adulteration (8)

Buffalo milk commands a premium price compared to cows’ milk, and is used to make mozzarella cheese. Products labelled as “buffalo mozzarella” must be made solely with buffalo milk, and not with milk from any other species. Reseachers at the Quadram Institute, Norwich have developed  a new multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mass spectrometry (MS) assay measuring the mass of ‘marker’ peptides which, due to the amino acid sequence differences, are characteristic of either buffalo or cow in αs1-casein. The markers can also be used to give relative quantitation for mixtures of bovine and buffalo milk or cheese, based upon ratios of transition peak areas.

The method was used to conduct a pilot survey of retail mozzarella products. Eight samples of supermarket cheeses specifically labelled as buffalo were all found to be 100% buffalo. Five other samples, simply labelled mozzarella, were all 100% cow. These samples showed no signs of adulteration. However, when 17 other products such as pizzas were examined, two thirds of these samples from supermarket pizzas, restaurant pizzas and other restaurant dishes that claimed to be buffalo mozzarella contained at least some cows’ milk. In some cases, the mozzarella was 100% derived from cow.

 Read the Press Release and the full journal paper.

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Black pepper is the most used spice globally, and hence vulnerable to adulteration by cheaper bulking agents. Researchers in N. Ireland have published a feasibility study using NIR and FTIR (Near and Fourier Transform Infra-Red) Spectroscopy with chemometrics to screen ground black pepper for non-spice black pepper materials (husk, pinheads and defatted spent materials), as well as foreign plant material (papaya seeds and chili). Good separation performance between black pepper and adulterated samples could be shown.

  Read the abstract here

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The Danish Consumer Organisation, Forbrugerrådet Tænk, collected 10 samples of oregano from supermarkets and stores around Copenhagen during the summer. The samples were sent for analysis by FTIR and chemometric modelling followed by mass spectrometry for confirmation. Three of the samples had only 50% oregano, and a fourth 70% oregano, the remainder was dried plant material from olive leaves and myrtle. 

Read the article at: Danish oregano tests

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The ease of adulterating spices combined with the complexity of fraud detection makes the condiments highly vulnerable to fraud, a scientific study has found. Published in the journal Food Control, the research examined fraud vulnerabilities of eight companies in the spices supply chain using the SSAFE food fraud vulnerability assessment tool, which comprises 50 indicators categorised in opportunities, motivations, and control measures to provide a fraud vulnerability profile.
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In the recent survey, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration Department of India under the milk survey of Food Safety and Standard Authority, the apex regulatory body to ensure food standards and quality in the country, 25 per cent of milk samples failed the quality check.

These samples were not only taken from dairies but also from milk packets.

“Under the survey, conducted by the FSSAI across the nation, we have collected 45 samples from various dairies and packaging units of the city. Over 10 samples have failed to clear the quality test including four contain sodium bicarbonate,” senior food safety officer Manish Swami said.

He said that samples of Mahindra Saboro, the packaged milk launched by Mahindra and Mahindra, were also failed as they contain sodium bicarbonate. “Samples of Saboro were also failed and many of the samples contain more water. Milk samples were also found to contain a neutraliser (sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydroxide) to increase the shelf life of milk. Many samples had fat content lower than what was prescribed by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (PFA),” he added.

However, samples taken from rural areas were found even better than the set standards in terms of fat content and quality. Swami said that they would serve notices to the adulterators and also send our report to the FSSAI.

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IFR has developed a rapid multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry method for the detection and relative quantitation of the adulteration of meat with that of an undeclared species is presented. Selected peptide markers derived from myoglobin can be used for species detection, and the ratios of  transition peak areas for corresponding peptides is proposed for relative quantitation. The method has been developed from the myoglobin of four meat species - beef, pork, horse and lamb, and test results are encouraging.

Read the full research paper at:                                                

or read a summary article at:

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An FDA Press Notice gives details of a new Regulation to prevent food adulteration and fraud. It obliges for the first time all companies (US and foreign) marketing food in the US to complete and maintain a written food defence plan that assesses their potential vulnerabilities to deliberate contamination or adulteration, where the intent is to cause wide-scale public health harm.

Read the full FDA Press Release at:

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