All Posts (610)

In our March 2020 Newsletter on page 8 there was a call for new Centres of Expertise. Originally, the closing date for proforma applications was the end of March. In view of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 situation, the deadline for new applications has been extended until the end of April. I would encourage any laboratory which is either specialist or general in authenticty methodology, especially with an agent or base in the UK, to consider applying.

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4274482663?profile=RESIZE_710xGas chromatography techniques are routinely used to detect key lipids (e.g., triacylglycerols) to assess milk origins and to detect foreign milks in bovine milk. However, such approach requires several sample preparation steps and a dedicated laboratory environment, precluding a high throughput process. In order to simplify sample preparation and speed of analysis, UK researchers developed a novel and simple method without organic solvent extractions for the detection of bovine and non-dairy milks based on lipids fingerprint by routine MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. The method was tested using mixtures of bovine with either soya or coconut milks in the range of 0-100% additions. Marker ions specific to each type of milk permitted a reproducible and cost effective approach to milk analysis, which is suitable to qualitatively typify milks and potentially their adulteration.

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4273790207?profile=RESIZE_710xThis pilot study used SIRA (stable isotope ration analysis) and trace element analysis to verify the organic status of pork purchased in the markets from four different regions of China. Four stable isotope ratios (δ13C, δ15N, δ2H and δ18O) and the concentrations of seven elements (K, Na, Mg, Ca, Fe, Cu and Se) were determined in organic and conventional pork samples from the four locations of China. Principal component analysis (PCA) and orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) were used to analyse stable isotope ratios and multi-element concentrations in pork. Discrimination between the organic and conventionally reared pigs was based mainly on δ15N as the marker for organic feedstuffs. Using the limited database of analytical values, the methodology would potentially be able to confirm whether a sample of pork came from the region and organic status it claimed. 

Read the  abstract here

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4248572073?profile=RESIZE_710xThis study examines fraud vulnerability in the Dutch food service sector; identifies underlying fraud vulnerability factors; and studies the differences in fraud vulnerability between casual dining restaurants, fine dining restaurants and mass caterers for four product groups. Vulnerability was assessed by an adapted SSAFE food fraud vulnerability assessment, tailored to the food service sector. Fifteen food service operators were assessed, and were rated high vulnerability for 40% of the fraud indicators, which is much higher than food manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers assessed in a previous study. In particular, there was more opportunities for fraud and fewer controls were noted. The overall fraud vulnerability was determined more by the type of food service operator than by the type of food product. Hence casual dining restaurants were assessed as being the most vulnerable, followed by fine dining restaurants. Mass caterers were assesed as the least vulnerable operators to fraud, because they had more adequate controls in place.

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4248264363?profile=RESIZE_710xBecause of its higher price, goats milk is vulnerable to adulteration by cheaper cows milk. A rapid method based on β-carotene as a marker for cows milk, but absent in goats milk, has been developed using Raman and Infrared spectroscopy with chemometrics. The application of PLSR (partial least squares regression) to the two spectrocopic methods was the most successful giving an good correlation coefficient of validation (R2 value > 96) and an accurate determination of β-carotene content and percentage in spiked milk.

Read the abstract here

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4245619848?profile=RESIZE_180x180Following the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), BSI has considered how it can actively support and contribute towards the collective efforts in mitigating the potential risks caused by this global health issue amongst the UK business community.

It reviewed the information available to it and as a result, BSI has worked with international standards organizations to make these standards accessible for the purposes of organizations that are involved in the UK COVID-19 response.

Continuity and Resilience

  • PD CEN/TS 17091:2018 Crisis management: Building a strategic capability
  • BS EN ISO 22301:2019  Business continuity management systems — Requirements
  • BS EN ISO 22313:2020 Business continuity management systems. Guidance on the use of ISO 22301
  • ISO/TS 22318:2015 Guidelines for supply chain continuity
  • ISO 22316:2017 Organizational resilience. Principles and attributes.

Risk Management

  • BS ISO 31000:2018 Risk management — Guidelines
  • BS 31100:2011 Risk management - Code of practice and guidance for the implementation of BS ISO 31000

Community Resilience

  • BS ISO 22319:2017 Community resilience - Guidelines for planning the involvement of spontaneous volunteers
  • BS ISO 22330:2018 Guidelines for people aspects of business continuity
  • BS ISO 22395:2018 Community resilience. Guidelines for supporting vulnerable persons in an emergency

Emergency Management

  • BS ISO 22320:2018 Emergency management. Guidelines for incident management

These standards offer information and practical advice for businesses and individuals, which help the business community navigate the challenges and potential risks associated with the current global crisis.

BSI will constantly be reviewing the situation in order to ensure that we are working with businesses in the most effective and supportive way in these extraordinary times.

View Standards.

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Plant-based products are on the rise. Consumers are increasingly interested in eating a plant-based diet, as is evident by a surge in sales of these types of products internationally. According to a report by Health Focus International in 2018, 17% of consumers in the U.S. aged 15 to 70 to eat a predominately plant-based, while 60% report to be cutting back on meat-based products.

