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The students at St Johns College, Cambridge were treated to a night of ne food and a romantic setting as the catering team went out of Valentine success their way on Valentines Day. With Alicia Keys playing in the background and the choice of champagne with sloe gin from Cumbria, the mood was set for a night of romance.


Is Calcium the Secret to Flavour Enhancement?

In the never-ending bid to nd new ways to enhance the taste of our food, calcium appears to be the latest discovery with avour enhancing properties. Food science never ceases to amaze, and this is no exception. Im not suggesting that we will be seeing chalk avoured crisps or ice cream, but it seems that calcium channels on the tongue might be the secret to making our food taste that much better. The ndings come out of research in Japan, which sought to understand how certain substances with no avour of their own manage, when combined with other substances, to actually enhance the avour of the substance they are paired with. In Japanese cuisine this is termed kokumi taste. Discovering the secret to this means of avour enhancement holds huge potential for food manufacturers. If we could nd out how the substances work to enhance taste we could use it to our advantage, particularly in the health and diet food sector. For example, we might be able to enjoy saltier tasting crisps whilst still keeping sodium levels low, or confectionery containing less sugar that still tastes as sweet. The Japanese scientists looked at the similarity between the calcium channels which regulate calcium levels in the body, and the sweet and savoury (umami) taste receptors. They also investigated the potential role of glutathione, an amino acid that is a common kokumi taste element, and one which we know interacts with calcium channels. The scientists created a number of molecules similar to glutathione, and monitored how well they managed to activate calcium channels. They added these substances to water to produce different avours like salty and sugary tastes before getting taste testers to assess the strength of avour in each. Sure enough, those substances that generated the most reaction from the calcium receptors elicited the strongest avour in the taste tests. As calcium channels are not only present in the mouth but also in the gastrointestinal tract, the researchers remark that they may play a role not just in taste, but also in such things as digestion and absorption.


The Food Standards Agency has published its new Science and Evidence Strategy 201015 and Evidence Plan 2010. These set out how science and evidence will be used to improve food safety and the balance of peoples diets. The strategy describes the activities the Agency will carry out to make sure the right evidence is obtained and used effectively to support delivery of its overall strategy for 20102015. It will also help measure progress, inform development of future work, and support delivery in the long term. It has been developed in consultation with science advisers, partners and stakeholders. The Agencys Chief Scientist, Andrew Wadge, said: Science is at the heart of the Agency. This is reinforced at the core of the science strategy and in our new strategy for 20102015, but we will need to work harder and smarter to learn from experience and meet the challenges ahead. These challenges range from controlling foodborne illness to achieving healthier food products and diets. We will also need to understand better what works in practice, and develop risk-based controls that will help raise standards of hygiene in all food businesses. To achieve this we will need to prioritise working in partnership and using multidisciplinary approaches. As a rst step to implementing the strategy, the Agency has also published an evidence plan, which sets out the main work we aim to commission during the next two years.

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