Food composition research
Find project reports relating to the composition of food, including reports about the presence of natural toxins, allergens, and contaminants, and their impact on human health and nutrition.
As one part of its Nutrition Strategy 2009-12, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) has identified sodium reduction as a priority new work programme. The Science Group of NZFSA commissioned the University of Otago (the ‘authors’) to write a discussion document that provided a review of information on sodium and its effects on food safety and human health.
Science research on Vitamin K in milk.
The purpose of the literature review is to evaluate available evidence on the use and role of fortified milk-based products in the diets of older infants and young children, in addition to the efficacy of such products on nutritional and health outcomes.
This Risk Profile addresses the risk from exposure to caffeine from energy drinks and energy shots available in New Zealand against a background dietary exposure from naturally occurring caffeine in foods and beverages and kola type soft drinks.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are a large group of compounds made up of two or more fused benzene rings. They are primarily formed by incomplete combustion or pyrolysis of organic matter and during various industrial processes. Consequently, they are found in automobile exhaust, smoke from fires or cigarettes and as a component of air pollution. PAHs generally occur in complex mixtures which may consist of hundreds of compounds.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of the non-essential amino acid glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is one of the most abundant amino acids in human foods. When glutamate is present in a free form, not as a component of proteins or peptides, it has a flavour-enhancing effect and for this reason it is added to foods as its purified monosodium salt.
Glucosinolates are a family of about 120 plant compounds. They are modified amino acids, carrying an S-glucose functional group and a variety of different side chains. The parent compounds can be broken down by a plant enzyme, myrosinase, which is liberated for reaction through processing of the plant tissue (e.g. cutting, cooking or freezing).
- Food residues surveillance 2009-10 results - Round 2 [XLS, 57 KB]
Cyanogenic glycosides or cyanoglycosides account for approximately 90% of the wider group of plant toxins known as cyanogens. The key characteristic of these toxins is cyanogenesis, the formation of free hydrogen cyanide, and is associated with cyanohydrins that have been stabilised by glycosylation (attachment of sugars) to form the cyanogenic glycosides.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used primarily as a monomer in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are rigid plastics sometimes used for food contact materials, including drink bottles. Epoxy resins are used for lining tin cans.
Aspartame is a non-nutritive intense sweetener. It is used as an alternative to sugar as a
sweetener, but is added at much lower concentrations as aspartame is approximately 200
times sweeter than sugar. For this reason aspartame is particular used in ‘diet’ and ‘low
calorie’ products. Aspartame is metabolised by gut esterases and peptidases to three
common chemicals; the amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, and small amounts
The aim of the project was to assess levels of vitamin C and zinc in a range of food types, and selenium in infant formulae; and to compare these to average levels claimed on product labels, and in the case of selenium in infant formula, to the mandatory minimum and maximum levels in the Standard 2.9.1 of the Food Standards Code. This information will assist in the development of food standards relating to nutrient fortification. The project follows similar projects assessing levels of folate and iron (2005) and vitamin A, vitamin D and calcium (2006).
This project has conducted a survey of selected New Zealand foods to determine moisture
and fat content, and fatty acid profiles. The principal objective was to provide data on trans
fatty acid content to support decisions regarding labelling.
Cholecalciferol, or ‘vitamin’ D as it is commonly referred to, is a popular research topic.
While it has long been known that vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children, there is now renewed interest in this pro-hormone as potential health roles for vitamin D increase, with a concomitant rise in prevalence estimates for insufficiency. An informed discussion on vitamin D by public health professionals is now especially relevant because of recent evidence that many New Zealanders have low vitamin D status (1, 2).
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that can be synthesised in the body through exposure to sunlight or obtained through eating foods that are naturally good sources of Vitamin D. A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia (poor bone mineralisation) and osteoporosis (bone loss) in adults. Research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in the prevention of certain cancers.
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