Thursday, 31 August 2017

open or close ended questions?

While preparing coursework for Semester 1 at UL, this is the dilemma of the day: open ended or close ended questions? I would go for a mix...
The focal point this year at FT4447 [Food Quality and Safety, Hazards, HACCP, ISO9001 and ISO22000: Food Quality ] is going to be two recent food scandals in EU:

1. horse meat and bute and

2. eggs and fipronil

Repeating the same/similar mistakes is not a good sign for the food industry in EU.
Any lessons learned this time?



Monday, 28 August 2017

Growth vs Fixed : mindsets

I was reading a posting this morning on St Munchins page about mindsets.
I am trying to remember the best teachers of mine...
I am trying to remember the best teaching moments in my career as a Teacher...
I am trying to overview all these experiences.
Few things come easily to mind :teaching should create questions and not give answers.
But also, teaching is about Principles and Beliefs.

Challenging the current status quo in Science, in Politics, in Life but also seeding strong moral principles and ethics, this is what teaching should be about.

It's going to be a great year, being the Father of a Munchins boy :)


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

the Dutch egg contamination scandal

Synonyms: 5-Amino-1-[2,6-dichloro-4-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]-4-[(trifluoromethyl)sulfinyl]-1H-pyrazole-3-carbonitrile; (+/-)-Fipronil; 1-(2,6-Dichloro-4-trifluoromethylphenyl)-3-cyano-5-amino-4-(trifluoromethylsulfinyl)pyrazole; Fluocyanobenpyrazole; Frontline Spot-on; Frontline Spray; Frontline Top Spot; Goliath gel; Granedo MC; Grenade MC; Maxforce FC; Maxforce FC Select Roach Killer Bait Gel; Over’n Out; Regent; Regent TS; Termidor; Termidor 80WG; TopChoice;

Around 700,000 potentially contaminated eggs have been imported into Britain from Dutch farms, according to the Food Standards Agency.
The affected eggs have been contaminated with an insecticide called Fipronil.

Where did the eggs come from and how did they become contaminated?
A The affected eggs originate from around 180 farms in the Netherlands that bought poultry from a supplier which used an illegal insecticide to treat red mite in chickens. The chemical, called fipronil, is not authorised for use as a veterinary medicine or pesticide around food producing animals as it can make its way into birds and eggs.
The egg in these foods may have been supplied from affected farms in the Netherlands before the blocks on these farms were imposed. It was incorporated into processed foods; fresh eggs on sale in the UK remain unaffected. Most of the additional egg products that have been identified were imported into the UK in liquid form so it is no longer practicable to provide a figure in terms of whole eggs, however, it remains the case that the egg we have identified represents only a fraction of a single percentage of the eggs we consume in the UK every year.
85% of the eggs we eat in the UK are laid here. As a precaution, UK eggs are being tested for the presence of Fipronil, and all initial results have been clear.

What is fipronil and is it harmful to humans?
Fipronil is a popular pesticide, often used to de-flea household pets such as dogs and cats. It is also effective at treating red lice, which are commonly found in poultry.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says fipronil is "moderately toxic" to people if it is eaten in large quantities, and can have dangerous effects on the kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.
It can also cause "nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and epileptic seizures," says the Dutch food standards agency NVWA, although its effects are reversible.
Exposure to Fipronil can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches and dizziness. Long-term exposure to great quantities can cause thyroid, liver and kidney damage, and even lead to seizures.

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Questions risen:
1. what penalties have been imposed to the Dutch (?) (only Dutch?) companies that started the scare?
2. What has happened to the birds that had produced these eggs?
3. How much fipronil has been actually applied to the birds? 

Ioannis Zabetakis

for the Love of Cheese

Carbon copy of T. S. Eliot’s original letter to the Times

Included in the latest volume of the Letters of T. S. Eliot is a letter to the Editor of the Times entitled ‘Stilton Cheese’, written on 25 November 1935 and published a few days later. Eliot is replying to a letter from poet and literary editor J. C. Squire and his ‘spirited defence of Stilton Cheese’. An expert on the cheese, Squire was heading up the Stilton Memorial Committee and had proposed the erection of a statue of the inventor of the Stilton – a Mrs Paulet of Wymondham. While Eliot could see the worthiness of a statue, he questioned whether anyone would bother to look at i...

[continue reading here]

Monday, 21 August 2017

Industrial pollution, spatial stigma and economic decline: the case of Asopos river basin through the lens of local small business owners

Industrial wastewater polluting Asopos river

This paper explores the notion of environmentally induced spatial stigma through an analysis of data from interviews across public attitudes to pollution within the Asopos river basin in central Greece. The area has a 40 year plus history of legal and illicit industrial waste disposal and public debate on the associated environmental degradation. The study focuses on the perceptions and beliefs of a sector of the community likely to be directly and negatively affected by stigma, that is small business owners in the tourism and hospitality sector. The qualitative analysis explores awareness and viewpoints on environmental degradation and water quality within the local context, implications for the local economy and the individual's own enterprise, views on industrial environmental management as well as corporate responsibility and future prospects for the environmental problems of Asopos. Findings reveal a noticeable variation in views on industrial pollution and ecosystem deterioration among the respondents, but overall a strong environmentally induced stigmatization of the area. They also uncover an information asymmetry and lack of credible commitment by government bodies and industry members in disclosing accurate information, a situation likely to increase speculation and uncertainty within the community. The paper concludes by addressing implications of the findings to policy-making and managerial considerations, along with future research perspectives which aim to increase considerations of sustainability aspects for local development. © 2016 Newcastle University.

