Vegetable Chips May be More Unhealthy

Su Xinqi wrote . . . . . . . . .

Deep-fried vegetable chips could be more unhealthy than potato chips as they contained twice the amount of a carcinogen found in overcooked food, the Hong Kong consumer rights watchdog said on Monday.

The Consumer Council cited results from 27 samples surveyed by consumer rights groups in 10 European countries, noting that while only some products were available locally and might have different recipes, the study was “helpful” to gain more insight into acrylamide.

“Categorically, the research allows consumers to know more about the carcinogen. That’s why the council decided to publish a summary of the findings,” the watchdog said in its latest issue of Choice Magazine.

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“Vegetables are often considered a healthy food but the survey findings showed that in light of deep-frying, grilling and baking, they can generate carcinogen in an amount higher than potato chips. Consumers should be more alert,” it added.

Acrylamide is an odourless, white, crystalline organic solid. As a chemical ingredient, it is widely used in paper, textile and plastic industries, particularly in producing gel.

In 1994, the International Agency for Research on Cancer evaluated acrylamide as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

In 2003, studies conducted by Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department found that high levels of acrylamide were present in snacks such as chips and biscuits. Longer cooking at high temperatures could contribute to the generation of acrylamide, the studies also showed.

In 2017, the European Union set up benchmark levels of acrylamide in food for safety regulations that went into force in April. But the benchmark for vegetable chips has yet to be determined.

According to the findings cited by the council, consumer rights organisers in 10 European countries surveyed the amount of acrylamide in food products such as potato chips, vegetable chips, biscuits, bread, baby goods, breakfast cereals and coffees.

The number of samples for each food type ranged from six for instant coffee to 107 for biscuits and waffles.

The average amount of acrylamide in 104 samples of potato chips was found to be 457 micrograms per kilogram, while in 27 samples of vegetable chips, it was as high as 1,121mcg/kg, or nearly 2½ times that of the former.

Two outstanding samples of vegetable chips had as much as 3,000 and 4,900mcg/kg of acrylamide.

The benchmark level of acrylamide in potato chips is 750mcg/kg, while that in baby foods is only 40mcg/kg, according to EU standards.

The Consumer Council said it preferred not to identify brands or reveal which of the vegetable chip samples were available in Hong Kong as they might come from a different manufacturer even if they carried the same name.

The council called on Hong Kong authorities to scrutinise international studies of carcinogens in food and consider following the EU practice of establishing a set of safety levels.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety launched the second population-based food consumption survey last April, which would cover intake of acrylamide and its potential health risk. The data for this has not been released.

Source: SCMP

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Smoky Chili Chicken Burger

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
2 x 200 g chicken breast fillets, trimmed and sliced lengthwise
2 bread rolls, halved
rocket (arugula) leaves, to serve

Lemon Mayonnaise

1/4 cup store-bought whole-egg mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method

  1. To make the lemon mayonnaise, place the mayonnaise and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to combine.
  2. Combine the oil, paprika and chili and pour over the chicken.
  3. Preheat a barbecue or char-grill pan over high heat.
  4. Cook the chicken for 2 minutes each side or until cooked through.
  5. Spread the rolls with the lemon mayonnaise and top with the rocket and chicken to serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: Fast, Fresh, Simple

In Pictures: Burgers of Restaurants in London, UK

Danish Organisation Aims to Reduce Food Waste with New ‘Best Before’ System

New labelling on food packaging could help consumers in Denmark to cut down on food waste.

The new marking on a variety of products will change the way ‘best before’ information is given, accommodating products that can often be consumed after their store ‘sell-by’ dates.

The words ‘often good after’ (‘ofte god efter’) will be used on products including milk, beer and chocolate, according to Too Good To Go, an app that has developed the scheme in partnership with a number of food producers.

Companies including Carlsberg, Unilever, Løgismose Meyers, Arla, Coop, Thise, Toms and Urtekram are among those who have agreed to try the new labelling.

Selina Juul, founder of NGO Stop Wasting Food, said that current labelling on foods can confuse consumers.

