government chemist (3)

3549856866?profile=RESIZE_710xRachel Gullaksen, Sean Daly and Malcolm Burns (from left to right) looking at multispectral imaging applications for food authenticity

The Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) aims to help protect businesses and consumers from fraudulent supply chains through building relationships with industry, delivering crime prevention initiatives and conducting thorough, proportionate investigations where necessary. This is to support the Food Standard Agency to deliver its overarching strategy that “food is safe and is what it says it is”.

Following an increase to its budget, the NFCU has seen significant extension of the unit’s capabilities and remit in terms of its investigation and crime disruption capabilities and the prevention of food crime. As part of its outreach programme and as a follow-up to a meeting between Darren Davies, Head of the NFCU and the Government Chemist, Julian Braybrook and Selvarani Elahi in May 2019, colleagues from the NFCU visited LGC.

Selvarani Elahi gave a presentation on the Food Authenticity Network, highlighting the benefits of closer collaboration between this growing global network and the NFCU, both of which were created by the UK government to address the recommendations of the Elliott Review.

NFCU colleagues were taken on a tour of LGC’s National Measurement Laboratories where LGC staff demonstrated research on a range of technologies from point-of-use screening to confirmatory methods capable of combating food crime or food fraud .

 

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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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