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Global food security and nutrition

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently released report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” shows that hunger is again on the rise. The report shows that the prevalence of undernourishment has stabilised, but the absolute number of undernourished people continues to rise.

The report notes that whilst world population has grown steadily, many countries have not witnessed sustained growth. The economy of many countries has not grown as much as expected and factors including conflict and climate change have led to major changes in the way food is produced, distributed and consumed, creating new food security and nutrition challenges.

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Fresh Produce Food Safety

The Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia & New Zealand (FPSC A-NZ) has released an updated version of the Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety. Launched at a recent industry conference and trade show, the guidelines are designed to assist all entities involved in the fresh produce supply chain to identify and assess potential food safety hazards.

The Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety 2019 will ensure Australian produce has the highest safety standards of any produce anywhere in the world. These guidelines set out the procedures and steps to prevent or respond to contamination, and covers a comprehensive list of practices and potential hazards to assist growers, packers, transporters, wholesalers and retailers along the supply chain

The needles in strawberries scare of 2018 was an example of an incident that caused damage to the strawberry industry, resulting in supermarkets pulling strawberries off shelves and tonnes of fruit being thrown away at the peak of the growing season. Investigations by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) identified potential weaknesses in the supply chain, resulting in several recommendations to government and industry outlined in the strawberry tampering incident report.

With so many links in the supply chain, it can be difficult to identify where a particular hazard originated, hence the need for a comprehensive set of guidelines applicable to the entire produce supply chain.

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PepsiCo stops using aspartame

PepsiCo North America Beverages has decided to stop using aspartame as a sweetener in its drinks because consumers think it’s dangerous. The US Food and Drug Administration describe aspartame as “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved,” and it has been passed as safe for human consumption by more than 90 countries around the world including Australia. Aspartame was discovered in 1965 andhas been approved for use since 1981 Despite controversy, repeated studies has always found it to be safe for use as a sweetener. Aspartame, also known as E951, is about 200 times sweeter than sugar but contains very few calories.
PepsiCo says it will replace aspartame with another sweetener – sucralose – mixed with acesulfame potassium. PepsiCo insists that the switch to sucralose will not impact the taste of these drinks, but we should expect a “slightly different mouthfeel.”Aspartame-free cans of the drink will go on sale from August in America, but not in Australia.
For people who want to avoid aspartame, the easiest way to do this is to check the labels before buying or eating foods or drinks. If aspartame is in the product it will be listed in the ingredients. The product label will also contain the warning “Phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine.”