Shelf Life of Food Extended by Lactic Acid Bacteria

Researchers at the National Food Institute of Technical University of Denmark have come up with a solution that can help combat both food loss and food waste: They have generated a natural lactic acid bacterium, which secretes the antimicrobial peptide nisin, when grown on dairy waste.

Nisin is a food-grade preservative, which can extend the shelf life of foods, and thus can be used to reduce food waste. The discovery also makes it possible to better utilize the large quantities of whey generated when cheese is made.

Nisin is approved for use in a number of foods, where it can prevent the growth of certain spoilage microorganisms as well as microorganisms that make consumers sick. It can for instance inhibit spore germination in canned soups and prevent late blowing in cheeses—without affecting its flavour.

In theory, nisin could be added to fresh milk to extend its shelf life. However, different countries have different rules stating what types of products nisin may be added to and in which amounts.

Extra step towards better utilization of whey

Many dairies are already turning a profit by extracting protein and lactose from the many tons of whey they generate, which they use in e.g. infant formula and sports nutrition. What is left behind can still be used to produce nisin.

In addition to ensuring better resource utilization, there may be a financial gain from producing nisin: Most commercially available nisin products contain 2.5% nisin and cost approximately 40 euro per kilogram.

Source: Technology Networks

Freezing Tumors Could Be New Treatment for Low-Risk Breast Cancers

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . . . . . .

A first-of-its-kind study suggests that slow-growing breast cancers can be treated with a highly targeted tumor-freezing technique, eliminating the need for invasive surgery.

Testing to date suggests that the technique is effective among women over 60 diagnosed with relatively low-risk breast cancer.

“Cryoablation is a minimally invasive solution that destroys breast tumors safely, quickly and painlessly, without the need for surgery,” said study author Dr. Richard Fine, a breast surgeon with West Cancer Center & Research Institute in Germantown, Tenn.

“The procedure exposes diseased tissue to extreme cold [cryo] to destroy [ablate] it,” he added. “It is performed in the office while the patient is awake.”

The new study — which involved nearly 200 women — found that when cryoablation was performed on women with low-grade/low-risk breast cancer nearly all the patients remained cancer-free three years out.

“The therapy is already well established for the treatment of bone, kidney, prostate and other cancers,” Fine noted.

Average age of patients in the study was 75, and all were diagnosed with “invasive ductal carcinoma” breast cancer. Tumors were relatively small, measuring no more than 1.5 centimeters in size. All the patients had “hormone receptor-positive” tumors, meaning tumors that were ER+, PR+ and/or HER2-.

“In general, tumors that are ER+ and/or PR+ are slightly slower growing, and have a slightly better prognosis than tumors that are hormone receptor-negative,” Fine said.

All the patients in the study underwent cryoablation, which involved direct insertion of a probe through the skin and into the tumor site, under localized anesthesia. In turn, liquid nitrogen was applied to freeze the targeted tumors from the inside out. Treatment lasted between 20 and 40 minutes, ultimately turning tumors into balls of ice.

The procedure removed the need for follow-up surgery, the researchers reported, although nearly 15% of the women also underwent radiation, while about 3/4 were further treated with endocrine therapy. One patient underwent chemotherapy.

Patients were checked twice yearly, as far out as five years following treatment. The result: By an average follow-up point of nearly three years post-treatment just 2% (four patients) had seen their cancer return. No serious side effects were reported, and nearly all the patients and attending physicians reported being satisfied with the treatment (95% and 98%, respectively).

“For both benign and cancerous tumors, benefits over traditional surgery include office-based procedures, [that were] faster, [entailed] almost immediate recovery, improved cosmetic results, greater patient comfort, less procedural risk and lower cost,” Fine said.

Unlike a conventional lumpectomy or mastectomy, he added, cryoablation preserves breast volume and minimizes infection risk. And the process usually produces “excellent cosmetic results with no scarring,” while allowing patients to quickly resume normal activity.

Fine noted that the European Union approved cryoablation for breast cancer in 2010, with the procedure similarly approved for use in Australia, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In the United States, “the treatment is in experimental use”, explained Dr. Shawna Willey, chair of breast cancer research with the Inova Schar Cancer Institute at the Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Va.

