Why FoodWrite Ltd ?


Welcome From FoodWrite !

FoodWrite Ltd. loves helping businesses achieve their market potential, make the best business decisions and improve their profits !

FoodWrite Ltd. provides consultancy on technologies and markets for the food and beverages industry, and in related industries such as personal care, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, resources, biochemical engineering and nutritional healthcare.  Food and nutrition ingredients, dietary and health supplements, and animal products are all core areas of expertise.

♦ FoodWrite Ltd writes web-content and has increased web-site rankings simply by providing high quality written material to support sales and marketing. It also offers SEO, website development in WordPress, PHP and Magento.

♦ FoodWrite Ltd brings together all the skills needed for creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation and quality of advice in helping businesses develop their strategies for growth.

It covers:-

– technical and business writing, and both scientific and commercial bid  proposals,

– patent writing, applications, support and appeal documents and interpretation,

– product marketing,

– consumer consultancy,

– costings and cost effectiveness on projects

– product concepts and development

– provides high quality technology analysis, updates, action plans and reports based on data and scientific literature.  

♦ It also offers technology scouting, identifying partners for collaboration, business and market development, and a B2B strategy for emerging technologies in food science and processing.

♦ It  provides product documentation and specification services coupled with technical market research to the food industry. White papers and marketing materials to support web-sites are a speciality and a number of clients use this service including the copyright more than any.

FoodWrite Ltd. helps a range of companies, from multinational manufacturers and suppliers, venture capital firms to research organisations and to smaller companies.  The consultancy draws upon great technical skills and knowledge coupled with management insight to provide a comprehensive service.

♦ We help customers realise their potential by providing support, expertise, support and advice to encourage best practice and continuous improvement. 

FoodWrite Ltd. started in 2011. Communication with the client is the heart of the service, ensuring we work closely to deliver all your milestones on time. You may be starting a food business or trying to understand the market place for a technology, please be confident that your project is managed professionally. Project proposals are generated ensuring all steps, their costs and timings are clear and transparent. The advice is high quality and tailored to your needs with progress updates provided as required. The knowledge has helped clients develop their intellectual property (IP), or otherwise supported their investment decisions in new markets or technology. 

♦ Checkout the case studies on this web-site.

♦ Give us a call or e-mail and use FoodWrite Ltd‘s experiences to open up new markets, meet the challenges you face and add value to your business.  Telephone consultancy is also available.  Our passion is to provide answers that can be actionable and to work closely with you

Lets transform your business at an affordable cost. If you are interested in other topics to be written about- just let me know !

Contact: 4, Bowens Hill, Coleford. Glocs. GL16 8DH  T: 01594 810704 M: 07714101039

Clients we work with include the European Commission, General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS), Riskaware, ThermoFisher Scientific, Sumitomo and Unilever.


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Sea Buckthorn And Its Potential As A Treatment For A Range Of Medical Conditions

The Sea Buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides L.) (Family: Elaeagnaceae) is a widely distributed plant throughout Europe and Asia. It is now widely cultivated in Russia, China, India as well as Europe.  It is a branched and thorny deciduous shrub noted for its nitrogen-fixing abilities. The shrub is grown as a garden plant in coastal areas. Sea Buckthorn has been extensively used in traditional medicines for millennia.

The seed oil is perhaps the most important component of the plant. It has been shown to have a number of clinically beneficial properties in animals and cell studies although there are no clear claims to be made for it where humans are concerned, however the research into the berry and its seeds continues unabated. There are some good quality clinical studies with humans but replication is needed to fully assure medical researchers of its efficacy.

The seed oil  has the following associated clinical benefits:-

–          Reduction of atherogenesis by reducing lipid and plaque deposition in the arteries (Basu et al., 2007) in animal studies.

–          A decrease in oxidative stress (Suleyman et al., 2002) in animal studies.

–          An indication that coronary heart disease (CHD) is reduced (Eccleston et al., 2002) in a human study.

–          The prevention of platelet aggregation (Johansson et al., 2000).

–          Lowering the plasma high sensitivity c-reactive protein level (Larmo et al., 2007).

–          Improvement in burn and wound healing in a rat model  (Upadhyay et al., 2009).

A wide ranging review on the medicinal properties should be consulted by Suryakumar and Gupta (2011) and by Stobdan et al., (2013).

The berries of the sea buckthorn are especially rich in various bioactive substances with high nutritional and medical value. They offer a wealth of antioxidant and signal-modulating activities.

The seed oil is rich in bioactive substances like carotenoids, tocopherols, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and phytosterols (Basu et al., 2007).

The antioxidant activity of various fractions in different assays declines as the fruit matures and ripens (Gao et al., 2000). This correlates with the decline in the phenolic and ascorbate (ascorbic acid) contents. Sources regarding antioxidant activity include the following papers by Kallio et al., (2002; 2009), Määttä-Riihinen et al., (2004) and Yang et al.,( 2009). Extensive reviews are also available from Guliyev et al., (2004).

The methanol extracts of the seed oil are shown to have antimicrobial activity against a variety of food spoilage and pathogenic bacteria including Bacillus cereus, Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus subtilis, Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica. (Negi et al., 2005).


