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With many reports of increasing levels of fraud in the organic food sector including from The Grocer in March 2018, the IFST statement on organic food is a useful guide that looks at current EU rules related to organic food, explores how this type of food should be labelled and advises on where to begin if a food business seeks to move into organic food production.

 It covers the following areas:

  • What is organic food
  • Labelling of organic food
  • What EU Regulation applies to organic food?
  • Where next
  • References

Read the full statement here.

 

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Less than 1% of the world's vanilla flavour comes from real beans.

We are used to seeing vanilla all around us - in candles, cupcakes and creme brulees. But if you’re eating something vanilla-flavoured or smelling something vanilla-scented - it’s probably artificial.

Scientists have been making synthetic vanillin - the compound that gives vanilla its aroma - since the 19th Century. It has been extracted from coal, tar, rice bran, wood pulp and even cow dung.

Today, the vast majority of synthetic vanillin comes from petrochemicals.

It can be 20 times cheaper than the real thing.

The burgeoning interest in “artisanal” food made in a traditional way explains some of the demand for natural vanilla. But much of the rocketing price can be put down to food rules on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Europe and the United States, ice cream labelled “vanilla” must contain natural vanillin extract from vanilla pods. If the flavour comes wholly or partly from artificial sources, the packaging must say “vanilla flavour” or “artificial vanilla”.

Vanilla from vanilla pods will have a taste and potency unique to the area in which it is grown, much like wine. The vanilla from Madagascar has a distinct rummy taste and sweet aroma, which is why ice-cream makers choose it over vanilla from other countries.

And there is more and more pressure on food companies to switch from artificial vanilla to vanilla beans. Big corporations such as Hershey and Nestle have started buying natural vanilla extract for their products in large quantities, which injects more demand into the limited supply chain and raises prices further.

After being immersed in hot water the beans are left to dry in the hot sun

Over the past decade, vanilla prices have gone through dramatic booms and busts.

Madagascar’s 80,000 growers produce more vanilla than any other country - so what happens on the island affects the global industry.

Read full article here.

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On 11 August, the environmental protection service of the Spanish civil guard SEPRONA announced the seizure of 45 tons of illegally treated tuna fish. Four people were investigated and face possible criminal penalties of up to four years in prison for endangering public health, as well as administrative sanctions. The investigation has so far uncovered three companies and three fishing vessels involved in the fraudulent scheme.

Investigators found that frozen tuna only suitable for canning had been illegally treated with substances that enhance the colour and then been diverted to the market to be sold as fresh fish. This treatment can pose a serious public health risk associated with allergic reactions to histamine.

The investigation was coordinated by EUROPOL under the OPSON VII operation, in collaboration with the European Commission and other Member States, which was previously reported on the Food Authenticity Network in May 2018.

Criminal investigations are ongoing.

For more information on this case including the European Commission's contribution and information on other successful outcomes for EU coordinated cases.

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In a move that customers have labelled very fishy, the Chinese government has ruled that rainbow trout can now be labelled and sold as salmon.

The seemingly bizarre move comes after complaints earlier this year that rainbow trout was being mislabelled.

In May, media reported that much of what was sold as salmon in China was actually rainbow trout, to widespread consternation from fish-buyers.

But instead of banning vendors from deceiving their customers, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), which falls under the Chinese ministry of agriculture, has ruled that all salmonidae fish can now be sold under the umbrella name of “salmon”, reports the Global Times.

Rainbow trout and salmon are both salmonidae fish and look quite similar when filleted. However, salmon live in salt water and rainbow trout live in fresh water.

Read the full article.

 

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New cereal based foods, particularly pasta, bread and biscuits, made with mixed flours containing ancient wheat species and other cereals, have become popular in recent years. This calls for analytical methods able to determine the authenticity of these products. Discrimination among closely related plant species, particularly congeneric ones like Triticum spp, remains a challenging task. Italian researchers have utilised and optimised a relatively new DNA fingerprinting method based on tubulin-based polymorphism (TBP) and a new assay, TBP light, for the authentication of different wheat and farro species and other cereals, and tested these on a set of commercial foods. The assay has a sensitivity of 0.5–1% w/w in binary mixtures of durum wheat in einkorn or emmer flour and was able to authenticate the composition of test food sample and to detect possible adulteration.                                     

  Read the abstract here

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Italian researchers have made a preliminary study to use non-targeted metabolomic profiles to distinguish between PDO and non-PDO Grana Padano cheeses. Using ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer (UHPLC/QTOF-MS) followed by chemometrics, a range of chemical metabolites - lipids (fatty acids and their derivatives, phospholipids and monoacylglycerols), amino acids and oligopeptides, together with plant-derived compounds gave the highest discimination potential between the two groups of cheeses. It is postulated that the PDO production specification rules drive the biochemical processes involved in cheese making and ripening process in a distinct manner, thus leaving a defined chemical signature on the final product.

      Read the abstract here

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Aroma properties of spices are related to their volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can provide distinct analytical signatures. Dutch researchers have examined the similarity and diversity of VOC profiles of six common spices (black/white pepper, chili paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg and saffron). The key volatiles were identified by PTR-TOFMS (Proton Transfer Reaction - Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry). Twelve samples per spice were subjected to PTR-Quadrupole MS (PTR-QMS) and Principal Component Analysis to compare the groups and examine diversity. With PTR-TOFMS, 101 volatile compounds were identified across all samples by their mass and comparing them with literature data Some spices comprised key character aroma compounds, e.g. cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon. Saffron and chili paprika showed distinct volatile profiles. Overlap in terpenic compounds is shown for pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. The PTR-QMS in combination with variables selection resulted in distinct PCA patterns for each spice, which could be valuable for future authenticity studies.

