Supplementation of the maternal diet with Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa HBK) prevents cognitive impairment in the offspring of obese mothers

Maternal obesity may trigger long-term neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring. Considering the benefits of the Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa H.B.K.), a rich source of nutrients such as selenium, this study aimed to evaluate its effect on the behavior of obese rat offspring and its relationship with oxidative stress. From 60 days of age until weaning, female Wistar rats were fed a high-fat diet (mHF) or an HF diet supplemented with 5% Brazil nut (mHF/BN), while control mothers (mCTL) were fed a standard diet or a standard diet supplemented with 5% Brazil nut (mBN). Male pups received a standard diet throughout life and, at 30 and 90 days old, were subjected to behavioral tasks to evaluate anxiety and cognition. Biochemical evaluations were performed at 90 days of age. No alterations were observed in the anxiety behavior of the offspring. However, the offspring of the mHF group (oHF) exhibited impaired short-term memory at 30 and 90 days of age and impaired long-term memory at 30 days. Short-term memory impairment was prevented by Brazil nuts in young rats (30 days). While the serum selenium concentration was reduced in the oHF group, the serum catalase concentration was reduced in all groups, without changes in lipid peroxidation or protein carbonylation. Brazil nut maternal diet supplementation prevented short- and long-term cognitive impairment in the offspring, which may be related to the selenium levels.

The Effect of Raisin (Currant) Intake on Anthropometric Indices and Blood Pressure: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials

Introduction: Raisins are a relatively healthy snack, particularly when compared to snacks with a high glycemic index, and can have beneficial effects on human health against chronic disorders. However, contradictory information has been reported on the effect of raisin consumption on anthropometric indices and blood pressure. This systematic review and meta-analysis sought to evaluate the effect of raisin consumption on body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure in adults. Methods: We comprehensively searched electronic databases, including PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, ISI Web of Science, and Embase, from inception to February 2021. Overall, eight randomised clinical trials with 352 participants were included in the present study. Results: There was a significant effect between raisin consumption and SBP (weighted mean difference [WMD]: 3.45 mmHg, 95% CI: −6.30, −0.59, P = 0.01), but no significant effect was found between raisin consumption with diastolic blood pressure (WMD: −0.51 mmHg, 95% CI: −2.67, 1.65, P = 0.64), body weight (WMD: 0.08 kg, 95% CI: −0.41, 0.57, P = 0.74), body mass index (WMD: 0.02 kg/m2, 95% CI: −0.54, 0.59, P = 0.93), and waist circumference (WMD: −0.38 cm, 95% CI: −1.24, 0.48, P = 0.38). Consumption of raisins can reduce SBP, with greater effects found in unhealthy individuals, in the dosages of ≤84 g/d, and intervention durations >6 weeks. Conclusions: It appears that raisins could be advocated as an SBP-reducing snack in the management of hypertension in adults.

Metabolisable energy from nuts and patterns of nut consumption in the Australian population: a secondary analysis of the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey

Background: Nut intake is not associated with increased body weight, which may be explained by their metabolisable energy, among other factors. Therefore, total energy intake may be overestimated among nut consumers. This study aimed to describe the metabolisable energy from nuts and nut consumption patterns in the Australian population. Methods: A nut-specific database was expanded to include metabolisable energy of nuts (based on nut type and form) and applied to the 2011–12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS). Participants were Australians aged 2 years and older from the 2011–12 NNPAS (n = 12,153, with n = 4,765 nut consumers). Mean metabolisable energy intake was compared with mean energy intake using Atwater factors in nut consumers. Additionally, nut consumption patterns were explored, including the proportion of nuts consumed at meals and snacks. Results: Among nut consumers, mean metabolisable energy from nuts based only on nut type was 241.2 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 232.0, 250.5) kJ/day and mean metabolisable energy considering both nut type and form was 260.7 (95% CI: 250.2, 271.2) kJ/day. Energy intake from nuts using Atwater factors was 317.6 (95% CI: 304.8, 330.3) kJ/day. Nuts were more likely to be consumed at snack occasions, with approximately 63% of nut intake occurring as a snack. Conclusion: Application of metabolisable energy to the 2011–12 NNPAS has a significant impact on calculation of energy intake from nuts. Nut consumption patterns identified a majority of nut consumption occurring as snacks. These findings may inform strategies to support nut consumption in Australia.

