Mark Woolfe's Posts (208)

The FoodIntegrity Project has opened the call for participation in one of the numerous training programmes offered by expert institutes around Europe. The training programmes are mainly on analytical techniques in food authenticity, but there is also a course on food fraud vulnerability assessments.

Please follow this link for further information of the courses: List of Training Opportunities and Institutes

Please follow this link to access the application: Training Application Form

Applications Deadline: 30 November 2017. All applications and CVs to be sent to:

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Indian researchers have developed a PCR-RFLP method to authenticate 4 shrimp species of the family Penaeidae, namely, Litopenaeus vannamei, Penaeus monodon, P. semisulcatus and Fenneropenaeus indicus.  PCR amplification was performed targeting 16S rRNA/tRNAval region having an amplicon size of 530 bp using the specific primers for shrimps, 16S-Cru4/16S-Cru3. Subsequent restriction analysis with a single restriction enzyme, Tsp5091, yielded a distinct RFLP pattern for each species of shrimps having fragment sizes below 150 bp. The method works with processed shrimp products, and was validated with  commercial products.

Read the abstract here

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The research report (FA0158) and SOP of a new method, which has been developed and validated to identify vegetable oil species in mixture of oil, is now available on the website. Development of this method has been necessary because of a change in legislation in the labelling of processed foods containing refined vegetable oils (EU Regulation 1169/2011). It is now obligatory to declare vegetable oil species used in the product in the list of ingredients.

The report (FA0158) can be found on the website under the research section, and the FA0158 SOP document can be downloaded from here

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The  Food Brexit 2017 conference held in London on 31 October had 22 speakers from different industry sectors looking at the effect of Brexit on the UK and Irish food and agriculture sectors. It is still unclear what the effect of Brexit will be as negotiations are continuing. Price rises appear inevitable and the possibility of border inspection increases could result in manufacturers cutting corners to maintain their margins.

Read the articles at: Food Brexit 1 and Food Brexit 2

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The Danish Consumer Organisation, Forbrugerrådet Tænk, collected 10 samples of oregano from supermarkets and stores around Copenhagen during the summer. The samples were sent for analysis by FTIR and chemometric modelling followed by mass spectrometry for confirmation. Three of the samples had only 50% oregano, and a fourth 70% oregano, the remainder was dried plant material from olive leaves and myrtle. 

Read the article at: Danish oregano tests

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The Food Safety Authority-Ireland has increased its investigations into suspected cases of food fraud. It carried out 21 investigations in 2014, 35 in 2015, 34 in 2016, and has carried out 20 up to October this year. This is in line with the European Commission's Food Fraud Network which dealt with 60 cases in 2014, 108 in 2015, and 156 cases in 2016. This information was given at a two day conference - Safeguarding 

the Food Chain - Protecting Authenticity and Integrity, organised jointly by FSA-I and Safefood (the all Ireland Organisation promoting food safety and nutrition).

FSA-I's investigations have focused on fish, olive oil, honey, soft drinks, alcohol and beef.

Read the article here

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JRC has published its monthly summary on articles covering food fraud and adulteration. In this September issue, there are articles on frauds involving Guatemalan coffee beans, tuna treated with beet and vegetable broths high in nitrites, and PGI wines in the Venice area.

Read the full summary of articles at: September JRC Fraud Summary

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Member States and the Commission have agreed a raft of measures to reinforce action following the fipronil scandal including the possible creation of  a Food Safety Officer in each country. Fipronil an insecticide used to control cockroaches, fleas and ants, but is illegal for animals intended for the food chain.  It was found on Dutch and Belgian farms and 26 Member States and 23 other countries have been affected by its contamination in eggs and egg products. The Commission stressed that this was not a food safety problem but one of food fraud.

Read the article at: Action after fipronil incident

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In Pursuit of Food System Integrity

This academic paper presents a conceptual and analytical framework for preventing food fraud informed by a situational understanding of the nature of the activities and behaviours involved in the fraud. By integrating models of enterprise with models of in-place preventative action, we can gain a fuller theoretical account of food frauds and how we can prevent them. The paper uses various olive oil fraud investigations to develop its arguments.

