authentication (2)

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Animal origin food products, including fish and seafood, meat and poultry, milk and dairy foods, and other related products play significant roles in human nutrition. However, fraud in this food sector frequently occurs, leading to negative economic impacts on consumers and potential risks to public health and the environment. Therefore, the development of analytical techniques that can rapidly detect fraud and verify the authenticity of such products is of paramount importance.


Traditionally, a wide variety of targeted approaches, such as chemical, chromatographic, molecular, and protein-based techniques, among others, have been frequently used to identify animal species, production methods, provenance, and processing of food products. Although these conventional methods are accurate and reliable, they are destructive, time-consuming, and can only be employed at the laboratory scale. On the contrary, alternative methods based mainly on spectroscopy have emerged in recent years as invaluable tools to overcome most of the limitations associated with
traditional measurements. The number of scientific studies reporting on various authenticity issues investigated by vibrational spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, and fluorescence spectroscopy has increased substantially over the past few years, indicating the tremendous potential of these techniques in the fight against food fraud.

This manuscript reviews the state-of-the-art research advances since 2015 regarding the use of analytical methods applied to detect fraud in food products of animal origin, with particular attention paid to spectroscopic measurements coupled with chemometric analysis. The opportunities and challenges surrounding the use of spectroscopic techniques and possible future directions are also be discussed.

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LGC has published a review in the Journal of AOAC International on definitive approaches for the authentication of chondroitin, a supplement with a risk of serious adulteration.

Chondroitin is an over-the-counter food supplement often available in combination with glucosamine sulfate. It is sold widely for a number of uses for humans and animals and taken by many who suffer from osteoarthritis where it has been shown to have small to moderate benefits.

The paper, written in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, makes key recommendations for forensically robust analysis of supplements containing chondroitin to prevent their adulteration with inferior substitutes.

Authors Michael Walker and Christopher Mussell (LGC), along with Professor Duncan Thorburn Burns (Institute of Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast), outlined the necessary steps to ensure the quality of chondroitin, including testing raw materials for currently known adulterants.

Michael Walker, Referee Analyst for the Government Chemist, said: “The Laboratory of the Government Chemist has had a long interest in the analysis of supplements containing chondroitin stemming from work carried out suggesting some were deficient of the declared amounts of chondroitin.”

Duncan Thorburn Burns, Professor at Institute of Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, added: “As a natural polymer, routine analytical methods for chondroitin tend to be relatively nonspecific. Our paper demonstrates how to achieve the goal of affirming identity (including source) and purity.”

 

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