All Posts (232)

The Spanish Guardia Civil, in coordination with Europol, has dismantled an organised crime group that was trading horsemeat in Europe that was unfit for human consumption. During the investigation, Guardia Civil was able to locate the Dutch businessman related to the 2013 Irish case of the beefburgers containing horse meat
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The potential adulteration of kid or lamb rennet with calf rennet is of interest for some PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses producers and those looking for a specific cheese authenticity. The researchers developed an immunoassay (indirect ELISA), and used a monoclonal antibody (mAb) raised against bovine pepsin. This mAb was found to be specific neither  cross-reacting with the pepsin of other animal species (kid, lamb, pig) nor with other milk-clotting enzymes (chymosin and microbial enzymes). Using prepared test samples of kid and lamb rennets spiked with a wide range of calf rennet (from 0 to 100% v/v), the presence of bovine pepsin was detected at low levels down to 6 mg/L in kid and lamb rennets, with a good linear relationship in the range 1.25–120 mg/L.

Read the abstract at: ELISA for bovine rennet adulteration

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IBM is working towards the 2017 beta launch (the next stage after internal development) of a food-provenance service based on blockchain technology. An outline of its planned offering, which has yet to be formally launched, has emerged recently as a result of presentations by company executives at supply chain industry events. Dubbed simply "Food Safety Solution," the service, which should be available in beta at the end of this year, is targeting a wide range of entities that make up the food supply chain ecosystem, including growers, food processors and distributors, as well as logistics providers and retailers.

Read the full article at: IBM block chain technology nearly ready

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Three US NGOs have filed a lawsuit against Sanderson Farms, which is the third largest chicken producer in the USA for falsely describing its chicken as "100% natural". Traces of antibiotics, steroids, growth hormones banned in chicken production and even ketamine, a powerful anaesthetic with anti-depressive and hallucinogenic properties, were found on multiple occasions during inspections of the company's processing plants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Determining whether a product can be labelled 100% natural is approved by the USDA, which grants that label to a product if it contains "no artificial ingredient or added colour and is only minimally processed"—meaning that the product was processed in a way that does not "fundamentally alter the product." Advertising and marketing, however, does not require pre-market USDA approval, but the company has  not only played up the notion that its chickens are "free of antibiotics before they leave the farm" in its television commercials, but has also mocked other companies, which advertise their poultry as lacking added hormones or steroids on the grounds that it's "illegal" to give such products to chickens.

Read the full article at: 100% natural chicken challenged in the US

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Hand Held Device to Prevent Whisky Fraud

At any one time the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) will be pursuing around 70 legal actions globally to prevent the sale of products being “passed off” as Scotch whisky when they are not. The industry has worked together to develop mobile authentication technology, which can be deployed locally, and is used widely across the industry to provide fast and effective identification of individuals brands. The device uses a patented technique - modulated Raman spectroscopy, which allows identification of whisky non-invasively from the outside of the bottle.

Read the full article at: Hand held device for whisky authentication

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Fine Wine Fraud Uncovered

Food fraud costs the global food industry an estimated US $60 billion annually, while wine fraud probably lies in the region of US $15-20 billion (mainly centred around the fine wine market). This Australian article is interested in fake Penfold fine wines, but it is fine wines from the French and other European vineyards that get the most attention from counterfeiters. At the top of the list are Domaine de la Romanée Conti and Chateau Petrus which fetch stellar prices at wine auctions, closely followed by the Bordeaux first growths of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Latour. 

Read the full article at: Fine wine fraud

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Spanish researches combined two DNA methods which allowed almost 100% assignment of the genus Merluccius spp. (hake). A combination of two RFLP methods - Hake-ITS1-RFLP (89%) and Hake-Cytochrome b–RFLP (83%) permitted a 97% assigment rate. When applied to the Spanish market, it was found that 31% mislabelling of hake-based products was observed in northern Iberia markets, and a 15% mislabelling by the wrong hake species affected 60% of deep frozen products. A 16% mislabelling by other fish species substitution affected 40% of cooked products.