Prunes preserve cortical density and estimated strength of the tibia in a 12-month randomized controlled trial in postmenopausal women: The Prune Study

Summary: Non-pharmacological therapies, such as whole-food interventions, are gaining interest as potential approaches to prevent and/or treat low bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women. Previously, prune consumption preserved two-dimensional BMD at the total hip. Here we demonstrate that prune consumption preserved three-dimensional BMD and estimated strength at the tibia. Purpose: Dietary consumption of prunes has favorable impacts on areal bone mineral density (aBMD); however, more research is necessary to understand the influence on volumetric BMD (vBMD), bone geometry, and estimated bone strength. Methods: This investigation was a single center, parallel arm 12-month randomized controlled trial (RCT; NCT02822378) to evaluate the effects of 50 g and 100 g of prunes vs. a Control group on vBMD, bone geometry, and estimated strength of the radius and tibia via peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) in postmenopausal women. Women (age 62.1 ± 5.0yrs) were randomized into Control (n = 78), 50 g Prune (n = 79), or 100 g Prune (n = 78) groups. General linear mixed effects (LME) modeling was used to assess changes over time and percent change from baseline was compared between groups. Results:_ The most notable effects were observed at the 14% diaphyseal tibia in the Pooled (50 g + 100 g) Prune group, in which group × time interactions were observed for cortical vBMD (p = 0.012) and estimated bone strength (SSI; p = 0.024); all of which decreased in the Control vs. no change in the Pooled Prune group from baseline to 12 months/post. Conclusion: Prune consumption for 12 months preserved cortical bone structure and estimated bone strength at the weight-bearing tibia in postmenopausal women.

Daily Cashew and Brazil Nut Consumption Modifies Intestinal Health in Overweight Women on Energy-Restricted Intervention: A Randomized Controlled Trial (Brazilian Nuts Study)

Background: Increased intestinal permeability and dysbiosis are related to obesity. Nuts can provide nutrients and bioactive compounds that modulate gut microbiota and inflammation, enhancing the beneficial effects of weight loss. Objectives: To evaluate the effect of consuming cashew nuts (Anacardium occidentale L.) and Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa H.B.K) on intestinal permeability and microbiota, fecal SCFAs and pH, inflammation, and weight loss in energy restriction condition. Methods: In this 8-week randomized controlled trial, 40 women with overweight or obesity were assigned to energy-restricted groups (-500 kcal/d): control group (free of nuts) or Brazilian nuts group (BN: 30 g of cashew nuts and 15 g of Brazil nuts per day). Permeability was analyzed by the lactulose/mannitol test and the microbiota by sequencing the 16S gene in the V3-V4 regions. Plasma concentrations of inflammatory cytokines (TNF, IL-6, IL-10, IL-8, IL-17A) and C-reactive protein were analyzed. Results: In total, 25 women completed the intervention. Both groups lost weight without statistical differences. Lactulose excretion increased only in the control group (P < 0.05). The BN consumption increased fecal propionic acid and potentially beneficial bacteria, such as Ruminococcus, Roseburia, strains NK4A214 and UCG-002 from the Ruminococcaceae family, but also Lachnospiraceae family, Bacteroides, and Lachnoclostridium, when compared to the control group. Changes in intestinal permeability were correlated to a greater reduction in body fat (kg), and IL-8, and increases in Ruminococcus abundance. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate a positive impact of BN consumption within an energy-restricted context, linked to the augmentation of potentially beneficial bacteria and pathways associated with body fat reduction. Besides, BN consumption mitigated increased intestinal permeability, although its capacity to diminish permeability or enhance weight loss proved limited. This trial was registered at the Brazilian Registry of Clinical Trials as ReBEC (ID: RBR-3ntxrm).

