All Posts (577)

Seafood is particularly prone to fraud. In order to try and ensure the supply chain remains integral, IBM and the US company Raw Seafoods have teamed up to introduce blockchain technology, initially to focus on US Atlantic scallop fisheries. Also Raw Seafoods is one of the first companies to introduce the IBM Food Trust Consumer app for smart phones, where consumers will be able to access full information on the scallops they are eating in certain restaurants or buying in retail using a QR code.  

  3686477206?profile=RESIZE_710x    Read the article here

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This paper gives an overview of the last 5 years literature in the application of analytical techniques such as liquid and gas chromatography, isotope ratio and elemental analysis, spectroscopic, DNA based and sensor technologies for the authentication of foods of plant origin, with a special focus on geographical origin traceability and authenticity. The review covers fruits, cereals, pulses, tea, coffee, spices, edible oil, fruit juices, and alcoholic beverages. The effectiveness of these techniques at laboratory and industrial level, and also their advantages and drawbacks are discussed.

 3686453059?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the full paper here

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This paper describes a method based on combining a streamlined DNA extraction method and a SYBR Green quantitative polymerase chain reaction (SyG-qPCR) assay to generate a ready-to-use kit for rapid detection of pork admixtures in processed meat products. The method utilises a rapid and efficient DNA extraction from samples and PCR analysis, which were completed in 10 minutes. The qPCR assay utilised repetitive LINE-1 elements specific to the genome of Sus scrofa domesticus (pig) as a target and incorporated internal controls. The method was validated using 121 processed meat products,  and  amplification was consistently detected only in samples containing pork. 

 1337352593?profile=RESIZE_710x                                    Read the abstract here

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This review by Polish researchers reviews the use of spectroscopic methods in testing the authenticity of some selected herbs and spices. The review covers the spectroscopic techniques - IR, NMR, UV in combination with advanced statistical methods (PCA, CA) to confirm either the origin of the product or  distinguishes the herbs or spices from any adulterating ingredients. 

3686348872?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the abstract here

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William D. Haning, manager of Wilbur-Ellis Co, Texas whose company was found to be selling adulterated ingredients for petfood was sentenced at a court hearing in October. Haning admitted that he and others shipped adulterated pet food ingredients and products to pet food manufacturers in Indiana and Connecticut, as well as six co-packers and co-manufacturers in Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, over a period of more than six years.The company had already been prosecuted (see News blog 22 Nov 2018) along with another company Diversified Ingredients Inc for this fraud, and ordered to pay back defrauded customers US $4.5 million. As Haning had pleaded guilty, and has already paid this money, the court decided to give him a 5 year probation sentence subject to review.  

3684014431?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here

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An introduction to DNA melting curve analysis


This e-seminar, entitled “An introduction to DNA melting curve analysis”, describes the principles behind, as well as best practice guidelines for the application of the post-PCR analytical method of DNA melting curve analysis. The information presented will provide the viewer with a general introduction to PCR-based DNA melting analysis as a method for food authenticity testing, and provide guidance on how to design, implement and analyse PCR DNA melting assay data. Topics covered will include the principles underpinning DNA melting analysis, designing PCR DNA melting assays, examples of PCR instruments compatible with DNA melting analysis, and guidance on troubleshooting. 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.

View e-seminar here.

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.

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In a follow up of a 2018 report, Oceana Canada have released a recent report on the results of a survey of 90 samples taken from 50 different locations in Montreal in 2019. The samples were sent to a commercial laboratory for testing using DNA barcoding for species identification, which found that 31 samples were a different species than was claimed, 21 were mislabelled and three contained species not authorised for sale in Canada.  The 2018 report found a mislabelling rate of 44% in samples from from 5 cities, excluding Montreal. The Montreal results, when combined with previous investigations since 2017, found 47% of the 472 fish samples to date were mislabelled in Montreal, Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

1076187540?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here and also Oceana Canada's report

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Urea is added as an adulterant to give milk whiteness and increase its consistency by improving the non-fat solids content, but excessive amounts of urea in milk causes overload and kidney damage. A sensitive method for detecting and quantifying urea adulteration of milk has been developed using FT-NIRS (Fourier Transformed Near Infra Red Spectroscopy) coupled with multivariate analysis. The model was developed using 162 fresh milk samples, consisting of 20 non-adulterated samples (without urea), and 142 samples with the urea adulterant at 8 different concentrations (0.10%, 0.30%, 0.50%, 0.70%, 0.90%, 1.10%, 1.30%, and 1.70%), each prepared in triplicate. The NIR data coupled with the PLS‐DA (Partial Least Squares -Discriminant Analysis) model can be used to discriminate between the unadulterated fresh milk samples and those adulterated with urea.  Furthermore, the NIR data coupled with PLSR (Partial Least Squares Regression) models may be used to quantify the level of the urea in milk samples. 

