Hongkongers Eat Enough French Toast to Cover Earth’s Circumference Annually

Victor Ting wrote . . . . . . . . .

Hongkongers consume the equivalent length of the Earth’s circumference in French toast annually, a survey has found, prompting a nutritionist to warn of health risks caused by the city’s snacking habits.

Other popular treats included French fries, fried chicken thighs, egg tarts and pineapple buns with butter, the online survey conducted by health platform HealthyD found.

“Hong Kong’s favourite foods are deep-fried with a lot of oil, and usually served with butter and syrup. Excessive consumption could lead to obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease,” said Cynthia Wong Oi-se, a senior nutritionist at NutraCare Consultancy.

The survey found Hongkongers get through about 320 million servings a year of French toast, a dish made of fried sliced bread soaked in eggs and milk and containing 420 calories per serving – the energy level of two bowls of rice. Some 57 per cent said this was their favourite snack.

French fries, 539 calories per serving, were second favourite, followed by fried chicken thighs (431 calories), toast with condensed milk and peanut butter (405 calories), egg tarts (230 calories) and pineapple buns (421 calories).

Some 55 per cent chose milk tea as their most beloved drink, the popular local beverage made from black tea and evaporated or condensed milk. One cup contains 140 calories.

Its popularity was closely followed by lemon tea and lemon water, according to the survey.

“One glass of iced lemon tea can contain as much as six spoons of sugar,” Wong said.

“Choose skimmed milk rather than full-fat as the latter is high in calories.”

A citywide health survey released by the government in 2017 found half of Hongkongers aged 15 or older were overweight or obese.

The online survey also found Hong Kong diners visited cha chaan teng on alternate days, with 88 per cent of respondents making a weekly average of 3.6 visits to the traditional restaurants.

The major reason for going to cha chaan teng was convenience, according to 68 per cent of the respondents.

Variety of dishes (41 per cent) and affordable prices (40 per cent) were also popular reasons.

Despite an overwhelming majority of 83 per cent of respondents thinking the snacks were “very unhealthy” or “not so healthy”, 61 per cent said they had no intention of making fewer visits to cha chaan teng.

Wong said a balanced diet and regular exercise were key to staying healthy and had some tips for cha chaan teng diners.

“Have a tomato and boiled egg sandwich or go for toast with jam if you are a toast lover. There are healthier options at cha chaan teng and you can do it step by step and build up a healthy routine,” Wong said.

More than 30 minutes of moderate to intense cardio exercise at least three times a week would burn calories and keep weight stable, she added.

Source: SCMP

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High Levels of Trans Fats Found in Hong Kong Baked Goods

Karen Zhang wrote . . . . . . . . .

Popular Hong Kong baked products such as puff pastry are loaded with trans fats which could cause coronary heart disease when consumed in excessive amounts, the city’s consumer watchdog has warned.

One-quarter of the total baked cakes and puff pastries – or 19 out of 75 products – in the Consumer Council’s study were found to have exceeded the suggested daily consumption of trans fats by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agricultural Organisation.

Two samples of puff pastry cream soup and butter cake were found to contain the highest level of trans fat per sample, reaching as much as 84 per cent of the daily limit.

Adults are advised not to consume more than 2.2 grams of trans fat per day in a 2,000 kcal diet, according to the recommendations of the two international bodies.

“Excessive trans fat consumption will not only increase ‘bad cholesterol’ in the blood, posing risks to develop coronary heart disease in the long run,” said Dr Henry Ng Chi-cheung, principal medical officer at the Centre for Food Safety, “it will also destroy the ‘good cholesterol’.”

The test included 75 local food samples such as puff pastry cream soup, tarts, pies, biscuits, and Chinese pastry. Among them, puff pastry cream soup had the highest level of trans fats, which was mainly contained in the pastry. The eight tested samples were found to have trans fat levels ranging from 0.75 to 3.4 grams per 100g.

Cookies and chicken pies were also found to contain high levels of trans fat.

According to the council’s report, one piece of butter cake from St Lolan Bakery in Sai Ying Pun accounted for as much as 84 per cent of the daily quota of trans fat. One bowl of the puff pastry cream soup from Cafe 360 in Sham Shui Po also accounted for the same percentage with some 11 per cent of industrially produced trans fat.

Pak Sin Bakery, whose wife cakes were found with the highest level of trans fat in the Chinese pastries category, told the council it agreed with the testing result and hoped to decrease industrially produced trans fat by 30 per cent by using different ingredients.

Cafe 360 said the industrially produced trans fat came mostly from the puff pastry, a half-made product from a supplier which controlled the manufacturing, and it would communicate with the supplier to see if it could be further decreased.

