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Chinese researchers have developed a multiplex PCR assay using universal primers based on mitochondrial DNA to identify 8 species (dog, chicken, cattle, pig, horse, donkey, fox, and rabbit) simultaneously in meat products. The assay was tested on 103 commercial meat products from the Chinese market, which demonstrated its effectiveness and applicability.

3571056540?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the abstract here

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Researchers in China and Canada have developed a  a highly specific and robust method to identify donkey meat that coupled a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with lateral flow immunoassay (LFI). Donkey-specific PCR primers were designed by targeting the mitochondrial D-loop gene, and their specificity was verified in silico and in vitro against 22 species involved in meat authentication. The PCR-LFI assay gave a limit of detection as low as 0.001% w/w (raw) and 0.01% w/w (cooked) donkey meat in beef. The LFI strip-based visualisation of PCR products allowed for a 10-fold higher sensitivity than conventional gel electrophoresis, and significantly reduced the analysis time for the post-PCR analysis. This PCR-LFI is highly suitable for rapid identification of donkey or incorporation into multiplex screening protocol for other meat authentication. 

3559333008?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the full RSC research paper

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In response to recent reports on food tampering in supermarkets, the FDA has reminded industry that its guidance offers advice and recommendations on a range of preventive measures for retailers and food service establishments to minimise the risk of food tampering or other malicious, criminal, or terrorist actions. The guidance updated in 2007 deals with recommended actions in the following areas, management, staff, the public, physical facitlities, and operational actions. 

3559299656?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the New Food article or the full FDA guidance

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3549856866?profile=RESIZE_710xRachel Gullaksen, Sean Daly and Malcolm Burns (from left to right) looking at multispectral imaging applications for food authenticity

The Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) aims to help protect businesses and consumers from fraudulent supply chains through building relationships with industry, delivering crime prevention initiatives and conducting thorough, proportionate investigations where necessary. This is to support the Food Standard Agency to deliver its overarching strategy that “food is safe and is what it says it is”.

Following an increase to its budget, the NFCU has seen significant extension of the unit’s capabilities and remit in terms of its investigation and crime disruption capabilities and the prevention of food crime. As part of its outreach programme and as a follow-up to a meeting between Darren Davies, Head of the NFCU and the Government Chemist, Julian Braybrook and Selvarani Elahi in May 2019, colleagues from the NFCU visited LGC.

Selvarani Elahi gave a presentation on the Food Authenticity Network, highlighting the benefits of closer collaboration between this growing global network and the NFCU, both of which were created by the UK government to address the recommendations of the Elliott Review.

NFCU colleagues were taken on a tour of LGC’s National Measurement Laboratories where LGC staff demonstrated research on a range of technologies from point-of-use screening to confirmatory methods capable of combating food crime or food fraud .


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Food Authenticity Newsletter: Issue 10


The Food Authenticity Network turned four in July 2019 and looking back to when it was first established on 14 July 2015, we could not have imagined that in four short years and with relatively modest funding, we could have grown to a membership of over 1,130* from 58 countries / territories and a Twitter following of over 1,548. The website has also achieved a Google PageRank score of number 1 for a search on the term ‘food authenticity’ and the equivalent on Twitter.

In case you missed it, Issue 10 of the Food Authenticity Network Newsletter was published in July and contains news from the Network, three interesting articles and a further Centre of Expertise profile:
•News from CEN on Food Authenticity
•Increased activities of the Food Standard Agency’s National Food Crime Unit.
•Application of Artificial Intelligence and smart phone to authenticate food in situ.
•Achievements of the EU Project FoodIntegrity project.
•Centre of Expertise profile from Minerva Scientific

Download your copy here.

*Google Analytics shows that the website is actually being accessed by ~8,000 unique users annually.


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There is a potential for adulteration of emulsion-type sausages with porcine blood plasma because of its low cost, high protein and functional properties. A proteomic method for the detection of porcine blood plasma has been developed by German researchers. After a rapid protein extraction and tryptic digestion, species-specific marker peptides for porcine blood cell proteins (four markers) and plasma proteins (12 markers) were measured by UHPLC-MS/MS. The method was tested on sausages prepared from a variety of pork raw materials spiked with 0.5-5% meat substitution with porcine blood plasma powder, and subjected to different thermal treatments. The 4 plasma peptides were identified as markers for porcine blood plasma addition, and the method could detect down to 0.7% meat substitution, with a 5% error probability for both false positives and negatives.

