Nutrition: Food labels and allergies

The newly approved health claim relates to peanut allergies. The health claim states “for most infants with severe eczema and/or egg allergy who are already eating solid foods, introducing foods containing ground peanuts between 4 and 10 months of age and continuing consumption may reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy by 5 years of age.” Per the FDA’s official statement “the new claim on food labels will recommend parents check with their infant’s healthcare provider before introducing foods containing ground peanuts. It will also note that the claim is based on one study. The FDA will continue to monitor the research related to peanut allergies. If new scientific information further informs us of what we know about peanut allergies, the FDA will evaluate whether the claim should be updated.”

Peanuts are one of the eight foods identified as a major food allergen by the FDA. These eight foods: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans account for 90 percent of all food allergies. These major allergens are required to be identified on food labels, and are most often identified in the ingredients list. The newly approved health claim only relates to peanut allergies, it does not claim to prevent any other type of food allergy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for six months, then introducing solids and continuing to breastfeed until at least 12 months of age. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease recommends introducing peanut containing foods as early as 4 to 6 months to prevent peanut allergies. Each infant’s ability to start solid foods should be based on your infant’s developmental level not a specific age. Before starting any solid foods make sure your infant can hold their head up, open their mouth for food, and be able to move his or her tongue to take food off a spoon and swallow. Also, be sure to introduce new foods one at a time and only every few days to allow for monitoring of any possible reactions. It is always best to talk to your medical care provider to ensure the recommendations that are personalized for you.

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Blog Posts Address World Food Day, Efforts To Improve Nutrition, End Hunger Worldwide

Blog Posts Address World Food Day, Efforts To Improve Nutrition, End Hunger Worldwide

WHO: Malnutrition: It’s about more than hunger
Francesco Branca, director of the WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, discusses the “complicated” issue of global malnutrition, nutrition security versus food security, and the economic impacts of poor nutrition. Branca writes, “Current progress is insufficient to reach the World Health Assembly targets set for 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030…” (10/16).

Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ “Global Food for Thought”: Guest Commentary — On World Food Day, Recognizing America’s Proud History of Feeding the Hungry
Paul Weisenfeld, executive vice president for international development at RTI International, discusses the history of U.S. support for addressing hunger and writes, “Thankfully, Congress has demonstrated its support for food security, and is on track to pass legislation providing strong funding for Food for Peace, McGovern-Dole, and Feed the Future. Still, as we recognize World Food Day, it’s important to remember what the past year has shown us: standing up for America’s proud history of feeding the hungry and preventing famines is a year-round job” (10/16).

ONE: Why are 20 million people still at risk of famine?
Tahrat Shahid, policy manager for global policy at the ONE Campaign, discusses the importance of humanitarian assistance in addressing global famine. Shahid writes, “World Food Day presents an opportunity to encourage our leaders to help fund organizations with the commitment and technical know-how to [resolve famine and severe forms of hunger], and to stop perpetuating conflict before famine becomes a reality once again” (10/16).

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The traditional vegetable and sweet potato research that’s revolutionising the way we build food and nutrition security in Africa

Research focusing on traditional crops that are often ignored and known as “orphan crops” shows they contain minerals and vitamins that are essential for the body and are mostly consumed by rural African people. Various agricultural research institutions in Africa are currently carrying out research on these crops mainly to improve yields and controlling and lowering disease tolerance.

This is because there is need to urgently match Africa’s booming population with adequate food systems because if people are well nourished they become healthy and productive which is good for development. As the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) puts it, “good nutrition begins with food and agriculture.”

The continent is the second most populous after Asia with about 2.1 billion people. One in three people suffers from some form of malnutrition according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report. Societal costs of malnutrition have resulted in 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) being lost every year in Africa.

Whereas the levels of stunting are generally on a decline over the past decade statistics are still unacceptably high with over 58 million of Africa’s children stunted. Beyond the social cost, FAO notes that the cost to the global economy caused by malnutrition, as a result of lost productivity and direct health care costs, could account for as much as 5 percent of GDP, equivalent to $3.5 trillion per year or $500 per person.

At the Graça Machel Trust we believe that good nutrition must start at an early stage, for example, the first 1,000 days from conception to birth are very critical. We work with key regional partners to increase capacity and build up the institutional establishment of national civil society nutrition networks. Strengthening these national civil society nutrition networks helps to keep nutrition advocacy in Africa on the global agenda.

