All Posts (545)

3708557211?profile=RESIZE_710xThe herbal products, sold worldwide as medicines or foods, are perceived as low risk because they are considered natural and thus safe. The quality of these products is ineffectively regulated and controlled. The growing evidence for their lack of authenticity is causing deep concern, but the scale of this phenomenon at the global, continental or national scale remains unknown.

Reserachers analysed data reporting the authenticity, as detected with DNA-based methods, of 5,957 commercial herbal products sold in 37 countries, distributed in all six inhabited continents. The global survey shows that a substantial proportion (27%) of the herbal products commercialized in the global marketplace is adulterated when their content was tested against their labeled, claimed ingredient species. The adulterated herbal products are distributed across all continents and regions. The proportion of adulterated products varies significantly among continents, being highest in Australia (79%), South America (67%), lower in Europe (47%), North America (33%), Africa (27%) and the lowest in Asia (23%).

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China is now Australia's biggest export market for beef. However, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that every second kilogram of beef sold in China under the banner of being Australian is not actually Australian beef.  Worst still, estimates by an Australian company, Beefledger based on industry insiders, suggest that 90% beef sold is not what it claims to be. It either does not originate from the country it claims to come from, or is not the cut of meat it claims to be, or is not beef at all. To address this significant problem Beefledger are about to launch blockchain technology for its supply chain to China, so that information about cattle location, health, transport and processing is uploaded into the Beefledger blockchain interface at every point in the supply chain. This will ensure Chinese consumers can purchase its beef with confidence.

Although there is no evidence of horsemeat being traded to China, a television report by Australian Broadcasting Company, ABC has shown a distressing account of retired race horses being slaughtered for human consumption, and this trade is far higher than the official data claims.

3705180202?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the two articles - ABC News  and the Daily Mail

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In an effort to boost consumption of tea and consumer confidence, the Indian Tea Board has been considering using blockchain technology to ensure traceability along the supply chain from tea plantation to auction and retail sale. It is hoped that this will prevent adulteration and reduce lower quality tea being sold, which has had an impact on consumer confidence and consumption. Examples of this are the use of added dyes to hide poor quality and increase the 'glossiness' of tea, and the large scale sale of cheaper Nepalese tea sold as the more expensive Indian Darjeeling tea. Blockchain would permit consumers to access information as to the origin of the tea in terms of region or garden, and know that the integrity of the tea has been preserved.

3701988071?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here

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One of the largest US Organic Fraud masterminded by a Missouri farmer  Randy Constant, who was given a prison  sentence for 122 months was reported in our 18 August 2019 News blog. Three other Nebraska farmers, who supplied Constant with conventional crops but sold as organic, were given shorter sentences. At the end of October, a fifth farmer from Missouri was given almost a two year sentence for his role in supplying conventional crops to Constant, as well as spraying Constant's crops with pesticides and fertiliser not permitted for organic crops. Randy Constant committed suicide in August, weeks before beginning his 10 year sentence.

3701949300?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here

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A US federal bill that would require plant-based and cell-cultured meat products to be labelled as ‘imitation’ meat has been welcomed by beef producers and slammed by plant-based meat advocates, as the row over terminology in the burgeoning space heats up. The bill would mean that any imitation meat product would be deemed to be misbranded unless its label bears the word ‘’imitation’’ as well as a statement that clearly indicates that the product is not derived from or does not contain meat. The term beef would exclude both plant-based and cell-cultured meat from using the term. The bill is aimed at transparency of products to consumers. Read full article.

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A freedom of information request by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) to the FSA's National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) revealed that in 2018 there were 1,193 food crimes recorded. Examples of food crime include the use of stolen food in the supply chain, unlawful slaughter, diversion of unsafe food, adulteration, substitution or misrepresentation, and document fraud. The most common food crime recorded by the NFCU is the ‘knowing sale of food substances not suitable for human consumption’, which could have consequences for public health. In 2018, there were 310 reported cases in this category, as compared to 73 in the previous year.

3689023291?profile=RESIZE_710x  Read the article here

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Chinese researchers have developed a rapid and simplified work flow analysis using ambient ionisation coupled to a miniature mass spectrometer. The sample treatment and chromatographic separation normally required for mass spectrometry analysis has been by-passed using capillary nano-electrospray ionisation, paper spray ionisation, or syringe spray ionisation depending on the sample.  These are connected to a miniature ion trap mass spectrometer with a continuous atmospheric pressure interface and tandem mass spectrometry capability to undertake the analysis. The system was tested with various food adulterants, and was able to determine as little as 20 - 50 μg/kg of illegal dyes in chilli powder and hotpot seasoning. This developed system has promising potential for fast and in situ screening of food adulteration.