Basu, M., Prasad, R., Jatamurthy, P., Pal, K., Arumughan, C., Sawhney, R. (2007). Anti-atherogenic effects of seabuckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides) seed oil. Phytomed . 14, pp. 770–777

Eccleston, C., Yang, B., Tahvonen, R., Kallio, H., Rimbach, G., Minihane, A. (2002). Effects of an antioxidant rich juice (sea buckthorn) on risk factors for coronary heart disease in humans. J Nutr. Biochem. 13, pp. 346–354

Gao, X., Ohlander, M., Jeppsson, N., Björk, L., & Trajkovski, V. (2000). Changes in antioxidant effects and their relationship to phytonutrients in fruits of sea buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides  L.) during maturation. J. Agric. Food Chem, 48(5),  pp. 1485-1490

Guliyev, V. B., Gul, M., & Yildirim, A. (2004). Hippophae rhamnoides L.: chromatographic methods to determine chemical composition, use in traditional medicine and pharmacological effects. Journal of Chromatography B, 812(1), pp. 291-307.

Larmo, P., Alin, J., Salminen, E., Kallio, H., Tahvonen, R. (2007). Effects of sea buckthorn berries on infections and inflammation: a doubleblind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 62, pp. 1123–1130

Johansson, A., Korte, H., Yang, B., Stanley, J., Kallio, H. (2000). Sea buckthorn berry oil inhibits platelet aggregation. J. Nutr. Biochem. 11, pp.  491–495

Kallio, H., Lassila, M., Järvenpää, E., Haraldsson, G., Jonsdottir, S., Yang, B. (2009). Inositols and methylinositols in sea buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides) berries. J. Chrom. B 877, pp. 1426–1432

Kallio, H., Yang, B., Peippo, P., Tahvonen, R., Pan, R. (2002). Triacylglycerols, glycerophospholipids, tocopherols, and tocotrienols in berries and seeds of two subspecies (ssp sinensis and mongolica) of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). J. Agric. Food Chem. 50, pp. 3004–3009

Määttä-Riihinen, K.R., Kamal-Eldin, A., Mattila, P.H., González-Paramás, A.M., Törrönen, A.R. (2004). Distribution and contents of phenolic compounds in eighteen Scandinavian berry species. J. Agric. Food Chem. 52, pp. 4477–4486

Negi, P. S., Chauhan, A. S., Sadia, G. A., Rohinishree, Y. S., & Ramteke, R. S. (2005). Antioxidant and antibacterial activities of various seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) seed extracts. Food Chem., 92(1), pp. 119-124

Stobdan, T., Korekar, G., & B Srivastava, R. (2013). Nutritional Attributes and Health Application of Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.)-A Review. Current Nutrition & Food Science, 9(2), pp. 151-165

Suleyman, H., Gumustekin, K., Taysi, S., Keles, S., Oztasan, N., Aktas, O. et al. (2002). Beneficial effects of Hippophaë rhamnoides L. on nicotine induced oxidative stress in rat blood compared with vitamin E. Biol. Pharmac. Bull. 25, pp. 1133–1136

Suryakumar, G., & Gupta, A. (2011). Medicinal and therapeutic potential of Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.). J. Ethnopharmacology, 138(2), pp. 268-278.

Upadhyay, N. K., Kumar, R., Mandotra, S. K., Meena, R. N., Siddiqui, M. S., Sawhney, R. C., & Gupta, A. (2009). Safety and healing efficacy of Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) seed oil on burn wounds in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 47(6),  pp. 1146-1153.

Yang, B., Halttunen, T., Raimo, O., Price, K., Kallio, H. (2009). Flavonol glycosides in wild and cultivated berries of three major subspecies of Hippophaë rhamnoides and changes during harvesting period. Food Chem. 115, pp. 657–664

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Vitamin B3 Might Be A Possible Treatment For Glaucoma

♦ A new study with mice genetically predisposed to glaucoma did not develop this condition when provided with drinking water containing vitamin B3 (nicotinamde).

Glaucoma is a neurodegenerative disease, the second leading cause of irreversible blindness throughout the world.  It affects 80 million people worldwide including 3 million US citizens at least and is that particular country’s leading cause of blindness too.

Treatment requires eye drops, medication, or surgery but there may be natural alternative using supplementation with vitamin B3.

Glaucoma is extremely common and highly debilitating as the subject slowly loses sight. High pressure inside the eye (or intraocular pressure) causes progressive dysfunction with damage and loss of the retinal ganglion cells. Retinal ganglion cells are the neuronal cells connecting the eye to the brain via the optic nerve.

Increasing age is a key risk factor for glaucoma, contributing to both harmful elevation of intraocular pressure and increased neuronal vulnerability brought on by pressure-induced damage.

The treatment of mice prone to glaucoma, with vitamin B3 in their drinking water appears to have reduced the incidence. It’s hoped that the same treatment will work for humans. It would avoid unnecessary interventions if a simpler, cheaper alternative was available.