2018399?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the full paper

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The Food Authenticity Network has announced that McCormick & Company, Incorporated (NYSE: MKC), a global leader in flavour, is its first industry supporter. In addition, Sterling Crew (FIFST, FCIEH, FRSPH, CEnvH, CSci.), Co-Founder of Kitchen Conversation, Managing Director of SQS Ltd and Strategic Advisor at Shield Safety Group and Dynamic Risk Indicator, Independent Scientific advisor and board member at Campden BRI is to become the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Network as of immediate effect.
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The FDA has has launched an updated version of its Food Defense Plan Builder (FDPB) to help companies meet the requirements of the Intentional Adulteration rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The updated FDPB has been aligned with the requirements in the Intentional Adulteration (IA) rule, so that it can be used to easily create food defence and fraud mitigation plans, and support compliance with the rule. The user friendly plan is not a legal requirement, but guides companies through the following sections: 

  • Facility Information
  • Product/Process Descriptions
  • Vulnerability Assessments
  • Fraud Mitigation Strategies
  • Food Defense Monitoring Procedures
  • Food Defence Corrective Actions Procedures
  • Food Defence Verification Procedures
  • Supporting Documents
  • Food Defence Plan Signatures

Read the article here and obtain the FDPB plan here


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Crude red palm oil is a traditional cooking oil in many tropical countries especially in West Africa. Ghanaian researchers (in cooperation with Queens University Belfast) have developed a rapid, non-destructive method to detect Sudan dye adulteration of red palm oil using a portable NIR spectrometer with multivariate analysis. The multivariate model was determined using a total of 520 samples of red palm oil comprising; 40 authentic samples together with 480 adulterated samples containing Sudan dyes (I, II, III, IV of 120 samples each). Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to extract relevant spectral information, which gave visible cluster trends for authentic samples and adulterated ones.  The optimised results by cross-validation revealed that MSC-PCA + SVM (Support Vector Machine) gave an identification rate above 95% for both calibration and prediction sets, and hence ould be used successfully to differentiate between authentic red palm oils and adulterated ones. 

3676231014?profile=RESIZE_710x  Read the abstract here

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3674633424?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Royal Society of Chemistry has published a book on 'DNA Techniques to Verify Food Authenticity'                       (, which includes a chapter (number 26) on the Food Authenticity Network.

 About the book:

The food supply chain needs to reassure consumers and businesses about the safety and standards of food. Global estimates of the cost of food fraud to economies run into billions of dollars hence a huge surge in interest in food authenticity and means of detecting and preventing food fraud and food crime. Approaches targeting DNA markers have assumed a pre-eminence.

This book is the most comprehensive and timely collection of material from those working at the forefront of DNA techniques applied to food authenticity. Addressing the new field of analytical molecular biology as it combines the quality assurance rigour of analytical chemistry with DNA techniques, it introduces the science behind DNA as a target analyte, its extraction, amplification, detection and quantitation as applied to the detection of food fraud and food crime. 

Making the link with traditional forensic DNA profiling and describing emerging and cutting-edge techniques such as next generation sequencing, this book presents real-world case studies from a wide perspective including from analytical service providers, industry, enforcement agencies and academics.  It will appeal to food testing laboratories worldwide, who are just starting to use these techniques and students of molecular biology, food science and food integrity. Food policy professionals and regulatory organisations who will be using these techniques to back up legislation and regulation will find the text invaluable. Those in the food industry in regulatory and technical roles will want to have this book on their desks.


Author information:

The editors possess unrivalled expertise and are keen to describe and foster advances in the key area of DNA techniques applied to food authenticity. Dr Lucy Foster is an experienced food scientist, and head of food research including authenticity research at Defra, for many years commissioning studies of global reach. Dr Malcolm Burns is an internationally recognised molecular biologist and expert in DNA quantitation. Dr Michael Walker was a founder board member of the Food Standards Agency, a subject matter expert to the Elliott Review, is Head of the Office of the Government Chemist, and, with a thriving consulting practice, is an experienced expert witness.


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This research by the University of Michigan addressed some of the global need for clarification and harmonisation of commonly used terminology such as food fraud, food authenticity, food integrity, food protection, economically motivated adulteration, food crime, food security, contaminant, adulterant, and others.One hundred and fifty survey responses were received from various food-related workgroups or committee members, communication with recognised experts, and announcements to the food industry in general. The food quality and manufacturing respondents focused mainly on incoming goods and adulterant-substances (<50%) rather than the other illegal activities such as counterfeiting, theft, grey market/diversion, and smuggling. Of the terms included to represent “intentional deception for economic gain” the respondents generally agreed with food fraud as the preferred term. Overall, the preference was 50% “food fraud,” 15% “economically motivated adulteration” EMA, 9% “food protection,” 7% “food integrity,” 5% “food authenticity,” and 2% “food crime.” It appears that “food protection” and “food integrity” are terms that cover broader concepts such as all types of intentional acts and even possibly food safety or food quality. “Food authenticity” was defined with the phrase “to ensure” so seemed to be identified as an “attribute” that helped define fraudulent acts.

