN is to share knowledge, experiences and ideas and to make food safer around the world.
Learn more at www.ifsqn.com
About Safefood 360
Headquartered in New York City, Safefood 360 is a young, innovative technology company dedicated to developing and supplying the global food industry with compliance software solutions which are powerful, intuitive and a pleasure to use.
Learn more at www.safefood360.com
GS1 GoScan – food information smartphone application
The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and GS1 Australia are calling on all companies within the food and grocery industry to get on board with the latest tool to help consumers access trusted food product allergen information – GS1 GoScanTM. Launched for free download in March this year, GS1 GoScan is Australia’s first whole-of-industry endorsed smartphone application that enables consumers to know if a food product suits their special dietary needs with a simple scan of a bar code.
Developed in association with major retailers, local and international food companies, the AFGC, Australian Universities and National Health Organisations including Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, the app helps consumers with allergies, intolerances and special diets by giving them more information about their food – direct from the manufacturer.
GS1 Australia’s CEO, Maria Palazzolo, says, “GS1 Australia has gone to extreme lengths in working with key groups, including the AFGC and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia to produce a tool that shares accurate information on food ingredient content and food allergy.”
Gary Dawson, CEO of the AFGC said, “The AFGC believes that the introduction of the GS1 GoScan smartphone app will play an important part in responding to consumer demand for greater information on products. This app is a good example of innovation being used by food manufacturers to provide rich data to consumers that would otherwise be restricted by the size and shape of a physical label.”
For more information visit www.afgc.org.au
Proposed changes to gluten free labelling in Australia
Foods sold in Australia and New Zealand must adhere to Standard 1.2.7 of the Food Standards Code which stipulates that in order to bear a ‘gluten free’ claim, the food must not contain detectable gluten. The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) is proposing that Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) should alter this definition of ‘gluten-free’ to allow such foods to contain up to 20 milligrams of gluten per kilogram (20ppm).
The Food Standards Code does not stipulate a test threshold or a specific testing methodology to support gluten free claims and there is no regulation on the testing methodologies used for detecting gluten. However, some stakeholders have expressed concern that gluten tests may become so sensitive that many of the foods currently meeting the ‘undetectable gluten’ standard would soon fail it. Others in the industry believe people who are currently eating products with no detectable amounts of gluten could experience adverse symptoms if they were to consume detectable amounts up to 20ppm.
While many experts maintain that traces of gluten below 20 milligrams were not harmful to people with coeliac disease and this level would bring the Australasian regulation of ‘gluten-free’ claims in line with British and European standards, others argue that setting the ‘gluten free’ level at 10 milligrams per kilogram (10ppm) would be safer for coeliacs.
According to media reports, the AFGC have conducted a survey of 98 businesses that either manufacture ‘gluten-free’ foods or supply them and found nearly 80 per cent think the new standard would cut down manufacturing plant costs, including gluten testing costs, and make it easier to source products from overseas.
Coeliac Australia has supported the AFGC’s proposal to alter the gluten free standard to less than 20ppm and say evidence-based medical research has found this to be a safe level for people with coeliac disease.
The Coeliac Australia media response can be found on their website.
Coeliac vaccine development continues
Nexvax2® is a vaccine that is designed to restore coeliac patients’ immune tolerance to gluten. The drug is currently undergoing clinical trial as part of its development by ImmusanT, a privately-held biotechnology company. ImmusanT has recently released a report summarizing recent review articles that describe advances made in designing immunotherapies and new methods for monitoring celiac disease as well as other autoimmune disorders such as Type 1 diabetes.
In addition to contributing papers in the journals ‘Current Opinion in Immunology’ and ‘Nature Reviews Immunology’, ImmusanT staff and scientific advisors will also be presenting at the 15th International Celiac Disease Symposium to be hosted by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, September 22 -25, 2013. The meeting is said to bring together the world’s top scientists and physicians to discuss the most recent scientific advances in managing and treating coeliac disease and gluten-related disorders.
The summary of research advances, and links to the recent publications by the ImmusanT team, plus further details on the forthcoming Symposium can be found on the ImmusanT website.
Swabbing to verify allergen control measures
The latest issue of Food Safety Magazine features a very useful article by Professor Steve Taylor and Dr Joseph Baumert of FARRP in which they discuss best practice in allergen swabbing. The article sets out the steps involved in verifying allergen control, including how to determine which allergens should be the key focus, how to choose the right test method and the need to develop and validate effective Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) that can be used routinely to remove allergen residues on each line. FARRP advocates the use of qualitative ELISAs often in combination with quantitative ELISA testing of finished product to validate these SSOPs and other allergen control measures.
In their article, the authors list in dot-point form many other aspects that should be considered in validating allergen control. These include many useful tips such as why it is important not to use sponges to swab for allergens, why you should not just swab flat, smooth areas in the manufacturing facility, and what to do when there are no ELISA test kits or swabs available for the specific allergen of concern in your production plant.
This highly recommended article is currently freely available on the Food Safety Magazine website.
Australia gains new food Allergen Centre of Excellence
A Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Paediatric Food Allergy and Food-Related Immune Disorders has recently been established with funding provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The CRE brings together 20 leading researchers, clinicians and allied health professionals involved in childhood food allergy from all around Australia.
The alliance will work together to understand food allergies and intolerances, with their first task to test the effectiveness of Vitamin D for the prevention of food allergies. Other projects include trialing a possible solution for allergies to eggs, milk and peanuts, and to provide evidence-based guidelines for the care of patients with food allergies.
Research by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia has shown food allergy and eczema may be a ‘gateway disease’ which potentially leads to the development of respiratory allergic diseases such as asthma later in life. The scientists involved with the CRE hope their work will lead to strategies to prevent food allergies developing, prevent adverse symptoms and reactions in children with a food allergy and to prevent food allergy progressing to asthma.
Associate Professor Katie Allen from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is the lead investigator for the new CRE.