Read the full paper at: In Pursuit of Food System Integrity

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M&S, Aldi and Lidl have suspended buying chicken from the 2 Sisters Food Group’s West Bromwich plant following a Guardian and ITV News investigation that it had changed slaughter dates, durability dates and even the origin of chicken. M&S and the FSA are conducting their own investigations after the revelations.


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Thai researchers have successfully developed and validated a triplex direct-PCR assay with capillary electrophoresis detection to identify the three common milk species: cow (Bos taurus), sheep (Ovis aries) and goat (Capra hircus). The assay amplified mitochondrial COI and cyt b genes and generated PCR products of 93, 173 and 231 bp for cow, sheep and goat, respectively. It was highly reproducible, specific to target species, sensitive, and showed 100% identification accuracy. Additionally, it was applicable to milk and dairy product samples.

Read the abstract at: Species identification in milk

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German researchers have developed a rapid method of authentication using a mini-mass spectrometer, ambient ionisation,and mass spectrometric data statistical analysis, which shows proof of principle and great promise for on-site real-time food authentication. The laboratory built system was tested on 3 milk types, 5 fish species and 2 coffee bean types. Analysis time to run samples and reference data sets was a matter of seconds, and 100% classification accuracy was achieved for the differentiation of milk types and fish species, and 96.4% was achieved for coffee types in cross-validation experiments. Measurement of two milk mixtures yielded correct classification of >94%.

Read the abstract at: Mini MS authentication

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Figures published by the FSA show that whereas there was an increase in food hygiene interventions by local authorities in 2016/17 because of an increase in hygiene complaints, planned food standards interventions, which include authenticity and fraud, were down 4% on previous years. The FSA will use this enforcement data, along with other intelligence, to identify and target underperforming local authorities in order to secure improvements or tackle any particular problems they may have.

Read the FSA official statistics at: FSA Enforcement Statistics 2016/17

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Greek researchers have developed a method to distinguish wild rabbit, which normally has a higher commercial value, from non-wild (farmed) rabbit using an elemental metabolic approach. Using ICP-MS to measure rare earth signatures, it was possible to distinguish between wild rabbit and non-wild rabbit.

Read the abstract at: Wild rabbit authentication

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This post-graduate course is the result of a partnership between the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen's University Belfast and multinational analytical laboratory instrument and software company Waters Corporation. It offers professionals the chance to learn remotely on a part-time basis from renowned experts to increase their knowledge of the threats to feed and food compromising food security, and also about the techniques and methods which can be used to confirm food safety and integrity. Topics include concerns around food fraud, authenticity and traceability, the links between chemical contaminants and human and animal health, the biological hazards and threats posed by animal feed and food, the various technologies used to enable rapid and early detection of food safety issues, and the current and future global food legislation needed to ensure and maintain sustainable food safety production. The course is currently accepting applications for October 2017 and February 2018 start dates.

Read the article and see a video at: On-line Masters in Food Fraud

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Sea-Pac Owner Prosecuted for £200,000 Fish Fraud

Sea-Pac owner Alistair Thompson, 70, from Lonmay, Aberdeenshire, admitted fraud at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, and has been prosecuted and given the maximum number of unpaid community hours. He arranged for Shetland Products and Fraserburgh Freezing and Cold Storage labels to go on salmon, because they were approved for export to Russia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Read the article at: Sea-Pac Fish Fraud

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Fake Olive Oil Making its Way to the UK Market

Fake" olive oil is on its way to British supermarket shelves, experts have suggested, as large quantities of low quality produce are being produced in Italy. The surge of fake oil is anticipated as the production costs of olive oil have rocketed by up to 40 per cent as a result of poor 2016 harvests, the falling pound, and supermarket pricing.

Read the article at: Fake Olive Oil

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Researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid  have developed an electrochemical biosensor, which is able to recognise a DNA fragment virtually unchanged in the more than 4,500 mitochondrial genomes of horses sequenced, and absent in the rest of mammalian species. This biosensor is capable of discriminating in only one hour, and with statistically significant differences between beef unadulterated and adulterated with only 0.5% (w/w) of horsemeat.

Read the article at: Biosensor for horsemeat 

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