This Week’s Food News



(28 April) Monday: ABC –Toxic Mushrooms

Woolworths is defending itself after 3 people claim eating poisonous mushrooms allegedly purchased from the Dickson ACT store. ACT Health has not found any evidence of the mushrooms and Woolworths has reminded the public that its produce ‘is subject to strict government controls and is regularly monitored’.



Tuesday: ABC- Gluten

Researchers from the US, the  Netherlands, and Melbourne have found the “snapshot of the exact moment a body’s immune system recognises gluten as a foreign substance and triggers a response”. It is hoped that this will lead to effective drugs which will block the interaction between gluten and the body’s immune system, such a breakthrough may even see people with coeliac disease eating gluten foods again.


Thursday: ABC- Wine App

To renew Chinese confidence in the Australian wine industry, “former Boomers basketball player Andrew Vlahov and his business partner Grant Shaw have teamed up with Chinese IT company Invengo and consultants Deloittes to develop an app that detects” wine label authenticity. The tech would cost less than $1 / L and is necessary in the growing export market as China’s CTV reports 50% of labels as being counterfeit.


Friday: Smart Brief- Diabetes

Researchers have found links from lifetime maximum Body Mass Index to diabetes. Diabetes is traditionally thought to arise due to weight, blood pressure, age, family history, and lipid profile. The link has been proposed, independent of these traditional factors.





Two quick foods


Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 7.37.18 pm

Tired? Stressed? Have a good old sammich (as my great grand-mother used to call sandwiches). Why? because as boring and un-cool as they are- (lacking the sexy-ness of a teriyaki-marinated chicken sourdough), sandwiches are a great go to food. You can put nearly anything on them and if you don’t pile them with meat and cheese they can be well as filling. I like alfalfa sprouts but you have to be careful because they spoil easily. Also on this sammich is carrot, cheese, toms, and yummy meat-free veggie sausages packed with protein. I find they’re a filling afternoon snack; cut into quarters and share- afternoon tea style. 

Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Instead of reaching for a cuppa-soup*. Try something blended but still easy to prepare. If you like fruits with your milk for a twist try frozen bananas and mango with 10 mint leaves and a fibre mix (such as chia seeds, psyllium husk, and/or LSA).

I usually use only 1/2 a Cup of skim milk. You need to add just enough so that the blender doesn’t get stuck, it’s a fine balance! There is so little milk because it will achieve the best consistency, not because I dislike dairy (because dairy is great). After blending the mix is like icy soft serve, it reminds be of a luscious ice cream full of sugar, but this probably has less than half the calories and won’t leave your throat sticky and burning. 

You’ll be surprised that no honey is needed. You can get away with less sugar in cold things, especially with fruits which have natural sugars. Just remember that this type of smoothie contains foods rather than liquids so it can be quite dense. A serve would be a standard glass of 250ml.

* (I’ll admit they have their place and can be handy especially for dieters)

Until next time 


Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

Product Review: Mexican Tortilla Soup


soupPrice: $3.50 / 400g ($ 0.88 / 100g)


Brand: Hansells All Natural

The New Zealand parent company of Alfa One, Aunt Betty’s, Hansells, Real Yoghurt, Vitafresh, Vitasport, Pane Toscano, Sucaryl and others. They’re best and originally known for their traditional steamed puddings, sold under the Aunt Betty’s brand in New Zealand and Australia.



Per serve: 697Kj Energy, 6.5g Protein, 3.9g fat, 26.3g Carbs, 5.2g Sugar, 6.8g Fibre, 820mg Sodium


Verdict: Firstly let me say how frustrating it is to see a product containing two serves which must be used immediately. What if I’m eating alone? Or what if my eating buddy doesn’t like Mexican Tortilla Soup in a pouch? The pouch really should be re-sealable. Of course I could decant half the packet into a container for refrigeration, but if I were able to put in that much effort I wouldn’t be eating pre-prepared soup now would I!

Other than the obvious shortcomings of the packaging, this product is delicious! Hansells lose points for excessive salt however. The excessive salt is especially a problem when you decide to eat the whole packet. I fate forced upon me by the people who decided against putting a seal on the pouch for reuse.


This Week’s Nutrition News (Week Starting Tuesday 22 April)




Tuesday: The Australian, ABC News Online.

