The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) publishes a monthly Food Fraud Summary summarising food fraud incidents and investiations from around the world. The July-August Summary has now been published. It is a more extended document than usual covering the summer months, and highlights in particular a number of wine counterfeiting investigations in Italy, Spain and Bordeaux wines sold in China.
Stable Isotope Ratio (SIRA) analysis is widely used to investigate different authenticity issues from exogenous sugar adulteration to geographic origin. An international project has developed, quality-tested, and measured isotope–delta values of 10 new food matrix reference materials (RMs) for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur SIRA measurements. The RMs include (i) two honeys from Canada and tropical Vietnam, (ii) two flours from C3 (rice) and C4 (millet) plants, (iii) four vegetable oils from C3 (olive, peanut) and C4 (corn) plants, and (iv) two collagen powders from marine fish and terrestrial mammal origins. The RMs were collaboratively tested by 8 laboratories to obtain consensus values and measurement uncertainties. These new RMs should facilitate mutual compatibility of stable isotope data if accepted normalisation procedures are applied and documented.
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True cinnamon (Cinnamon verum) is a high value spice only grown in Sri Lanka. It can often be adulterated with the lower priced Cinnamon cassia. This can have food safety implications because Cinnamon cassia contains high levels (1%) of coumarin, whereas true cinnamon has a minimal amount (0.04%) of coumarin. Coumarin is toxic to some animals and certain sensitive humans causing liver and kidney damage. Argentinian researchers have developed a rapid, low cost, non-destructive method based on NIR (Near-infrared diffuse reflectance) spectroscopy and chemometrics to detect the adulteration of true cinnamon.
Read the abstract here
One of the frequently encountered types of adulteration is the adulteration of meat and animal products. In its most recent annual report  , the Food Fraud Network showed data that in the top ten product categories, fish and fish products take the second place, meat and meat products the third and poultry the fifth. Jointly, these three animal product categories eclipse any other product category.
There are different types of fraud that can be found in animal products. These include addition of illegal substances like melamine to milk, the treatment of tuna with carbon monoxide, and the replacement of high-quality species with lower quality ones, or even illegal ones. An example for this can be found in the publication by Fang and Zhang , where the addition of murine meat to substitute mutton has been reported.
Since there are many animal species that can be used for adulteration, using a species-specific PCR is often not economically viable when the adulterant species is not known. Here, the DNA barcoding approach is the better choice to cover a much wider range of species.
In the literature, numerous publications can be found that describe different primer sets to be used for barcoding. Unfortunately, not all methods have been thoroughly validated for the species they can, and, equally important, cannot detect.
The German §64 Food and Feed Law Methods Group for Animal and Plant Speciation has developed a tool that will help scientists to quickly determine which species can be detected and which cannot with a specific set of primers.
The tool, called BaTAnS – short for Barcoding Table for Animal Species – lists relevant publications, identifies the level of validation that has been performed for a specific method (and set of primers).
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Following the previous LGC e-seminars on quantitative PCR assay design and PCR assay optimisation, this e-seminar, entitled “An introduction to quantitative PCR assay validation”, will introduce the viewer to the topic of qPCR assay validation and provide best practice guidance on how to undertake the process. The information presented will equip viewers with the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure that methods are validated and fit for purpose. Key stages in the validation process are indicated, routinely employed evaluation parameters described and critical performance criteria highlighted. Links to useful resources, additional guidance and references are also provided.
Those who should consider viewing this e-seminar include individuals currently working within the foods molecular testing area, particularly representatives from UK Official Control Laboratories, industry and members of organisations associated with the UK official control network.
The production of this e-seminar was funded by Defra, FSA, FSS and BEIS under the Joint Knowledge Transfer Framework for Food Standards and Food Safety Analysis.
