food safety (17)

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In this article, Emily Miles, Head of the Food Standards Agency, and Prof Chris Elliott, Queens University Belfast, discuss the impact of reduced funding to local authorities (LAs) at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Food Safety Conference. Emily Miles noted the 20% reduction in food professionals (Environmental Health Officers and Trading Standards Officers) for 2020/21 and what it might mean for food safety, and the effect on our future trade after Brexit. Prof Elliott spoke about the seven principles of food integrity: food should be safe; authentic; nutritious; systems used to produce food should be sustainable; ethical; we have to respect and protect the environment and all those people who produce food.The budget cuts for sampling and testing could lead to a two-tier system in the UK, where large food retailers and manufacturers continue their own very effective food integrity assurance, but leave the SMEs in a very vulnerable position.

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Consumer Survey Reveals Concern About Food Fraud

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Mars Global Food Safety Center (GFSC)  conducted a survey  which questioned over 1,750 consumers in the US, UK and China. The effect of Covid-19 was a major concern with consumers, and  73% of respondents believe that the pandemic will impact on the viability of the global supply chain. Moreover, 71% think it will affect global access to food.  Other issues of concern were food safety and food fraud, with 60% of respondents said they are worried about keeping food safe from toxins and bacteria, and 58% revealed they are concerned about preventing food fraud.    

 
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Thanks very much to one of our new Centres of Expertise GfL for bringing to our attention this German investigative TV show Frontal 21 addressing the very important topic of the use of illegal pesticides.

This is another example of where an authenticity issue can have a very direct effect on food safety. The consequences for nature and humans are incalculable. Nobody knows what these pesticides are made of, which and how much toxins they contain.

The Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety has already examined dozens of suspicious samples this year and discovered many counterfeit or unapproved pesticides. In the first half of the year alone, Europol has seized over 1,300 tons of illegal pesticides, a new record. The European police authority estimates the proportion of counterfeits in the total amount of all pesticides at 14 to 15 percent.

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Abstract

Milk and milk products play a vital role in diets around the globe. Due to their nutritional benefits there has been an increase in production and consumption over the past thirty years. For this growth to continue the safety and authenticity of dairy products needs to be maintained which is a huge area of concern. Throughout the process, from farm to processor, different sources of contamination (biological, chemical or physical) may occur either accidently or intentionally. Through online resources (the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and HorizonScan) safety and fraud data were collected from the past five years relating to milk and milk products. Cheese notifications were most frequently reported for both safety alerts (pathogenic micro-organisms) and fraud incidences (fraudulent documentation). Alongside the significant number of biological contaminations identified, chemical, physical and inadequate controls (in particular; foreign bodies, allergens, industrial contaminants and mycotoxins) were also found. Although the number of incidents were significantly smaller, these contaminants can still pose a significant risk to human health depending on their toxicity and exposure. Grey literature provided a summary of contamination and fraud issues from around the globe and shows its potential to be used alongside database resources for a holistic overview. In ensuring the integrity of milk during ever changing global factors (climate change, competition between food and feed and global pandemics) it is vital that safety and authenticity issues are continually monitored by industry, researchers and governing bodies.

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6429640493?profile=RESIZE_400x The FSA's Chief Scientific Adviser, Prof Guy Poppy has published on 17 June his review of risk analysis, which began in 2018. Risk analysis is the process of estimating risks to human and/or animal health, identifying and implementing measures to control the risks, and communicating these risks and measures to relevant parties. It has three components: risk assessment, led by science and evidence; risk management, the consideration of management options available by policy officials; and risk  communication. When the UK leaves the EU on 1 January 2021, European legislation on food and feed safety will move into UK law to provide continuation of the rules. However, the FSA and FSS will be reponsible for the most of the risk analysis functions that were previously provided by EFSA. The report outlines the FSA's response to this future change:

1. A clearer separation between our risk assessment and risk management to ensure the scientific integrity of risk assessment;
2. An expanded role for our Scientific Advisory Committees (SACs), strengthened by recruiting additional experts and by establishing three new Joint  Expert Groups (JEGs);
3. A new UK process for authorising regulated products such as food and feed additives, enzymes, 3 flavourings, novel foods, GM food and feed.

The new approach to risk analysis will also include: 
• Developing food and feed safety standards and controls based on scientific evidence e.g. policies, guidance, controls and enforcement;
• Pre-market approvals and post-market reviews of regulated food and feed products;
• Risk-based import controls;
• Handling incidents and food crime.

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4922013891?profile=RESIZE_400xThe restrictions which many countries have brought into place to manage the spread of Covid-19 have in turn severely impacted the Food industry Buying patterns have changed resulting in panic buying testing the ability of some food chains to respond whilst on the other hand closures of food service outlets and non-food retail has resulted in loss of markets for others.

Much of the focus in factories has rightly been on changing the way that we work to safeguard the health of our workers by providing a safe working environment introducing social distancing. The changes which we have all had to make also introduce new challenges to the way that we manage food safety with potential disruption to supply chains, staff absenteeism and an influx of new temporary workers to the food industry.

This guidance document has been produced to complement the BRCGS Food Safety Standard to help managers fine tune their food safety management systems to cope with the new position which the food industry now faces.

BRCGS Guidance Document – Managing Food Safety During Covid-19.

 

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A national survey of CBD products by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has found that the majority of products analysed were in breach of various articles of food law and some posed potential safety risks for consumers.

