Posted on

Green light for UV-treated mushrooms

Experts say access to dietary vitamin D is crucial In sunlight-starved regions, yet very few foods are naturally rich in this vitamin, which among other things is needed for strong bones and teeth, and even heart health. Wild mushrooms can be a good source of vitamin D2 but until recently their commercial cousins – usually grown and sold indoors – were not.

Ultraviolet-treated mushrooms with increased vitamin D have been given the okay to be placed on the EU market under the EU’s novel food regulation.

The ruling came after a novel food application last year by Ireland’s Monaghan Middlebrook Mushrooms.

In a letter earlier this year to the company, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said no reasoned objections were raised by the European Commission or Member States within the 60 day comment period on the application.

Pat O’Mahony, the authority’s chief specialist in food technology, also said in the letter, however, that comments were provided and clarifications sought by Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and the UK. He said the company had responded to the comments and provided clarifications.

The following conditions apply to the approval for the use of UV-treated mushrooms:

  • The EU market approval applies to commercially grown Agaricus bisporus.
  • UV light treatment is applied to harvested mushrooms yielding a vitamin D content of up to and including μ10g/100g fresh weight.
  • In accordance with of Annex VI (Part A, 1) of EU Regulation 1169/2011, product labels will indicate that a controlled light treatment was used to increase vitamin D levels.

Benefits of Vitamin D-enriched mushrooms

Experts say access to dietary vitamin D is crucial In sunlight-starved regions, yet very few foods are naturally rich in this vitamin, which among other things is needed for strong bones and teeth, and even heart health. Wild mushrooms can be a good source of vitamin D2 but until recently their commercial cousins – usually grown and sold indoors – were not.

‘Vitamin D mushrooms’ were already on sale in supermarkets in countries including the UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada last year.

According to the Australian Mushroom Growers Association, mushrooms naturally contain ergosterol, which is a precursor to vitamin D. When exposed to any source of ultraviolet (UV) light e.g. sunlight or fluorescent light, ergosterol is converted to ergocalciferol (commonly known as vitamin D2).

Regular commercially grown mushrooms which are not specifically subjected to UV light contain moderate levels of vitamin D. Exposing these mushrooms to 1-2 seconds of UV light after harvesting increases vitamin D content while retaining the remaining nutrients and appearance of the mushrooms.

 

 

 

Posted on

Green light for brown-resistant GMO mushroom

Researcher Yinong Yang used the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9 to give white button mushrooms an anti-browning trait that improves appearance and shelf life, as well as facilitating automated mechanical harvesting.

A white button mushroom genetically modified so it turns brown more slowly – thus having a longer shelf life – is on track to being sold in the United States.

And the fact that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said it won’t regulate the mushroom as it does other genetically engineered (GE) modified organisms is seen as paving the way to the market for many more such products.

The anti-browning trait in this particular mushroom was introduced via science’s hot new tool CRISPR–Cas9, a promising but controversial gene-editing technique. Unlike some other forms of genetic modification, CRISPR does not introduce any foreign genetic material, it modifies pre-existing genes. In this case, Penn State University researcher Yinong Yang used it to provide an anti-browning trait that improves appearance and shelf life, as well as facilitating automated mechanical harvesting, in the common white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus).

In a letter to Dr Yang, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is responsible for regulating certain GE organisms that are or could be plant pests, noted the mushrooms don’t contain introduced genetic material and are unlikely to be plant pests and thus won’t be subject to this regulation. They may, however, be subject to control by other regulatory authorities such as the FDA or EPA, it said.

According to Billy Roberts from market intelligence agency Mintel, the mushrooms demonstrate the speed of advancements in the genetic modification arena, while also providing a serious challenge to regulatory agencies, and could change the GMO debate in the US. Roberts said research shows consumers want to know if foods have GM ingredients and significant numbers indicate that they seek GMO-free claims on foods they buy.

Read more about this issue:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/04/18/why-this-genetically-modified-mushroom-is-bypassing-usda-regulation/
http://www.nature.com/news/gene-edited-crispr-mushroom-escapes-us-regulation-1.19754

Also see: Cucumbers that stay green longer

Image of Agaricus bisporus Zuchtchampignon by Böhringer Friedrich (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons