US: More than 500 potato growers and retailers unite on sustainability initiative

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today their mutual membership and partnership with the Potato Sustainability Initiative (PSI) to align metrics in measuring sustainability issues in the potato supply chain. TSC and PSI will work together to align sustainability metrics for over 500 potato growers and key retail partners. This partnership will also help streamline reporting by potato growers to retailers by working together to align metrics between PSI and TSC. PSI will join several agriculture initiatives currently TSC has in place to align metrics from farms to manufacturers to retailers. Dr. Christy Melhart Slay, director of research at TSC said, “TSC is very pleased to announce our partnership with PSI. Potato growers have been some of the first to create and adopt sustainability metrics. We look forward to learning from this progressive initiative.”  Continue reading

British scientists and supermarkets working together to tackle potato greening problems

UK supermarkets and scientists are working together to find ways of reducing potato greening which costs the industry and retailers almost £100 million every year. Researchers at the James Hutton Institute have identified a genetic element to the problem which can mean a seven or eight fold variation in the amount of post-harvest greening. Tuber greening is directly linked to 116,000 tonnes of household potato waste and is estimated to cost UK retailers £60 million per annum.  Continue reading

Potato bound polyphenols: A novel delivery method for gut health?

© iStock/ Frans RomboutThe ability of polyphenols to bind with different types of potato cells may provide a new means of delivering them to the gut, say researchers. When potato cells were treated with solutions of phenolic compounds, binding occurred between them, revealed researchers from Queensland University and the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology, Valencia. A vast increase in the binding interaction between the polysaccharides in the potatoes and three different polyphenols was seen when using cooked potato cells. However, significant binding also occurred in raw cells. The findings, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, could enable a novel method of delivering a combination of polyphenols and dietary fibre to the large intestine. Both types of compounds have been shown to exert beneficial effects on the human microbiota. “The obtained results suggest, for the first time, the potential of potato cells as encapsulation vehicles for phenolic compounds,” concluded the team. Full article on Nutraingredients.com

Acrylamide: Save our fries! Belgians say EU spares national dish

Image result for Save our fries! Belgians say EU spares national dishAccording to a Reuters report, Belgium’s national dish, the deep fried potato sticks that much of the English-speaking world gallingly calls “French fries“, has been saved. So, at least, the national government said last week as the European Union agreed to amend food safety rules aimed at curbing cancer. Belgium’s farm minister claimed the EU will now spare the nation’s “friteries” from having to change traditional preparation methods. “The Belgian fry is saved! Europe has listened to Belgium,” Agriculture Minister Willy Borsus said in a statement. In a statement issued in Brussels, the European Commission said EU governments had agreed to its proposals to force cafes and restaurants to apply measures aimed at reducing the presence of carcinogenic acrylamide in food. Frying, baking and roasting produce the substance out of natural acids and sugars. Some argue that Belgium’s traditional method of frying potatoes twice to get crunchy chips creates more acrylamide. Reuters report

Canadian officials approve Simplot’s second generation GMO potatoes

Genetically Engineered Potatoes CanadaAssociated Press reports that three types of potatoes genetically engineered by J.R. Simplot to resist late blight are deemed safe for the environment and safe to eat, according to Canadian officials – who confirmed the approval of these potatoes on Thursday. The official approval by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency means the Simplot potatoes can be imported, planted and sold in Canada. The company said it received approval letters from Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in the last several days. Health Canada spokeswoman Renelle Briand confirmed the approvals to The Associated Press on Thursday. “We have no objection to the sale of food derived from J.R. Simplot Company’s” potatoes for human consumption, Karen McIntyre, director general of Health Canada, said in a letter sent on July 28 to the company. Canadian officials in two other letters sent on Monday approved the environmental release of planting the potatoes and using the potatoes for livestock feed. The three varieties of potato — the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic — were approved by U.S. regulatory agencies in February. The company said the potatoes contain only potato genes and that the resistance to late blight comes from an Argentine variety of potato that naturally produced a defense.

