food safety (12)

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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Blockchain has demonstrated its potential for providing greater transparency, veracity, and trust in food information so that supply chain members can act immediately, should problems arise
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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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