Mark Woolfe's Posts (513)

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

 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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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

Read more…

This open access chapter reviews the current DNA approaches to authenticating olive oil by identification of the variety or the plant species from which it was extracted. The chapter examines the current trends and critical issues on DNA targeted approaches used for traceability and authenticity of olive oil in this rapidly expanding field.

Read the chapter at: DNA based methods for olive oil

Read more…

Italian researchers validated a commercial low cost and density (LCD) Array (Meat 5.0 Version) based on a DNA biochip technology that simultaneously detects 24 animal species. Mixtures of the animal species covered by the kit were prepared at different concentrations and tested on raw/pasteurised, and heated meat and milk matrices. The array showed high specificity and high sensitivity, and it appeared to be robust and repeatable.

Read the abstract at: Chip Array validation for meat species

Read more…

JRC Publishes Report on Honey Study

In 2015, the European Commission organised a major study on honey in all 28 Member States plus Norway and Switzerland as part of the EU Coordinated Control Plan. Samples regarded as non-compliant with the EU Honey Directive or suspicious were sent to JRC for further analyses by liquid chromatography- isotope ratio mass spectrometry. 893 samples were analysed by JRC and 14% found to contain added sugar. The final report of this study has just been published. The Commission will discuss with the relevant stakeholders an appropriate follow-up to this control plan.

Read the report at: JRC Report on honey

Read more…

The aim of this study was to develop an ultra-fast method for meat identification using convection Palm PCR, based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b (Cyt b) gene. Amplicon size was designed to be different for beef, lamb, and pork. When these primer sets were used, each species-specific set detected the target meat species in singleplex and multiplex modes in a 24 min PCR run. The convection PCR method could detect as low as 1% of meat adulteration. The method work with both raw and processed meat. The approach can be used in the laboratory, and has potential for rapid on-site application. 

Read the abstract at: Rapid PCR meat species identification

Read more…

species-specific PCR and real-time PCR with EvaGreen dye targeting the ITS region of Carthamus tinctorius L. (safflower) were successfully developed. A normalised real-time PCR approach was also proposed in the range of 0.1–20% (w/w) of safflower in saffron, which was successfully validated and applied to commercial saffron samples (stigmas, powders and seasonings).

Read the abstract at: Safflower adulteration of saffron

Read more…