Animal agriculture is described as essential to the global food system

Animal foods can form part of a healthy, sustainable and ethical lifestyle, despite increasing claims to the contrary, says Lincoln University Professor of Livestock, Pablo Gregorini.

His recent article, Animal source foods in healthy, sustainable and ethical diets – An argument against drastic limitation of livestock in the food system, is reported to be sparking discussion worldwide, including from members of the US National Academy of Sciences.

The paper argues that animal foods are evolutionarily appropriate and healthy for humans and points to evidence that livestock farming is integral to the overall agricultural system, contributing to biodiversity and improved plant food production while creating food security and a path out of poverty for some.

However, many in the urban West deem animal foods universally unhealthy, unsustainable and unethical, which Professor Gregorini said ignores the complexity of the food system.

“Whether any food production system is harmful or benign is extremely nuanced and depends on differing geographical and cultural factors. But mainstream – and mostly Western – narratives seem to want to simplify the global reality,” he said.

According to the paper, animal foods “offer a wide spectrum of nutrients that are needed for cell tissue development, function, health and survival”. Continue reading

3D food printing on the menu for summer scholar

A Lincoln undergraduate has had a taste of a new concept in food production after completing a 10-week summer scholarship using 3D printing technology on campus.

Sahiti Peddisetti, who is about to begin her final year of a Bachelor of Science (Food Science), was tasked with creating 3D reconstructed food products from low-value cuts of meat and additional natural ingredients, such as plant-based protein.

The pilot study involved producing new foods in a range of shapes, textures and colours via a 3D food printer, allowing her to experiment with different ways of reshaping the materials into desirable products.

Sahiti’s supervisors, Drs Hannah Lee and Damir Torrico, say the project has important implications for sustainability, as increasing available protein in foods can reduce waste and fully utilise existing animal and plant-based proteins by improving their functional and nutritional value.

The reconstructed foods that Sahiti created used tough, low-value meat cuts, with the addition of pea plant protein isolate and gelatine. Continue reading

Researchers gauge nutritional properties of protein in cricket, locust and silkworm pupae insect powders

Brace yourself to dine on bugs – or to take a powder to provide yourself with protein.

As the human population grows to a predicted 10 billion by 2050 and overall land mass remains constant, traditional animal farming may become a less viable method for food production.

Animal farming has traditionally fulfilled human nutritional requirements for protein, but insects may serve as an alternative for direct human consumption in the future.

American researchers have determined the nutritional and functional properties of protein for cricket, locust and silk worm pupae powders, laying a foundation to develop efficient protein isolation techniques.

The findings by Jacek Jaczynski, professor food science and muscle food safety at West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, Yong-Lak Park, professor of entomology, and Kristen Matak, professor of animal and nutritional sciences, are published in LWT.

“We have a patent on a protein isolation procedure,” Jaczynski said.

We use our patented technique to isolate protein and then we also learn about properties of isolated protein and how it can be potentially used in food for human consumption.” Continue reading

Massey experts speak at inaugural International Potato Symposium

Two Massey University lecturers spoke at the inaugural International Potato Symposium early this month.

The symposium, jointly organised by Massey University and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was held online on 9 December. Speakers and participants from more than 20 countries, including New Zealand, China, Peru, Canada, and the United States, shared their thoughts and findings.

The symposium was focussed on presenting new knowledge on potato chemistry, nutrition and potato processing and how the potato can play an important role in food security and food sustainability in the next 30 years. Potatoes hold a strong influence in the food and beverage industry, due to their reputation as environmentally sustainable and a healthier plant-based food.

Associate Professor Jaspreet Singh, from Massey’s School of Food and Advanced Technology, says the annual Advances in Potato Chemistry and Technology symposia are timely, as the potato processing industry is looking for new ways to create healthy processed products. Continue reading

Nutrient analysis of New Zealand-grown peanuts to provide marketing opportunities

The High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge has invested $45,460 in a project to determine what nutrient composition and health claims for peanut butter made from New Zealand grown peanuts can be made.

Pic’s Peanut Butter (Pic’s), a Nelson-based company, will collaborate with Plant & Food Research to supply samples of New Zealand peanuts for nutrient analysis from growing trials, with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

Plant & Food Research will analyse the nutritional composition of four samples of New Zealand grown peanuts, and four peanuts grown overseas in Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Nicaragua. The composition will be assessed against Food StandardsFood Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) regulations that relate to nutrition, health and related claims. Continue reading

Report provides insights into growing food under challenging dry conditions

Long-term planning for increasingly severe and frequent drought is needed now by industry bodies, regional councils and government, to reduce the strain on farmers and growers over the next decades, a new report highlights.

Commissioned by three National Science Challenges, the report Growing Kai Under Increasing Dry brings together insights from farmers, growers, industry bodies, researchers and government about how to adapt to intensifying drought conditions.

These insights were garnered in a series of online webinars and a one-day symposium in May, hosted by Deep South, Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, and Our Land and Water National Science Challenges.

