It was a happy World Vegan Day indeed for food and beverage manufacturers last week as the European Commission announced it will begin the ‘process of establishing a legal definition of vegetarian and vegan food’ in 2019. The Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme Scoreboard Summary did not specify a time-frame for establishing the definition but as article 36 of the European regulation on Food Information to Consumers (EUFIC) requires an implementing act, European consumers of vegetarian and vegan foods can expect a definition…at some point. Once the Commission completes its draft, Member States will vote on its adoption, with the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) concerned this draft could be pushed to the sidelines by other political issues in 2019, such as Brexit and elections to the European Parliament. It is expected the upcoming legal definition will be similar to that used by EVU, stating vegan foods are ‘not of animal origin and in which, at no stage of production and processing, has food been used or supplemented with any ingredient of animal origin.’ Vegetarian foods meet the same requirements, but items such as milk, eggs and honey may be included.
How many tastes are there? The answer, according to an Australian research team, is seven: salt, sweet, bitter, savoury, fat and now, carbohydrate! The sweet side of carbs is well documented, but the bread-y, pasta-y flavour has now been shown to elicit ‘a perceivable taste quality… independent of sweet taste’. Consumers who are sensitive to this taste are more likely to consume more and have a larger waist circumference as a result. The same team identified fat as the sixth taste, but found people more sensitive to this ate fewer fatty foods, in direct contrast to the results found for the carbohydrate taste.
Two studies have linked a patient’s microbiome to their response to cancer treatment: patients with a more diverse microbiome saw more positive effects from immunotherapy drugs, with some patients even seeing terminal cancer cleared. Those who responded best to the therapy tended to have the richest and most diverse microbiomes, with different bacteria: high levels of Faecalibacterium and Clostridiales appeared beneficial, with tissue samples showing there were more immune cells in the tumours of people with the beneficial bacteria. These studies highlight significant promise and potential, and more trials will be held to investigate further.