A new study finds that a botanical drug could provide the key to new treatments for peanut allergies. Lead author Xiu-Min Li, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy for Allergy and Asthma at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and colleagues found Food Allergy Herbal Formula (FAHF-2) produced long-term protection following treatment against peanut-induced anaphylaxis in mice. FAHF-2 treatment protected peanut allergic mice from anaphylaxis for more than 36 weeks after treatment was discontinued. This is one-quarter of the mouse lifespan. These findings update previous research done by Dr. Li and her colleagues, where the same drug was shown to be effective for preventing anaphylactic reactions for up to four weeks following treatment.

“Food allergy is a serious and sometimes fatal condition for which there is no cure,” said Dr. Li. “Approximately 80% of fatal or near-fatal anaphylaxis cases are due to peanut allergy in this country. There is an urgent need for effective therapies to prevent and treat those who suffer from food allergies and FAHF-2 could prove to be a major advancement in this field.”

FAHF-2 has received investigational new drug approval of the Food and Drug Administration and currently human clinical trials are being conducted at Mount Sinai to evaluate the safety and early efficacy of FAHF-2 on multiple food allergies including peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish. “This study reinforces previous studies showing that this botanical drug has the potential to be developed into the first available and effective treatment for patients with peanut allergies and other food allergies,” said study co-author Hugh Sampson, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Sampson is also Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute and Dean for Translational Biomedical Science at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.


What do you get when you merge organic, fair-trade, himalayan grown green teas with freshly brewed organic, malt, hops, and a delicate hint of spice? You get Ineeka’s Himalayan Green Tea Bier, a revolutionary new beverage that merges two age-old brews into a purist taste sensation. Due to hit the stores in June, Ineeka Inc., a Chicago based producer of certified organic and biodynamic tea introduced the first certified organic green tea beer (5.5% ABV) beverage at the recently held Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California.

Ineeka, which means “little earth,” is an environmentally and socially responsible producer of 100% Organic & Biodynamic whole leaf teas and herbs, grown within family-owned and operated farms in the Himalayas. Visit Ineeka’s website at www.ineeka.com.

The first test for instantly detecting beef that’s been contaminated with tissue from a cow’s brain or spinal cord during slaughter has been developed by U.S. researchers. They said the test is an advance in efforts to protect the human food chain from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or “mad cow disease.”

The removal of brain, spinal and other central nervous system tissue after slaughter is “one of the highest priority tasks to avoid contamination of the human food chain with bovine spongiform encephalopathy,” noted Jurgen A. Richt and colleagues at Iowa State University and the National Animal Disease Center of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service.

However, there is no currently available method that “enables the real-time detection of possible central nervous system (CNS) tissue contamination on carcasses during slaughter,” the researchers said in an American Chemical Society news release. Read the rest of this entry »


August 12, 2008

There’s a new way to decipher the complex list of additives and ingredients found on every food label in the grocery store. LABELWATCH.com is the first and only informational website that allows consumers to go beyond the fancy package, and actually understand what’s really inside. With a growing database of over 25,000 brand-name products, LABELWATCH.com allows users to compare their favorite foods by providing information and determinations about the additives, ingredients, and nutritional facts contained in each product.

On the site, ingredients are linked to the LABELWATCH.com proprietary ingredient glossary, which is uniquely color-coded for easy understanding. Read the rest of this entry »

Two years into a four-year trial, about 35 tonnes of crushed glass has been laid at the base of pinot noir grape vines at Sandihurst winery in West Melton, New Zealand.

It all started with the idea that the sun reflecting off the glass mulch would produce better tasting grapes and better yields, so a pilot project was created to prove it.

Sandihurst director Hennie Bosman said he was ecstatic at the results because there was a noticeable improvement in the quality of the wine made from the trial batch. Read the rest of this entry »

Imagine a grocery store in Wisconsin that doesn’t get its produce from warmer states hundreds of miles away. Instead, fruits and vegetables are grown right on the supermarket’s rooftop, making the produce as fresh as possible for consumers. This is the idea behind Sky Vegetables, a business venture being created by UW-Madison senior Keith Agoada and MBA student Troy Vosseller. Their concept won first place and a $10,000 prize in the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition at the UW-Madison School of Business in April.

For the past year, Agoada worked as a manager’s assistant in the UW-Madison botany greenhouses. His rooftop idea came to him after watching a program about community gardens in Chicago, where people can rent inexpensive garden plots and grow their own vegetables. Agoada realized this practice could be expanded to other urban areas as well, and he did research on rooftop agriculture as part of an independent study project. “Rooftops made sense to me,” Agoada said, adding that supermarket rooftops were ideal because they eliminate the cost of delivery. Read the rest of this entry »

Pepsi announced that it has reduced the plastic used for a 500ml non-carbonated beverage bottle by 20 per cent, which, the company says “will eliminate approximately 20 million pounds of waste from the environment.” There will also be a 10 per cent reduction in the label size and a 5 per cent reduction in the shrink wrap film used to wrap the multi-packs, Pepsi said.

Robert Lewis, PepsiCo VP, said that the challenge had been to develop a lighter bottle that would provide the same shelf life, withstand the manufacturing and distribution process, and yet remain aesthetic. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientists around the world are researching or seeking the funds to research ways to produce meat in the laboratory—without killing any animals. In vitro meat production would use animal stem cells that would be placed in a medium to grow and reproduce. The result would mimic flesh and could be cooked and eaten.

PETA is now offering a $1 million reward to the first scientist to produce and bring to market in vitro meat.

Why is PETA supporting this new technology? More than 40 billion chickens, fish, pigs, and cows are killed every year for food in the United States in horrific ways. Chickens are drugged to grow so large they often become crippled, mother pigs are confined to metal cages so small they can’t move, and fish are hacked apart while still conscious—all to feed America’s meat addiction. In vitro meat would spare animals from this suffering. In addition, in vitro meat would dramatically reduce the devastating effects the meat industry has on the environment. Read the rest of this entry »

New Delhi, India -The department of biotechnology (DBT) in collaboration with the Hyderabad based Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) has developed a diagnostic kit for rapid detection of genetically modified (GM) traces in food by going to the level of DNA. Earlier a diagnostic developed by the Central Institute for Cotton Research could detect by going only to the level of protein.

Revealing this at a Press Conference in New Delhi today, Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, said that these diagnostic kits, developed under a collaborative research project funded by DBT, are ready for commercial launch and will be of immense use to meet the regulatory obligations and legal requirements as well as help to address consumer concerns.

“If this new kit is used it can resolve the claims of genetic contamination of conventional crops by GM crops. We can also use this diagnostic kit for checking imported food which may contain traces GM matter,” said the DBT secretary MK Bhan.



Got Eco milk?

March 21, 2008

In the UK, supermarket customers could soon be running out for a bag of milk instead of the traditional glass or plastic bottles or containers.  The environmentally friendly plastic sacs, called Eco Paks, were tested last year and the response was positive. The bags use 75 per cent less plastic than bottles. Customers can also buy a reusable jug to pour the milk into.

Experts believe that the milk bags could make a significant impact on recycling rates. At present, most supermarket milk comes in cartons or bottles made of high-density polyethylene, a type of plastic that can be recycled, although mainly in China. Recent figures showed only seven per cent are recycled.

In the US, it is estimated that 134.1 billion beverage containers were not recycled in 2005–43.6 billion PET bottles, 6.8 billion HDPE bottles, 55.0 billion aluminum cans, and 28.8 billion glass bottles wasted.  That’s an increase of nearly 4 billion from 2004’s total of 130.3 billion.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=512190&in_page_id=1770, http://www.container-recycling.org/