Marketing Orders: February 2024

USA: Assessment Rate Decreased for California Walnuts

A rule issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implements a recommendation from the California Walnut Board to decrease the assessment rate for California walnuts handled under Marketing Order No. 984. This rule decreases the assessment rate for California walnuts handled under the Order from US$0.0125 per in-shell pound, the rate that was initially established for the 2023–2024 and subsequent marketing years, to US$0.011 per in-shell pound. The rule takes effect on February 29, 2024, and will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended or terminated.

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Food Safety Update: February 2024

EU: Restrictions on Use of Flavoring Substances

Commission Regulation (EU) 2024/238, published in the Official Journal of the European Union on January 16, 2024, introduces restrictions on the use of certain flavoring substances.

Substance Food category Maximum level
2-Phenylcrotonaldehyde Processed fruits and vegetables 0.05 mg/kg
5-Methyl-2-phenylhex-2-enal Processed fruits and vegetables 1.10 mg/kg
4-Methyl-2-phenylpent-2-enal Processed fruits and vegetables 0.09 mg/kg

Although the restrictions will apply as of the twentieth day following publication, transitional measures are envisaged for certain products lawfully placed on the market before the entry into force of the regulation.

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EU: Plant Protection Products Update

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2024/324 extended the approval periods for several active substances:

Substance New expiration of approval date
Mecoprop-P May 15, 2025
Pyraclostrobin September 15, 2025
Flutolanil June 15, 2025
Fluazinam April 15, 2026
Mepiquat October 15, 2025
Cyflufenamid June 30, 2027
Bromuconazole April 30, 2027
Buprofezin December 15, 2025
Phosphane March 15, 2026
Fluopyram June 30, 2026
Metsulfuron-methyl August 31, 2026
Benzovindiflupyr August 2, 2026
Lambda-cyhalothrin August 31, 2026

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New maximum residue limits (MRLs) were recently published for the following substances in or on nuts and dried fruits:

Substance Commodity MRL (mg/kg)
Oxamyl(1) Stone fruits 0.001
Berries and small fruits 0.001
Dates 0.001
Figs 0.001
Etridiazole(2) Fruits, fresh or frozen; tree nuts 0.01
Oilseeds and oil fruits (including peanuts) 0.01
Difenacoum(2) Fruits, fresh or frozen; tree nuts 0.01
Oilseeds and oil fruits (including peanuts) 0.01
Potassium permanganate(2) Fruits, fresh or frozen; tree nuts 0.01
Oilseeds and oil fruits (including peanuts) 0.01
Indoxacarb(3) Tree nuts 0.01
Stone fruits 0.01
Berries and small fruits (except cranberries) 0.01
Cranberries 1
Dates 0.01
Figs 0.01
Peanuts 0.01
Diethofencarb(4) Berries and small fruits 0.01
Fenoxycarb(4) Fruits, fresh or frozen; tree nuts 0.01
Famoxadone(5) Table grapes 0.01
Acrinathrin(5) Fruits, fresh or frozen; tree nuts 0.01
Oilseeds and oil fruits (including peanuts) 0.01
Prochloraz(5) Fruits, fresh or frozen; tree nuts 0.01
Oilseeds and oil fruits (including peanuts) 0.03
Sodium hypochlorite(5) Fruits, fresh or frozen; tree nuts 0.01
Oilseeds and oil fruits (including peanuts) 0.01
(Z)-13-hexadecen-11-yn-1-yl acetate(5) Fruits, fresh or frozen 0.01
Tree nuts 0.01
Oilseeds and oil fruits (including peanuts) 0.01
(Z,Z,Z,Z)-7,13,16,19-docosatetraen-1-yl isobutyrate(5) Fruits, fresh or frozen 0.01
Tree nuts 0.01
Oilseeds and oil fruits (including peanuts) 0.01
Haloxyfop(6) Fruits, fresh or frozen; tree nuts 0.01