Plant-based refers to products that are free from animal-derived ingredients such as the following: additives, carriers, flavorings, enzymes, processing aids and others (or work towards being free of those ingredients). With market trends driving the food industry, brand-owners may be interested in developing new products to meet the demand. This means that suppliers, may be required to provide a site that honour’s brand claims of beingplant-based.

To support businesses to meet this shift in consumer purchasing behaviour, BRC Global Standards has published its first edition of the Plant-Based Global Standard. The Standard is based on a comprehensive management system approach and provides a framework for manufacturers to assist them in the production of plant-based food. It includes operational criteria required to be in place to ensure that plant-based products are free of material of animal origin.

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4233925226?profile=RESIZE_710xThe FSA has today published guidance to assist food businesses in responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The new guidance has been developed with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and covers a range of areas including good hygiene practice, management of employee sickness, and social distancing for specific food business settings.

It is very unlikely that people can catch COVID-19 from food. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.

The FSA is working with the food industry to ensure that businesses know what their responsibilities are and what actions they need to take to maintain safety standards and protect staff during the outbreak.

The guidance can be found on GOV.UK


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4223202673?profile=RESIZE_710xTurmeric sales in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the last five years, from US$163 million in 2014 to US$375 million in 2019, which is also mirrored by a global increase as well. This increase in turmeric trade also gives an increased problem of adulteration and fraud. The article discusses with leading experts the potential and identified adulterants, and what consumers should do to protect themselves from purchasing adulterated turmeric.  

Read the article here

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4223074748?profile=RESIZE_710xThe content of the endosperm of the coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) contains “coconut water”. This practically sterile liquid, which is prized for its delicate, albeit labile, flavour when fresh, has had a recent dramatic increase in global demand. This review examines  the variances in natural composition, maturity, processing-induced compositional changes, adulterations, product recalls, classical and instrumental methods of analysis and on the available composition standards of coconut water. The review also makes recommendations on the analytical approaches to verifying the authenticty and determination of possible adulterants, but also given the variation of composition with maturity, that  a weight of evidence approach should be taken in the assessment of authenticity.

Read the full paper.

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4200987362?profile=RESIZE_710xA conceptual model for consumer trust in the food system relating social trust, beliefs in trustworthiness, overall trust in food chain actors (farmers, manufacturers, retailers and authorities), and confidence in both the supply of food products and food technologies, was developed and validated in 5 countries (Germany, France, Poland Spain and UK). The data were collected via an online survey in the 5 countries. Consumer confidence is largely determined by consumer beliefs about the trustworthiness of food chain actors. In particular the beliefs about openness, and especially about the openness of food manufacturers, are strongly related to consumer confidence. Consumer confidence and trust appears lowest in France and highest in the UK, although the differences are small.

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130790201?profile=RESIZE_710xNew figures from Italian farming organisation Coldiretti suggest the turnover of the 'agri-mafia' is now estimated at €24.5bn per year, affecting the entire food supply chain from farm to table. In an attempt to combat this organised criminal activity, the Italian Council of Ministers has approved new legislation that it says would help crack down on the country’s big problem with agriculture and food fraud. The bill introduced tougher criminal penalties for “agribusiness piracy” crimes, such as selling products as made in Italy when they are not, falsely claiming foods are organic or outright counterfeiting. The new penalties apply to those who “produce, transform, package, distribute, sell or profit from” fraudulent agricultural products such as extra virgin olive oil. 

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4167366632?profile=RESIZE_710xA pilot programme is applying blockchain to Australia's Victoria’s citrus production, which exported 104,000 tonnes during the 2018/19 season, worth A$162m. The long-term goal is to apply the technology to all Australian citrus exports. The pilot programme is funded by Agriculture Victoria, and will aim to improve a number of key factors, including determining the fruit’s origin, protection against counterfeiting, location of origin, secure market access and rapid food recalls.  Read the article here 

For a more general discussion about how blockchain can assist in ensuring the authenticity of foods read this article.

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4167177917?profile=RESIZE_710xThe common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) is highly appreciated by consumers, and Spanish reseachers have developed a rapid assay to determine its authenticity. The method  is based on TaqMan real-time PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) method to amplify a 122 base pairs (bp) fragment of the mitochondrial COI (Cytochrome Oxidase I) region. Reference and commercial samples of S. officinalis showed a threshold cycle (Ct) mean of 14.40, while the rest of the species examined did not amplify. No cross-reactivity was detected with any other species. The assay differentiates S. officinalis from other species of the genus Sepia and other cephalopod species, and works for fresh, frozen, grilled, cooked and canned samples of Sepia spp. 

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4159170239?profile=RESIZE_710xThe official AOAC method for  the detection of C4 derived exogenous sugars, such as cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, in honey is based on stable-isotope ratio mass spectrometry analysis of δ13C value of honey versus δ13C of honey protein. However, this method gives false positives with certain Australian honeys, especially those from the Leptospermum species such as Manuka honey. Australian researchers have improved the method, which not only determines the isotopic values of “proteins” precipitated using the standard AOAC method, but also “proteins” precipitated after incorporation of a further modification step, which removes insoluble material (including pollen) from the honey before precipitation. The modified method includes the analysis of different isotopes of the precipitated protein, sugar profiles and Manuka markers. This new method will detect residual sugar feeding of bees, as well as the adulteration of honey with C4 sugar.

