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Concept: Food processing


To investigate the contribution of ultra-processed foods to the intake of added sugars in the USA. Ultra-processed foods were defined as industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations.

Concepts: Carbohydrate, Food processing, Food, Fat, Sugar, Water, Nutrition, Flavor


The incidence of autoimmune diseases is increasing along with the expansion of industrial food processing and food additive consumption. The intestinal epithelial barrier, with its intercellular tight junction, controls the equilibrium between tolerance and immunity to non-self-antigens. As a result, particular attention is being placed on the role of tight junction dysfunction in the pathogenesis of AD. Tight junction leakage is enhanced by many luminal components, commonly used industrial food additives being some of them. Glucose, salt, emulsifiers, organic solvents, gluten, microbial transglutaminase, and nanoparticles are extensively and increasingly used by the food industry , claim the manufacturers, to improve the qualities of food. However, all of the aforementioned additives increase intestinal permeability by breaching the integrity of tight junction paracellular transfer. In fact, tight junction dysfunction is common in multiple autoimmune diseases and the central part played by the tight junction in autoimmune diseases pathogenesis is extensively described. It is hypothesized that commonly used industrial food additives abrogate human epithelial barrier function, thus, increasing intestinal permeability through the opened tight junction, resulting in entry of foreign immunogenic antigens and activation of the autoimmune cascade. Future research on food additives exposure-intestinal permeability-autoimmunity interplay will enhance our knowledge of the common mechanisms associated with autoimmune progression.

Concepts: Vinegar, Immune system, Food processing, Food additive


This paper provides guidance on the conduct of new in vivo and in vitro studies on high molecular weight food additives, with carrageenan, the widely used food additive, as a case study. It is important to understand the physical/chemical properties and to verify the identity/purity, molecular weight and homogeneity/stability of the additive in the vehicle for oral delivery. The strong binding of CGN to protein in rodent chow or infant formula results in no gastrointestinal tract exposure to free CGN. It is recommended that doses of high Mw non-caloric, non-nutritive additives not exceed 5% by weight of total solid diet to avoid potential nutritional effects. Addition of some high Mw additives at high concentrations to liquid nutritional supplements increases viscosity and may affect palatability, caloric intake and body weight gain. In in vitro studies, the use of well-characterized, relevant cell types and the appropriate composition of the culture media are necessary for proper conduct and interpretation. CGN is bound to media protein and not freely accessible to cells in vitro. Interpretation of new studies on food additives should consider the interaction of food additives with the vehicle components and the appropriateness of the animal or cell model and dose-response.

Concepts: Food additives, Food processing, Protein, Flavor, In vitro, Codex Alimentarius, Nutrition, Food additive


Hominin dietary specialization is crucial to understanding the evolutionary changes of craniofacial biomechanics and the interaction of food processing methods' effects on teeth. However, the diet-related dental wear processes of the earliest European hominins remain unknown because most of the academic attention has focused on Neandertals. Non-occlusal dental microwear provides direct evidence of the effect of chewed food particles on tooth enamel surfaces and reflects dietary signals over time. Here, we report for the first time the direct effect of dietary abrasiveness as evidenced by the buccal microwear patterns on the teeth of the Sima del Elefante-TE9 and Gran Dolina-TD6 Atapuerca hominins (1.2-0.8 million years ago - Myr) as compared with other Lower and Middle Pleistocene populations. A unique buccal microwear pattern that is found in Homo antecessor (0.96-0.8 Myr), a well-known cannibal species, indicates dietary practices that are consistent with the consumption of hard and brittle foods. Our findings confirm that the oldest European inhabitants ingested more mechanically-demanding diets than later populations because they were confronted with harsh, fluctuating environmental conditions. Furthermore, the influence of grit-laden food suggests that a high-quality meat diet from butchering processes could have fueled evolutionary changes in brain size.