Food security and …olives

by Ioannis Zabetakis, Lecturer on Food Lipids, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

My relationship with olives is a precious one. Some memorable events in this path: reading about olive oil when I was a primary school student, analysing olive oil in my BSc years, planting my own olive trees in our garden and then talking to my kids about Olympic Games and olives where the winners were not given any medals but an olive wreath

Ioannis Zabetakis

In my Academic research later, I developed a long standing interest in the by-products of olive industry and olive pomace (OP) in particular. OP is the main agricultural by-product of olive industry; because of its nature, it is a major environmental issue for all the olive-producing countries.

Research on the waste-management issues of OP has been active over the 15 years and all the available data suggest that OP could be exploited as an alternative dietary lipid source in compounded fish feeds resulting in the formulation of functional fish feeds and aquacultured fish according to the EU legislation (EC 1924/2006).

Moreover OP can also be used in agriculture by inclusion in animal feeds without attenuating animal performance and meat quality. We have developed a patented novel fish feed and fish based on the valorisation of OP (Nasopoulou et al., 2011).

In some exciting relevant developments, the potential of dry olive cake in a practical diet for juvenile hybrid tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus × Oreochromis aereus, has been recently reported (Harmantepe et al., 2016).

A feeding trial was carried out to evaluate the effects of olive cake (OC) on growth, feed utilisation, digestibility of nutrient, haematological values and some blood chemistry parameters of juvenile hybrid tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus × Oreochromis aereus).

The best feed conversion rate and protein efficiency rate were obtained from the fish fed with the control and OC12 diets. Growth performance, feed conversion rate and protein efficiency rate of fish fed diets with OC incorporation levels of more than 12 percent tended to decrease significantly (P <0.05) compared to the control and OC12 diet groups.

To read the full article and for references, click HERE.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Chewing the fat over statins

this is a very interesting paper that shows that there is sth wrong around statins prescription...

Chewing the fat over statins: Consumer concerns about lipid-lowering medication

  • Deckx, L.a
  • Kreijkamp-Kaspers, S.a,
  • McGuire, T.bcd,
  • Bedford, S.e,
  • van Driel, M.a
  • aPrimary Care Clinical Unit, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  • bFaculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
  • cSchool of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Australian Family PhysicianVolume 46, Issue 8, 1 August 2017, Pages 594-601

The objective of this article was to explore the information needs of consumers using statins.

Calls made to a national medicines call centre in Australia were analysed. Where question narratives were available electronically (n = 1486), the main concerns were identified using a coding scheme. Subsequently, we evaluated whether these concerns were addressed in the medication leaflet.

The most common concerns were about side effects (36%) and interactions (28%). Concerns about side effects related to musculoskeletal (27%), gastrointestinal (12%) and skin problems (5%). Concerns about interactions included other medicines (49%), complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs; 39%) and grapefruit (6%). Additional questions related to differences between treatments (12%) and dosage (8%). Most topics were mentioned in the medication leaflet, but strategies to manage these concerns were lacking.

When prescribing statins, information about common side effects, when symptoms require action, and interactions with other medicines, especially CAMs, should be addressed and tailored to the patient.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Μetal Uptake by Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) Irrigated with Water Polluted with Chromium and Nickel

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Our latest scientific publication...
The full paper is here.

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Laboratory of Food Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Athens, 15771 Athens, Greece
Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Athens, 15771 Athens, Greece
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Andrea Buettner


The water aquifers of the regions of Asopos River in Viotia and Messapia in Evia (Greece) have been contaminated with hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)) and bivalent nickel (Ni (II)). Given that these areas are the two biggest tuber producing regions of Greece, in our previous work, the cross-contamination of the food chain with these two heavy metals was quantified. In the present study, the potential of sunflower (Helianthus annuus) cultivation in these regions is evaluated. The scope of our study was to investigate the uptake of chromium and nickel by sunflower, in a greenhouse experiment. The study included two cultivation periods of plants in six irrigation lines with different levels of Cr (VI) and Ni (II) ranging from 0 μg/L (control) to 10,000 μg/L. In all plant parts, statistically significant increased levels of Cr (VI) and Ni (II) were found when compared to control ones. Also, a positive correlation, both for Cr and Ni, between levels of heavy metals in irrigation water and plants was observed. Following European Food Safety Authority recommendations, the obtained oil was evaluated as safe for consumption, therefore, sunflower cultivation could be a valid bioremediation solution for the Asopos and Messapia regions.