Focusing on orphan crops

Now new research is looking at innovative ways to boost agricultural production to feed the continent’s booming population by focusing on the orphan crops that have been used for many years by Africa’s poor to relieve famine.

Agricultural research is mainly concerned at increasing yields, adding of essential nutrients otherwise known as crop biofortification, and control and lowering of diseases. Research has particularly been targeted at traditional vegetables because there are highly nutritious.

The Water Research Commission has identified three inter-related challenges in sub-Saharan Africa which is water scarcity, population growth, and food and nutritional insecurity of essential micronutrients – one of it is vitamin A. This also means agricultural production needs to increase against a backdrop of issues such as climate change (extreme weather, flooding, and droughts), soil fertility depletion, and land degradation. The majority of Africa’s population live in areas with poor soil fertility, and in addition, there are problems of access to capital and agricultural inputs and farming methods used by most Africans, which affects yields.

Traditional vegetables are capable of providing more than 50 percent of the recommended daily requirements of vitamins such as iron, zinc and beta-carotene and they are also drought tolerant. Some of these vegetables are Chinese cabbage, pumpkin and watermelon leaves, cowpea leaves and spider flower, which are widely eaten by mostly rural Africans in combination with thick maize meal porridge. These species often grow in the wild or as weeds and collected for consumption as vegetables by African people. There are equally nutritious with iron, zinc and vitamins A and C and are also drought resistant.

The Water Research commission says: “The use of wild food forms part of the safety net that rural people use to cope with poverty, disaster and livelihood stress.” And for many years researchers and policymakers have ignored these types of leafy vegetables, but during the past two decades, this has changed, particularly in countries like Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. The Agricultural Research Council of South Africa, for example, is making an effort to promote the cultivation and utilisation of these vegetables by farmers, especially women and other vulnerable groups to mitigate malnutrition, effects of climate change and create wealth for all participants along the entire value chain.

Sweet potato research

Researchers are also focusing on the sweet potato crop because it is the seventh most produced food crop in the world after maize, rice, wheat, potato, cassava and barley. That’s according to FAO. And as a tuber crop, it is the third most important after potato and cassava. It is a staple food in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. It is also a common crop among poor farmers because it grows in marginal conditions with limited agricultural inputs and low labour requirements. And again, research is underway to improve sweet potato yield and make it more disease tolerant.

Sweet potato roots produce more edible energy per hectare per day than wheat, rice or cassava and contain considerable amounts of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, pro-vitamin A, Vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin. It has been proven in many countries that orange-fleshed sweet potato variety, for instance, can be used to combat and alleviate vitamin A deficiency. This explains why crop biofortification of sweet potatoes is in progress in most sub-Saharan Africa including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, Ghana, Madagascar and South Africa.

This article was compiled by Regional Coordinator Women in Media Network Millie Phiri with the assistance of the Graça Machel Trust scholarship PHD student Sonia Naidoo and alumni Nadia Ibraimo.

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Ag Secretaries Highlight Challenges of Tying Nutrition Standards to USDA Food Programs


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Hat tip to our high achievers as Good Food Guide rolls out

TRACK RECORD: Provenance chef Michael Ryan retained two chef’s hats for the seventh year in the Good Food Guide 2018. Picture: TODD and DIANE PORTER

BEECHWORTH restaurant Provenance continues to fly the flag for fine dining in the North East.

Founder and head chef Michael Ryan retained two chef’s hats for the seventh year in the Good Food Guide 2018 awards announced in Melbourne on Monday night.

Wahgunyah’s The Terrace Restaurant held on to one chef’s hat for the fifth year.

All Saints Estate chief executive Eliza Brown welcomed the result.

GOOD MATCH: Terrace Restaurant head chef Simon Arkless produces a menu highlighted by estate produce including lamb, pig, free-range chicken, citrus and herbs.

GOOD MATCH: Terrace Restaurant head chef Simon Arkless produces a menu highlighted by estate produce including lamb, pig, free-range chicken, citrus and herbs.

“Terrace Restaurant continues to achieve a high standard due to the hard work of chef Simon Arkless and the whole Terrace Restaurant and All Saints Estate team who make everything sing,” he said.

The Good Food Guide states: Arkless and his team have worked with directors Eliza, Angela and Nicholas Brown on producing a menu highlighted by estate produce including lamb, pig, free-range chicken, citrus fruit and herbs. 

Chef’s hat recipients in 2017 were now defunct Bright restaurants Tani Eat & Drink and Simones at Bright.

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