Abbott’s $6 GP visits have been confirmed in the upcoming budget. There will be a maximum yearly fee of $72 over 12 visits. This would include chronic disease patients such as people living with diabetes.


At the same time “speculation has been mounting that the local health bodies, which were set up under the Rudd government in a $1.8 billion initiative to organise community-specific health programs, will be scrapped in next month’s budget”. So what would be left? Centralised health care which at the moment offers nothing for people who are rural or isolated. There is also concern over the a number of health-related jobs that would be lost.


Wednesday: ABC News Online

Eastern Australia will experience hotter and drier weather this wheat-season due to El Nino patterns according to global models. 70% of El Ninos have resulted in draught for Australian. “Luke Matthews, agricultural commodity researcher with the Commonwealth Bank, says it’s likely to reduce farm output and exports this year, with wheat crops in eastern Australia worst affected.” – ABC News Online. West and south Australian wheat yields have typically not been affected by El Nino events.



Saturday: SMH Online

While the two major supermarkets duke out their food battle in the media spotlight, other battles which are far more important are being fought behind the scenes.


One such example is the Gluten-free market which currently caters for fad dieters and more importantly for people living with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. Manufacturers are being forced to use expensive and highly sensitive tests in order to use the “nil gluten detected” and “gluten free” labels, but argue that the need for such sensitivity has been driven by technological advances rather than medical ones. For instance 20ppm is medically safe yet the gluten free label requires less than 3ppm present (the threshold for current detection equipment).


It is feared that by not relaxing labelling laws manufacturers will leave the market. The“…debate coincides with concerns that gluten-free diets are being widely embraced by people who have no medical need to follow the regimen.” It may be the use of products by these people which keepS the market afloat.
Read more:



Food in Aged Care


Aged Care Nutrition: Fed Up and Inconveniently Alive

Jack Beattie-Bowers (Dietitian)

Ten dollars a day. That’s the figure discussed by dietitians as the likely amount spent by some aged care homes on each resident’s nutrition.

The basic daily fee paid by all residents living in Australian Government subsidised homes is $47.15 and is meant to cover the costs of meals, cleaning, laundry, heating and cooling. Yet operators are also in the market to make a profit, and the actual proportion of the fee going towards these services is unclear. The basic daily fee is set to rise on 20 March in line with changes to the aged pension.

Unsurprisingly, the figure leaves little room for managers “to inject soul into menu design, to put pleasure back into food service and to give older people joy through their palette”. That’s a quote from 2010 Senior Australian of the year, Maggie Beer who has campaigned for awareness over equal rights for people in residential aged care. Beer goes as far as to say ““I’d rather shoot myself than be in [some facilities] eating the food on offer”, and I’m inclined to agree.

Paradoxically, the most vulnerable people in our population, who would benefit most from an injection of fun onto their plate and into their lives, are being served boring, bland, processed and pre-packaged medically approved foods. What they need is food that is familiar but diverse, fun but nutritious. That is how I like my food anyway, and contrary to what you might think, the eating habits of 80 year olds are not all that different to younger people.

Although some aged care residents need their meals to be texture modified (that is, for their food to be softened or mashed), not all of them do; a variety of textures can and should typically be served.

The reality is far more disappointing.

If you thought hospital food is bad, think again; you’ll be craving it if you end up in an old folks home. Hospitals have tougher and clearer regulations around colour, variety, and enjoyment. Put simply, Australia’s residential aged care regulatory framework is weak and piecemeal when it comes to nutrition.

The current guidelines state expectations broadly and non-specifically, presumably to protect the bottom-line of struggling facilities. They also fail to provide a model on how to achieve their targets. Nutrition is just one of the many concerns for our elderly, and in my opinion, stakeholders would be better served with a national nutrition standard embedded in a greater framework for aged care health.

As the Dietitians’ Association of Australia reminds us, the problem then is how to achieve menus which focus on meeting the nutritional needs of individual in terms of local supply and the financial capacity of the facility.

While the choice appears to be one of morality, duty, and responsibility, without funds an excellent menu can only be implemented with excellent staff willing to work above their requirements. There is evidence that the current approach has been fairly unsuccessful with the prevalence of malnutrition in residential aged care facilities between 32-72%. It is apparent that these businesses would do better with clear succinct guidelines.

