Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Found in Sewer Sludge

Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) have been found in sewage sludge, a by-product of waste-water treatment frequently used as a fertilizer. Researchers writing in the open access journal Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica point out the danger of antibiotic resistance genes passing into the human food chain.

Researchers collected sludge from the plant every week for four months, for a total of 77 samples. Of these, 79% tested positive for the drug resistant superbugs.

Although VRE themselves are not generally considered to be highly pathogenic, the danger is that they may pass on their resistance genes to other bacteria. Sahlström concludes, “Our results demonstrate a need for more efficient hygienic treatment of sewage sludge, in order to avoid possible spread of antimicrobial resistance through use of sewage sludge on arable land”.

Vitamin D and Calcium Reduce Elderly Hip Fractures by 20%

thumb_vitamin_d_coverSpeaking at the European Symposium on Calcified Tissue in Vienna today (27 May), Professor Bo Abrahamsen from the Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte in Denmark, described the results from a major study analyzing seven trials examining the effects of low doses of vitamin D with calcium in 68,500 patients.

Participants in the study were aged 47 – 107 years old, average age 69.  Their age, gender and fracture history were taken into account, together with medication such as hormone replacement therapy and bisphosphonates (used in the treatment of post-menopausal osteoporosis and osteoporosis in males).  Patients in all the trials included were randomised to receive either vitamin D (given alone or with calcium, usually in the form of 1000 mg calcium carbonate daily) or no active treatment. “The real strength of this study was that we were looking at groups and individuals, not just summary statistics. We were able to calculate absolute fracture rates and the time to treatment effects,” he said.

After about 16 months, the reduction in hip fracture rates by 20% was seen in people who took vitamin D (10ug; 400 IU) and calcium (1000 mg) together, regardless of age, gender and fracture  history. Fracture rate in other bones was reduced by 10%.  “Vitamin D on its own is not very effective, even if the dose is doubled,” said Professor Abrahamsen, a consultant physician at the hospital. “In people over fifty, the combination of vitamin D with calcium, however, seems to work equally well in people with or without a history of bone fractures – this is important new knowledge,” he said.

Soyfoods Surpass $4 Billion in Sales

SCHAUMBURG, IL May 29, 2009 – According to Soyfoods: The U.S. Market 2009, which has just been released by Soyatech, LLC and SPINS, Inc., retail sales of soyfoods products have surpassed the $4 billion mark for the first time in history.

The report, which examines soyfoods sales and industry trends during 2008, points out that the U.S. market for soyfoods has continued to develop despite the overall economic downturn. The study’s authors note that consumer awareness of the health benefits associated with soy and its expanded presence in multiple distribution channels are leading factors explaining soyfoods’ continued success.

Interestingly, the report cites data confirming that the sales growth of soy is highest in a channel other than conventional supermarkets or natural retailers. Sales growth of 1.8% in supermarkets and natural food stores was outpaced by the “other channels” category of retail outlets for soyfoods, including Wal-Mart, club stores and foodservice operations, where sales grew by 3%.

The leading categories driving this growth include soymilk, meat alternatives, tofu and snack bars.  Refrigerated soy-based entrées and sushi, tracked for the first time this year, also fared well and debuted in the top 25 largest soyfoods categories, with $11.5 million in sales.

Soyfoods: The U.S. Market 2009, the eighth report produced as a collaborative effort between by Soyatech and SPINS, provides detailed information on the U.S. market by category, sub-category, brand and distribution channel.

The report covers topics such as:

•    opportunities for further growth in this healthful food sector
•    major players impacting the marketplace and driving growth and
•    future developments in soyfoods.

“With soyfoods now a $4 billion industry, Soyatech and SPINS anticipate that opportunities for innovation will enable the industry to continue to grow,” said Philippe de Lapérouse, director of Soyatech’s Global Food and Agribusiness Practice.

While this trend may be cause for optimism we still have a long way to go to make a dent in the consumer spending on beef which was $74.6 billion in 2007 and has grown $25.5 billion since 1999.

The problems with beef agribusiness have been well documented – water use, waste production, hormone and antibiotic additives and in some cases, animal cruelty.

What we don’t know about soyfoods is how much genetically modified material is in the food products we’re consuming or where the soybeans are grown.  Since there’s no requirement for consumer protection on the label, we’re on our own if we want sustainably raised beef or soy.

Superfoods cover image

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