Mark Woolfe's Posts (158)

INTELLItrace is one of the new projects commissioned in the Euro 12 million EU Project FoodIntegrity. It was discussed at the FoodIntegrity Conference in Parma 10-11 May. The lead partner in WP18 is University of Piemonte Orientale, and the other partners are Thermo Fisher Scientific, ICETA (PT), Mérieux NutriSciences,  University of Stuttgart, and  Istituto delle Scienze delle Preparazioni Alimentari (ISPA)

 The main objective of this project is the development and validation of a comprehensive supervised or unsupervised protocol, that could be used to exhaustively process large data sets originated from untargeted analyses.This will hopefully contribute to the development of early warning capabilities.

Read the full article at: INTELLItrace

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A 36 million lbs shipment of "ordinary" soybeans sailed late last year in a cargo ship from Ukraine to Turkey to California. By the time the ship docked in Stockton, California in December, the soybeans had been labelled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records obtained by the Washington Post. That switch — the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation — boosted their value by approximately US$ 4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain. Two other shipments consisting of millions of lbs of maize was discovered to have undone the same mysterious transformation. They found that the Romanian company that provided the maize is not certified organic, and originally purchased the maize from a supplier – also not certified organic. All three shipment originated from Turkey, and USDA officials are investigating the companies involved in the shipments. The soya and maize involved was destined for the organic meat, milk and chicken production sectors as animal feed.

Read the full article at: US imported organic soya and maize fraud

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Police Uncover Major Beef Food Fraud in Spain

A Spanish company in Burgos producing burgers, meat balls and other meat products is alleged to have produced low quality products that were incorrectly labelled as containing a higher proportion of beef. The beefburgers contained much less beef than was declared, and the difference being made up with pork, rusk (breadcrumbs), fat and soya. The fraud is thought to go back to 2002, and 14 people have been charged.

Read the article at: Meat fraud in Spain

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OPSON VI Headlines on Food Fraud Released

Operation OPSON VI is a joint Europol-INTERPOL operation targeting counterfeit and substandard food and drink, as well as the organised crime networks behind this illicit trade. This year, 61 countries (21 EU Member States) took part in operation OPSON VI, which was carried out for the sixth time in a row and saw an increase in participating countries (57 countries in 2016). Each participating country implemented a national operational phase between 1 December 2016 to 31 March 2017, involving police, customs, national food regulatory bodies and partners from the private sector. More than 50,000 checks were carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates. 230 million Euros of fake food and beverages were seized during OPSON VI, and the full report will be released in the next months.

Read the Press Release at: OPSON VI

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The Consumer Group Coldiretti have warned that organised crime groups "have taken advantage of the economic crisis to infiltrate the legal economy in an increasingly vast and widespread manner". This follows a large-scale anti-mafia investigation in early April, which uncovered links between popular tourist restaurants and organised crime groups. Italian police seized the bank accounts and 24 properties of a Neapolitan family, amounting to a total value of 20 million euros.Large-scale infiltration of the agro-food industry by organised crime is also rife.

Read the article at: 5000 restaurants in Italy mafia-run

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In this study, rapid identification of meat species was achieved using a portable real-time PCR system, following a very simple DNA extraction method. Applying these techniques, beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, horse, and mutton were correctly identified in processed foods in 20 min. This approach is expected to significantly contribute to factory quality control and fraud mitigation.

Read the abstract at: Portable RT-PCR meat species identification

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This study compared the accuracy of an OFFGEL electrophoresis and tandem mass spectrometry-based proteomic approach with a DNA-based method for meat species identification from raw and cooked mince mixes containing beef, water buffalo and sheepmeat. Species-specific peptides derived from myosin light chain-1 and 2 were identified for authenticating buffalo meat spiked at a minimum 0.5% level in sheepmeat with high confidence. In the DNA-based method, PCR amplification of mitochondrial D loop gene using species specific primers found 226 bp and 126 bp product amplicons for buffalo and beef, respectively. The method was efficient in detecting a minimum of 0.5% and 1.0% when buffalo meat was spiked with beef in raw and cooked meat mixes.

Read the abstract at: Proteomic method comparison with DNA method

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A recently developed FT-NIR method in conjunction with partial least squares analysis was applied to retail labelled EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) purchased in College Park, MD, USA to rapidly predict whether they were authentic, potentially mixed with refined olive oil (RO) or other vegetable oil(s), or are of lower quality. 88 retail EVOOs were assessed according to published specified ranges, and only 33 (37.5%) satisfied the three published FT-NIR requirements identified for authentic EVOO products, which included the purity test. The remaining 55 samples (62.5%) did not meet one or more of the criteria established for authentic EVOO. This test was based on limits established for the contents of three potential adulterants: oils high in linoleic acid, oils high in oleic acid, palm olein, and/or refined olive oil. If assessments had been based strictly on whether the fatty acid composition was within the established ranges set by the International Olive Council (IOC), less than 10% would have been identified as non-EVOO.