A research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Simon W.M. John was assessing  the general age-related factors affecting blindness.  The study claims that about 15 percent of individuals with glaucoma become blind in at least one eye within 20 years of the first symptoms appearing, even with treatment. Sight cannot be recovered once the eyesight has been lost. It is however possible to slow the rate down.

The symptoms of glaucoma are:-

  • patchy spots in your vision,
  • severe headaches,
  • eye pain,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • blurred vision,
  • eye redness,
  • halos around light,
  • and in late stages tunnel vision.

In order to catch glaucoma in its earliest stages, the  American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends glaucoma screenings every four years after age 40 and every two years after age 60.

The new finding proposes a way to keep the cells in the eyes from becoming worn down, and in turn becoming predisposed to developing glaucoma.  It is thought that vitamin B3 might help improve the “metabolic reliability of aging eye cells”. In other words, it protected the retinal ganglion cells by making them more resistant to increasing intraocular pressure.  One key finding is that NAD, which is an important cofactor in many enzyme based metabolic reactions declines with age. Vitamin B3 is a precursor for NAD and so replenishment helps in this particular instance. There may also be knock on benefits elsewhere with replenishment.

The team is now looking to enter clinical trials to test the effectiveness of vitamin B treatment in glaucoma patients, hoping to repeat the results they found in mice. The research team suggested that a single gene-therapy injection to the eye could bring about the same results. The issue for the elderly is that they tend to forget to take such supplements regularly.

Williams, P.A., Harder, J.M., Foxworth, N.E., et al. (2017) Vitamin B3 modulates mitochondrial vulnerability and prevents glaucoma in aged mice. Science. sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aal0092

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The Trek Range Boldly Moves On

Apologies to Star Trek fans if there is a faint whiff of the cliché here with James T. Kirk’s oft repeated phrase at the beginning of the old 60s TV programme. For Trek, the UK firm, there are increasingly exciting times ahead as their products continue to hit the market shelves. They now offer a wide range of bars to suit all tastes but they smack of ‘health’ throughout.

The Flapjack range certainly has appealing characteristics. They have a crumbliness but retain their softness without being difficult to munch on. The Original Oat Protein Flapjack® has probably the most oaty taste possible and then we see a host of variants which helps develop the range further. There is Cocoa Oat, Cocoa Coconut, Morning Berry, Banana Bread and Oat And Raisin. All ideal flavour combinations to appeal to a wide variety of tastes but fit with those trending and traditional flavours.

All the products are gluten, wheat and dairy free which fits the ‘free from’ category and actually suitable for vegans. What is also prominent is around 10g protein content per serving which comes from soya. There is some fibre naturally from oats of 1.9g per serving but not enough to make the fibre claim although roughly 30% extra fibre would help. Incidentally, bar serving size is 50g.

 I like the idea that they suggest the flapjack is ideal for:-

  • With a cuppa.
  • On the go.
  • Pre & Post Exercise.

All six bars can be obtained via the Amazon web-site.

Individual Bars:-

Boxes of 16 bars are also available:-

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Energy Balls Bounce Higher

After Christmas there seems to be open season waged by nutritionists on high protein supplementation. Yes – the body, especially the gut and liver simply take what they need and normally excrete the rest and no, I’m not going to develop pecs and biceps by eating masses of protein.    I think that boat sailed years ago !

Protein is important for nutrition which may seem understated and there are many guises into which it can be formatted. Protein powder is bland and even the packaging, usually a resealable pouch or tub lacks charisma. What is needed is to blend protein with other goodies to make it an even more attractive proposition than it currently is.

For the product developer, high protein products offer fantastic potential to take a humble amino acid polymer and turn it into a foodstuff which might, just might, be a work of art.  What has been an inspiring innovation is to move away from the ‘bar’ and change shape to something equally pleasing such as the ball. It makes sense even if there have been technical challenges to overcome.

One business which makes balls of energy an artform is Bounce™ who have been providing us with spherical dough-sized packets of protein with other interesting, healthy ingredients.  I have heard it said to be slightly larger than a squash ball but whatever, the size is just about right for a single serve. Any smaller and you would feel hard done by, any bigger, and it becomes a chore to eat, let alone digest.

Bounce have an excellent range of energy balls – nine in all at the last count. Take the 42g serving,  Apple And Cinnamon Protein Punch™ which is a chewy mix of cashews (29%w/w) with small amounts of other nuts, whey protein (8%w/w as the isolate) and seeds  (sunflower and sesame).  The other members of the team have similar nutritional credentials. We have the new Coconut Lemon Protein Crush™ (40g serve size) which complements the Coconut and Macadamia Protein Bliss™ (40g serve size).  Then there is Almond Protein Hit™, Cacao Mint Protein Bomb, Cashew and Pecan Vitality Lift, Cacao Orange Protein Burst, Peanut Protein Blast™, and Spirulina And Ginseng Nutrition Boost™.

The whole range claims to be high in antioxidants and vitamins- the vitamin E content is around 32mg/100g which is just over 100%RDA per serving. Either Blue Agave syrup or Brown Rice syrup is used which means the GI (glycaemic index) status is lower than equivalent products made with carbohydrate syrups but still delivers the necessary sweetness to deliver the sensory appeal. They are also gluten free and have a substantial fibre content which derives from apple or rice bran depending on the variant chosen.