The survey reveals that 37% of the products tested had a THC* content that could result in safety limits set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) being significantly exceeded and the implicated batches of these products are currently being recalled. In addition, it was found that the analytically determined CBD content in over 40% of samples varied significantly (>50%) from the declared CBD content.

The implications of these results for consumers range from consumers being grossly misled to being put at risk by the ingestion of relatively high levels of THC. The majority of the 38 products tested from the Irish market were manufactured outside of the country.

The FSAI is working with the Environmental Health Service of the HSE and the relevant food businesses in relation to the matter.

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3640762870?profile=RESIZE_710xAdulteration is a growing food safety concern worldwide. Previous studies have implicated turmeric as a source of lead (Pb) exposure due to the addition of lead chromate (PbCrO4), a yellow pigment used to enhance brightness. This study aimed to assess the practice of adding yellow pigments to turmeric and producer- consumer- and regulatory-factors affecting this practice across the supply chain in Bangladesh.

Nine major turmeric-producing districts of Bangladesh, as well as two districts with minimal turmeric production, were identified and visited. In each district, semi-structured interviews were conducted and informal observations were made with individuals involved in the production, consumption, and regulation of turmeric. Perceptions of and preferences for turmeric quality.

Samples of yellow pigments and turmeric were collected from the most-frequented wholesale and retail markets. Samples were analysed for Pb and chromium (Cr) concentrations via inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and x-ray fluorescence.

The study found evidence of PbCrO4-based yellow pigment adulteration in 7 of the 9 major turmeric-producing districts.

Turmeric wholesalers reported that the practice of adding yellow pigments to dried turmeric root during polishing began more than 30 years ago and continues today, primarily driven by consumer preferences for colourful yellow curries.

The results from this study indicate that PbCrO4 is being added to turmeric by polishers, who are unaware of its neurotoxic effects, in order to satisfy wholesalers who are driven by consumer demand for yellow roots. The study recommends immediate intervention that engages turmeric producers and consumers to address this public health crisis and ensure a future with Pb-free turmeric.

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Whilst deliberate adulteration of herbs and spices is understood to be a common phenomenon, this study highlights a potential food safety issue:

Between 2008 and 2017, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tested more than 3000 samples of consumer products during lead poisoning case investigations and surveys of local stores, and of these, spices were the most frequently tested (almost 40% of the samples).

 

A total of 1496 samples of more than 50 spices from 41 countries were collected during investigations of lead poisoning cases among New York City children and adults and local store surveys.

More than 50% of the spice samples had detectable lead, and more than 30% had lead concentrations greater than 2 parts per million (ppm). Average lead content in the spices was significantly higher for spices purchased abroad than in the United States. The highest concentrations of lead were found in spices purchased in the countries Georgia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Morocco.

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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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Discover the role of the Government Chemist in combating food fraud, learn the outcomes of referee cases, and read about the research carried out in 2016 under the Government Chemist function.

Highlights:

Food safety: evaluated levels of carcinogenic toxins in seeds, nuts and spices

Food authenticity: assessed claims for the geographical origin and botanical source of honey

Allergens: detected sulphites in food containing interfering ingredients such as garlic

Quantifying protein allergens: carried out research into the quantification of proteins extracted from processed food for immunoassay and mass spectrometry analysis

Foresight and future work:  looked to the future to identify food safety and authenticity related challenges and how best to prepare for them. 

Save the date: Government Chemist conference 2018
The 2018 Government Chemist Conference will take place in London on 13-14 June. Further information about the conference will be disseminated in the autumn, watch your inbox for details.

Get in touch
If you have any questions about the work of the Government Chemit, or about food safety and/or authenticity related issues, email us at: governmentchemist@lgcgroup.com or have a look at our website: www.gov.uk/governmentchemist 

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A suspected fake vodka factory has been raided in Aintree by HMRC, with almost 2,000 litres of potentially toxic alcohol seized.

People drinking counterfeit alcohol are "risking their lives and denying tax payers millions of pounds in unpaid duty that should be spent on vital public services".

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"EU-China-Safe" is a new EU Horizon 2020 project in collaboration with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology worth €10m.  The Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, will lead the project, one of world’s largest food safety projects. The aim of the project is to reduce food fraud and improve food safety through focusing on improving food legislation, food inspection and increasing access to information across both continents. The project has 33 partners, including 15 in the EU and 18 in China, who are key players in the food industry, research organisations and governments across two of the world’s largest trading blocks.

Read the Press Release: EU-China-Safe Project

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China to Tighten Regulation on Food and Drugs

China's Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) will tighten regulation and revise standards on an extensive range of food and drugs. A national plan from 2016-2020 requires whole-process control and whole chain regulation on food and drugs, especially on source control and risk prevention. A total of 1.1 million cases concerning food safety have been handled nationwide from 2013 to 2015. Those companies and individuals violating regulations will receive severe punishment in the future, such as criminal liability for the adulteration of food. The plan also intends to revise at least 300 food safety standards during the five year period.

Read the article at: China tightens food regulation

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The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011 enables FDA to better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system. It enables FDA to focus more on preventing food safety problems rather than relying primarily on reacting to problems after they occur. The law also provides FDA with new enforcement authorities designed to achieve higher rates of compliance with prevention- and risk-based food safety standards and to better respond to and contain problems when they do occur.  

Read more details at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm239907.htm

and full details on the new Act and its implementation on the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm

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