  Read the abstract here3688992492?profile=RESIZE_710x

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Seafood is particularly prone to fraud. In order to try and ensure the supply chain remains integral, IBM and the US company Raw Seafoods have teamed up to introduce blockchain technology, initially to focus on US Atlantic scallop fisheries. Also Raw Seafoods is one of the first companies to introduce the IBM Food Trust Consumer app for smart phones, where consumers will be able to access full information on the scallops they are eating in certain restaurants or buying in retail using a QR code.  

  3686477206?profile=RESIZE_710x    Read the article here

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This paper gives an overview of the last 5 years literature in the application of analytical techniques such as liquid and gas chromatography, isotope ratio and elemental analysis, spectroscopic, DNA based and sensor technologies for the authentication of foods of plant origin, with a special focus on geographical origin traceability and authenticity. The review covers fruits, cereals, pulses, tea, coffee, spices, edible oil, fruit juices, and alcoholic beverages. The effectiveness of these techniques at laboratory and industrial level, and also their advantages and drawbacks are discussed.

 3686453059?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the full paper here

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This paper describes a method based on combining a streamlined DNA extraction method and a SYBR Green quantitative polymerase chain reaction (SyG-qPCR) assay to generate a ready-to-use kit for rapid detection of pork admixtures in processed meat products. The method utilises a rapid and efficient DNA extraction from samples and PCR analysis, which were completed in 10 minutes. The qPCR assay utilised repetitive LINE-1 elements specific to the genome of Sus scrofa domesticus (pig) as a target and incorporated internal controls. The method was validated using 121 processed meat products,  and  amplification was consistently detected only in samples containing pork. 

 1337352593?profile=RESIZE_710x                                    Read the abstract here

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This review by Polish researchers reviews the use of spectroscopic methods in testing the authenticity of some selected herbs and spices. The review covers the spectroscopic techniques - IR, NMR, UV in combination with advanced statistical methods (PCA, CA) to confirm either the origin of the product or  distinguishes the herbs or spices from any adulterating ingredients. 

3686348872?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the abstract here

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William D. Haning, manager of Wilbur-Ellis Co, Texas whose company was found to be selling adulterated ingredients for petfood was sentenced at a court hearing in October. Haning admitted that he and others shipped adulterated pet food ingredients and products to pet food manufacturers in Indiana and Connecticut, as well as six co-packers and co-manufacturers in Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, over a period of more than six years.The company had already been prosecuted (see News blog 22 Nov 2018) along with another company Diversified Ingredients Inc for this fraud, and ordered to pay back defrauded customers US $4.5 million. As Haning had pleaded guilty, and has already paid this money, the court decided to give him a 5 year probation sentence subject to review.  

3684014431?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here

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An introduction to DNA melting curve analysis


This e-seminar, entitled “An introduction to DNA melting curve analysis”, describes the principles behind, as well as best practice guidelines for the application of the post-PCR analytical method of DNA melting curve analysis. The information presented will provide the viewer with a general introduction to PCR-based DNA melting analysis as a method for food authenticity testing, and provide guidance on how to design, implement and analyse PCR DNA melting assay data. Topics covered will include the principles underpinning DNA melting analysis, designing PCR DNA melting assays, examples of PCR instruments compatible with DNA melting analysis, and guidance on troubleshooting. Those who should consider viewing this e-seminar include individuals currently working within the foods molecular testing area, particularly representatives from UK Official Control Laboratories, industry and members of organisations associated with the UK official control network.

View e-seminar here.

The production of this e-seminar was funded by Defra, FSA, FSS and BEIS under the Joint Knowledge Transfer Framework for Food Standards and Food Safety Analysis.

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In a follow up of a 2018 report, Oceana Canada have released a recent report on the results of a survey of 90 samples taken from 50 different locations in Montreal in 2019. The samples were sent to a commercial laboratory for testing using DNA barcoding for species identification, which found that 31 samples were a different species than was claimed, 21 were mislabelled and three contained species not authorised for sale in Canada.  The 2018 report found a mislabelling rate of 44% in samples from from 5 cities, excluding Montreal. The Montreal results, when combined with previous investigations since 2017, found 47% of the 472 fish samples to date were mislabelled in Montreal, Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

1076187540?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here and also Oceana Canada's report

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Urea is added as an adulterant to give milk whiteness and increase its consistency by improving the non-fat solids content, but excessive amounts of urea in milk causes overload and kidney damage. A sensitive method for detecting and quantifying urea adulteration of milk has been developed using FT-NIRS (Fourier Transformed Near Infra Red Spectroscopy) coupled with multivariate analysis. The model was developed using 162 fresh milk samples, consisting of 20 non-adulterated samples (without urea), and 142 samples with the urea adulterant at 8 different concentrations (0.10%, 0.30%, 0.50%, 0.70%, 0.90%, 1.10%, 1.30%, and 1.70%), each prepared in triplicate. The NIR data coupled with the PLS‐DA (Partial Least Squares -Discriminant Analysis) model can be used to discriminate between the unadulterated fresh milk samples and those adulterated with urea.  Furthermore, the NIR data coupled with PLSR (Partial Least Squares Regression) models may be used to quantify the level of the urea in milk samples. 