All those flavour variants are attractive. It’s difficult to know which ones to go for first. If you cant make up your mind, then it’s possible to buy the whole mix. Each individual variety is available in a roll can, similar to those for tennis balls.

If you want to purchase any of these Bounce Balls®, please click on the links below with our affiliate supporter, Amazon.

Packs Of 20 Balls

200g Packs Of Five Balls

The Mixed Bag

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Sriracha – Opportunities For Product Developers

Hot sauces have been a product developer’s ‘get out of jail’ card for many years now. They cover a multitude of sins simply because of their power to transform bland food into an exotic, exciting feast. Applying your Ras Al-Hanout, Harissa, Thai Sweet Chilli etc. is part of the armoury available and Sriracha sauce now belongs to that regiment to be deployed in the field of flavour.

Shrimp sriracha kebabs with lime and cilantro leaves. Copyright: shersor / 123RF Stock Photo

Sriracha sauce has an interesting back story.  It began life in Thailand, home of hot chilli sauces but was transformed into a powerful sauce beast in the USA. It is composed of   chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. The peppers need to be as hot as possible, Scotch Bonnet should do. The general flavour profile is that of heat with sweetness, sourness and salt. Actually, they’ve covered all the main sensory sensations and include umami in that too.

The name incidentally comes from the coastal city of Si Racha, in the Chonburi Province of Eastern Thailand. It may have been first produced for dishes served at local seafood restaurants although that is disputed because of the Vietnamese and Burmese/Myanmar connections. It suggests an earlier heritage and many legends surround its invention. Whatever the case, it is ideal served with seafood anyway, fried and boiled noodles, phở broths, dressings for spare ribs, vegetable pancakes and spring rolls (chả giò). It’s also a super dipping sauce along with soy and minced onion.

In the USA, the principal brand is ‘rooster sauce’ because of the fat rooster proudly displayed on the bottle label. Flying Goose is another well known brand which uses lemongrass to impart an acidic, lemon like note.

The appeal of the sauce is its incorporation into so many other products. The condiments giant Heinz who rarely miss any trick have produced their trademark tomato ketchup with sriracha flavour which has the distinctive heat, spiciness and garlic notes. It is not overpowering as to disguise the tomato acidity however.


Mayonnaise is a great vehicle for the chilli sauce. Lee Kum Kee produce Sriracha Mayo™ which they describe as an exotic hot mayonnaise (hopefully not an oxymoron) which combines a smooth creamy taste with heat.

The Sriracha Mayo produced by Lee Kum Kee. 445ml, flat top bottle. Photo courtesy of Lee Kum Kee.

 It is ideal for potato chips, nugget dips, sandwich fillings and as a burger sauce. The sauce meets vegetarian needs and those with gluten intolerance, with no added colours or flavour enhancers.

In fact, the business has made a great deal of the sauce although the States rather than Europe appears to be the focus.  For example, they offer Sriracha Stir-Fry Sauce ($3.99, 18-ounces) in the USA, a gluten-free blend of honey, garlic, and spicy chili peppers, which enhances and amplifies stir-fry dishes. Additionally, they have Sriracha Barbecue Sauce (18-ounces), a spicy twist on the classic barbecue sauce.  It combines paprika, mustard seeds and chili peppers to create a balance of smoky, sweet and spicy. They also offer a ketchup and a chili sauce.

A classic example is the spreading of the Sriracha Mayo on a classic beefburger with chips or fries as depicted in the example below.

Sriracha Mayo spread on the classic beefburger. Photo courtesy of Lee Kum Kee.

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Oysters Are Not Just For Valentine’s Day

The humble oyster used to be regarded as peasant food in the Middle Ages. A tasty treat to be collected from the estuaries of France and the UK.  It was certainly not the lover’s food we think of for St. Valentine’s day. In fact there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that oysters were even aphrodisiacs.   It is however the classic starter to a large meal especially in France. It’s also the ultimate food luxury along with truffles and caviar. 

Oysters. Copyright: maxsheb / 123RF Stock Photo

The myth that oysters had special powers comes from the Romans who believed it was the equivalent of the more modern concept of Dutch courage. Enhancing sexual desire was more than just a trope for 18th Century lovers. Casanova who ended up in the Doge’s Venetian prisons swore by its properties having eaten 50 of them for breakfast and                                                                                given his predilections.

To many there are but a few places that we would regard as the best for tasting fresh oysters. There are five true oyster species to think of and each has its own peculiarities in taste and flavour. The main species for most in the States is the Atlantic Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) whose distribution extends from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to as far as the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies. For many who went to New York, oysters had to come from Chesapeake Bay and it still provides a large bulk of produce even if supply has dropped off in recent years.  If you cross over to the Pacific side, then consider the species originally from Japan. This is the aptly named Pacific Oyster (Crassotrea gigas) which now lives all along the Pacific coast line of the States.

