Mark Woolfe's Posts (381)

Professor Chris Elliott, who is chairing New Food's Food Fraud 2019 Conference on 28 February in London, is interviewed about what to expect at this year's event as the scope covers not just food fraud but food integrity as well. FoodAuthenticity members can receive a 20% discount to attend the conference. 

Watch the video here

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Fish and meat are highly perishable foods, requiring both proper technologies for quality preservation and rapid methods for analysis. In this review, the most commonly applied techniques to preserve the quality of fish and meat products are first presented. The main methods used to assess both quality and authenticity of such products are then discussed. A special focus is placed on the fluorescence spectroscopy as a rapid, non-destructive, highly sensitive and selective technique, which can indicate the effect of different presevation methods on quality and authenticity.

 Read the abstract here

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This week, four people have gone on trial in France to answer allegations they were knowingly involved in the fraud of supplying horsemeat, which subsequently went in to burgers and other meat products in 2013. During the investigation of the supply of horsemeat, it traced the source of the meat back to French supplier Spanghero and specifically a production facility in the Aude. The investigation also revealed a complex supply chain with Spanghero buying the meat from abattoirs in Romania and other countries – via a trading firm (Draap) operating in the Netherlands, but owned by firms in Cyprus and the Virgin Islands ("Draap" is "paard" backwards and Dutch for "horse"). The French prosecution claims that Spanghero knew it was buying horsemeat and deliberately changed the labelling on the shipment to hide its identity.

The French authorities claim that Spanghero sold more than 538 tonnes of mislabelled horsemeat to Tavola, a ready-meal producer in the Comigel group, and made around €500,000 from the fraud. On trial are former Spanghero director Jacques Poujol and ex-plant director Patrice Monguillon, plus Dutch meat traders Hendricus Windmeijer and Johannes Fasen. They have been charged with conspiracy to defraud and could face up to 10 years in prison plus fines of up to €1m. Fasen has previously been convicted of fraud in other countries in relation to the supply of horsemeat.

 Read the article here

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Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by Apis mellifera honeybees in Europe. Depending on the country/region, the A. mellifera subspecies native to Europe belong to three different lineages: A (A. m. iberiensis), M (A. m. iberiensis and A. m. mellifera) and C (A. m. ligustica and A. m. carnica). Portugese researchers have developed two assays based on mitochondrial markers to identify the different sub-species. A cytb specific PCR assay was proposed to identify A-lineage honeybees, while a second method based on real-time PCR coupled to high resolution melting analysis targeting the COI gene, was developed to differentiate C- and M-lineages honeybees. The assays were validated on authentic honeys from known origin, and then applied to 20 commercial samples from different Euroean countries. The results highlight the predominance of honeys from C-lineage honeybees in Europe, except in Iberian Peninsula countries where honey from A-lineage honeybees predominates.

 Read the abstract here

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Food safety is a high priority for the EU and affects all citizens. The EU aims to protect its citizens from hazards that may be present in food. The ECA (European Court of Auditors) checked whether the EU food safety model, specifically as regards chemical hazards, is soundly based and implemented. The ECA audited the food safety model and found that the model is soundly based, respected worldwide and that European citizens enjoy one of the highest levels of assurance on the safety of their food in the world. However, it is currently over-stretched, and faces certain challenges, and the ECA makes three sets of recommendations in its report.

1. That the legislation should be reviewed to improve complementarity between private and public control systems.

2. That the same level of assurance for both EU produced and imported food should be maintained, and 

3. That consistent application of EU food law should be facilitated.

Read the full report here

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RIKILT Wageningen University & Research and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA)'s Laboratory for Food and Feed Safety will merge into a new institute effective on 1 June 2019. The institute will be called WFSR (Wageningen Food Safety Research) and will be part of RIKILT (Wageningen University & Research). This merger will benefit knowledge in the area of food and feed safety, as well as of food fraud.  WFSR will also function as an international and European national reference laboratory.

Read RIKILT's Press Release

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In this review, Spanish researchers have summarised drivers and examples of the widespread occurrence of food fraud and the analytical methodology to detect it.  Food chain integrity policies are discussed. Future directions in research, concerned not only with food adulterers but also with food safety and climate change, may be useful for researchers in developing interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary
problems.

Read the full review here

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The assessment of egg freshness is still challenging, due to the lack of robust chemical markers.  Freshness is a crucial parameter for ensuring the production of safe and high‐quality foods. Italian researchers have selected 31 marker compounds based on a metabolomic approach related to the freshness of egg products used as ingredients for compound foods. They were selected from samples of egg products, which were extracted after delivery to the production plant, and after 24 and 48 hours at room temperature. The extracts were analysed by ultrahigh‐pressure liquid chromatography–high‐resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC‐HRMS), and different chemometric models were created to select those compounds that changed during the storage period, and hence are related to freshness. Furthermore, this UHPLC‐HRMS metabolomic approach allows for the detection of a larger set of metabolites clearly related to possible microbial growth over time, which is a relevant point for also ensuring food safety.

  Read the full research paper

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Black pepper is the most used spice globally, and hence vulnerable to adulteration by cheaper bulking agents. Researchers in N. Ireland have published a feasibility study using NIR and FTIR (Near and Fourier Transform Infra-Red) Spectroscopy with chemometrics to screen ground black pepper for non-spice black pepper materials (husk, pinheads and defatted spent materials), as well as foreign plant material (papaya seeds and chili). Good separation performance between black pepper and adulterated samples could be shown.

  Read the abstract here

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Review of Fish Mislabelling in the USA

 RFF (Resources for the Future) has published a short review of the mislabelling of fish  especially salmon and cod in the USA. The objective of the report is to provide a framework for calculating an estimate of the total amount of mislabelled fish on the market by integrating mislabelling rates with import and production data. The authors conclude there is insufficient data to be able to do this. However, the report is a useful summary of global production and consumption data for salmon and cod.