3523688828?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the abstract here

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Pasteurised whole egg is the most commonly marketed egg product used by the food industry for the manufacture of bakery products, ice cream, fresh and dried pasta. The use of incubator-reject eggs (IRE) is not allowed under European legislation for the preparation of egg products. However, some producers fraudulently use them for whole egg products manufacture. Italian researchers studied the effectiveness of European legislative indices (β-hydroxybutyric acid and lactic acid), uracil, furosine and organic acids for IRE detection in egg products. The results show that present European legislative thresholds for β-hydroxybutyric acid and lactic acid should be lowered to effectively detect IRE's in egg products. The addition of uracil to the indices is suggested as a future additional legal parameter, and considered as a warning signal that IRE may be present. 

1133401214?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the abstract here

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Dutch RTL News broadcaster have analysed reports from both Government inspectors and Organic inspectors published between 2015 and 2018. These show some 68 companies selling food labelled as organic, which does not meet the required standards. Of these, 10 companies are thought to have committed quite serious fraud offences. Only one of these cases is being looked at by the Public Prosecution Department. RTL News reported in May, that hundreds of products are being sold in Dutch shops as organic, but which actually come from farms which have broken the rules on animal welfare, the use of medicines and the environment. Calls from farmers for a 'get-tough approach' from government inspectors are likely to go unheard and a spokesman for the NVWA (Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) told RTL that it does not have enough staff to tackle all the fraud involving organic food. Priority, therefore, is given to cases which have implications for food safety.

1775295768?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here

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Jill Hoffman, McCormick &Co, gave the keynote address at the APAC (Asia- Pacific) Food Safety Conference 2019 in Sydney. She outlined the breadth of work carried out by food safety and quality professionals. However, when considering the emerging risks companies are facing, then food authenticity, fraud and sustainability should also be included in the increasing number of risks companies have to take into account. Therefore, these need to be dealt with by building a food integrity culture.

3465109688?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here  

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Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is frequently adulterated with olive pomace oil and other vegetable oils. Although various official chemical methods are available for the detection of common adulterants in EVOO, these methods are laborious, time-consuming, and employ toxic chemicals. Thus, researchers have been exploring more rapid and accurate analytical techniques to detect and quantify adulteration in EVOO, and this review is focused on summarising the methods developed in the past few years. The review examines chromatographic, spectroscopic, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), DNA analysis and digital imaging approaches to detecting adulteration. The review concludes that the currently used official methods should be upgraded as they are reported to be less sensitive than these latest methods.  

3436704168?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the abstract of the review here

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This research is by the same French team, who reported using elemental strontium and strontium isotopes as markers for geographic origin and authenticity of Bordeaux wines, which was reported as a 27 April 2019 News item. In this research, lead (Pb) concentrations and Pb isotope ratios of 43 authentic Bordeaux wines from prestigious châteaux and 14 suspicious Bordeaux origin were determined to evaluate their potential as markers for authenticity and geographical origin. Total Pb concentrations in Bordeaux wines have drastically decreased over the past 50 years corresponding to changes in environmental lead concentrations with a clear shift of isotopic signatures towards geological values. The Pb isotopic ratios determined in both sets of samples clearly demonstrated that the suspicious Bordeaux wines displayed Pb isotopic signatures statistically distinctive from those obtained for authentic Bordeaux wines. Three isotopic ratio signatures using the geological and environmental Pb isotopes data that characterise European and Asian sources were used to give a non-ambiguous discrimination between authentic Pauillac AOC and the counterfeit wines.   

3436675196?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the abstract here

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3435350351?profile=RESIZE_710xThe EU FoodIntegrity project has published a number of Scientific Opinions on difficult stakeholder derived issues that concern food fraud. The topics were all identified by stakeholders and are intended as documents that describe best practices. The published Scientific Opinions can be found here under the 'Scientific Opinions' tab.

The latest Scientific Opinion published is on "Use of NMR applications to tackle future food fraud issues". The SO discusses how both targeted (allows the identification of specific markers of identity/adulteration for a given foodstuff) and untargeted (the chemical profile of the whole foodstuff is used to create a unique fingerprint as a reference for suspect samples) NMR methodologies are applied in routine use for food fraud monitoring. The cost-effective approaches for routine application are discussed using examples of Food Screener™ and benchtop low-field instruments.

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Researchers from the University of Glasgow and Strathclyde University have developed an artificial tongue based on nanoslices of gold and aluminium  metal arranged in a checkerboard pattern, which can detect subtle differences in how the metal "tastebuds" absorb light while immersed in a liquid sample. Statistical analysis of these differences (plasmonic resonance) have permitted different branded whiskies to be identified, and even within each brand differences of maturation for 12, 15 and 18 years could be identified. The artificial (bimetallic nanoplasmonic) tongue can be used for any liquid sample by comparing the sample's plasmonic resonance to that of an authentic liquid sample, and it does this rapidly and accurately. A paper on the artificial tongue has been published in RSC's journal Nanoscale. 

