Identifying and understanding the factors influencing bioactive levels in vegetables
This project collated information on the phytonutrients (bioactives) in levied vegetables. It builds on our previous project Veggycation® which largely focussed on the core nutrients (vitamins and minerals) for which claims are currently permitted by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). The initial Veggycation project collated some information on certain classes of phytonutrients but did not provide quantitative data. This current project added this information to the Veggycation framework, including the addition of new phytonutrients and further layers of information on these vegetable components. In particular, detailed data was added on the typical amounts of phytonutrients present, their status with regards to health claims and snippets of the latest research plus new information on postharvest effects. In order to grow the export market for Australian vegetables, there needs to be a greater understanding of the regulations in relevant overseas territories. In order to achieve this information on the current status of the science and approved legislation relating to the health benefits of phytonutrients in both domestic and relevant Asian export markets was also collated. The current legislation is extremely limiting with claims for phytonutrients other than content claims. Our experience with nutrition and health claim science, and the food standards, leads us to believe that it may take some time before health claims for phytonutrients are proven to clinical standards and accepted by FSANZ and other international regulatory bodies. The industry also faces the challenge that it may take even longer for the health benefits of vegetables to be understood by consumers. However, this project will enable the industry to take steps towards a future where claims can be made. In the longer term this work will better position the vegetable industry for the future to promote fresh vegetables and/or development of vegetable products as health solutions in the domestic and/or export markets due to verifiable levels of bioactive compounds. This will be achieved in part through: 1) improving grower awareness and access to resources which measure product relevant phytonutrients; and 2) enhancing their ability and capacity to consciously influence levels of phytonutrients in a crop via postharvest practices. In the longer term this will translate to increased incidence of vegetable growers positioning vegetables or developing vegetable products as health solutions in the domestic and/or export markets. This project has developed a useful resource of information on phytonutrients in vegetables and as a result amendments were made and resources added to www.veggycation.com.au as text and downloads.