In The News This Week …




Scientists from Sweden believe they have found the gene responsible for the ‘unhealthy’ fat in the body. It may be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. If verified this will be “the first time someone has identified a gene that may cause malfunctioning adipose tissue in man.” It is hoped that the finding will lead to new drug treatments for diabetes.




The ACCC is taking the Australian Egg Corp. Twelve Oaks Poultry, and Farm Pride to court over suspected egg-price cartel. The Australian Egg Corp. allegedly held an emergency meeting to address over-supply. The ACCC alleges that there was no ‘over-supply’ and that actions following the meeting could have increased egg prices.


A farmer using GM (genetically modified) crops won a landmark WA Supreme Court case. The man had been sued by his neighbour, a certified organic farmer, for damages resulting from the spread of GM canola crops. Important factors in the case included that: GM crops cannot contaminate other crops easily, even when blown into adjacent fields by the wind, and that the GM farmer had not intentionally harmed his neighbours crops, property, or business.




A new global survey has found that 1 in 3 Australians is now obese and that rates have soared up 80% over the last three decades.

‘ “Waiting for a cure is not possible,” says Rob Moodie, the professor of public health at the University of Melbourne. ”The public health system will be crushed by the obesity crisis and the rise in cancer, heart disease and diabetes.” ‘

The increases are likely due to great resistance from food manufacturers and inaction from Government on front of packaging label and its halted star rating system.




ANGRY Muslims in Malaysia demand a Jihad, or holy war, be declared on confectionary company Cadbury and their parent company after traces of pig DNA were found.


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.




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.




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”.

This Week’s Nutrition News (week starting Monday 7 April)


BluewMonday: ABC News breakfast

SALT: While industry has reduced its salt usage, a new report released in the BMJ shows that the reductions are still not enough to reach Australian dietary guidelines. Independent lobby and public health groups have an important role in guiding government and industry towards a common goal. (

Monday: ABC Health Online

Why is weight not the best measure of health? Because everybody is different and food affects us differently. Some put on weight and others don’t, even on the same diet. Even when the effects of our diets do not ‘show’, they doesn’t mean that there aren’t health implications

Monday: SMH Life & Style

Gyms have been found to not comply with Physical activity guidelines. By not using correct signage, advice, and procedures, gym-goers are putting themselves at risk of injury.

Tuesday: 702 ABC Sydney Local Radio

Consumer commission ruled against Coles’ milk pricing, finding that it does not benefit dairy farmer. The tactics Coles used have been widely criticised, both for being uncompetitive and being unable to be substantiated.  A mandatory code of conduct has been proposed, especially in light of the new AU-Japan free trade agreements. Japan is a lucrative market for Australian milk and withTariffs for Australian diary entering Japan are into the $100 Millions, the agreement has been welcomed.

Wednesday: Herald Sun via Studio 10

Qantas is finally culling old Aussie favourites VB and crown lager in favour of trendier brands such as White Rabbit and James Boags. I think this is astounding, that Qantas has waited so long to make the switch. They’re competing in a super tight super cheap discount market space where they are the dependable, the frills and definitely not the cheapest. Yet have not disposed of aging brands which have become steadily unpopular with young people until now. Better late than never I guess.

Wednesday: Everywhere

The models-are-too-thin-debate has emerged again, with the Sydney Fashion Show and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. The solution for plus sized models to used doesn’t really wash with me, we’re just going from one unhealthy extreme to another. I think it would be great if could have all sizes represented, and most importantly that everyone on stage is within their Ideal Body Weight range (BMI: 18-24.9).

Thursday: The Australian

Not the Government’s Alco pops tax, nor public health and education efforts, but Facebook is supposedly behind falling drinking rates 14-17 year olds according to UNSW researchers.  While the other factors do contribute, increased screen time and a rising number of households from cultural backgrounds where alcohol consumption has less emphasis, has been the main factors. This report comes after the ABS released broader data indicating Australian alcohol consumption is at a 17 year low. Good or Bad?

Friday: SMH.

The release of Bob Carr’s autobiography saw the pages of SMH filled with vivid insight into the long-serving ALP elder’s peculiarities. Nutrition didn’t miss out with an online article which details his hunger for ‘steel-cut’ oats as part of his morning ritual and low sugar high protein diet. This is not quite news, but hey it was a slow news day. Enjoy