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German researchers have developed a method for the non-targeted detection of paprika adulteration using Fourier transform mid-infrared (FT-MIR) spectroscopy and one-class soft independent modelling of class analogy (OCSIMCA). One-class models based on commercially available paprika powders were developed, and optimised to provide a sensitivity greater than 80% by external validation. These models for adulteration detection were tested by predicting spiked paprika samples with various types of fraudulent material and levels of adulterations including 1% (w/w) Sudan I, 1% (w/w) Sudan IV, 3% (w/w) lead chromate, 3% (w/w) lead oxide, 5% (w/w) silicon dioxide, 10% (w/w) polyvinyl chloride, and 10% (w/w) gum arabic. By applying different data preprocessing chemometric methods, a classification specificity greater than 80% was achieved for all adulterants.

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Speciation of Gelatine in Sweets Using FTIR-ATR

Gelatine is widely used in the manufacture of "gummy" sweets, and both bovine and porcine gelatine is used. Turkish researchers have used FTIR-ATR (Fourier Transform Infra Red - Attenuated Total Reflectance) spectroscopy to determine whether bovine or porcine gelatine has been used in the sweets. The spectral region between 1734 and 1528 cm-1 was selected for principal component analysis. The potential of FTIR spectroscopy for determination of bovine and porcine source in gummy sweets was examined and validated by a real-time PCR method. Twenty commercial samples were tested by the FTIR-ATR method and the result checked by RT-PCR. Gummy sweets were classified and discriminated in relation to the bovine or porcine source of gelatine with 100% success without any sample preparation using FTIR-ATR technique.

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According to figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request from ITV Tonight, the Food Standards Agency has given no money at all in the past year to Local Authorities for food surveillance tests. The FSA’s pot of money for food sampling is no longer available to cash strapped local authorities - some of which, according to evidence uncovered by the ITV Tonight team, have done no food standards food sampling and or hygiene sampling at all in the last year. It also reports that since 2010 the number of Trading Standards Officers (inspectors) has halved.

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Researchers from ITV recently visited 10 random takeaway shops in Greater Manchester. They ordered ham and pineapple pizzas and subsequent tests on the ingredients found that in 9 out of the 10 pizzas contained no pork. Instead the outlets had used thinly sliced processed turkey ham. Manchester City Council, which polices food businesses, has agreed to take action against those found to have misdescribed food to the public.

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The Olive Oil Marketing Regulation requires that olive oils of mixed origin have to be designated as either EU and/or non-EU origin. In this study 2H/1H, 13C/12C and 18O/16O ratios were analysed in bulk olive oils using  isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) as well as 13C/12C and 2H/1H in the four main fatty acids (linoleic, oleic, palmitic and stearic acids) using IRMS coupled with GC (gas chromatography). The isotopic composition of olive oils was successfully used to distinguish samples originating in the two areas. When bulk data were combined with fatty acid isotopic data the differentiation power of the method was improved. The improvement is due to the specific isotopic fingerprint of the individual countries making up the EU and non-EU samples. 

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The aim of this project was to evaluate the applicability of selected modern molecular biology methods to reliably detect and quantify meat species around the 1% (w/w) level for enforcement action with a focus on processed meat products. Three techniques were evaluated, which had quantitative potential for trace ingredient detection: real-time PCR (qPCR), droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), and a label-free mass-spectrometry (MS) approach.

Results of the research indicated that both qPCR and ddPCR demonstrated good qualitative and quantitative analytical performance at the 1% (w/w) adulteration level for enforcement action (with an associated 3-27% coefficient of variation). Across all adulterant levels investigated, ddPCR generally showed tighter precision estimates, particularly at the 0.1% (w/w) levels and with the highly processed canned meat sample. The label-free MS technique demonstrated clear qualitative capability, but did not demonstrate comparable accuracy for quantitative determinations.  

  Read the full FA0157 report.

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The three farmers ran a certified organic farm in Overton, Nebraska, but also farmed other non-certified fields in the area. Maize and soyabeans produced from these fields were sold as organic, at much higher prices to customers both directly and via an as-yet unnamed business. They are thought to have made $11 million over 7 years by defrauding their customers.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Agriculture raised concerns about organic produce imports (see News blog 13 March 2018), and published a preliminary list of businesses allegedly using fraudulent certificates to claim their products are organic. It has since extended that list to more than 100, and of these around 20 were US-based businesses. To try to address the problem, a three-month pilot was launched in the US to prevent and detect fraud in the country’s organic food chain. The pilot will focus on identifying and assessing specific weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the supply chain, identifying and taking measures to reduce those vulnerabilities, establishing a monitoring programme for fraud prevention measures, and developing a complaint system to be used when fraud is suspected or detected.