Read the abstract at: Mislabelling of hake species in Spanish markets

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Allied Market Research have published a new report that estimates that the global market in food authenticity testing was valued at $4,978 million in 2016, and is estimated to reach $8,300 million by 2023, registering an annual growth of 7.7% from 2017 to 2023. PCR methodology accounted for more than one-third share of the total market.

Read the article at: Review of food authenticity market

Read an abstract of the report at: Food Authenticity Market Report

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Chinese researchers measured the free amino acid content in five unifloral honeys (Chinese chastetree, acacia, rape, lungan and jujube) from different locations in China using reverse-phase HPLC. Multivariate statistical analyses of the 16 amino acids employing CA (cluster analysis), PCA (principal component analysis), and DA (discriminant analysis) showed that samples could be classified correctly according to their botanical origin. Additionally, DA offered a more precise mode to determine the botanical origin of Chinese honey.

Read the full paper at: Amino acids in Chinese honey

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EUIPO 2017 is a situation report that establishes that organised criminal groups are involved in IPR crime. It also finds that EU-based criminal gangs involved in distributing counterfeit goods rely predominantly on manufacturers based abroad, but then organise importation, transportation, storage and distribution of the counterfeit goods within the EU. The majority of counterfeit goods come from China: the development of the Silk Road and the corresponding increasing use of rail and maritime transport between China and the EU support also new threats in the IPR crime landscape. 

The report also looks at the falsification of certification schemes such as organic, and the value of falsely labelled geographical indication products e.g. PDOs. Most commonly affected products are wine, spirits, cheese, meat, fruit, vegetables and cereals.

Read more details at: Headlines on Europol report on counterfeiting

Read the report at: EUIPO 2017 on counterfeiting

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BSI Supply Chain and Services has issued two modules on food safety and fraud: SCREEN - Supply Chain Risk and Exposure Evaluation Network, which allow users to monitor the threat of food contamination, adulteration, mislabelling and recalls by providing threat ratings in more than 200 countries.

Read the full article at: BSI's SCREEN modules

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There are now 3 initiatives to define key terms and concepts associated with food authenticity and fraud, or coordinate and develop standards for food authenticity methods. 

At its 23rd meeting in May, the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS) has agreed to form an electronic working group (EWG) to review other CODEX texts and to create a definition and scope for Food Fraud/ Food Integrity/ Food Authenticity/ related terms. Creating the EWG is a formal activity for CODEX that will start the review of if – then how – Food Fraud will be incorporated into the formal Codex Alimentarius (world food code). If agreed to and it progresses forward, it will be a four to six year process until Food Fraud would be in the formal CODEX texts.

More details can be found at: CCFICS Food Authenticity

CEN has formed a new Workshop - CEN WS/86 entitled - Authenticity in the feed and food chain – General principles and basic requirements. The workshop will aim at developing consensus-based  recommendations for definitions of key terms and concepts, and to outline principles and basic requirements related to food authenticity.This workshop is related to one of the objectives in an EU Project AUTHENT-NET. CEN hopes to deliver a CEN Working Agreement in May 2018.

More details can be found at : CEN WA on Food Authenticity

CEN has also formed a new Food Authenticity Coordination Group which held a kick-off meeting in Brussels on 15 June. The aim is to coordinate food authenticity methodology in other CEN Technical Committees. The UK representatives on this new CG include LGC and the Food Standards Agency. More details will be included in our July 2017 Newsletter.

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A Chatham House report warns of 'chokepoints' in the supply of food, such as the Suez Canal, the US rail network and the Turkish Straits, could become 'epicentres of systemic disruption'. It also reports that the world’s food supplies are in danger as climate change and the increasing reliance on global trade threaten to create shortages and sudden, dramatic increases in prices. The report’s authors warned of a growing risk  to food security with the potential for systemic disruption. Investment in infrastructure lags demand growth: critical networks in major crop-producing regions are weak and ageing, and extra capacity is urgently needed.  

