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An investigation, dubbed Operation Weak Flesh, which began more than two years ago and still not complete, into an alleged fraud involving bribing licensed inspectors to approve rotten meat products for international sale and export. More than 40 companies, including meat-packing giants JBS SA and BRF SA and several bureaucrats, are being investigated. Various animal parts were allegedly used as substitutes for more expensive ingredients or products, and any off odours were allegedly camouflaged by treatment with acid. 

Read the full article at: Brazilian meat fraud

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As part of the Defra Project FA0159 on production and geographical origin of food, Fera are conducting a survey on the need for and availability of pork data bases for geographical origin determination.  Anyone who is interested in the country of origin labelling of pork should complete the survey. The results will be collated and incorporated into the final Defra project report which will be made publicly available at the end of 2018.

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JRC (the EU Commission's Joint Research Centre) has just published a report summarising 20 years of EU funded projects on the development of emerging technologies to identify fish species and improve fish trade traceability. The report covers methods based on DNA amplification, DNA sequencing, DNA arrays, proteomics and chemical profiling.

Read the report at: JRC fish species report

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This open access chapter reviews the current DNA approaches to authenticating olive oil by identification of the variety or the plant species from which it was extracted. The chapter examines the current trends and critical issues on DNA targeted approaches used for traceability and authenticity of olive oil in this rapidly expanding field.

Read the chapter at: DNA based methods for olive oil

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Italian researchers validated a commercial low cost and density (LCD) Array (Meat 5.0 Version) based on a DNA biochip technology that simultaneously detects 24 animal species. Mixtures of the animal species covered by the kit were prepared at different concentrations and tested on raw/pasteurised, and heated meat and milk matrices. The array showed high specificity and high sensitivity, and it appeared to be robust and repeatable.

Read the abstract at: Chip Array validation for meat species

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JRC Publishes Report on Honey Study

In 2015, the European Commission organised a major study on honey in all 28 Member States plus Norway and Switzerland as part of the EU Coordinated Control Plan. Samples regarded as non-compliant with the EU Honey Directive or suspicious were sent to JRC for further analyses by liquid chromatography- isotope ratio mass spectrometry. 893 samples were analysed by JRC and 14% found to contain added sugar. The final report of this study has just been published. The Commission will discuss with the relevant stakeholders an appropriate follow-up to this control plan.

Read the report at: JRC Report on honey

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Food Standards Agency Chair Heather Hancock has announced the appointment of a Chair and seven members to the Agency’s new Science Council. The Council will provide high-level, expert and independent advice and challenge to the Agency on how it uses science to underpin its work.

Professor Sandy Thomas will Chair the Council. Professor Thomas is Director of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and an Honorary Professor at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. She has extensive experience of leading, convening and generating cross-disciplinary analysis and strategic science to inform policy; and was Head of the UK Government’s Foresight Programme from 2007 to 2015.

The seven newly appointed members of the Council are: Professor Laura Green, Professor John O’Brien, Professor Sarah O’Brien, Mr Mark Rolfe, Dr Paul Turner, Professor Patrick Wolfe and Professor Mark Woolhouse. Mr Rolfe has been appointed to the role of Member bringing insights on the public’s perspectives.

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The aim of this study was to develop an ultra-fast method for meat identification using convection Palm PCR, based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b (Cyt b) gene. Amplicon size was designed to be different for beef, lamb, and pork. When these primer sets were used, each species-specific set detected the target meat species in singleplex and multiplex modes in a 24 min PCR run. The convection PCR method could detect as low as 1% of meat adulteration. The method work with both raw and processed meat. The approach can be used in the laboratory, and has potential for rapid on-site application. 

Read the abstract at: Rapid PCR meat species identification

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species-specific PCR and real-time PCR with EvaGreen dye targeting the ITS region of Carthamus tinctorius L. (safflower) were successfully developed. A normalised real-time PCR approach was also proposed in the range of 0.1–20% (w/w) of safflower in saffron, which was successfully validated and applied to commercial saffron samples (stigmas, powders and seasonings).