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The BBC have obtained the results of meat testing carried out in 2017 by local authorities in Scotland in restaurants, supermarkets and manufacturers from Food Standards Scotland (FSS). In total 631 samples were tested and 48 samples (less than 8%) were found to contain DNA of other species not labelled or described on the product. Many of these were considered as cross contamination rather than substitution. However, there were some notable exceptions: such as restaurants serving lamb dishes which were beef, and a restaurant serving beef in oyster sause which was pork. The results differed from those reported by FSA (see 12 September News), which were more targeted on high risk businesses.

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Characterisation of the lipid component of seafood products based on chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques has been reported as a promising approach to differentiate farmed from wild-type products. In this study, Italian researchers used a fast method based on Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) coupled to High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS) based on a single stage Orbitrap mass analyser, integrated by Principal Component Analysis (PCA), to discriminate wild-type from farmed salmon of Salmo salar species. Obtaining the 30 most intense signals (all referred to fatty acids, FA) detected in negative ion DART-HRMS spectra of the lipid extracts of salmon fillets [26 wild-type from Canada, 74 farmed from Canada (25), Norway (25) and Chile (24)] were considered as the variables for PCA. In agreement with other studies, three saturated (14:0, 16:0 and 18:0) FA, along with unsaturated ones having 20 or 22 carbon atoms, were found as the main discriminating variables for wild-type salmons, whereas FA with compositions 18:1, 18:2, 18:3 and several oxidised forms arising from them were found to have a significantly higher incidence in farmed salmon. The methodology was tested against 6 samples of farmed Norwegian salmon, which were all correctly classified.

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As part of the EU Project Authent-Net, the Norwegian Food Research Agency (Nofima)  and Belgium's Centre Wallon de Recherches Agronomique (CRA-W) have developed a database to help prevent another major food fraud incident. The database FARNHub (Food Authenticity Research Network Hub) has a web searcher  for any news on food authenticity or fraud from around the world. The database contains information on research publications, regulations, funders of food authenticity research, and on-line databases of incidents. Information on reasearch projects and methods will be available through links to the FoodIntegrity  Knowledge Base (KB) when it is transferred to JRC Geel.

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 In this study, more than 400 pesticides were screened in a representative set of 42 genuine and 34 adulterated dried oregano samples collected from various locations across Europe. The results obtained by advanced mass spectrometry-based methods, showed, that some pesticide residues could be detected in virtually all tested samples, nevertheless, on average, higher contamination was found in the adulterated oregano samples. Increased incidence of insecticides such as cyfluthrin, permethrin and cyhalothrin was typical for these samples, moreover, pyriproxyfen was detected exclusively in adulterated samples. As pyriproxyfen was absent in genuine oregano, it could be used as a screen for adulterated oregano. 

    Read the abstract here

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Honey is the third most adulterated food globally. This study by Australian researchers examined 100 honey samples from Australia (mainland and Tasmania) along with 18 other countries covering Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania. Carbon isotopic analyses of honey and protein showed that 27% of commercial honey samples tested were of questionable authenticity. The remaining 69 authentic samples were subject to trace element analysis for geographic determination, and were analysed chemometrically. The trace elements Sr, P, Mn and K were the most useful ones to differentiate honey according to its geographic origin. The findings show the common and prevalent issues of honey authenticity and the mislabelling of its geographic origin can be identified using a combination of stable carbon isotopes and trace element concentrations.

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Sourdough or sourfaux?

According to an investigation by Which? magazine, 15 out of 19 so-called sourdough loaves, sold in supermarkets, that they examined were not made in the traditional way and contain extra ingredients or additives.

Traditional sourdough is considered to be one of the oldest forms of bread and the technique can be traced back to ancient Egypt.

 

But Which? magazine says it looked at 19 sourdough loaves sold in supermarkets and found only four were made in the traditional way with the three basic ingredients.

The others contained extra ingredients, such as yeast, ascorbic acid and yoghurt and vinegar.

While these are not necessarily bad for you or unhealthy, Chris Young from the Real Bread Campaign says customers are being misled.

"If you are told you are buying something, you should get what you pay for. Particularly when some of the supermarkets are charging a premium for that product," he said.

The Real Bread Campaign group says it wants to see a legal definition of the terms "sourdough" or "artisan bread", so stores cannot "misinterpret" them.

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Australia's biggest listed honey company and some of the country's largest supermarket chains face accusations of unwittingly selling "fake" honey.

Testing at a leading international scientific lab that specialises in honey fraud detection has found that almost half the honey samples selected from supermarket shelves were "adulterated", meaning it has been mixed with something other than nectar from bees.

The adulterated samples were all products that blend local and imported honey.

ASX-listed Capilano's Allowrie-branded Mixed Blossom Honey, which sources honey from Australia and overseas, and markets itself as 100 per cent honey, showed up as "adulterated" in the majority of samples tested.

The results are set to ignite a storm over how honey purity is tested that will involve the Federal Government as well as local and international regulators.

