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July 2016: California Prunes is delighted with a new independent review of scientific literature just published online in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, which casts doubt on the common perception that eating dried fruit can cause problems with dental health.

The review undertaken by Dr Michele Sadler, a registered nutritionist concludes that current advice - which suggests that eating dried fruit should be restricted to mealtimes because of concerns about its adverse effects on dental health - is ill-founded and premature. It is based on only weak evidence with a lack of good quality scientific data to substantiate such concrete advice.

The review also highlights a number of potential reasons by which eating traditional dried fruit (to which no sugars are added during the drying process, e.g. prunes) might be a positive for dental health. For example, prunes contain relatively high levels of sorbitol(1) and a health claim authorised for use in the EU suggests that sorbitol, when used in place of sugar, can help maintain tooth mineral content(2) . In addition, the chewy texture of dried fruits and their delicious taste might help to promote the flow of saliva, which plays a role in neutralising the negative effects of acid produced by the plaque bacteria and encourages remineralisation of the tooth enamel. The review also discusses the possibility that substances known as polyphenols in dried fruit might provide anti-bacterial benefits and may help to fight the harmful oral bacteria present in the mouth.

Esther Ritson-Elliott, European Marketing Manager for California Prunes says, “The public needs to be aware that UK government and NHS advice, which recommends that eating dried fruit as a between-meal snack should be restricted (on the basis that its ‘stickiness’ and natural sweet taste can cause dental caries) lacks any robust scientific evidence. Consumers are also becoming confused in relation to the sugars featured in different types of dried fruit. Traditional dried fruit contains the same naturally occurring sugars as its equivalent fresh fruit (so for example one fresh plum has the same sugars content as one dried prune). This is in total contrast to the widely available newer dried fruits that are sugar infused, candied or processed using fruit purees and fruit juice concentrates which clearly contains added ‘free’ sugars(3) . Eating non-traditional dried fruits which feature added sugars is a bit like eating confectionery or other foods high in sugars. Overall, this review indicates that there is no need to allow the proven nutritional benefits of traditional dried fruit, (high in fibre, low in fat and containing useful nutrients) to be overshadowed by an unsubstantiated belief that consuming these foods represents a risk to dental health. In particular, the high fibre content of dried fruit is in line with new government advice that advocates an increase in fibre intakes, so consumers would benefit from helpful, evidence based advice on how eating dried fruit can help them achieve these revised targets”.

Ends / 28th July 2016

Media Contact: Carla Wessel carla@believeeve.com / 01227 700175 / 07970 252566

Nutrition / Health Contact: Jennette Higgs, jennette@foodtofit.com (or call via media contact number)

Notes to editor
Author of the review, Dr Michele Sadler, has a BSC in Nutrition (University of London), a PhD in Biochemistry and Nutritional Toxicology (University of Surrey), and is a Registered Nutritionist with over 30 years’ experience. A former Scientific Editor at the British Industrial Biological Research Association and a former Senior Nutritionist at the British Nutrition Foundation, Michele runs a nutrition consultancy focusing on the application of nutrition science within the food industry, including advising on the sufficiency of scientific evidence to support product claims, and advising on protocols for clinical trials designed for health claim applications.

The California Prune Board, under the authority of the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture represents the entire 900 prune plums growers and 29 prune packers of California, which is the largest producer of prunes in the world.

Find more information on research, recipes and how-to videos at www.californiaprunes.co.uk.
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1 The drying process required to create prunes converts the naturally occurring sugars to sorbitol – prunes contain about 15g sorbitol per 100g compared with 38g total sugars (Nadimi et al 2011)

2 The health claim ‘contributes to the maintenance of tooth mineralisation’ is permitted on foods and drinks containing xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, lactitol and / or erythritol, amongst other sweeteners in place of sugar, provided that the foods or drinks do not lower plaque pH below 5.7 during and up to 30 min after consumption

3 Since 2003, the World Health Organization has adopted a classification of dietary sugars that recommends restricting intake of ‘free sugars’, defined as all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices. In 2015 ‘fruit juice concentrates’ were included in the definition

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