This e-seminar can be be viewed on LGC's YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/grf4tZQOArM
This paper reports the results of an international cooperative research project to address potential food fraud issues related to rice supplies in China, India, Vietnam and Ghana, and as rice fraud manifests differently in each country, tailored solutions were required. A portable NIR (Near Infra-Red) instrument with chemometrics calibrated to the authentic rice, was used as a fingerprint screening method. Non-conforming or suspicious samples were analysed in a second stage (confirmatory test) using laboratory-based gas chromatograph-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) fingerprinting methods, which were developed to differentiate between: high value Basmati rice varieties and their potential adulterants; six Geographic Indicated protected rice varieties from specific regions of China; various qualities of rice in Ghana and Vietnam; as well locally produced and imported rice in Ghana. In addition, an inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICPMS) method was developed to support the Chinese rice varieties methods, as well as a liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-QTOFMS) method for quality differentiation in Vietnam. This two stage approach permits a much higher level of on-site screening of rice samples followed by the laboratory corroborating mass spectrometry analysis to assist decision making in accepting rice supplies.
Read the abstract here
The global disruption caused by COVID‐19 has, and will continue to have, a generic impact on the likelihood of many food fraud risks. It is important that food businesses keep their vulnerability assessments and risk management plans under continual review in light of ‘COVID‐effects’ to assess whether they apply to their own supply chain. These effects are layered onto existing macro‐economic trends, such as the increase in plant‐based foods, direct online sales and supply shortages due to conflict or climatic events.
In this article, John Points and Louise Manning, both members of the IFST's COVID‐19 Advisory Group, assess the evidence for an increase in food fraud as a result of the COVID‐19 pandemic and conclude that:
Scallops are high value seafood products usually sold without their characteristic shells. Each species differs in its taste and value with the Pecten spp. scallops attracting higher prices in Europe. German researchers have developed a multiplex real-time PCR method to reliably identify the main commercial scallop species: Pecten spp. (usually King scallop P. maximus), Mizuhopecten yessoensis (Japanese scallop), and Placopecten magellanicus (Atlantic sea scallop). Primers and probes based on mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene amplifying fragments of 138–198 bp were used, and non-targeted species gave either no fluorescent signal or cycle numbers (Cq) very different from the targeted species. The newly developed assay was tested on commercial samples from German supermarkets and fishmongers accompanied by simultaneous verification through Sanger sequencing, which revealed a high mislabelling rate of 48%, especially for products purchased at fishmongers.
Read the abstract here
In April 2015, origin labelling became mandatory for fresh meat products in France.
Three years on, France’s Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) conducted an investigation into beef, sheep, pork, and poultry products in France, which has revealed more than 30% fail to comply with labelling and traceability requirements.
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The aim is to help boost resilience and competitiveness by bringing together the UK’s top scientists and facilities with companies, to address problems in innovative ways. The programme can help solve analysis or measurement issues that cannot be resolved using standard technologies and techniques.
The programme can help industry with a range of challenges through:
- Provision of measurement and analysis expertise
- Investigation of the feasibility of concepts and validation of products and processes
- Supporting of new products and services which directly help the national response to COVID-19
- Helping cost reduction or improved productivity
- Increased product reliability and mitigation of in-service costs
- Advice on standards and regulatory needs.
M4R is open to all registered UK companies and can provide expert advice and support for projects of up to 20 days from partner National Measurement Laboratories, at no charge.
If you are interested, then please contact email@example.com for further information.
This article in New Food Magazine discusses how Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and Whole Gene Sequencing (WGS) can assist in detecting and identifying contamination, and also playing an important role in assuring traceability of food products when combined with blockchain along the supply chain. Technology improvements have meant that NGS and WGS have high throughputs at much lower cost than before, and NGS machine can now be used for WGS as well.
The genomic information derived by these techniques on pathogenic bacterial contamination when combined with data such as the date and place of findings, can help track down the exact sources of contamination and therefore avoid large scale recalls of food products. The role of NGS in obtaining DNA traceability combined with blockchain permits products all the way along the supply chain to be traced back to their original raw materials whether that be plants or animals.