Read the abstract at: FTIR Method for Authenticity of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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The paper discusses the social and economic aspects of an individual rogue-farmer, and explores his involvement in the illegal halal (‘smokies’) trade over a fifteen-year period. The smokies were produced in illegal slaughter premises usually from stolen sheep, which are killed without stunning. It illustrates an example of criminal-entrepreneurship, which although productive and profitable for the criminal entrepreneurs exploiting food supply chains, is nevertheless unproductive and potentially destructive to society. The paper will be useful to food enforcers in that it furthers our understanding of criminal entrepreneurial practice and morality in the food industry.

Read the full paper at: Illegal smokies production

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The CFIA has signed a science-sharing MOU with the French Food Regulator (ANSES). The agreement will strengthen and formalise scientific cooperation on innovative research taking place at the CFIA network of 13 reference and research laboratories, and the ANSES network of 11 laboratories throughout France.The collaboration is envisioned to further develop research on genomics, and proteomics.  

Read the article at: CFIA Agreement with ANSES

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A real-time PCR-based screening assay was developed for the detection of crustaceans in food. In order to cover most relevant species in one analytical step, PCR systems were newly developed for the detection of prawns (Penaeidae), lobster (Homarus sp.), Common shrimp (Crangon crangon), river prawns (Macrobrachium sp.) and Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis). In addition, a published system targeting Northern prawn (Pandalus borealis) was selected. All PCR-systems are based on mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene sequences, and were optimised to be run with a standard programme at a universal annealing temperature of 60 °C. After validation, the assay was tested on a range of food products. The assay enables detection of multiple species of market relevance.

Read the abstract at: RT-PCR Detection of Crustaceans

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This short paper reviews food traceability in food supply chain. There are four parts in this paper, including driving factors for food traceability, challenges behind the implementation of food traceability systems, techniques applied for food traceability and application of food traceability systems.

Read the review at: Food Traceability in the Supply Chain

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 δ13C and δ15N values of the proteins extracted from fifty-six Tetra Pak milk samples originating from four continents, including Australia (with New Zealand), Europe (Germany and France), North America (the United States) and Asia (China), were determined using elemental analyser-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (EA-IRMS). Significant differences (P < 0.05) were found in the δ13C and δ15N values between these four regions, verifying their potential as “fingerprints” of the geographical origin of milk. 

Read the full research article at: Geographic Origin of milk

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In 2013 Michigan State University (MSU) set up the Food Fraud Initiative (FFI) forming an interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach group for food fraud, run by Dr. John Spink, MSU's director and assistant professor.  It has now launched a new corporate-backed think-tank that aims to focus on the root cause of food fraudy, as well as helping all stakeholders work together to help fight it.

Read the MSU Announcement at : MSU Food Fraud Think Tank

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JRC publishes a comprehensive monthly summary of global food fraud and adulteration cases (many of which have been reported as News blogs on this website). The summary for March is now available, and also you can read all the previous summaries starting on September 2016 on the EU Science Hub website - food authenticity (lower right hand side)

Read the summary at: JRC March 2017 Summary

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Manuka honey, harvested from the manuka bush, Leptospermum scoparium, is New Zealand's most recognised honey type and commands a premium due to health‐related benefits. Reverse Phase‐HPLC revealed that manuka honey contains distinct compounds, which were relatively enriched, and not present in the other New Zealand monofloral honeys. These compounds were analysed by mass spectrometry and NMR, and identified as Leptosperin and Lepteridine, which are a methyl syringate glycoside and pteridine derivative, respectively. Examination of these compounds revealed unique fluorescence signatures. This fluorescence could be detected in manuka honey samples, and the signal used to confirm that a honey was solely or predominantly consisted of L. scoparium nectar. 

The chapter is open access at: Manuka honey authenticity by fluorescence

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An investigation, dubbed Operation Weak Flesh, which began more than two years ago and still not complete, into an alleged fraud involving bribing licensed inspectors to approve rotten meat products for international sale and export. More than 40 companies, including meat-packing giants JBS SA and BRF SA and several bureaucrats, are being investigated. Various animal parts were allegedly used as substitutes for more expensive ingredients or products, and any off odours were allegedly camouflaged by treatment with acid. 

Read the full article at: Brazilian meat fraud

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As part of the Defra Project FA0159 on production and geographical origin of food, Fera are conducting a survey on the need for and availability of pork data bases for geographical origin determination.  Anyone who is interested in the country of origin labelling of pork should complete the survey. The results will be collated and incorporated into the final Defra project report which will be made publicly available at the end of 2018.

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JRC (the EU Commission's Joint Research Centre) has just published a report summarising 20 years of EU funded projects on the development of emerging technologies to identify fish species and improve fish trade traceability. The report covers methods based on DNA amplification, DNA sequencing, DNA arrays, proteomics and chemical profiling.

Read the report at: JRC fish species report

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