Strangely, there isn’t a lot of sensory research on oyster flavour. It is however known by officionados that the flavour of raw Pacific Oysters have a distinctive cucumber and melon like note to them. The Atlantic Oyster is more seaweed like. If you delve into the chemistry there are few references to help us and it was reasoned that same principles that applied to the flavour of fish has to apply to this notorious bivalve.

In the first instance, the flavour quality of an oyster depends on a few key features.  They don’t move ! They obtain all their food by filtering sea water through their gills and so they can accumulate whatever they like including toxins, metals, etc. The environment has an immediate impact on their quality and frankly how safe they are to eat.  I’m not going to discuss the fact they are the primary source of Shigellosis simply because that is a topic in its own right. It is fair to say that if they don’t smell right or lack the creamy, almost ivory like colour then they should be avoided at all costs. Colour plays a vital role here in appearance, acceptance and presentation of the oyster as with fish and other shellfish. It has been intensively studied (Harada, 1991; Young and Whittle, 1985) because if we don’t trust the colour of this particular product then it will not even get past the lips.

A definitive assessment is that by Josephson (Josepheson et al., 1985) who compared the aromas of fresh Atlantic and Pacific oysters. It’s a benchmark study which looks at the main differences between the two. The volatiles extracted were rightly deduced to come from the enzymatic oxidation of PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) (Josephson, 1991). The cumber and melon notes described earlier were due to various 9-carbon molecules with low odour thresholds such as 2,6-nonadienal and 3,6-nonadien-1-ol.  Any slightly sulphurous notes were down to compounds like dimethyl sulphide which has an extremely low aroma threshold.  A little later, oyster extracts from C. gigas were collected using either vacuum hydrodistillation or dynamic headspace. The former method was better at producing an extract closest to oyster (Pennarun et al., 2002a) when a trained sensory panel examined them.

Vacuum steam distillation was also used to prepare extracts for chemical analysis (Pennarun et al., 2002b). Fifty-nine volatiles were identified of which 25 were responsible for the overall odour. Four compounds were linked to a fresh and marine odour: 3-(E)-hexen-1-ol, decanal, 2-undecanone and 3,6-(E,Z)-nonadien-1-ol. Some compounds were identified for the first time in this bivalve such as  4-(Z)-heptenal  which is reminiscent of white boiled fish. This derives from n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid oxidation. They also identified  3-octanol responsible for a moss and sulphury odour, 2-nonanol (cucumber odour) and octanoic acid, which come from n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid oxidation.

If you know the odour of fresh oysters, then it is logical to understand what happens when they become ‘iffy’ !  Shucked oysters (ones which have been removed from their shells) have a much shorter shelf-life because their nitrogen levels rise, are prone to bacterial attack and have a high muscle pH.

Zhang et al., (2009) at Fuzhou University in Fujian, China looked at the changes to 27 volatiles occurring to oysters deteriorating. There methods involved headspace solid-phase micro-extraction (HSSPME) and steam distillation (SD), with GC-MS detection. A succinct profile showing the compounds disappearing and forming proved useful for quality analysts. Subsequently, a more involved study of the bacteria producing spoilage off-notes in oysters showed precisely why we are put off bad bivalves (Madigan et al., 2014). The flora and fauna of oysters is expertly reviewed by Chen et al., (2016).

We’ll look at Vibrio and High pressure Processing for shucking oysters in other articles.


Chen, H., Liu, Z., & YShi, H. H. (2016). Microbiological analysis and microbiota in oyster: a review. ISJ, 13, pp. 374-388.

Harada, K. (1991). Fish colour. Australian Fisheries 50, pp. 18−19

Josephson, D. B. (1991) Seafood. In: Volatile Compounds in Foods and Beverages; Dekker: New York, pp 179-202.

Josephson, D. B., Lindsay, R. C., Stuiber, D. A. (1985) Volatile compounds characterizing the aroma of fresh Atlantic and Pacific oysters. J Food Sci.  50, pp. 5-9

Madigan, T. L., Bott, N. J., Torok, V. A., Percy, N. J., Carragher, J. F., de Barros Lopes, M. A., & Kiermeier, A. (2014). A microbial spoilage profile of half shell Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and Sydney rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata). Food Microb., 38, pp. 219-227.

Pennarun, A.-L., Prost, C., Demaimay, M. (2002a) Aroma Extracts from Oyster Crassostrea gigas:  Comparison of Two Extraction Methods.  J. Agric. Food Chem., 50 (2), pp 299–304 DOI: 10.1021/jf0105687

__________________________________(2002b) Identification and origin of the character-impact compounds of raw oyster Crassostrea gigas. J. Sci. Food Agric. 82 (14) pp. 1652-1660 DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.1236

Young, K. W., & Whittle, K. (1985). Colour measurement of fish minces using Hunter L, a, and b values. J. Sci. Food Agric., 36, pp. 383−392

Zhang, Z., Li., T., Wang, D., Zhang, L., Chen, G. (2009) Study on the volatile profile characteristics of oyster Crassostrea gigas during storage by a combination sampling method coupled with GC/MS. Food Chem., 115 (3) pp. 1150-1157

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Beware Those Dodgy Performance And Weight Loss Pills – The Case Of DMAA

There are plenty of supplements out there with fake claims attached and many containing illegal substances within their formulations.  When you are selling any health supplements on line, it pays to check the ingredients list on all of the products offered, even the harmless looking ones. DMAA is one substance in the spotlight and fitness fans have been warned to avoid at all costs this performance-enhancing supplement that was blamed for the death of a marathon runner in 2012.