A national long-term climate change adaptation strategy that supports farmer resilience is needed to reduce the economic risks of increasing drought, says Nick Cradock-Henry, a Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research senior researcher who presented at the events. Continue reading

What if the food advice we know is wrong? Swedish research finds dairy fat can be good for us

An item on RNZ’s Sunday Morning drew attention to  new Swedish research among the world ‘s biggest consumers of dairy fat and the health effects.

The RNZ item addressed a raft of beliefs about food. It said:

Saturated fat is bad for your heart. We should eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Forget salt. Eat no more than two eggs a day…

These are just a few of the myriad food rules we are encouraged to abide by each and every day. But how many of these common health advice rules are backed by science? And which of them are bunkum?

A new study out of Sweden says decades of official dairy wisdom is incorrect, suggesting dairy fats can actually protect us against heart attack and stroke. Dr Ali Hill is a Registered Nutritionist and Professional Practice Fellow in the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago. She runs the rule over some of the most well-known food myths that are out there.

Listen duration16′ :37″

The Swedish research amongst the world’s biggest consumers of dairy foods shows that those with higher intakes of dairy fat — measured by levels of fatty acids in the blood — had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those with low intakes. Higher intakes of dairy fat were not associated with an increased risk of death. Continue reading

New research highlights differences in New Zealand beef

Pasture-raised beef is a cornerstone of the New Zealand meat industry. But do we really understand the benefits we get from the meat when it is raised this way?


New research from the Riddet Institute indicates there are differences in meat quality relating to health and digestion, depending on how the animal is raised.

A research team led by Dr Lovedeep Kaur and Dr Mike Boland s from Massey University’s Manawatū campus compared the digestion differences between pasture-raised New Zealand beef to grain finished beef, and a plant-based alternative.

To mimic the human digestive tract, researchers used simulators in the laboratory to observe the differences.

They found differences in the fat content of the beef, potentially leading to better health outcomes. Continue reading

New partnership to beef up NZ’s food safety capabilities

Food safety researcher Associate Professor Stephen On will bring  his considerable expertise to an exciting new partnership between the New Zealand Food Safety and Science Research Centre and Lincoln University.

The centre, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, was established in 2016 following the Botulism scare and aims to co-ordinate research to protect public health and enhance the country’s reputation as a safe food producer.

Dr On, who heads the university’s Wine, Food and Molecular Biosciences department, has been appointed to the organisation’s Science Leadership Team, which he says will evaluate needs and priorities for New Zealand food safety.

“A key role of the NZFSSRC is to investigate food safety issues of interest to the industry. Projects range from future-focused, cross-sector risk assessments to evaluating new decontamination methods and everything in between.

“I look forward to working with my NZFSSRC colleagues in this new partnership, and indeed with other Lincoln University scientists, who have much to offer.”

Dr On’s research has encompassed diagnostics, molecular epidemiology, comparative genomics, virulence studies and emerging pathogens.

His current research includes using laser light scatter patterns to identify pathogens, identifying Arcobacter and genomics of foodborne Vibrio and Yersinia species.

He previously spent 10 years at ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research), latterly as Chief Scientist for Food and Water. He has also worked as a researcher in leading organisations in Denmark and the UK. His research has also been recognised with awards from the UK Society of Applied Microbiology and the NZ Microbiological Society.

Dr On says the partnership is an exciting development in New Zealand’s food safety journey and he describes the centre as an important consolidation of expertise.

Source:  Lincoln  University

Scientists aiming to enhance the `human-ness’ of infant formula

AgResearch scientists say they believe they have identified a new way to make infant formula more like breast milk and better for babies, using ingredients that could enhance brain development and overall health.

They say research into this next-generation infant formula could create new opportunities for New Zealand’s primary industries in a global market worth tens of billions of dollars annually.

With funding over three years recently announced from the government’s 2021 Endeavour Fund, AgResearch scientists Simon Loveday and Caroline Thum, along with collaborators from Massey and Monash Universities, aim to enhance the “human-ness” of infant formula produced from New Zealand ingredients.

“We’ve recently discovered a new natural source of nutritional oil that is surprisingly similar to the fat in breast milk,” Dr Thum says.

“We will be combining this new nutritional oil with dairy phospholipids (a special kind of fat) in response to recent evidence that this component of milk enhances babies’ brain development. Fortunately, phospholipids are abundant in buttermilk, which is a by-product of butter production.”

“We’ll then test our next-generation formula ingredient in the laboratory using equipment that simulates the conditions inside a baby’s digestive system. This will tell us how well the new combination is digested, compared to conventional infant formula. We aim to show improved fat and calcium absorption, in addition to the positive effect of the phospholipids for brain development.” 

With the global markets for infant formula and baby foods expected to continue their strong growth, new products that provide a health advantage are in high demand.

Dr Loveday says the new funding will allow the researchers to explore a new high-value opportunity for New Zealand’s primary sector and contribute to New Zealand’s global reputation as a source of naturally healthy foods.

Source:  AgResearch