Read the report at: Climate change vulnerabilities of food security

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Italian researchers have measured the H, C, N and O isotopic ratios of 190 samples of different soft fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and whitecurrants, redcurrants and blackcurrants) produced in a northern Italian region and at two sites in Romania and Poland collected over three harvest years. The different soft fruits showed a typical range for one or more isotopic parameters that can be used to verify the authenticity of the fruit species declared on the label. The δ13C and δ15N of pulp and the δ18O of juice can be considered effective tools for identifying the different geographical origin of fruit. There was a significant effect of crop cover on juice δ18O, and fertilisation practices on pulp δ15N.

Read the abstract at: SIRA of soft fruit

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This study evaluated the application of relative quantification of unique heat-stable species specific peptides in highly processed meat proteins. Using nano-LC-QTOF-MS/MS, 20 new, heat-stable peptide markers unique to chicken, duck and goose were identified. The method enabled detection of 1% (w/w) of chicken and 1% (w/w) pork in a mixture of the meat of three species, as well as 0.8% (w/w) beef proteins in commercial poultry frankfurters. This method includes a correction factor for each protein, based on the peptide MS detection probabilities, which are influenced by the physicochemical properties of the peptide. Considerable differences in abundance of myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins were observed between samples and illegal proportions of ingredients were discovered.

Read the abstract at: Meat species quantification using peptide markers

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This study examines the variations in isotopes and trace elements in relation to grape variety, environmental factors and provenance in order to address the wine authenticity in Cyprus. ICP-AES assessed the wines’ elemental content. SNIF-NMR and isotope ratio mass spectrometry methodologies determined in authentic and commercial wines the distribution of the naturally occurring stable isotopes of the deuterium/hydrogen (D/H) ratios and carbon (13/12C) in ethanol of wine and oxygen ratio (18/16O) in wine water. PCA (principle component analysis) highlighted the importance of grape variety and provenance, while supervised analysis pinpointed the vineyard effect and highlighted the contribution of the vintage year. These results can be incorporated to the EU Wine Isotopic Databank database providing both a guide and a tool for eventual candidatures for denomination of origin and support both Cypriot wine and winemakers. 

Read the abstract at:
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Parma Ham Producers in Fraud Investigation

Parma ham is one of Italy’s most cherished specialities and one of its most famous GI brands. In order to bear the name Parma, the ham must be produced in accordance with a stringent rules laid down in its PDO specification, using locally bred pork leg and sea salt. Italy’s food police unit collected DNA samples from pigs from 30 farms and slaughterhouses in northern Italy earlier this year. Parma and Prosciutto di San Daniele producers have been charged with importing pig sperm from Denmark in an attempt to breed leaner pigs, which contravenes the rules allowing only local pure Italian breeds. Fraud investigations are ongoing.

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This study was carried out on two species of unroasted (green) coffee beans: Arabica (Coffea arabica) from Colombia and Nepal and Robusta (Coffea canephora) from Uganda and Vietnam. The tests were performed using an "electronic nose" consisting of two gas chromatography with sensitive flame ionisation detectors in parallel on stored green coffee beans. Using principle component analysis, it was possible to determine the geographical origin of green beans from the four countries.

Read the full paper at: Aroma profiles for geographic origin of green coffee beans

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The U.S. Pharmacopeia has led an international collaborative project to develop a tool-box of screening methods and reference standards for the detection of milk powder adulteration. When adulterated milk powder reference standards were being prepared, it was discovered that the blending methods used to combine melamine and milk had unanticipated strong effects on the NIR spectrum of melamine.The prominent absorbance band at 1468 nm of melamine was retained when it was dry-blended with skim milk powder, but disappeared in wet-blended mixtures, where spray dried milk powder samples were prepared from solution. Using an array of other spectroscopic techniques, it was discovered that wet-blending promoted reversible and early Maillard reactions with lactose that are responsible for differences in melamine NIR spectra between wet- and dry-blended samples. Reliance on NIR detection of melamine using dry blended reference samples should be treated with caution.

Read the abstract at: NIR detection of melamine in milk powder

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