Recently, there was the high profile case of the Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter losing his 4x100m gold medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics along with his fellow sprinters including Usain Bolt. Usain lost his much coveted triple-triple gold status. A retrospective examination of Carter’s urine samples showed the presence of the banned substance DMAA (methylhexaneamine or 1,3-dimethylamylamine). The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had no choice but to strip the whole Jamaican sprint team of their medals because of the doping.

The stimulant DMAA which is an amphetamine derivative regularly appears in sports supplements globally and is the current focus of attention for medicines and health regulators. Many manufacturers claim it to be a ’natural stimulant’ with functional benefits including muscle building for weight lifting, as a dietary and weight-loss aid, and for enhancing sports performance. Incidentally, DMAA was sold as a drug for nasal decongestion but no medical use for it is authorised to his current day.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) working with the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) group and a number of athletic and sports agencies has been promoting awareness of the numerous issues surrounding this particular stimulant. The agency (MHRA) has been running a ‘Week of Action’ from the 30th January to 5th February (2017) as part of the FakeMeds campaign to highlight the issues and risks of buying unlicensed medicines online.  

Concerns about DMAA surfaced at the turn of this century when there was confusion as to whether it was really a natural substance from Geranium plants or actually manufactured industrially. The geranium extract is often called geranamine. Toxicology and medical concerns surrounded its application following clinically recorded and anecdotal evidence. DMAA acts by constricting blood vessels of the arteries.   This leads to high blood pressure with associated cardiovascular complications such as breathlessness, various arrhythmias and even heart attack, haemorrhage – especially in the brain, seizures and stroke, nausea and vomiting, psychological and neurological damage and death. One widely reported case was the death of a 30 year old runner in the 2012 London Marathon who collapsed and died just a half-mile from the finishing line. She was reportedly using the now banned product ‘Jack3d’ which contained the substance. A couple of US soldiers have also died following ingestion of the ingredient and Australia has reported related incidences.

DMAA was banned in 2012 but it still turns up and in 2016, there were seven cases of internet based retailers selling supplements containing this substance. No legal action was taken against the retailers but the law states that individuals can face up to two years in prison along with unlimited fines. Any purveyors of unlicensed medicines can expect robust action to be taken against them, but ‘voluntary compliance’ to remove the products from the online shelf is the preferred route.  Dr Adam Carey who chairs the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) is widely quoted :-

It is the sad reality that DMAA is widely available- just one company selling DMAA is one company too many. DMAA is a banned substance and has no place in legitimate sports nutrition products.”

The USA is one major source of the banned substance which is ‘policed’ by the FDA. In 2016, the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) stopped imports of DMAA containing substances. A sports nutrition supplement that contained also listed synephrine and far higher levels of caffeine than might normally be acceptable. Synephrine incidentally appears in bitter orange products, and like yohimbine and ephedrine would normally be taken under medical supervision or at least under medical advice according to the MHRA web-site.

The FDA (Food And Drug Administration) in the USA which regulates amongst other products, various supplements has ordered manufacturers to incinerate existing DMAA containing stocks and discontinue production.  Whilst this happened to  Jack3d and OxyElite Pro made by USPlab in 2012, there were at least 39 products listed in 2015 available commercially in the USA. Only this month (February 2017), the California based dietary supplement distributor  Regeneca Worldwide has been ordered by a US federal court to stop selling its products containing the drug. A complaint was filed on behalf of the FDA against VivaCeuticals Inc. who were operating under the Regeneca Worldwide name for illegally distributing unapproved new drugs and unadulterated and misbranded dietary supplements.  They continued to flout the law even though warning letters were issued by the FDA in August 2012 to desist manufacture and distribution which they effectively ignored.

Any business served such an order of restriction by the FDA must comply with clear policy in the US before resuming its practice. It must at least demonstrate a capability for good manufacturing practice and proper labelling. It must also receive written permission from the FDA to resume any operations and destroy any remaining stocks.

In the UK, it is not illegal to take or possess DMAA but it can no longer be sold and distributed. Visit www.gov.uk/fakemeds for further information concerning banned substances. Jack3d was also  reformulated without the offending substance in 2013.

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Pancake Day Is Always Shrove Tuesday

Pancakes are wonderful and a real treat. Strangely though, I only ever seem to have them on Pancake Day which is Shrove Tuesday. It makes a change from all the chocolates and fizz on St. Valentine’s Day (14th February). Incidentally, the date changes every year because of where Easter falls so we need to observe the waxing and waning of the moon to know when.

The meaning of Shrove comes from the English word ‘shrive’ which means “to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and penance”. The intention of the custom was for Christians to be shriven before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday which literally implied wearing sack cloth and ashes.

We flip pancakes because we can ! Actually, the pancake has an ancient history being written about in an ancient scroll of 1439. Tossing the pancake comes from the old legend when in the 1400s, a lady of the county of Buckinghamshire hurried to church to confess her sins while part of the way through making her pancakes. 