Read the abstract at: Safflower adulteration of saffron

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Italian researchers have developed a LC-MS/MS peptide marker based method to both identify and quantify the amount of beef and pork in a processed product - Bolognese sauce. Myofibrillar protein was extracted from the Bolognese sauce and treated with trypsin to give the beef and pork peptide markers, which were identified by LC-MS/MS. The beef and/or pork content could be quantified by comparing the amount of peptides with standard curves from known meat percentages in the sauce. This method gave good correlation with beef and porkcontent from blind samples.

Read the abstract at: Beef and pork in Bolognese sauce

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A new market report (meat speciation report) looks at the meat speciation testing market by species, method, and region, and projecting its growth to 2022. The meat speciation testing market is projected to reach US dollars 2.22 billion  by 2022 at a annual growth of 8.20% from 2016.

Read more: Meat speciation testing market report

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European Food Crime‏ publishes a paper that argues that food fraud, rather than being an ‘exogenous’ phenomenon perpetrated by externally organized (transnational) ‘criminal enterprise’, is better understood as an ‘endogenous’ phenomenon within the food system where legitimate occupational actors and organizations are in some way necessarily involved.
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Italian researchers used DNA methods to investigate the labelling of goat's milk products. The study reveals a high level of species mislabelling in milk products (80%), underlining the need to enhance dairy traceability practices, so as to guarantee product authenticity, and provide reliable information to consumers.

Read the abstract at: Goats milk product mislabelling

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Italy’s Carabinieri arrested 33 suspects in a Calabrian mafia clan, a criminal enterprise whose illicit dealings allegedly include exporting fake extra virgin olive oil to the United States. According to investigators, the clan were importing olive pomace oil, a product that is extracted from olive stones using chemical solvents, then labelling the low-quality oil as extra virgin olive oil, and exporting it to the U.S. 

Read the article at: Arrests for fake virgin olive oil

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Our Fifth Newsletter Has Just Been Published

The March 2017 Newsletter has just been distributed to all members. You can also find it on the link below. There are contributions from Fera on the EU FoodIntegrity project, Premier Analytical Services - our Centre of Expertise Profile this issue, and Nottingham Trent University's Food Authenticity Research and Services.

Hope you find it interesting.

Mark Woolfe

Network Secretary

FOOD_Authenticity_Newsletter March17.pdf

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This paper illustrates two approaches to classify between, fresh and previously frozen, and in a novel manner matured and matured previously frozen, as well as fresh and matured beef using the 500–1010 nm waveband, captured using hyperspectral imaging, and CIELAB (colour space) measurements.The results show successful classification based upon CIELAB between 1) fresh and previously frozen beef, and 2) fresh and matured beef, and also with a successful classification between matured and matured previously frozen beef using the entire spectral range. This method is rapid and non-destructive, and would be a very useful on-site screening method. 

Read the abstract at: Hyperspectral imaging for beef treatments

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Quality Control of Saffron Authenticity Using LC-MS

Spanish researchers have developed a liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-(quadropole time of flight)-MS) method to check the authenticity and adulteration of saffron, one of the most expensive spices/natural colourants on the market. Glycosylated kaempferol derivatives were determined as authenticity markers for saffron, and detection of geniposide revealed saffron adulteration with gardenia. The limit of detection of gardenia in saffron using this method was 0.2%.

Read the abstract at: QC of Saffron by LC-MS

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Brazilian researchers have developed a method to verify Scotch whisky brands and counterfeits based on UV spectroscopy combined with partial least squares for discriminant analysis (PLS-DA). The methods was developed using a reference set of 7 brands of whisky (6 Scotch and 1 Brazilian). The method was validated with an independent test set of authentic samples belonging to the seven reference brands, and another eleven brands not included in the training samples. Furthermore, seventy-three counterfeit samples were also used to validate the method. Results showed correct classification rates for genuine and false samples over 98.6% and 93.1%, respectively.

Read the abstract at: UV verification of whisky brands

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China to Tighten Regulation on Food and Drugs

China's Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) will tighten regulation and revise standards on an extensive range of food and drugs. A national plan from 2016-2020 requires whole-process control and whole chain regulation on food and drugs, especially on source control and risk prevention. A total of 1.1 million cases concerning food safety have been handled nationwide from 2013 to 2015. Those companies and individuals violating regulations will receive severe punishment in the future, such as criminal liability for the adulteration of food. The plan also intends to revise at least 300 food safety standards during the five year period.

Read the article at: China tightens food regulation

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