“Many in Denmark think that ‘best before’ means ‘worst after’ and throw food out to be on the safe side. This scheme contributes to better knowledge about food products and thereby reduces food waste,” Juul said in a press statement released by Too Good To Go.

Another phrase, ‘use by’ (‘sidste anvendelsesdato’), is used on products where consumption after that date would constitute a health risk, while ‘best before’ (‘bedst før’) is advisory and used with products which do not constitute a health risk after their sell-by dates, but must be assessed before use.

Danish dairy giant Arla has begun to use the new labelling on its Arla 24-mælk product, and plans to extend it to other products.

“It is very clear that, for large families, this might not mean so much, because many litres of milk are drunk every day,” Arla Denmark CEO Jakob Knudsen said.

“But for small households, this is important information to have, because milk might be left in the refrigerator for several days. And it has a longer lifetime than the ‘best before’ which is written on it,” Knudsen said.

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council also said it supported the project.

“This addition is likely to help many of the consumers who are not aware that ‘best before’ is not the same as ‘use by’. And therefore throw out food which has reached its ‘best before’ date,” area director Klaus Jørgensen said in a written statement.

“But our support is conditional upon this being done in close coordination with businesses and on a voluntary basis,” Jørgensen added.

Source: The Local


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‘Best before, often good after’: Unilever adopts anti-food waste labels on food packaging . . . . .

Feeling Depressed? Mahjong Might be the Answer

Lauren Baggett wrote . . . . . . . . .

When it comes to boosting mental health among older Chinese, it might be as simple as a game of mahjong, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

Regularly playing the popular tile-based strategy game was one of several types of social participation linked to reduced rates of depression among middle-aged and older adults in China in the study appearing in Social Science & Medicine.

“Global economic and epidemiologic trends have led to significant increases in the burden of mental health among older adults, especially in the low- and middle-income countries,” said Adam Chen, an associate professor of health policy and management at UGA’s College of Public Health and study co-author.

Poor mental health is a major issue in China, which accounts for 17% of the global disease burden of mental disorders. On top of that, mental health issues related to social isolation and loneliness are on the rise as China’s number of older adults – as in other nations – continues to increase.

The benefits of participating in social activities to mental health have been widely acknowledged, and some work has been done in developed nations, including the U.S. and Japan, to better understand this relationship.

But little is known about the role of social interaction and mental health outside of these settings.

“Social participation manifests itself in different formats within different cultural contexts,” said Chen.

“Our paper provides evidence on the association between social participation and mental health in the context of a developing country. We also examined the rural-urban difference, which has not been examined extensively in this line of literature.”

Chen and collaborators from China’s Huazhong University of Science and Technology analyzed survey data from nearly 11,000 residents aged 45 years and older from the nationally representative China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study.

They looked at symptoms of depression and compared it to the type and frequency of social participation, including visiting with friends, playing mahjong, participating in a sport or social club, and volunteering in the community.

They found that, on the whole, participating in a wide variety of activities more frequently was associated with better mental health. Specifically, urban residents who played mahjong, a popular strategy game, were less likely to feel depressed.

That wasn’t too surprising for Chen, as this finding was in line with other studies, but he was surprised to find that rural Chinese overall tended to report poor mental health compared to their urban counterparts.

“Traditionally, rural China featured tight-knit communities of close kinship, often with a limited number of extended large families in a village,” he said. “We were expecting strong ties and communal bonds in rural China, but it appears that we were wrong.”

Chen suspects that the social structures in rural China were disrupted as many able-bodied adults moved into cities to find work. While family ties remained strong, community ties weakened in rural areas.

“What is more surprising is that mahjong playing does not associate with better mental health among rural elderly respondents,” added Chen. “One hypothesis is that mahjong playing tends to be more competitive and at times become a means of gambling in rural China.”

The authors believe these findings may offer a guide to health practitioners designing policies and interventions to improve mental health among older Chinese.

The findings could also translate, said Chen, to Asian American communities.

“Older Asian Americans have a much higher proportion of suicidal thoughts than whites and African Americans,” he said. “Improving social participation among older Asian Americans may help to address this burden to the U.S. population health that has not received due attention.”

Source: University of Georgia


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