The reason for pancake day comes from the intent of preparing for Lent which is 40 days of abstinence. It means clearing the kitchen and cupboards of all goodies like sugar, fat and eggs. A pancake batter is made of these, heated before tossing to obtain an even cook on both sides. Incidentally, Pancake day is celebrated by all of different religious faiths. 

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Nutrition For Basketball Players

A couple of basketball fanatics in the USA were just commenting on a game involving Kansas Jayhawks and how fit these guys must be. It makes you wonder how they keep going for so long. Its clear that professionals like them have exceptional nutrition plans with carefully crafted diets to match each of their needs before, during and after a game.  I’m no basketball officionado but a couple of players I know gave me their food plans and preparations. 

Before working out

The objective here is obtain all the nutrients needed in preparation for a long arduous game ahead. Muscle soreness and tiredness are the consequences of strenuous physical exercise so any ways in which the body can recover quickly are to be looked for.

Best to eat any meal at least 1.5 hours before a game. Suffering butterflies before the big game never helps and it certainly doesn’t with a meal inside you so close to game. Best to eat a few hours before hand if this is an issue !

Protein, some fats and carbohydrates (carbs) in a balanced format is ideal. The fat incidentally just helps to even out nutrient absorption which extends it closer to the game itself.  My mate swears by a protein shake he developed using about 50g of whey protein in fat-free or semi-skimmed milk with some peanut butter (2 tbsp) and a spoonful of oats. If the taste of peanuts isn’t to your liking then cashew or almond butter also works well. A few sandwiches with meat taken at the same time works too, but I know one guy who swears by a single salmon sandwich along with his protein shake.

During The Game

No-one wants to throw up but I’ve seen plenty of guys nibbling some food during the game or their workout. It makes you wonder why on earth but it’s about keeping energy ‘momentum’ and staving off tiredness later on with the benefit of reduced recovery times. Make sure any food is easily digestible and doesn’t sit in the stomach. Nothing worse than stomach cramps or that feeling of it wobbling around. Half a banana does it for me but I know two guys who swig water on its own or with just 1 scoop of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) added. They got this recipe off the internet  and claim it works for them.

I find a half jam and peanut butter sandwich works for me when I’m goalie for indoor football but a full sandwich has been known to pass down my gullet if I think the game will be slightly easier. Sipping water wherever possible is a must simply to avoid excessive dehydration.

After The Game

 Feeding after the game in the post-workout phase is perhaps the most critical aspect after basketball game. Our guys have to eat within 30 minutes after the game because muscle need to rebuild quickly. This is where amino-acids such as BCAAs for example come in. I notice it when I’ve not followed this regime as my muscles feel tired and extremely sore.

The protein shake works well here but I’ve also heated up some fish soup (really posh) and taken that down. Rapidly ingested carbohydrates are also required so a bottle of your favourite energy drink is ideal. Choose the isotonic varieties to avoid dehydrating. Many basketball players swear that water alone is enough – I’m not convinced and the guys I know have started adding a teaspoon of salt to sugary orangeade to improve rehydration.

I avoid alcohol now simply because it doesn’t rehydrate me as well as it used to.  The non-alcoholic versions have a rich carbohydrate content which should help with general energy recovery. I’ve also eaten a few tart cherries of the Montmorency type given the research conducted on them. Admittedly, it’s tart cherry juice that seems to be the drink of choice here and I’ve written about this before (see article) on studies in marathon runners.

If you have any diet plans for sports generally I’d like to know. I’ll post them up too.

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Acrylamide Detection Now Quicker And Cheaper With Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

Acrylamide is a potent carcinogen and neurotoxin formed in overcooked foods

♦ Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) used to measure acrylamide levels in fried foods.

♦ NIRS cheaper and easier to use than current methods of analysis

Acrylamide is a potent carcinogen and neurotoxin formed in fried and baked foods after cooking at high temperatures. The biggest concern is with stuffs such as fried chips or fries where potatoes are taken beyond the stage of being golden-brown to being overcooked. Proteins reacting with certain carbohydrates in the potato are converted to acrylamide at frying temperatures. Acrylamide detection and secure measurement in cooked foods currently relies on gas chromatography (GC) and high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) which are time consuming. Another technique using NIRS is being devised to make measurement more secure, cheaper and easier to conduct.

The Food Safety Authority (FSA) has issued general guidelines to reduce cooking temperatures and ‘Go for Gold’ in a bid to reduce the acrylamide content we are exposed to in our cooked foods. The main concern is the reaction between free asparagine and reducing sugars such as glucose at temperatures above 120°C via the Maillard browning reaction (Mottram et al., 2002; Zyzak et al., 2003). Boiling does not produce this molecule.

The first measurements of acrylamide in food appear in reports on amino-acid analysis when various cooked foods were subjected to isotope dilution liquid chromatography using tandem mass spectrometry detection (LC-MS/MS) (Rosen and Hellenas, 2002). This initial analysis coincided in part with the first announcement by Stockholm University and the National Food Administration (Agency) in Sweden, on April 24th, 2002.  They unequivocally showed that acrylamide formation was not an artefact in food formation.

