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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Food & Nutrition Research Briefs, January 2012

Table place setting with apple. Title: Food and Nutrition Research Briefs. Link to FNRB home page

January 2012


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Contents

USDA Research Explores Mineral Content of Broccoli Varieties

Cacao Collection Expedition May Yield Weapons for Combating Witches' Broom Disease

Nutrient Data In Time for the New Year

Cleaning Cows From The Inside Out

Soy Milk vs. Cow's Milk vs. Mothers Milk

Food Safety Scientist Named to ARS Science Hall of Fame

Which Wheats Make the Best Whole-Grain Cookie Doughs?

 


USDA Research Explores Mineral Content of Broccoli Varieties

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) findings published recently in the journal Crop Science showed no evidence for significant increases or declines in mineral levels in new varieties of broccoli since 1975, and the broccoli contains similar levels of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and other minerals that have made the vegetable a healthy staple of American diets for decades. The ARS studies found no proof of changes in terms of mineral content in the past 35 years in a crop that has undergone significant improvement from a quality standpoint and that was not widely consumed in the United States before the 1960s.

Details

For details, contact: Mark Farnham, (843) 402-5300, ext. 5327, ARS U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, S.C.

Photo: Broccoli.
For broccoli cultivars grown during the past 35 years, ARS scientists found no proof of significant changes in mineral concentrations.

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Photo: Beef top sirloin steak. Link to photo information
New nutrient data sets for retail cuts of beef and pork recently released by ARS will make it easier for producers to provide mandated on-pack and butcher-counter-posted nutrition labeling. Photo courtesy of the Beef Checkoff.

Nutrient Data In Time for the New Year

Two new nutrient data sets provided by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are available to the beef and pork industries to provide new Nutrition Facts labels for their products. Although some retailers already have begun conforming to the new federal rules, the starting date for implementation of the rules requiring specific meat and poultry products to carry nutrition information has been extended from January 1 to March 1. USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that the new rules will make important nutrition information readily available to consumers for 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry.

Details

For details, contact: Joanne Holden, (301) 504-0630, Nutrient Data Laboratory, ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD.

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Soy Milk vs. Cow's Milk vs. Mothers Milk

Scientists are taking a close look at the effects that soy-based formula, cow's-milk formula, and mother's milk have on bone development in infants. Very little is known about the short- and long-term effects of soy formula on bone health, but a series of studies funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is helping to fill in the knowledge gap. One early investigation provided a comprehensive comparison of bone formation in piglets that were fed either sow's milk, or soy or cow's-milk formula. The scientists chose pigs as the animal model because the pig digestive system is generally regarded as being closest to that of humans. In general, the work suggests that soy-formula-fed piglets may have the best quality bone, and that soy may enhance bone formation by directly affecting the BMP2 (short for "bone morphogenesis protein") signaling pathway. Signaling, or messaging, initiated by BMP2 is essential for building and reforming of bone. This study was the first to spotlight soy's relative influence on initiating BMP2 signaling.

Details

For details, contact: Jin-Ran Chen, (501) 364-2707, ARS Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center, Little Rock, Ark.

Photo: Three piglets. Link to photo information
An ARS-funded study found that, in general, piglets fed soy formula had better bones than those fed cow or sow's milk.

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Photo: Whole-grain wheat flour cookies shaped like snowmen. Link to photo information
In the future, cookies made with whole grain wheat flours—like these—could be part of holiday festivities.

Which Wheats Make the Best Whole-Grain Cookie Doughs?

Research from Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists may help plant breeders zero in on promising new wheat plants that might be tomorrow's superstar producers of whole-grain soft wheat flours for cookie doughs. New, detailed evidence confirms that two inexpensive, readily available and relatively simple tests are reliable tools for getting an early in-the-laboratory indication of how good a promising new wheat may prove to be as a future source of whole-grain cookie flour. The two procedures—the sucrose SRC (solvent retention capacity) test and the milling softness equivalent test—aren't new. But this was the most thorough examination of the tests' reliability as an early screen for a new soft-wheat flour's performance in whole-grain cookie doughs.

Details

For details, contact: Margaret Redinbaugh, (330) 263-3965, ARS Soft Wheat Quality Research Laboratory, Wooster, Ohio.

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Cacao Collection Expedition May Yield Weapons for Combating Witches' Broom Disease

Fungi found in the leaves and trunks of wild Peruvian cacao trees offer the potential for biological control of cacao diseases such as witches' broom disease. Several of the fungal species were previously unknown to science. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their Peruvian collaborators conducted cacao collection expeditions in 2008 and 2009 through the Amazon Basin of Peru. The Peruvian Amazon is the heart of the center of diversity for cacao and holds great potential for finding undiscovered cacao and fungal species. The researchers are studying 342 cacao specimens collected from 12 watersheds and are categorizing the DNA of the specimens.

Details

For details, contact: Lyndel Meinhardt, (301) 504-1995, ARS Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory, Beltsville, Md..

Photo: A maturing cacao pod on a cacao tree. Link to photo information
Wild Peruvian cacao trees, found during ARS-Peruvian collecting trips, offer the potential for biological control of cacao diseases such as witches' broom disease.

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Photo: Microbiologist Todd Callaway monitors a dairy cow as it is fed some orange peel and pulp. Link to photo information
Microbiologist Todd Callaway looks on as a colleague feeds a dairy cow some orange peel and pulp.

Cleaning Cows From The Inside Out

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their collaborators have conducted a series of studies to explore non-antibiotic methods to reduce foodborne pathogens that are found in the gut of food animals. Early data showed the feasibility of using orange pulp as a feed source to provide anti-pathogenic activity in cattle. Consumption of citrus byproducts (orange peel and pulp) by cattle was also shown to be compatible with current production practices, and the byproducts are palatable to the animals. For one study, the team fed dried orange peel pellets to sheep as a model for cows for eight days. They found a tenfold reduction in Salmonella populations in the animals' intestinal contents.

Details

For details, contact: Todd Callaway, (979) 260-9374, ARS Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, College Station, Texas.

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Food Safety Scientist Named to ARS Science Hall of Fame

Zoologist Ronald Fayer, who works in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., has been inducted into the ARS Science Hall of Fame. Fayer was recognized for his scientific research leadership on parasites that infect animals and humans, particularly pathogens affecting food animals and food safety. He has led a broad range of work on parasite identification and host-parasite relationships, and his work has resulted in significant innovations on parasite controls that have helped secure food safety and food supplies around the world. Results from Fayer's findings have been widely adopted by pharmaceutical researchers, epidemiologists, veterinarians and other health professionals who track and control parasite infestations and foodborne illness.

Details

For details, contact: Ronald Fayer, ARS Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory, Beltsville, Md.

Photo: Ronald Fayer.
ARS Hall of Fame inductee Ronald Fayer

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Last Modified: 1/24/2013