(1) This MRL shall apply from May 11, 2024. More information

(2) This MRL shall apply from August 12, 2024. More information

(3) This MRL shall apply from August 14, 2024. More information

(4) This MRL shall apply from August 12, 2024. More information

(5) This MRL shall apply from August 12, 2024. More information

(6) This MRL shall apply from August 19, 2024. More information

Finally, on February 5, 2024, the Commission published Implementing Regulation (EU) 2024/425 concerning the non-approval of the active substance asulam-sodium. This regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day after its publication. More information

Latest Trade News and Agreements: February 2024

EU: Increased Controls on Certain Organic Products

The European Commission, together with the Group of Experts on Organic Production, has assessed the information in the Organic Farming Information System (OFIS) and concluded that increased control and reporting measures are necessary for certain imported products.

The additional control measures will be applied to the following organic products (among others) from January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2024:

Country Product CN code Sampling percentage
China Peanuts 1202 42 00 10%
Egypt Peanuts 1202 41 00

1202 42 00

Tunisia Dates 0804 10 00 10%
Vietnam Cashews 0801 32 00 10%

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USA: USDA Announces Two Investments to Strengthen Specialty Crops Sector

On January 29, 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced two investments designed to support the American specialty crops industry, which includes fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. The Assisting Specialty Crop Exports (ASCE) initiative will provide US$65 million for projects that will help the specialty crop sector increase global exports and expand to new markets. Additionally, US$72.9 million in grant funding will be available to support the specialty crops industry through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), which will fund innovative projects designed to bolster the competitiveness of the expanding specialty crop sector.

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Sustainability Update: February 2024

Cambodia-Africa: Cashew Nuts Association of Cambodia (CAC) Signs MoU with African Cashew Alliance (ACA)

On February 3, 2024, the Cashew Nuts Association of Cambodia (CAC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), as reported by the Phnom Penh Post. The objective of the MoU is to promote cooperation between the parties, facilitating the exchange of studies on the commodity from Africa and Cambodia, allowing access to farms and processing facilities in the respective countries, and participating in forums and conferences organized by both sides. “The [ACA] is a large alliance. With the MoU signed, we will continue to engage in in-depth discussions to assist cashew growers from both sides in understanding techniques to supply cashew nuts to processing countries like Vietnam and India,” CAC Vice President Suy Kokthean told the newspaper.

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EU: Update on Sustainability Reporting Standards

In December 2023, the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) were published in the Official Journal of the European Union under Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2023/2772 of 31 July 2023. This regulation sets the standards for companies to use in carrying out their reporting under the framework of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

On January 24, 2024, the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) voted in favor a Commission proposal that would delay both the adoption of sector-specific standards and the application of sustainability reporting obligations to certain third-country undertakings until June 2026. The JURI Committee report was tabled for a plenary vote but, at the time of writing, no date has been set.

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EU: Parliament Approves New Directive Banning Greenwashing

On January 17, 2024, the European Parliament voted in favor of the compromise text for an EU directive on empowering consumers for the green transition. This directive seeks to protect consumers from misleading marketing practices by banning problematic marketing practices related to greenwashing and the early obsolescence of goods.

Among other provisions, the directive prohibits the use of:

  • Generic environmental claims, e.g. “environmentally friendly,” “natural,” “biodegradable,” “climate-neutral” or “eco,” without proof.
  • Claims that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment because of emissions offsetting schemes.
  • Sustainability labels not based on approved certification schemes or established by public authorities.

Once the Council gives its final approval, the directive will be signed into law. Following publication in the Official Journal, member states will have 24 months to transpose the directive into national law.