Read the abstract here

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4156897705?profile=RESIZE_710xIn a first for food authentication, German researchers have developed a new CRISPR/Cas9 based in vitro assay to distinguish a fine cocoa variety from a bulk cocoa variety. Ecuador is a major supplier of a fine single cocoa Variety Nacional (Arriba), but also produces a cheaper but less aromatic bulk cocoa “Colección Castro Naranjal 51” (CCN-51).  There are several characteristic SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that could be used to distinguish these two varieties. However, the detection of single base exchanges in order to differentiate raw material types or varieties is challenging, as some of the methods require the use of restriction endonucleases. The use of the programmable Cas9 endonuclease known from the genome editing system CRISPR/Cas9 is a powerful alternative. The detection of bulk cocoa in fine cocoa uses a SNP which is located within a PAM region (protospacer adjacent motif) mandatory for the Cas9 endonuclease. Consequently, only the bulk cocoa is attacked by the nuclease. The result can be recorded using agarose or capillary gel electrophoresis (AGE and CGE). Both methods yielded comparable results. AGE can be used for a semi-quantitative estimation and the more sophisticated CGE for quantitation based on a calibration line. The assay could reliably detect 10% CCN-51in an admixture with Arriba, which is a realistic level for routine applications.

This approach could be adapted to other authenticty applications which use SNPs for variety or species identification. Read the abstract here

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The True Cost of Illicit Fisheries

4144311116?profile=RESIZE_710xA research paper has just been published outlining the true cost of illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries around the world on 143 countries. The paper estimates that the annual magnitude of the unregulated, illicit trade in marine fish catch globally is between 8 and 14 million metric tons,   suggesting gross revenues of US$9 - 17 billion associated with these catches. The estimated loss in annual economic impact due to the diversion of fish from the legitimate trade system is estimated at US$26 - 50 billion, while losses to countries’ tax revenues are between US$2 - 4 billion. This trade is having a disproportionat impact on the nutritional status and economic wellbeing of countries in Africa, Asia and South America in particular. This trade is mostly carried out by a large factory ships, which take the fish overseas without unloading or processing in the fishing ground host countries, thereby depriving local economies of tax, income, and jobs, and leading to depletion of the regions fish stocks.

Read the article here or the full research paper

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  • COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus which is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans, so there is still a lot of uncertainty
  • Food has not been identified as a likely source or route of transmission of the virus
  • The global food sector may be impacted both economically and socially, in relation to: human resources, such as changes in key personnel; supply chains of ingredients, packaging, finished products and equipment; sourcing as manufacturers may need to rely on alternative suppliers at short notice; transportation of people, materials and goods.

 Hygiene and Food Safety

  • Food handlers are expected to already be well informed and trained about hand hygiene in factory operations (including washrooms and canteens). In the event of lack of access to hand-washing facilities with soap and warm water, sanitisers can be used, but are not as effective if hands are visibly soiled. Please refer to IFST’s Food Science Fact Sheet on ‘Hand Hygiene’
  • Meat products can be safely consumed if cooked thoroughly and handled properly, and WHO guidance mentions that individuals with underlying medical conditions should avoid contact with live animal markets and wild animals
  • In line with food safety best practice, good hygiene is important to avoid cross-contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready to eat foods, in food preparation areas.

Read full update.

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A New Method for Exogenous Sugar Detection

4115428087?profile=RESIZE_710xSugar adulteration using carbon isotope ratio analysis by mass spectrometry is well established, but it can only be used for C4 sugar (from cane or maize) adulteration. Although a method has been developed to determine C3 sugar (from beet, most fruits or wheat) adulteration using hydrogen/deuterium isotope ratio analysis by mass spectrometry, it requires very time consuming chemical derivative preparation. The established method for C3 sugar determination has been quantitative deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance (2H NMR) measurement of ethanol derived from the sugars in the sample, which again is time consuming, and requires a normalisation process to compensate for the deuterium content of the fermentation water. Researchers at IAEA have developed a rapid method for both C3 and C4 sugar detection, which derivatises the carbohydrate's exchangeable hydroxyl-hydrogens, so that the derivative compound is sufficiently volatile to be separated and measured by a gas chromatograph coupled to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer. Feasibility of the method has been shown by measuring sugars from fruit juice and honey, but further work is required to assess the reproducibility of this method and establish its applicability for detection of undeclared addition of exogenous sugars and syrups to a range of other foods and beverages.  .

Read the abstract

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The US agencies have issued letters to seven companies, and removed online listings from others, whose products falsely claim to prevent or treat coronavirus.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued warning letters to seven companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 products that claim to treat or prevent the virus. At current there is no approved prevention or therapy for coronavirus.

According to the agencies, the products being sold are unapproved and pose a significant risk to patient health, as they may be unsafe for consumption and/or stop or delay patients getting necessary medical diagnoses and treatments.

The companies selling these products are violating federal law and may be subject to legal action, including but not limited to seizure or injunction, emphasise the organisations.



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