News Briefs

A fermented milk product, which helps control blood pressure, has been launched in Iceland. Manufactured by Mjolkursamsalan, LH fermented milk contains tripeptides that are derived from fermenting milk casein with lactic acid bacteria. The company produces the milk using Evolus technology licensed from Finnish company Valio. LH is available in three fruit flavours in 100ml bottles.

Ireland has invested $19.9 million in a new research centre for developing therapies, including probiotics and functional foods, to treat gastrointestinal diseases. The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC), based at the University College, Cork, will research treatments for illnesses such as gastroenteritis. The new facility is being funded by Science Foundation Ireland in an effort to reduce the estimated 1.5 million working days lost to gastrointestinal disorders each year in Ireland.

The European Commission has challenged the local government decision in Valencia, Spain, to impose a marketing ban on energy drinks and supplements containing guarana. The Autonomous Community of Valencia has classified guarana as a medicine that must be approved by its medicinal products agency. However, the EC says it has not produced scientific evidence to support its position, and noted that foods and beverages containing guarana are on sale in other regions of the Spain as well as other EU member states. The Commission recommended label warnings as an adequate measure to protect consumer health.

Vital Health Foods Australia has recalled its vitamin B complex capsules because the folic acid content of the product is a tenth of the strength marked on the bottles. Vital is concerned because pregnant women often take the supplement to help prevent birth defects of the brain or spinal cord. Thirty eight bottles have been bought by consumers and adverts warning of the problem have been placed in national newspapers.

Research from the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) shows that US consumers have a growing awareness of lutein. The 2,000-consumer survey found that 61.2 per cent of people are aware of the nutrient, up 22 per cent from 2001. Nearly one-third of respondents said that ?it is important? for stores to stock foods and beverages enriched with lutein. Nearly half said they would be interested in buying products containing lutein to support eye health and skin-care.

The Welsh Assembly has allowed kava to go back on sale after it was banned in 2002 for being linked to cases of liver damage. Kava suppliers expect Scotland and Northern Ireland to follow suit. The reversal comes as a result of legal action taken by the National Association of Health Food Stores against the UK government. Kava is also set to be re-evaluated by the World Health Organization after campaigners from the kava industry met officials last August.

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