The signature mille crepes of Lady M, a popular cake shop chain originally from New York, used up 27 per cent of the upper limit of trans fat recommended by the WHO.

“The naturally produced trans fat comes from dairy products including butter, vegetable oil and cream, which are the main ingredients of crafting mille crepes,” a spokeswoman said.

Although Hong Kong had no law on trans fats, Ng noted the government was actively studying legislation governing them in other countries.

Apart from the natural trans fat content in baked food and pastries, ingredients with partially hydrogenated oil contain industrially produced fat.

Nora Tam Fung-yee, the council’s research and testing committee chairwoman, noted that the fact some samples were found to be free of industrially produced trans fat indicated there was room to modify recipes, such as choosing edible oil free of industrially produced trans fat.

Source: SCMP

Hong Kong Startup Develops Cultured Fish Maw

Reconstituted Dried Fish Maw

Catherine Lamb wrote . . . . . . . . .

Last week we wrote a think piece about how cultured meat — that is, meat grown outside the animal in a lab setting — will likely debut in Asia. Part of the reasoning behind this is because of all the innovative cellular agriculture startups popping up in the area, targeting local cultural demands and restrictions.

One of said innovative startups is Avant Meats, a new cell-based meat company operating out of Hong Kong. Avant Meats isn’t developing cultured burgers, sausages, steaks, or tuna — but fish maw.

Many Westerners (the author included) have never come across fish maw, or dried swim bladder. Upon first glance it might seem like an odd choice. But there are a few very good reasons why Avant Meats is starting with this particular food item:

First and foremost, it’s easy(er) to make. Unlike a cut of meat like steak, which requires muscle cells, fat cells, and connective tissue, fish maw is made up of only one cell type. That simplicity allows Avant Meats to grow a fish maw from scratch in as little as one and a half months. “The route to scaling up is much simpler,” Avant Meats CEO and co-founder Carrie Chan told me over the phone.

The choice of fish maw was also a strategic nod to Avant Meats’ target demographic: consumers in China and Hong Kong. “Our food culture is very different from the West,” said Chan. Dried fish swim bladder is considered a delicacy in traditional Chinese cuisine, prized for its texture and purported health benefits.

There’s also an environmental aspect at play. Fish maw is in such high demand in China that the two main fish species that are hunted for it — Bahaba and Totoba — are on the brink of extinction. There are even black markets dedicated to the bladders, which can fetch up to HK$1 million ($~127,000) per kilogram. “It’s similar to shark fin,” explained Chan.

Finally, there’s a health and safety consideration. China struggles with food traceability issues. In fact, last year a study from Food Control found that more than half of the fish fillets sold under commercial brands were mislabeled. By growing food in a lab — especially products as rare and coveted as fish maw — consumers can know exactly what they’re getting and where it came from.

As noted in the intro, Avant Meats isn’t the only cell-based meat company targeting Asia as their launch pad. JUST, who is aiming to be the first to bring cultured meat to market, announced recently that the product will likely debut in Asia. In Singapore, Shiok Meats is developing cell-based crustaceans. Part of the reason so many cultured meat companies are looking to Asia is because it has relatively looser regulatory standards, especially in Hong Kong.

Chan was hesitant to speak too much about the regulatory framework in Hong Kong, where Avant Meats is headquartered, but did admit that it’s an ideal place to launch a new food product. “It has a very robust market and lots of disposable income,” she told me.

Though they have a very developed strategy, Avant Meats is a very new startup — even in a field that’s quite new itself. Chan started the company in July of last year, and was recently joined by Dr. Mario Chin, her co-founder and the company’s CSO (and only other employee).

Considering their late start and lean team, Avant Meats likely won’t be part of the first wave of companies selling clean meat. Chan said that they expect to have a commercial product out in three to four years, though they’ll be doing taste tests of their fish maw in Q3 or Q4 of this year. But she believes their strategy to start with a simple, unique product will help them stand out. “We’re starting behind the other guys, so we better find something that’s commercially more pragmatic,” she explained.

Fish maw is just the first stepping stone for the company. Down the road, Avant Meats will expand their lineup, developing more complex seafood products. Chan told me that next they’ll look into making sea cucumber. Their end goal is to make an entire fish filet, likely using some scaffolding to help emulate the texture.

Chan didn’t specify what type of fish they would be tackling. There are a couple cellular aquaculture companies further along in the development process. Finless Foods is developing cell-based bluefin tuna, and Wild Type is growing salmon.

However, both these companies are based in the U.S. Avant Meats’ Hong Kong HQ and strategic product choice could help them stand out in a field that’s getting more exciting — and more crowded — by the day.

Source: The Spoon

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