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L’UE règlemente la cuisson des frites

Les représentants des 28 États membres ont voté le 19 juillet en faveur d’une proposition de la Commission européenne pour réduire la présence dans les aliments de l’acrylamide, une substance cancérigène bien connue, présente dans les frites, les chips, le pain, les biscuits ou le café. Une fois appliquée, la nouvelle réglementation exigera des producteurs alimentaires, des chaines de fast-food et des restaurants qu’ils prennent des mesures pour s’assurer que les niveaux d’acrylamide dans leurs produits restent en-dessous des valeurs de référence. Ces mesures resteront « proportionnées à la taille et à la nature de leur établissement », a déclaré la Commission européenne dans un communiqué. Rapport

Europa raadt aan om frietjes te blancheren voor ze gebakken worden

Moeten frietjes nu voortaan best eerst geblancheerd worden of niet? Als het van de Europese Commissie afhangt, wel. De meerderheid van de lidstaten heeft voor de aanbeveling over acrylamide gestemd, de kankerverwekkende stof die in sommige aardappelen zit. De gevreesde verplichting komt er niet, tot grote opluchting van de Belgische frituristen. Er heerste ongerustheid bij de Belgische frituristen, omdat er gevreesd werd dat de Europese Commissie zou verplichten om frietjes te blancheren voor ze gebakken worden. De Belgen waren niet tuk op het idee dat hun frietcultuur aangetast zou kunnen worden. Die verplichting komt er gelukkig niet, het blijft bij een aanbeveling. Met die aanbeveling wil Europa acrylamide in ons voedsel terugdringen. Frieten zouden beter eerst geblancheerd worden voor ze in vet of olie gebakken worden. De meeste lidstaten hebben de ontwerptekst vandaag goedgekeurd. Meer

This is the little-known ingredient which makes McDonald’s fries so delicious

 The fries contain an unusual ingredient which gives them an extra kick of flavourThere’s been some recent confusion over what it is which makes McDonald’s fries so special. It turns out that some branches of McDonald’s are serving up fries with a little-known ingredient added to the mix: “natural beef flavouring”. The beefy addition gives the fries an extra kick of flavour, but it means that they aren’t vegan, since the flavouring is actually made from milk. However, you won’t find this extra ingredient in every branch – and you certainly won’t find it in any UK stores. That’s because Maccies uses different recipes in different countries, with the extra flavouring added in US and Canadian McDonald’s stores. In British branches, the fries are milk free, and don’t contain the beef flavouring which has surprised some American customers. More

Blogger reveals inconsistencies in study on fried potatoes and mortality

Image result for fried potatoesOn July 5th, author and food blogger, Marion Nestle, posted a blog report that pointed out inconsistencies in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on the potentially negative health effects of eating fried potatoes.  Some news outlets ran with inflammatory headlines on the study without digging into the details of how it was conducted and what the results showed. Nestle pointed out that the epidemiological study (based on recollections of food intake on questionnaires) indicated that the arthritis suffers who were studied showed higher than normal mortality rates based on their consumption of fried potatoes.  When looking at consumption of fried potatoes, Nestle points out that “the results are not cleanly dose-related; mortality rates were higher among people reporting friend potatoes twice a week than those reporting more.” The obvious flaws in the study made her appropriately skeptical of the headlines it ultimately generated. In closing, she stated “This is a lot to blame on one food…put French fries in your once-in-a-while category.  I’m saving my allotment for the Belgian ones.” (Source: National Potato Council Insider Report. Ms Nestle’s blog report)

Embattled Western Australian potato growers face new bio-security threat after Dickeya found

A brown tub of potatoes covered in dirt, with the gloved hand of a worker resting on the tub.An aggressive bacteria that attacks potatoes has been found in Australia for the first time. Dickeya dianthicola can cause significant production losses in crops by causing diseases such as soft-rot or blackleg. The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA confirmed the bacteria’s presence in a seed potato crop north of Perth, which is now under quarantine. Another property in the south-west of the state is also suspected to have the bacteria. It is the second biosecurity blow for the WA potato industry in a matter of months, with the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) pest causing significant trade implications for the state. The detection of the new bacteria has not resulted in any further trade implications, with restrictions already in place for the movement of potatoes out of Western Australia and into other states and territories. News of the new biosecurity threat comes as Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced a $1.5 million recovery fund to explore market opportunities for growers affected by TPP trade restrictions. More

Book report: Why are crisps SO addictive?