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EU: Council Adopts Position on Forced Labor Product Ban Proposal

On January 26, 2024, the Council adopted its position on the regulation prohibiting products made with forced labor on the EU market. The Council’s position envisages the creation of a “forced labor single portal,” which would provide access to relevant information and tools, including a single information submission point, where information concerning alleged forced labor violations can be submitted anonymously, as well as a database, guidelines and information on decisions taken.

The adopted position provides the Council presidency with a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament, which adopted its own position in November 2023. Interinstitutional negotiations began on January 30.

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Ghana: Swiss Government Grant to Boost Cashew Sector

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has announced a US$10.5 million grant for the cashew and oil palm sectors under the umbrella of a five-year project known as the Ghana Private Sector Competitiveness Program Phase II. The aim of the program is to contribute to inclusive and sustainable growth through enhanced trade and competitiveness in the cashew and oil palm value chains. As reported by the Ghanaian news outlet Business and Financial Times, the grant aims to achieve 20% domestic processing of cashew and oil palm over the project’s duration as well as comprehensive regulatory and value chain harmonization and capacity building.

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USA: California Water Commission Outlines Water Strategies

The California Water Commission has published a white paper containing potential statewide strategies for protecting people and wildlife in the event of drought. Released on January 17, 2024, the white paper underscores the importance of recognizing drought as a natural and inevitable element of California’s hydrologic cycle and outlines four strategies for augmenting the state’s drought resilience: 1) scale up groundwater recharge, 2) conduct watershed-level planning to reduce drought impacts to ecosystems, 3) better position communities to prepare for and respond to drought emergencies, and 4) support improved coordination, information and communication in drought and non-drought years. The Commission expects state decision-makers to weigh whether and when to move forward with the suggested strategies, which are intended to complement the important work already underway by state agencies.

10-Year Analysis of RASFF Notifications for Mycotoxins in Nuts

Notifications have been trending downward in recent years

In a study published in Food Research International, researchers analyzed notifications from the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) on nuts and nut products contaminated with mycotoxins over a 10-year period.

Mycotoxins —secondary metabolites of various fungi— are observed in a broad range of human food and animal feed, including nuts, fruits, oil seeds, corn, herbs, spices and pulses. Mycotoxin contaminations generate more RASFF notifications than other hazards.

The study assessed the RASFF notifications for key mycotoxins such as total aflatoxins, aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and ochratoxin A (OTA) in nuts and nut products exported to EU countries between 2011 and 2021. During the study period, a total of 4,752 mycotoxin RASFF notifications were published for food products from all origins worldwide. Sixty-three percent of these notifications were for products in the category “Nuts, Nut Products and Seeds.” Of these, 52% were for peanuts, 27% for pistachios, 10% for hazelnuts and 5% for almonds. During the study period, 95% of notifications in peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds were for total aflatoxins, followed by 4% for AFB1 and 1% for OTA.

The number of RASFF notifications in nuts and nut products increased from 233 in 2012 to 293 in 2015, reaching a peak of 443 in 2018 before decreasing to 179 in 2021. Stricter regulations established by the EU in 2019, which increased the frequency of official controls on products from certain origins, might explain the decline in RASFF mycotoxin notifications after 2018.

In 91% of notifications involving nuts or nut products, the shipments were rejected at the border. Border rejections increased from 2013 to 2018, peaking at 405 in 2018, before falling to 179 in 2021, following a similar trend to that outlined above for total notifications.

Most RASFF notifications for mycotoxin contamination in nuts were for peanuts, especially those from China. Peanuts are susceptible to aflatoxins because they grow in the soil where aflatoxin-producing fungi thrive. Moreover, the variance of climate within China presents distinct favorable environmental conditions for aflatoxin production and the growth of aflatoxin-producing fungi. Notifications in peanuts from China peaked in 2015 at 92 and followed a downward trend thereafter, dropping to just 4 notifications in 2021. This change in trend coincided with the adoption an EU regulation during the 2014/15 season that imposed specific conditions on the import of certain peanuts from China.

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