Concepts: Tooth enamel, Pleistocene, Food processing, Food, Nutrition, Human evolution, Human, Teeth


Food processing alters food from its natural state for safety, convenience, taste or palatability. Previous research suggests that industrially processed foods, and diets high in these products, tend to be less healthful. However, most previous work is based on household, rather than individual-level, data. Little has been reported on the relationship between processed food consumption and markers of health; or on socio-demographic correlates of processed food consumption. Our objective was to describe: the nutritional content of foods classified according to degree of processing; the nutritional content of diets with different relative intakes of processed foods; the socio-demographic characteristics of individuals with different relative intakes of processed foods; and the association between intake of processed foods and body weight.

Concepts: Food preservation, Dieting, Eating, Malnutrition, Obesity, Food processing, Food, Nutrition


The decisions made by food companies are a potent factor shaping the nutritional quality of the food supply. A number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) advocate for corporate action to reduce salt levels in foods, but few data define the effectiveness of advocacy. This present report describes the process evaluation of an advocacy intervention delivered by one Australian NGO directly to food companies to reduce the salt content of processed foods. Food companies were randomly assigned to intervention (n = 22) or control (n = 23) groups. Intervention group companies were exposed to pre-planned and opportunistic communications, and control companies to background activities. Seven pre-defined interim outcome measures provided an indication of the effect of the intervention and were assessed using intention-to-treat analysis. These were supplemented by qualitative data from nine semi-structured interviews. The mean number of public communications supporting healthy food made by intervention companies was 1.5 versus 1.8 for control companies (p = 0.63). Other outcomes, including the mean number of news articles, comments and reports (1.2 vs. 1.4; p = 0.72), a published nutrition policy (23% vs. 44%; p = 0.21), public commitment to the Australian government’s Food and Health Dialogue (FHD) (41% vs. 61%; p = 0.24), evidence of a salt reduction plan (23% vs. 30%; p = 0.56), and mean number of communications with the NGO (15 vs. 11; p = 0.28) were also not significantly different. Qualitative data indicated the advocacy trial had little effect. The absence of detectable effects of the advocacy intervention on the interim markers indicates there may be no impact of the NGO advocacy trial on the primary outcome of salt reduction in processed foods.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Government of Australia, Arithmetic mean, Oxfam, Food processing, Nutrition, Food, Non-governmental organization


The global food industry is expected to increase more than US $ 7 trillion by 2014. This rise in processed food sector shows that more and more people are diverging towards modern processed foods. As modern diets are largely heat processed, they are more prone to contain high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are a group of complex and heterogeneous compounds which are known as brown and fluorescent cross-linking substances such as pentosidine, non-fluorescent cross-linking products such as methylglyoxal-lysine dimers (MOLD), or non-fluorescent, non-cross linking adducts such as carboxymethyllysine (CML) and pyrraline (a pyrrole aldehyde). The chemistry of the AGEs formation, absorption and bioavailability and their patho-biochemistry particularly in relation to different complications like diabetes and ageing discussed. The concept of AGEs receptor - RAGE is mentioned. AGEs contribute to a variety of microvascular and macrovascular complications through the formation of cross-links between molecules in the basement membrane of the extracellular matrix and by engaging the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE). Different methods of detection and quantification along with types of agents used for the treatment of AGEs are reviewed. Generally, ELISA or LC-MS methods are used for analysis of foods and body fluids, however lack of universally established method highlighted. The inhibitory effect of bioactive components on AGEs by trapping variety of chemical moieties discussed. The emerging evidence about the adverse effects of AGEs makes it necessary to investigate the different therapies to inhibit AGEs.

Concepts: Cross-link, Chemistry, Advanced glycation end product, Industry, Extracellular matrix, Food processing, Food industry, Food