Currently, dietitians must create their own regulatory standards, and carry no legal might beyond their station as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. We must hope that aged care homes see the sense in consulting with dietitians who may suggest a plethora of improvements and menu renovations, beyond the requirements of current regulations. Spending money in this way will have a direct influence on the happiness and end of life care of our elderly.

Two deaths reported in September 2014, one of which involved malnutrition and dehydration, prompted Alzheimer’s Australia and the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants’ Association to propose a royal commission into the accreditation process for residential aged care facilities. Despite these calls the facilities who have allegedly neglected their clients have retained their full accreditation and no action has been taken. Society has to decide what a human life is worth. It is certainly worth more than just being alive.




Product Review: Sesame Bar


sesame bar

Product: Sesame Bar $0.90 /  45g ($ 2.00/ 100g)

Brand: Edens

A mystery as the company seems to have no online presence. If anyone knows about this company, please comment!



Each bar gives 728kj Energy, 2.5g Protein, 8.3g Fat, 20.8g sugar, 1.5g fibre, and 43mg sodium

Half a bar gives 364kj Energy, 1.25g Protein, 4.15g Fat, 10.4g sugar, 0.75g fibre, and 21mg sodium


Verdict: An old favorite which has been a joy to review. I hadn’t had one in about a year, I forgot how much I love them! While the bar is considered a single serve, it gives quite a lot of energy. I suggest eating it in two halves. Oh and another thing, if you’re unfortunate enough to have braces on your teeth as I do maybe cut it up first! I’m also pretty sure this isn’t a dentist-friendly product either, being quite sticky and sugary.

 The low sodium is a plus but the high sugar is a minus

This Week’s Nutrition News (week starting Monday 14 April)


BluewMonday: Heart Foundation and SMH

3D printer technology may lead to petri dish hearts for patients in the future. Scientists hope that by building a scaffold for cells to grow over, new functional hearts may be grown. If successful technology such as this would circumvent the critical issue of donor rejection as well as low donor rates.


Tuesday: Australia Network News (ABC)

Not only is the world’s fish population being over-fished unsustainably, but the effects of climate change may be adding an extra layer of complexity. The acidification of ocean water has led to changes in the survival instincts for fish. Scientists say that they have even been attracted to their predators. Surely action must be taken soon, and on both these issues. Fish are one of the few sources of long chain omega 3 fatty acids, important in balancing the body’s state of inflammation and a healthy source of energy.


Tuesday: ABC local radio Mystery News!

There was a segment during an radio update about the cancellation of an agreement between the Pathology dept of NSW Health and either the food authority or FSANZ whereby the dept undertook food testing on behalf of the food regulator. It was an interesting headline which, unfortunately I could not find anywhere on the internet.


Wednesday: SMH Vitamin D

Australian’s of all people are not getting enough sun! Well according to one report. I’m sure a completely contradictory report on the controversial topic of vitamin D deficiency can be found. Vitamin D is found in butter, margarine and can be made inside the body using sunlight. It’s primary role is in strengthening bones, but may also protect against various chronic diseases.


Thursday: CSIRO Super Grain

CSIRO has developed and successfully commercialised a natural low GI wholegrain with twice the fibre and four times the resistant starch. A diet high in fibre has been shown to be important for bowel health and in reducing the risk of chronic disease. Starch is thought to act similarly, and may help increase faecal bulk which may be protective against bowel cancer. Barley Max Enterprises, established by CSIRO and Australian Capital Ventures Limited (ACVL) says that “Five Australian companies are now using BARLEYmax grain in their food products, which include breakfast cereals, muesli bars, rice blends and bread”.


Good Friday: Bloomberg

On a bloomberg article detailing China’s covering up of toxic soils, Greens leader Senator Christine Milne (@senatormilne ) tweeted “This is why we need country of origin food labelling for consumers and why cheap imported products need to be tested” and “This is one reason why China is seeking to out source food production by buying land and water in other countries”. The Greens are raising awareness for a new Bill on labels detailing the origin of food products. Australia has a complex and illogical system, a fact highlighted in an episode of ABC’s ‘The Checkout”.