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A new study from Oceana, an ocean conservation and advocacy group, found that a lot of fish at the store is mislabeled. Most of the fish mislabeled was snapper. The report found that much of it was swapped out with Tilapia and other types of fish.

 

Experts say if you want to make sure you're really getting snapper fish, check the skin. It should be bright pink or almost red in color. Without the skin, you may not be able to tell what you're getting.

The FDA says another product that is misleading in grocery stores is honey, saying sometimes what’s being sold isn’t pure honey.

Some red flags on the label include the words "sugar-free" and "blended honey." The fake stuff tends to have more processed sugar and doesn't have the same health benefits.

And if you're treating yourself to a nice steak dinner, beware of Kobe beef. Real Kobe beef is extremely rare outside of Japan and cannot be found in grocery stores. Only a few restaurants in the country have the real thing.

The Kobe Distribution Association website has a list of places where they've sent their Kobe beef.

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India is the largest producer of milk globally, producing 155 million tonnes/year worth nearly US$ 70billion. However, it has been reported that  roughly 68% of all milk and milk products have been found to be in violation of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's (FSSAI) standards – despite the regulator's recent proposal of a penalty of around US$14,000, or a maximum of lifetime imprisonment for intentionally adding adulterants to food products. Adulterants found to be added in milk include white paint, refined oil, caustic soda, formalin, glucose, urea, salt, liquid detergent, boric acid, sodium bicarbonate, and hydrogen peroxide. Many of these pose a health risk to Indian consumers. The FSSAI has even produced a simple kit for consumers to test milk themselves for adulteration. The main problem being that only 66% of milk is handled in the main supply market and the rest is dealt with privately. 

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A Novel Approach for Scotch Whisky Authentication

Scotch whisky, a popular high value spirit drink, is vulnerable to fraud. In this study, a non-targeted screening (metabolomics fingerprinting) of volatile and semi-volatile substances was used. After pre-concentration, gas chromatography (GC) coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (Q-TOF mass analyser) was employed. Unsupervised principle component analysis (PCA) and supervised partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS–DA) were used for evaluation of data obtained by analysis of a unique set of 171 authentic whisky samples. A very good separation of malt whiskies according to the type of cask in which they were matured (bourbon versus bourbon and wine) was achieved, and significant ´markers´ for bourbon and wine cask maturation, such as N-(3-methylbutyl) acetamide and 5-oxooxolane-2-carboxylic acid, were identified. This unique sample set was used to construct a statistical model for distinguishing malt and blended whiskies. In the final phase, 20 fake samples were analysed, and the data processed in the same way. Some differences could be observed in the (semi)volatile profiles of authentic and fake samples. Employing the statistical model developed by PLS-DA for this purpose, marker compounds that positively distinguish fake samples were identified.

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Robusta coffee is usually cheaper than arabica coffee. Mixtures of the two can be produced and labelled correctly for consumer taste. However, 100% arabica coffees may be mixed with robusta coffee to reduce costs. Brazilian researchers have developed primers which specifically amplify arabica coffee but not robusta in blends of roasted and ground coffee. The percentages of arabica coffee  in blends can be determined using real-time PCR.

  Read the abstract here

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The Food Authenticity Network was discussed at the Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting in July during the side events “food integrity and food authenticity: a way forward”: 

Side event 1 - IGO Panel Discussion Food Integrity and Food Authenticity: A Way Forward

The Food Authenticity Network was quoted a number of times at both side events by the panellists as being a leading example of an integrity network.

A discussion paper is being developed through the Food Import and Export Inspection (CCFICS) and Certification Systems (CCFICS) to define and distinguish the various terms related to the subject e.g. food integrity, food fraud, economically motivated adulteration (EMA).

Side event 2 – NGO Panel Discussion Food Integrity and Food Authenticity: A Way Forward

The UK provided an overview of the Food Authenticity Network and distributed material on the Network to delegations.

Countries attending the side events indicated both their progress and challenges related to the subject, highlighting the diversity of Codex Members in terms of their capacity to identify and address fraudulent activities. They also underlined the very practical daily challenges they face due to lack of regulation, capacity and knowledge on this issue.

In summarising, panellists concurred that Codex was an ideal arena in which to further explore the issue and to promote harmonization, especially regarding definitions.

Read full report.

Watch webcast.

 

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The BBC made a Freedom of Information (FoI) to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for the results of meat product testing by local authorities in 2017. This revealed that out of 665 results from 487 businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland collected by the FSA, 145 were partly or wholly made up of unspecified meat. Of these 145 samples,73 came from retailers - including three supermarkets, and a further 50 came from restaurants, while 22 originated from manufacturing or food processing plants. The most commonly mislabelled product was mince, followed by sausages, kebabs and restaurant curries, and lamb products were the most commonly found to contain traces of other animals DNA.  

The FSA has responded by stressing that the results are not representative of the food industry. Local authorities taking the samples, were targeting the high risk businesses. 

Read the BBC report and the FSA's response

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