Given evident multiple threats to food systems and supplies, food security, human health and welfare, the living and physical world and the biosphere, the years 2016-2025 are now designated by the UN as the Decade of Nutrition, in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For these initiatives to succeed, it is necessary to know which foods contribute to health and well-being, and which are unhealthy. The present commentary outlines the NOVA system of food classification based on the nature, extent and purpose of food processing. Evidence that NOVA effectively addresses the quality of diets and their impact on all forms of malnutrition, and also the sustainability of food systems, has now accumulated in a number of countries, as shown here. A singular feature of NOVA is its identification of ultra-processed food and drink products. These are not modified foods, but formulations mostly of cheap industrial sources of dietary energy and nutrients plus additives, using a series of processes (hence ‘ultra-processed’). All together, they are energy-dense, high in unhealthy types of fat, refined starches, free sugars and salt, and poor sources of protein, dietary fibre and micronutrients. Ultra-processed products are made to be hyper-palatable and attractive, with long shelf-life, and able to be consumed anywhere, any time. Their formulation, presentation and marketing often promote overconsumption. Studies based on NOVA show that ultra-processed products now dominate the food supplies of various high-income countries and are increasingly pervasive in lower-middle- and upper-middle-income countries. The evidence so far shows that displacement of minimally processed foods and freshly prepared dishes and meals by ultra-processed products is associated with unhealthy dietary nutrient profiles and several diet-related non-communicable diseases. Ultra-processed products are also troublesome from social, cultural, economic, political and environmental points of view. We conclude that the ever-increasing production and consumption of these products is a world crisis, to be confronted, checked and reversed as part of the work of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and its Decade of Nutrition.

Concepts: Food processing, Health, Nutrient, Sugar, Sustainable development, Sustainability, Food, Nutrition


Currently, nutraceuticals do not have a specific definition distinct from those of other food-derived categories, e.g., food supplements, herbal products, pre- and probiotics, functional foods, and fortified foods. Many studies have led to an understanding of the potential mechanisms of action of pharmaceutically active components contained in food that may improve health and reduce the risk of pathological conditions while enhancing overall well-being. Nevertheless, there is a lack of clear information, and often, the claimed health benefits may not be properly substantiated by safety and efficacy information and in vitro and in vivo data, which can induce false expectations and miss the target for a product to be effective, as claimed. An officially shared and accepted definition of nutraceuticals is still missing, as nutraceuticals are mostly referred to as pharma-foods, a powerful toolbox to be used “beyond the diet but before the drugs” to prevent and treat pathological conditions, e.g., in subjects who may not yet be eligible for conventional pharmaceutical therapy. Hence, it is of utmost importance to have a proper and unequivocal definition of nutraceuticals and shared regulations. It also seems wise to assess the safety, mechanism of action and efficacy of nutraceuticals with clinical data. A growing demand exists for nutraceuticals, which seem to reside in the grey area between pharmaceuticals and food. Nonetheless, given specific legislation from different countries, nutraceuticals are experiencing challenges with safety and health claim substantiation.

Concepts: Pharmaceutical drug, Herb, Medicine, Pharmacology, Food processing, In vivo, In vitro, Nutrition


Fungi are an integral part of the natural environment and, therefore, play many roles in relation to food: some fungi are used in food production, some are food sources themselves, and some are agents of food spoilage. Some fungi that contaminate food can also be harmful to human health. The harmful but noninfectious health consequences of mycotoxins have been well-characterized, but the extent to which fungi in food pose a risk for invasive infections is unknown. We conducted a literature review to identify cases of invasive fungal infections (IFIs) believed to have resulted from ingestion or inhalation of food, beverages, or dietary supplements (excluding Saccharomyces infections). We identified 11 publications describing cases or small outbreaks of IFIs related to foods or beverages and three describing IFIs related to dietary supplements. These food-associated IFIs were predominantly mold infections, and the few yeast infections were associated with dairy products. Suspected foodborne IFIs appear to be rare, but are increasingly described in the electronically searchable literature. They are associated with a variety of foods, are due to a variety of fungal pathogens, and primarily occur in persons with immunosuppressive conditions or other predisposing factors. Various guidelines for high-risk patients recommend avoidance of certain food products that may contain high levels of fungi, but further work is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these restrictive diets in preventing fungal infections. The relationships between food spoilage, food insecurity, and IFI risk are another area that may warrant further exploration.

Concepts: Codex Alimentarius, Immune system, Fungus, Food safety, Bacteria, Food processing, Food, Nutrition