The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) states that it is essential for people to understand what constitutes a healthy diet and to know how to use their resources in the most effective way. Iodine is an essential nutrient for mammals, required as a mandatory structural and functional element of thyroid hormones. Previous studies in Latvia highlighted a tendency of reduced level of iodine for newborns, school-age children and pregnant women. No studies in the general adult population had been conducted yet. The aim of the study was to evaluate the level of knowledge regarding the role of iodine in nutrition in the adult population of Latvia. In total 199 adults participated in the survey. Data on the knowledge about the occurrence of iodine in nature and foodstuffs, the role of iodine in nutrition, and its deficiency were obtained. Results of the survey showed that only 4.5% of respondents used iodised salt daily in the diet. One-fourth knew that iodine is widely found in the environment and more than one-third knew all of the main functions of iodine in the human body. Salt and sea food were mentioned as the most common iodine sources. While iodised salt is used rarely, public awareness about the role of iodine is good and potential iodine deficiency in Latvia is likely due to unbalanced diet rather than lack of knowledge.
Elīna Ciekure, Inese Siksna, Olga Valciņa, Ludmila Vīksna and Angelika Krūmiņa
Ready-to-eat (RTE) foods are challenging for food business operators as they need to remain qualitative and safe for consumers. However, consumers tend to choose them more and more often because of fast and easy handling. The highest risk from RTE foods is microbiological contamination, particularly for vulnerable groups like children, elderly, and pregnant women. The aim of the research was to assess the microbiological quality of RTE meat and fish products to highlight possible risks for consumers. A total of 15 984 analyses performed on RTE meat and fish products were included in this study. It was found that RTE meat and fish product samples representative of the market in Latvia in the period 2012-2015 had high microbiological quality and only in rare cases was contamination with hygiene indicatororganisms (coliforms and Escherichia coli) and pathogens (Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and sulphite-reducing clostridia) detected. However, it is important to pay attention to customer habits of cooking and preparing RTE foods as well - thermal processing for products intended to be used cooked, use before expiration date and adequate storage rules for products, as these have important regarding microbiological risks for health.