Have you ever wondered why you couldn't stop at just one crisp? Femail can reveal the lengths cunning companies go to to achieve that moreish effect, from shape to satisfying crunchBritain is a nation of crisp (chip) fanatics, consuming about six billion packets a year. That’s one ton of crisps every three minutes, or nearly 100 packets per person — more, it is thought, than anywhere else in Europe. In his latest book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us, best-selling author Michael Moss reveals why crisps (chips) are irresistible. Salt provides an arresting sensation on first contact with the tongue, called ‘the flavour burst’ by the food industry. Fat from the oil in which crisps are fried gives ‘mouthfeel’ — experienced through the trigeminal nerve, which sends pleasure sensations to the brain. Sugar, meanwhile, isn’t only present in the potato starch but is often added by manufacturers to make crisps all the more enticing. Our desire for foods containing fat, salt and sugar is thought to have come from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who craved high-energy foods. Worryingly, some experts have found similarities in the brains of crisp-lovers and drug addicts. More

Europe: Potato industry associations react to regulation on acrylamide levels

Measures to reduce acrylamide levels in food took a step forward as new draft proposals outline “benchmark” mandatory levels for the industry. The draft project, published on the European Commission (EC) website, asks for producers to apply mitigation measures to reduce the levels of the chemical in products such as French fries, other cut (deep fried) products and sliced potato crisps from fresh potatoes; potato crisps, snacks, crackers and other potato products from potato dough; and other baked goods and coffee. The Finnish Food and Drink Industries’ Federation (ETL) explains that for potato chips, the climate and growing season has an adverse effect on those features affecting the overall acrylamide content in potato chips. Cold storage season (winter) and short growing season tend to lead to high levels of reducing sugars in potato tubers leading to high levels of acrylamide in potato products. The Finnish Frozen Food and Potato Association have written that the suggested benchmark level 750 µg/kg for potato crisps is too low and cause major problems both for local Finnish potato primary production and food processing. Full story by Ioana Oancea

The new low carb potato taking New Zealand by storm

A New Zealand low-carbohydrate potato has been on the market for just three weeks, but is already proving to be a major success. T & G Global say they discovered the new variety, which has been labelled the Lotato™, by chance. “It was bred in Holland by cross pollinating two existing varieties of potatoes,” Executive General Manager Andrew Keaney said. “They were cross pollinated because they were high yielding, they had really good appearance and really good flavour. As a natural occurrence, quite by chance, it was found they were 40 per cent lower in carbs. When we compare the Lotato™, we compare with two commonly known varieties which is the Agria and the Rua potato. They weren’t specifically bred to be low carb, it was just by chance.” More

Taiwan: Gov’t to control future GMO potato imports

Agriculture authorities say they’re prepared to implement controls to prevent the possible import of U.S. genetically modified (GMO) potatoes from affecting domestic growers. The U.S. recently applied with the Health and Welfare Ministry to import GMO potatoes, with the approval process expected to be completed next year at the earliest. However, concerns are being raised about the potential health impacts of GMO food products and the adverse effects of these imports on domestic potato farmers. The Council of Agriculture said Monday it would monitor future imports and call for proper labeling of foreign GMO potatoes. If approved for import, the GMO potatoes would be used in potato chips, French fries and other processed food products. The government currently allows five types of GMO products to be imported, namely soybeans, corn, cotton, rapeseed and sugar beets. More

Canada: New potato-derived health product hits store shelves

A potato farming business in the Manitoba province of Canada that successfully launched a natural health product for the hog sector, has now released a second-generation product aimed at the human market. It’s a product clinical trials show can significantly improve the digestive health of humans, particularly seniors. Earl and Derek McLaren, the Carberry-based brothers who own the company, recently saw their new potato-derived digestion-resistant starch supplement hit the shelves in Manitoba at Vita Health Fresh Market outlets. Results from clinical trials show MSPrebiotic significantly reduces bad bacteria and increases good gut bacteria in human subjects, improving digestion and overall gut health in two age groups studied, including participants 70 years old and older and another ages 30 to 50. More