“If it continues with similar success, data will be submitted to the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to obtain the first-ever approval for use of a specific cryoablation device in breast cancer treatment for the tumor and patient parameters studied,” Willey added.

Though not part of the study team, she noted that Fine’s trial “is the largest of its kind, and may lead the way to cryoablation being far more widely available as a treatment option for older women with low-risk breast cancers, while it continues to be studied in broader patient populations.”

Still, Willey cautioned that cryoablation has only been tested among carefully selected breast cancer patient groups. So its effectiveness, she stressed, “is not backed by extensive data with long-term follow-up, or by data on a broad range of tumor types across women of all age groups.”

Fine and his colleagues presented their findings this week at a virtual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay

Tim Hortons U.S. Launches the Donut Disguise Box for Mother’s Day

Tim Hortons® knows moms love sweets just as much as their kids do. That’s why this Mother’s Day, Tim Hortons U.S. is introducing the Donut Disguise Box so Mom can enjoy all the sweet treats she loves all by herself. The Donut Disguise Box looks like a book on the exterior but inside, reveals a six-pack of Mom’s favorite Tim Hortons donuts. Available in two book titles, Glazed Expectations and Twenty Thousand Timbits® Under the Sea, Tim Hortons’ Donut Disguise Box ensures kids will steer clear of Mom’s sweet treats.

The Mother’s Day Donut Disguise Box is available on May 8 and May 9 with the purchase of a six-pack of donuts at the recommended price of US$5.49 at four select Tim Hortons U.S. locations in the Buffalo, Columbus and Detroit metro areas, while supplies last. Simply ask for the Donut Disguise Box at the counter or in the drive thru at any of the four available locations. It is the perfect gift for any donut-loving mom and even makes a great treat for Mom to give herself.

Source: AP

What’s for Lunch?

Home-cooked Spicy Eel and Sweet Omelet Bento

Reducing Blue Light with a New Type of LED that Won’t Keep You Up All Night

To be more energy efficient, many people have replaced their incandescent lights with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. However, those currently on the market emit a lot of blue light, which has been linked to eye troubles and sleep disturbances.

Now, researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces have developed a prototype LED that reduces — instead of masks — the blue component, while also making colors appear just as they do in natural sunlight.

LED light bulbs are popular because of their low energy consumption, long lifespan and ability to turn on and off quickly. Inside the bulb, an LED chip converts electrical current into high-energy light, including invisible ultraviolet (UV), violet or blue wavelengths. A cap that is placed on the chip contains multiple phosphors — solid luminescent compounds that convert high-energy light into lower-energy visible wavelengths. Each phosphor emits a different color, and these colors combine to produce a broad-spectrum white light.

Commercial LED bulbs use blue LEDs and yellow-emitting phosphors, which appear as a cold, bright white light similar to daylight. Continual exposure to these blue-tinted lights has been linked to cataract formation, and turning them on in the evening can disrupt the production of sleep-inducing hormones, such as melatonin, triggering insomnia and fatigue.

To create a warmer white LED bulb for nighttime use, previous researchers added red-emitting phosphors, but this only masked the blue hue without getting rid of it.

So, Jakoah Brgoch and Shruti Hariyani wanted to develop a phosphor that, when used in a violet LED device, would result in a warm white light while avoiding the problematic wavelength range.

As a proof of concept, the researchers identified and synthesized a new luminescent crystalline phosphor containing europium ((Na1.92Eu0.04)MgPO4F). In thermal stability tests, the phosphor’s emission color was consistent between room temperature and the higher operating temperature (301 F) of commercial LED-based lighting.

In long-term moisture experiments, the compound showed no change in the color or intensity of light produced. To see how the material might work in a light bulb, the researchers fabricated a prototype device with a violet-light LED covered by a silicone cap containing their luminescent blue compound blended with red-emitting and green-emitting phosphors. It produced the desired bright warm white light while minimizing the intensity across blue wavelengths, unlike commercial LED light bulbs.

The prototype’s optical properties revealed the color of objects almost as well as natural sunlight, fulfilling the needs of indoor lighting, the researchers say, though they add that more work needs to be done before it is ready for everyday use.

Source: American Chemical Society