Read the article here
The recently published "Fixing the Future of Food" report, carried out by Veris Strategies, found that 78% of industry leaders (from companies like Nestle, Greencore, World Resources Institute and more) felt that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious weaknesses in the UK food system. Further, 96% of those leaders felt that the UK was not prepared to deal with the long term effects of the pandemic.
The report also polled consumers and found that 90% of consumers believed the pandemic would lead to more sustainable and ethical food systems.
Lead researcher Karla Vanessa Hernendez Herbert used DNA probes with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify dolphin meat adulteration.
The full report has yet to be published in a journal, but the Herbert and Professor Francisco Montiel Sosa disclosed the results in an interview with Mexican newspaper, Excelsior. The original article can be read here in Spanish., or a summary of the article from SeafoodSource can be found here.
Barbara Hirst of RFood Safety and Quality Consultant, and Marta Ahijado, Head of Food R&D at RSSL, spoke with New Food Magazine about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected supply chains, risk assessments and analytical testing.
The pandemic has changed how businesses operate enormously, including their ability to perform physical risk assessments on site, creating new challenges and uncertainty for manufacturers and retailers. For example, disruptions to supply chains can introduce the need for businesses to source new ingredients from new suppliers.
Read the full story on the New Food website to learn more from Barbara and Marta about how businesses are adapting to ensure their assessments are accurate.
The State of Counterfeiting in India 2020 report, performed by the Authentication Solution Provider's Association (ASPA), determined that counterfeit incidents rose by nearly a quarter between 2018 and 2019, with a 21% rise specifically in the food & beverage sector.
The rise in food fraud could negatively impact India's new "Make In India" campaign, which was launched in 2014 and aimed at making India a global hub of manufacturing by encouraging companies to manufacture their products in the companyThe report emphasises the importance of ensuring products are genuine and safe to consumer trust.
Read more about the report and it's details here on Food Navigator Asia.
Officers in China have siezed more than two tonnes of lemons for trademark violations. The lemons had counterfeit labelling which claimed the fruits were produced by fruit brand Utifrutti. Their shipping containers also bore the company's logo.
This marks the second seizure of counterfeit lemons claiming to be Unifrutti products since April.
Read the full story on Securing Industry here.
The FoodSmartphone project aims to develop smartphone-based (bio)analytical sensing and diagnostics tools for simplified on-site rapid pre-screening of food. The three-year project is scheduled to wrap up in December.
Nielsen explains that the project works to develop a device that can be attached or connected to a shopper's smartphone to test for allergens, pesticides, and whether the product is organic. The team hopes to empower shoppers to test food at the shelf.
The interview was recently published by Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation magazine from the European Commission, and can be read here.
The review found guidance and terminology which could be used throughout the food industry, including guidance documents on food fraud prevention and mitigation which also touch on the supply chain.
The article, which is not open access at this time, can be accessed here.
The Institute of Supply Management (ISM), a US-based not-for-profit professional supply management organization, has updated its survey on global supply chain disruptions due to Covid. In the initial release of its survey, ISM found that 75% of respondents reported that their organisations had experienced supply chain disruption. In this update, research indicates that 97% of respondents believe that their organisation's supply chain will be affected by Covid-related disruptions. Respondents included those in the Food, Beverage and Tobacco sector.
The report also investigates impacts to lead times, manufacturing capabilities, inventory and others.
Read ISM's news story here.
All eyes are on Australia’s developing winter crop as global grains markets look to Australia to offset a poor European harvest hit by drought, an international grains strategist has told local growers.
Rabobank London-based global grains and oilseeds strategist @Stefan Vogel, speaking on the bank’s Australian Grain Mid-season Webinar, said when it comes to #wheat and #canola in particular, “we are all looking for good crops in Australia to make up the shortfall caused by the poor season in Europe”.
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