Read the full paper here

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Danish researchers have published a review of the wide range of analytical methods, which aim to quantify meat species in meat products and their limits of detection (LOD). The review attempts to address in particular, the problems associated with a correlation from quantitative DNA based results to meat content (w/w). The aim is to make researchers aware of the problems of expressing DNA results as meat content (w/w) in order to find better alternatives. 

1337352593?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the full paper

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3640762870?profile=RESIZE_710xAdulteration is a growing food safety concern worldwide. Previous studies have implicated turmeric as a source of lead (Pb) exposure due to the addition of lead chromate (PbCrO4), a yellow pigment used to enhance brightness. This study aimed to assess the practice of adding yellow pigments to turmeric and producer- consumer- and regulatory-factors affecting this practice across the supply chain in Bangladesh.

Nine major turmeric-producing districts of Bangladesh, as well as two districts with minimal turmeric production, were identified and visited. In each district, semi-structured interviews were conducted and informal observations were made with individuals involved in the production, consumption, and regulation of turmeric. Perceptions of and preferences for turmeric quality.

Samples of yellow pigments and turmeric were collected from the most-frequented wholesale and retail markets. Samples were analysed for Pb and chromium (Cr) concentrations via inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and x-ray fluorescence.

The study found evidence of PbCrO4-based yellow pigment adulteration in 7 of the 9 major turmeric-producing districts.

Turmeric wholesalers reported that the practice of adding yellow pigments to dried turmeric root during polishing began more than 30 years ago and continues today, primarily driven by consumer preferences for colourful yellow curries.

The results from this study indicate that PbCrO4 is being added to turmeric by polishers, who are unaware of its neurotoxic effects, in order to satisfy wholesalers who are driven by consumer demand for yellow roots. The study recommends immediate intervention that engages turmeric producers and consumers to address this public health crisis and ensure a future with Pb-free turmeric.

Read full publication.

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This review by Polish researchers looks at the most recent advances in proteomic LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry) methods to identify meat species in processed meat products. The review looks at both low and high resolution LC-MS applied to the identification and detection of heat‐stable species‐specific peptide markers. In the case of myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins, LC-MS/MS was able to detect 105 heat stable peptides in processed meat, and in thermally processed samples, myosin, myoglobin, hemoglobin, l‐lactase dehydrogenase A and β‐enolase are the main protein sources of heat‐stable markers. 

1337352593?profile=RESIZE_710x  Read the abstract here

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The need for more rapid on-site testing for authenticity has prompted Chinese researchers to develop a novel biosensor. This multiple-use trident-like lateral flow biosensor based on species-specific TM-LAMP (tag-labeled multiplex loop-mediated isothermal amplification) permitted sensitive and specific horse and donkey identification. Primers were produced for the endogenous chromosomal reference genes for horse and donkey, which were selected bioinformatically, and the lateral flow biosensor was established using an antigen tag-labeled multiplex LAMP. After optimisation, the biosensor could specifically detect as little as 15 copies of the horse and donkey gene fragments, which took only 40 minutes for the whole process without the need for any additional precision instruments. This platform could be easily adapted for other meat species by using the appropriate primers.

3634932194?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the abstract here

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Given the problems of the US organic market and USDA's difficulties to police it effectively, two new initiatives are taking place, which should bring substantial changes. Firstly, an independent investigation unit - OrganicEye (part on the not for profit group Beyond Pesticides) has been formed to provide a resource for the organic farming community and their customers, and hold the USDA to account. Secondly, the USDA is about to publish a new organic enforcement rule, which should have an impact on organic regulations both in the US market and abroad and improve enforcement. Hopefully these two initiatives will help to reduce organic fraud in the US market.

2018447?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the articles on OrganicEye and the USDA enforcement rule

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JRC has published its monthly summary which in this edition covers two months in the summer - July and August, Some  of the stories have been covered  in the website's News items, but there are some new ones including olive oil fraud in the Brazilian market and substitution of avocados by a bright green squash in Mexico.

Read the Summary here

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The FSA collects annual data from Local Authorities (LAs) in England, Northern Ireland and Wales on food law enforcement in food establishments, and has published the report of data collected between April 2018 to end March 2019. Data are collected using the web-based LA Enforcement Monitoring System (LAEMS), and cover food hygiene (microbiological quality and contamination) and food standards (labelling, composition, chemical contamination and adulturation). For food standards controls, which cover authenticity and food fraud, the percentage of planned interventions decreased to 40.8 percent from 42.3 percent in the previous year. Even more significant, the number of food standards based analyses fell by 25% because of the lower number of food standards samples taken. LAs have commented that this decrease reflects the trend of an intelligence-led approach to food standards enforcement, concentrating on the higher risk premises. This approach is putting pressure on public analyst laboratories (official control laboratories) and the Worcester PA Laboratory will close at the end of 2019. 

Read the article here or the full FSA report

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