standardisation (3)

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Digital PCR (dPCR) has developed considerably since the publication of the Minimum Information for Publication of Digital PCR Experiments (dMIQE) guidelines in 2013, with advances in instrumentation, software, applications (including for food authenticity), and our understanding of its technological potential.

Yet these developments also have associated challenges; data analysis steps, including threshold setting, can be difficult and preanalytical steps required to purify, concentrate, and modify nucleic acids can lead to measurement error. To assist independent corroboration of conclusions, comprehensive disclosure of all relevant experimental details is required.

To support the community and reflect the growing use of dPCR, an update to dMIQE, dMIQE2020, has been published including a simplified dMIQE table format to assist researchers in providing key experimental information and understanding of the associated experimental process.

Adoption of dMIQE2020 by the scientific community will assist in standardizing experimental protocols, maximize efficient utilization of resources, and further enhance the impact of this powerful technology.

Read full paper.

The dMIQE2020 guidelines have been added to a new 'Guidelines' area of the Quality section of the Food Authenticity Network.

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European standardisation in the field of food and feed contributes to improving levels of food safety and protecting the health of consumers. CEN (European Committee for Standardization) provides validated test methods that are used by the food industry and by the competent public authorities for official control purposes and by food- and feed-producing companies for internal checks. 

Food authenticity was identified as a new area of interest and a Technical Committee was established to standardise methods in this area. At its first meeting in 2019, this committee established a series of working groups (WG) within which methods would be standardised:

WG1:   Concepts, terms and definitions

WG2:   Species analyses using DNA-based methods

WG3:   Coffee and coffee products

WG4:   NMR analysis

WG5:   Stable Isotope Analysis

WG6:   Validation concepts of non-targeted methods

It has just been announced that the UK has been voted to lead on Working Group 1 (concepts, terms and definitions):

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Dr James Donarski from Fera Science Ltd will be the Convener and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will provide the Secretariat function.

The development of a common language for concepts, terms and definitions associated with food authenticity is important to securing the integrity of food and mitigating food fraud, facilitating international trade.

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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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