3435089563?profile=RESIZE_710xRead the University of Glasgow's Press Release or the full research paper in RSC's journal Nanoscale.  

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Adulterated saffron sold in West Sussex has led to the seizure of product worth £750,000 at a clandestine factory in Alicante, Spain. Saffron adulterated with other lower-quality plant ingredients was discovered by Trading Standards Officers from West Sussex County Council as part of a small scale market survey in 2017. The results were relayed to the National Food Crime Unit of the Food Standards Agency, who contacted the Spanish authorities. A total of 90kg of product was seized from a clandestine factory in Alicante by the Spanish authorities, and two individuals arrested.  

13069780?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here or the West Sussex County Council Press Release

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IBM has developed "Hypertaste" which is based on special electrochemical sensors, and instead of identifying individual components of a liquid food uses combinational sensing to give a holistic signal or fingerprint of the liquid sample, akin to human sensing of taste or aroma. The sensors are comprised of a pair of electrodes covered in a special polymer coating developed at IBM's laboratories in Zurich. The fingerprint obtained from the sensors is transferred to a mobile device such as a smart phone, where it can be downloaded  to a cloud server which will use trained machine learning algorithms (artificial intelligence) to compare the fingerprint to a database of known authentic liquids.  

3434990771?profile=RESIZE_710xRead the full article here or IBM's own news release

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A judge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa sentenced Randy Constant, the leader of a organic food fraud scheme, to 122 months in prison. Constant had from 2010 to 2017 organised farmers to sell conventionally grown maize and soyabeans mixed with a small amount of certified organic grains, as wholly organic produce. The scheme was estimated as earning around a total of US$120 million, and could have accounted as much as 7% of the US organic maize production and 8% of the US organic soyabean production in 2016. Three other farmers involved with suppying the crops were given smaller sentences.

3432894493?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here    

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The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) co-hosted a meeting on the 18 July 2019 on the negative impact of illicit trade on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The special UN dialogue exposed where and how progress on the SDGs is inhibited by illicit trade in some of the world’s most important economic sectors.

"From smuggling, counterfeiting and tax evasion, to the illegal sale or possession of goods, services, humans and wildlife, illicit trade is compromising the attainment of all 17 of the UN SDGs," stated TRACIT Director-General Jeffrey Hardy. "It is crowding out legitimate economic activity, depriving governments of revenues for investment in vital public services, dislocating millions of legitimate jobs and causing irreversible damage to ecosystems and human lives."

 Read full article.

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The UK food industry has asked the government to waive aspects of competition law to allow firms to co-ordinate and direct supplies with each other after a no-deal Brexit.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said it repeatedly asked ministers for clarity on a no-deal scenario.

Existing rules prohibit suppliers and retailers discussing supply or pricing.

The industry says leaving in the autumn could pose more supply problems than the original Brexit date last March.

The FDF, which represents a wide range of food companies and trade associations, said: "We asked for these reassurances at the end of last year. But we're still waiting."

The boss of one leading retailer told the BBC: "At the extreme, people like me and people from government will have to decide where lorries go to keep the food supply chain going. And in that scenario we'd have to work with competitors, and the government would have to suspend competition laws."

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2194260207?profile=RESIZE_710xA Dutch meat trader who was sentenced in France for his role in a 2013 scam that passed off horse meat as beef to food producers across Europe has been arrested by Spanish authorities.

The man, Johannes Fasen, was sentenced in April to two years in prison for his part in the 2013 horsemeat scandal, along with three of his partners in the plot to deceive a French company and consumers by selling 500 tonnes of cheap horse meat as beef.

Read the full story here.

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Egyptian veterinary reseachers collected fifty samples of each type of different meat product (luncheon chicken, luncheon meat, sausage, beefburger, minced meat, and kofta) from different supermarkets in Assiut City, making a total of 450 samples. All of the samples were analysed by different microscopy techniques (light, fluorescence, histochemical microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM)) for the detection of non-muscle adulteration.  Haematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining was used for general histological examinations, and different histochemical techniques were used to stain parafinised sections.The adulterating tissues detected were:- nuchal ligament, large elastic blood vessels, muscular artery. elastic fibers, lung, cardiac muscle fibers, tendon, spongy bone, bone of immature animals, adipose tis­sue, cartilage (hyaline arid white fibrocartilage), and smooth muscle of visceral organs. SEM detected contamination of the minced meat by bacteria and yeast. Fluorescence microscopy was used as an effective method for the detection of bone and cartilage. The findings of the present work provide qualitative evaluations and the detection of unauthorised tissues in different meat products using different effective histological techniques.

1337352593?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the full paper

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