A salty pretzel, a sweet ice cream cone, a sour, vinegary pickle: most of us relish the variety of flavours we experience when we eat, courtesy of our sense of taste. What many don't know, however, is that the experience of taste is highly amplified for some members of the population, known as "supertasters." This may sound amazing, but supertasters actually tend to avoid certain foods due to their increased sensitivity to strong flavours, including anything bitter and many healthy fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, individuals known as "non-tasters" have significantly decreased sensitivity to flavour, making it difficult for them to taste food at all. Unfortunately, this can cause problems, such as when they cannot detect when food has spoilt or is unsafe to eat.
Thought for Food Blog
The eating of insects, or entomophagy, is not a new concept. In fact, insects have been eaten around the world since prehistoric times.
A history of insect consumption
Stable carbon isotope analysis of the bones and dental enamel of australopithecines, for example, has shown that they were significantly enriched in isotope 13C, suggesting that the diet of these people was largely composed of animals feeding on grasses, including insects. Termites are reported to have been included into the Plio-Pleistocene hominin diet, and an analysis of fossils from caves in the USA and Mexico showed that coprolites from caves in Mexico contained ants, beetle larvae, lice, ticks and mites, providing further evidence for entomophagy in human history.
Topics: zinc, texture, food safety, food security, nutrition, protein, allergies and allergens, pesticides, cholesterol, nutrients, magnesium, amino acids, fatty acids, calcium, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, environment and sustainability, Asia, Africa, consumer behaviour, insect foods, novel foods
Every day, millions of people put a lot of trust in the food industry. More and more of us check product labels on a regular basis to make sure what we are buying meets our individual requirements – be they for low fat foods, sugarless concoctions, organically certified foods, clean label products or anything else. And when we buy a food product, we expect it to contain what it says it does on the label.
History of food labelling
Food labelling as we know it today dates back to the 19th century. Interestingly, it was initially developed as a '...logistical aid to the enforcement of adulteration laws and the levying of duties and taxes on bread' rather than to protect consumers.
It was concerns over chemical safety during World War II that triggered the enactment of The Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations 1943 to protect consumers from misleading labels as to the nature, substance or quality of food.
Then, in 1973, the European Economic Community (EEC) membership brought the European Commission (EC) Labelling Directive 79/112/EEC into the UK, strengthening the ban on misleading presentation and claims on food products. This evolved, through various iterations, into Directive 2000/13/EC.
In 2008, melamine was added to milk and infant formula to increase its protein content. This led to the hospitalisation of around 54,000 infants, 6 deaths from kidney stones and, ultimately, a number of criminal prosecutions, resulting in 2 executions.
In 2013, horsemeat was found in burgers and ready meals sold in UK supermarkets. Although not physically harmed, consumers – who thought they were eating beef – were less than happy. The incident highlighted the vulnerability of the food supply chain and Tesco, one of the supermarkets selling the adulterated meat, underwent – €300 million drop in market value.