 

     Read the abstract here

 

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In 2016/7, the DGCCRF( France's anti-fraud Directorate) conducted a large-scale survey to verify the labelling and declaration of the origin of imported wines, particularly from Spain. These controls were carried out across France at producers, importers, traders and distributors premises. A total of 179 establishments were audited in 2016 and 564 in 2017, specifically on the subject of foreign wines. 22% of the establishments visited in 2016 and 15% of the establishments visited in 2017 had labelling non-conformities including deceptive or false information and incorrect origin. While most wines were correctly labelled, there were several cases investigated where 2 - 3.4 million litres of wine (equivalent to 4.6 million bottles) of Spanish wine was sold in bulk labelled as French.

    Read the DGCCRF summary (in French) and the BBC article here

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Product DNA is a system of electronically recording up to 150 attributes about a product, which are verified by a third party, and entered into a "catalogue" so it can be checked at any point in the supply chain and even incorporated into retailers own data systems, as well as accessed by consumers. Thus it can assure product traceability along the entire supply chain, and having an agreed set of attributes allows much easier data sharing between manufacturers and retailers.

Retailers Tesco and Ocado have already signed up to this service, and Unilever.and  Nestlé are the latest companies to do so.

 Read the article here

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The European Parliament have approved a report recommending that manufacturers of branded products can add a logo to inform consumer that the product has the same composition and quality across all of the EU. This is in response to concerns that some branded products are different in quality in some Eastern European MSs to the rest of the EU. The Food and Drink Europe (representing food manufacturers) have welcomed the report, but noted that there can be legitimate reasons for differences in branded products across MSs based on consumer preferences, sourcing of local ingredients and reformulation requirements.

  Read the article here

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Russian researchers have published a method based on sugar profiles to determine wine authenticity. The glucose-fructose Iindex (GFI) and disaccharide content can be used as marker for wine from different grape varieties. The method can detect when extra grape must has been added before fermentation, as well as wines from arrested fermentation. For sweet wines the glycerol content has to be measured as well. 

  Read the full paper here

 

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Russian researchers have published a paper on their development of proteomic and peptide identification to identify pork, beef , horse and poultry in meat produced after slaughter. The methodology development can identify peptides which occur in specific tissues or fluids associated with meat species. The researchers are planning the next stage of using the peptide information of the raw materials to identify species in meat products.

  Read the full paper here

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Spain’s National Police and Civil Guard have seized hundreds of tons of expired jamón (ham) and other meat products that were about to be placed back in the market, and in some cases, they were already back on sale.In three separate raids conducted over the course of a few weeks, officers found that individuals and companies were apparently tampering with seals and labels to extend the shelf life of expired food products. 

     Read the article here

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JRC's Knowledge Centre publishes a monthly summary on articles and news about food fraud and adulteration, and has just published its June 2018 Newsletter. The top stories cover: adulterated Verdicchio wine in Italy;false buffalo mozzarella cheese in Benelux supermarkets; and investigations into the French spice market revealed 51% of all samples subject to fraud with saffron being the highest number of fraudulent samples. 

Read the June 2018 summary here

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Coffee is currently the second largest commodity on the world market. Brazilian researchers have written a comprehensive review on the development and use of chromatograpy from paper to gas and hplc, and finally ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry to confirm adulteration and fraud in coffee.  

 Read the full review here

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Decernis buys USP’s Food Fraud Database

US-based technology and content solutions provider Decernis has acquired the Food Fraud Database from USP. USP's Global Strategic Marketing and Programme senior vice-president Salah Kivlighn said: “We are very pleased to have found an appropriate home for the Food Fraud Database, which hundreds of companies depend on to help support their efforts to prevent food adulteration". USP will continue to provide critical resources to help the industry, along with regulators and other stakeholders, verify the identity, quality and purity of food ingredients. The database is updated continuously with ingredients and related records, which are gathered from scientific literature, media publications, regulatory reports, judicial records and trade associations worldwide.

Read the article here

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Polish researchers have published a paper on the development of rapid, simple, and non-destructive analytical procedure for discrimination and authentication of whiskies originating from Scotland, Ireland and USA  as well as time of maturation (two, three, six and twelve years). Combination of data from Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) with statistical analysis was used to construct eight discriminant models. The models obtained permitted whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, and USA to be distinguished from each other, and 2 and 3 years old beverages from 6 and 12 years old whiskies. Results show that 100% of samples were correctly classified in models discriminating American and Scottish whiskies or 2-year-old and 6-year-old American whiskies. American whiskies were classified correctly in all models, which may suggest its considerable chemical difference compared to whisky produced in Scotland or Ireland. 

  Read the full paper here

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The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has assessed the counterfeiting losses for the wine and spirits sector, which was in the top five sectors for lost sales. The overall losses due to counterfeiting for 13 sectors amounts to Euros 60bn, corresponding to 7.5% of sales, and probably resulting in 434,00 less jobs because of reduced sales.

Read the article here

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