This was the key message of Cees ‘t Hart, chairman of the Choices International Foundation, to an audience of some 100 European opinion formers at a lunch debate last month, organised jointly by Friends of Europe and the Choices International Foundation. He explained why and how Campina, Friesland Foods and Unilever have set up an international multi-stakeholder programme for front-of-pack labelling that is open for any food company to join.
Basil Mathioudakis, responsible for food law and nutrition at DG Sanco, responded by saying that he was happy to see that the Choices Programme is an integrated approach, consistent with the views the Commission laid out in its White Paper on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues. “It is good to see that the Choices Foundation is setting up a scientifically sound evaluation scheme to measure the actual effect of the Choices Programme on public health”.
Léon Jansen, secretary to the independent Scientific Committee of the Choices Programme, stressed that the credibility of the programme is safeguarded by independent scrutiny at four levels: 1) the Scientific Committee sets the qualifying criteria by which healthy options are identified, 2) an accredited certifying agency evaluates whether products are eligible for the Choices stamp, 3) an independent auditing company checks composition and on-pack information of products on the market and 4) a science-led evaluation programme measures the effects on consumer awareness, purchasing behaviour, sales figures, progress in product reformulation and innovation and the overall effect on diet and public health.
The Choices programme is a world-wide initiative set up to make the healthy choice the easy choice. It has introduced a simple front-of-pack stamp on food products that have passed an evaluation against a set of qualifying criteria based on international dietary guidelines. It has two key objectives: 1) to help consumers quickly identify healthy choices at the moment of purchase and 2) to encourage food industries to improve the composition of their products. The programme is increasingly adopted by companies in food industry, retail and catering, including small and medium enterprises.
Jup van 't Veld | alfa
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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