Subsequently, GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) and LC-MS/MS studies were refined and developed to accurately estimate the levels of the carcinogen in a variety of foods. Here, acrylamide was brominated for an improved GC-MS method whilst a new technique for the unchanged molecule was developed using LC-MS/MS (Tareke et al., 2002). Bromination incidentally increases the volatility of acrylamide making it easier to separate from its matrix.

Over a number of years, GC and LC methods have been coupled to a host of different detectors. We have seen biosensors, enzymatic analysis amongst various bioanalytical techniques too. Many of these are now reviewed and put into context (Oracz et al., 2011; Tekkeli et al., 2012; Elbashir et al., 2014; Hu et al., 2015).

One of the key considerations is extraction of acrylamide from what is a highly complex and diverse matrix. Solid-phase micro-extraction is effective and well established (Lee et al., 2007). This did not need derivatization to release the molecule and could be analysed using GC with positive chemical ionization tandem mass spectrometry. Where acrylamide detection is required below 30 ng/g, then GC-MS with derivatization is preferred (Liu et al., 2008). The best sensitivity for acrylamide has been to adopt chromatography (Tekkeli et al., 2012) often with derivatization using xanthydrol  (Yamazaki et al., 2012; Lim and Shin, 2013). The main issue is the cost and time needed for measurement of a chemical which demands rapid analysis and turnaround.

To current matters now, researchers in the Food Science Research Unit (FSRU) at the US Dept. of Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) in Raleigh, North Carolina led by Suzanne Johanningsmeier have just released methodologies using NIRS which make detection and analysis easier and cheaper. They initially looked at spiked samples of potato flour to establish the accuracy and veracity of the method. Then, their test material was French Fries produced using different pretreatments and cooking times. Samples of fries were also taken from various restaurants. A model relating output from NIRS to the acrylamide content in fries demonstrated the methods success. A comparison between the cost of the current standard methods shows analysis is $250 per sample versus $25 per sample using NIRS. The considerable mark-down in costs should ensure wider uptake of the methodology, especially by those such as potato growers and food processors relying on frying. The implication might be to select potato cultivars or crops with low asparagine levels for example so that acrylamide formation is reduced (USDA, 2016).


Elbashir, A. A., Omar, M. M. A., Ibrahim, W. A. W., Schmitz, O. J., & Aboul-Enein, H. Y. (2014). Acrylamide analysis in food by liquid chromatographic and gas chromatographic methods. Crit. Rev. Anal. Chem., 44(2), pp. 107-141

Hu, Q., Xu, X., Fu, Y., & Li, Y. (2015). Rapid methods for detecting acrylamide in thermally processed foods: A review. Food Control, 56, pp. 135-146

Lee, M. R., Chang, L. Y., & Dou, J. (2007). Determination of acrylamide in food by solid-phase microextraction coupled to gas chromatography–positive chemical ionization tandem mass spectrometry. Analytica Chimica Acta, 582(1), pp. 19-23

Lim, H. H., & Shin, H. S. (2013). Ultra trace level determinations of acrylamide in surface and drinking water by GC–MS after derivatization with xanthydrol. J. Separation Science, 36(18), pp. 3059-3066

Liu, J., Zhao, G., Yuan, Y., Chen, F., & Hu, X. (2008). Quantitative analysis of acrylamide in tea by liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. Food Chem., 108(2), pp. 760-767

Mottram, D. S., Wedzicha, B. L., & Dodson, A. T. (2002). Food chemistry: acrylamide is formed in the Maillard reaction. Nature 419(6906), pp. 448-449

Oracz, J., Nebesny, E., & Żyżelewicz, D. (2011). New trends in quantification of acrylamide in food products. Talanta, 86, pp. 23-34

Rosén, J., & Hellenäs, K. E. (2002). Analysis of acrylamide in cooked foods by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Analyst 127(7), pp. 880-882

Tareke, E., Rydberg, P., Karlsson, P., Eriksson, S., & Törnqvist, M. (2002). Analysis of acrylamide, a carcinogen formed in heated foodstuffs. J. Agric Food Chem, 50(17), pp. 4998-5006

Tekkeli, S. E. K., Önal, C., & Önal, A. (2012) A review of current methods for the determination of acrylamide in food products. Food Analytical Methods 5(1), pp. 29-39

Yamazaki, K., Isagawa, S., Kibune, N., & Urushiyama, T. (2012). A method for the determination of acrylamide in a broad variety of processed foods by GC–MS using xanthydrol derivatization. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A 29(5), pp. 705-715

USDA (2016) A Quicker Way To Detect Acrylamide in French Fries. AgResearch Magazine. November edt. https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2016/nov/frenchfries/

Zyzak, D.V., Sanders, R.A., Stojanovic, M., Tallmadge, D.H., Eberhart, B.L., Ewald, D.K., Gruber, D.C., Morsch, T.R., Strothers, M.A., Rizzi, G.P. and Villagran, M.D., (2003) Acrylamide formation mechanism in heated foods. J. Agric Food Chem. 51(16), pp.4782-4787.

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