food integrity (7)

Food fraud a worldwide problem and many countries continue to commit considerable resource to combat the issue. With the food supply chain now truly global, there is acknowledgement that having agreed definitions for terms commonly associated with food authenticity and food fraud would be of great benefit.

The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima), has led a European initiative with the objective of making communication regarding food fraud more precise. Together with food fraud experts (including from the Food Authenticity Network Team) from several European countries including the UK, a European standard has been created that defines many of the English terms and concepts used in connection with food fraud. The words are placed in a hierarchical system that makes it easier to understand how they relate to each other - see image.

The standardisation was coordinated as part of the EU-funded Authent-Net and FoodIntegrity projects. It was published in January 2019 by Standard Norway, and it is also being distributed by several other National Standardisation Bodies in Europe; currently Estonia, Netherlands, and the UK.

This standard represents an important first step in the global standardisation of these terms which will help facilitate trade, combat food fraud and better secure our food supply chains.

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IFST has re-written its “Food authenticity testing” Information Statement and split it into two parts:

Food authenticity testing part 1: The role of analysis, which now covers the role of analytical testing within the context of an overall supply chain assurance strategy.

Analytical testing is a valuable tool in the armoury to assure food authenticity but cannot be used to identify every type of food fraud.  It is only one part of an overall strategy to mitigate fraud risk.

Many modern tests are based upon comparing a pattern of measured values in the test sample with patterns from a database of authentic samples. Interpretation is highly dependent on the robustness of the database, and whether it includes all possible authentic variables and sample types. This information may not be released by the laboratory.  Interpretation of results is rarely clear-cut, and analytical results are often used to inform and target further investigation (such as unannounced audits or mass-balance checks) rather than for making a compliance decision.

This paper describes where testing can and cannot be used, and highlights generic issues relating to interpreting food authenticity testing results.

Food authenticity testing part 2: Analytical techniques, which gives describes specific analytical techniques, their applications, strengths and weaknesses.

This paper describes the principles, different configurations, applications, strengths and limitations of some of the more common analytical techniques used in food authenticity testing:
• Mass spectrometry
• Stable isotope mass spectrometry
• DNA analysis
• Nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry
• Spectroscopy.

Generic strengths and limitations of food authenticity test methods, particularly those relating to methods comparing against reference databases of authentic samples, are discussed in “Food authenticity testing: The role of analysis”. It also describes the difference between targeted and untargeted analysis.

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Ensuring Food Supply Chain Integrity

This review paper gives the some of the outcomes of two EU FP7 Projects - EDEN and SNIFFER on the development of food defence analyses in the food chain. Food defence guidelines have been developed based on a parallel system to food safety HACCP analysis which include systems such as vulnerability analysis and critical control points (VACCP), and threat assessment critical control points (TACCP). Once mapping of the gaps and needs had been carried out, a secondary aim of the food defence work in the EDEN project was to test new technologies both targeted and untargeted that could be used for food defence purposes. The SNIFFER project (Sensory devices network for food supply chain security) addressed problems related to the detection of biological and chemical agents in the food supply chain, by looking at commercially available sensors in a sensor network that could be deployed at vulnerable points in the food supply chain. 

Food defence practices can help prevent deliberate contamination, be it motivated by economic, revenge or ideological reasons. Food defence should therefore be an integral part of food supply chain integrity and not just an afterthought in the wake of an incident. The detection tools investigated by EDEN and SNIFFER have potential, but a wider range of contaminants and food matrices needs to be investigated before these tools could be broadly adopted.


Read the full paper at: Food Defence Analysis

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I wanted to inform all members that Selvarani Elahi will be giving a presentation on the Food Authenticity Network at the Preventing Food Fraud Conference.

As a result, the organisers have agreed that any member of the Network, who wishes to attend the Conference held at One America Square,17 Crosswall, London EC3N 2LB on 22 February 2018, will receive a £200 discount.

You will need to enter the discount code  “FoodAuthenticity” on the registration form to get your discount

Information about the programme and speakers can be found here, and for a registration form on this link.

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Detecting Food Authenticity and Integrity

Detecting Food Authenticity and Integrity is a joint Analyst and Analytical Methods themed collection of research papers showcasing the latest discoveries and developments in detecting food authenticity and integrity; including the analysis and detection of food fraud, contamination, adulteration and spoilage. There are papers on:

  1. A new PCR method for horsemeat detection and quantification.
  2. Rapid quantitative detection methods for rapid on-site food fraud analysis - moving out of the laboratory and into the food supply chain.
  3. Assessment for the fitness of purpose utilisation of 5 hydroxymethyl 2 furfural quantification analysis in FAPAS proficiency tests.
  4. Hyperspectral imaging in tandem with multivariant analysis and image processing for non-invasive detection and visualisation of pork adulteration in minced beef.
  5. Integration of colorimetric and SERS detection for rapid screening and validation of melamine in milk.

The papers are available from the on-line journals at:

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