2018399?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the full paper

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The Food Authenticity Network has announced that McCormick & Company, Incorporated (NYSE: MKC), a global leader in flavour, is its first industry supporter. In addition, Sterling Crew (FIFST, FCIEH, FRSPH, CEnvH, CSci.), Co-Founder of Kitchen Conversation, Managing Director of SQS Ltd and Strategic Advisor at Shield Safety Group and Dynamic Risk Indicator, Independent Scientific advisor and board member at Campden BRI is to become the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Network as of immediate effect.
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The FDA has has launched an updated version of its Food Defense Plan Builder (FDPB) to help companies meet the requirements of the Intentional Adulteration rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The updated FDPB has been aligned with the requirements in the Intentional Adulteration (IA) rule, so that it can be used to easily create food defence and fraud mitigation plans, and support compliance with the rule. The user friendly plan is not a legal requirement, but guides companies through the following sections: 

  • Facility Information
  • Product/Process Descriptions
  • Vulnerability Assessments
  • Fraud Mitigation Strategies
  • Food Defense Monitoring Procedures
  • Food Defence Corrective Actions Procedures
  • Food Defence Verification Procedures
  • Supporting Documents
  • Food Defence Plan Signatures

Read the article here and obtain the FDPB plan here


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Crude red palm oil is a traditional cooking oil in many tropical countries especially in West Africa. Ghanaian researchers (in cooperation with Queens University Belfast) have developed a rapid, non-destructive method to detect Sudan dye adulteration of red palm oil using a portable NIR spectrometer with multivariate analysis. The multivariate model was determined using a total of 520 samples of red palm oil comprising; 40 authentic samples together with 480 adulterated samples containing Sudan dyes (I, II, III, IV of 120 samples each). Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to extract relevant spectral information, which gave visible cluster trends for authentic samples and adulterated ones.  The optimised results by cross-validation revealed that MSC-PCA + SVM (Support Vector Machine) gave an identification rate above 95% for both calibration and prediction sets, and hence ould be used successfully to differentiate between authentic red palm oils and adulterated ones. 

3676231014?profile=RESIZE_710x  Read the abstract here

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3674633424?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Royal Society of Chemistry has published a book on 'DNA Techniques to Verify Food Authenticity'                       (, which includes a chapter (number 26) on the Food Authenticity Network.

 About the book:

The food supply chain needs to reassure consumers and businesses about the safety and standards of food. Global estimates of the cost of food fraud to economies run into billions of dollars hence a huge surge in interest in food authenticity and means of detecting and preventing food fraud and food crime. Approaches targeting DNA markers have assumed a pre-eminence.

This book is the most comprehensive and timely collection of material from those working at the forefront of DNA techniques applied to food authenticity. Addressing the new field of analytical molecular biology as it combines the quality assurance rigour of analytical chemistry with DNA techniques, it introduces the science behind DNA as a target analyte, its extraction, amplification, detection and quantitation as applied to the detection of food fraud and food crime. 

Making the link with traditional forensic DNA profiling and describing emerging and cutting-edge techniques such as next generation sequencing, this book presents real-world case studies from a wide perspective including from analytical service providers, industry, enforcement agencies and academics.  It will appeal to food testing laboratories worldwide, who are just starting to use these techniques and students of molecular biology, food science and food integrity. Food policy professionals and regulatory organisations who will be using these techniques to back up legislation and regulation will find the text invaluable. Those in the food industry in regulatory and technical roles will want to have this book on their desks.


Author information:

The editors possess unrivalled expertise and are keen to describe and foster advances in the key area of DNA techniques applied to food authenticity. Dr Lucy Foster is an experienced food scientist, and head of food research including authenticity research at Defra, for many years commissioning studies of global reach. Dr Malcolm Burns is an internationally recognised molecular biologist and expert in DNA quantitation. Dr Michael Walker was a founder board member of the Food Standards Agency, a subject matter expert to the Elliott Review, is Head of the Office of the Government Chemist, and, with a thriving consulting practice, is an experienced expert witness.


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