Read the full report here

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The New York Attorney General's Office has just published a report of a survey into the labelling of fish species in New York's supermarket chains. Fish (snapper, grouper, cod, wild salmon, halibut, sole, striped bass and white tuna) was sampled from 155 retail  locations from 29 supermarket chains, and sent to Northeastern University for DNA testing. 27% of the samples were found to be mislabelled. A group of 5 of the supermarket chains were responsible for most of the mislabelled samples with more than 50% of their samples mislabelled. 87.5% of the lemon sole, and 67% of the red snapper were mislabelled, and 28% of the salmon was wrongly sold as wild when it was farmed. The report gives best practice for businesses to ensure that the consumer is not purchasing mislabelled fish. 

 Read the article and the full NYAG report

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Having conducted a poll of local authorities (LAs) into the UK monitoring of food standards across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency found the system is hampered by inadequate resources, and an out-of-date and inflexible approach to regulation. The FSA's Board agreed with the Chair Heather Hancock, that a comprehensive redesign was required, which would provide better assurance, more agility, and help local authorities to obtain evidence that they meet their statutory obligations. The FSA is already reviewing the future of food standards enforcement and how better LA's can prioritise their work.

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Selvarani Elahi the Network's Project Officer gave a presentation about the Network at the 24th meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection Certification Systems (CCFICS) in Brisbane. The presentation discussed the success of the Network and its ambition to go global in the future. It was well received, and there was interest in the model constructed for the UK and EU, and how this could be extended to other countries or regions. Read the article here

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Italian police raided the premises of two Prosecco producers in Treviso Province and found sacks with 2 tonnes of sugar. The producrs were adding the sugar (chaptilisation) to increase the alcohol content during primary fermentation, which is against the law. Although it is legal to add a small amount of sugar to aid the secondary fermentation (bubble formation). It was estimated that a third of the two companies production had been chaptilised illegally. However, all the Prosecco production was seized because the producers had exceeded their production quotas.

 Read the article here

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Researchers have a developed a multiplex PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assay to identify beef, pork, horse and poultry (chicken, turkey) and determine these species quantitatively in meat products. The qualitative assay uses a mitochondrial cytochrome b gene marker. The quantitative assay uses singlecopy markers from chromosomal genes (cyclic-GMP-phosphodiesterase gene for cattle, beta-actin gene for pig, interleukin-2 gene for chicken), and the normaliser is from the myostatin gene for mammals and poultry. The reliability of both methods was confirmed by analysing of mixed samples prepared with or without heat treatment. The assay was tested with 14 meat products from the Czech retail market with two having undeclared species and another 4 products giving an incorrect quantitative declaration. 

 Read the abstratct here

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IAEA have put a call for proposals on its website on a new 5 year project - ‘Implementation of Nuclear Techniques for Authentication of Foods with High-Value Labelling Claims’ (D52042). Examples of high value foods include vanilla from Madagascar, coffee from Colombia, Taliouine saffron from Morocco, and Darjeeling tea from India. Proposals need to be submitted by the end of February, and the kick-off Coordination Meeting is scheduled for 13-17 May 2019 at the United Nations Office in Vienna. If you would like further information not contained in the link above, please contact Dr Simon Kelly (S.Kelly@iaea.org).

 

 

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Fifty-five samples of vintage Scotch whisky, selected at random from auctions, private collections and retailers, were sent by the whisky broker - Rare Whisky 101 to the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) in East Kilbride for carbon dating testing of the alcohol, cork and labels. Twenty-one out of 55 bottles of rare Scotch were deemed to be outright fakes or whiskies not distilled in the year declared. The value of these 21 samples, if genuine vintage whisky, could be worth around £635,000. Rare Whisky 101 have stated that there is a serious issue, and estimated that about £41m worth of rare whisky, which is currently circulating in the secondary market - and present in existing collections - is fake. 

 Read the BBC News article and also watch the short video

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Conventional nucleic acid amplification methods are reliable, but the requirement of complex equipment, skilled technicians and long operation time limit their on-site use. Here, a simple denaturation bubble-mediated strand exchange amplification method (SEA) requiring only a pair of primers and one polymerase was first reported for identifying adulteration of pork source by targeting the species-specific mitochondrial DNA sequence. The SEA method could detect 1% pork total DNA by both colorimetric and fluorescence determination. The whole detection process could be finished within 1 hour by coupling with fast tissue DNA extraction method, only requiring a simple heating block, and hence making it suitable for on-site meat species identification. 

Read the abstract here

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As the European Union has committed to only accept authenticated “sustainably sourced” palm oils, it is important to ensure that such imported oils are really from the declared source, preferably via proven analytical methods. This full review looks at the legal requirements for the traceability and authentication of palm oil, and assesses some new and emerging chemically-based technologies that should contribute to improving the monitoring of palm oil and other vegetable oil supply chains in Europe and elsewhere. 

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Vietnam is currently flooded with China-grown agricultural products, such as carrots, potatoes and mandarins, misdescribed as farm produce originating in two Vietnamese Provinces - Da Lat City, Tien Giang Province and Thailand. Vietnam has no regulations on origin traceability and identification of home grown produce. 

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has pointed out three major reasons for the alleged fraud, with the first being that Vietnam’s regulations fail to instruct traders to stick labels on packages of farm produce, which are sold directly to customers. The second loophole is related to origin traceability, with the Ministry noting that the regulation on this has yet to be applied effectively and widely to farm produce. In addition, the Government’s Decree 15/2018 guiding the application of some articles of the law on food safety and hygiene includes a regulation only tracing origins of unsafe products and those requested by agencies, if necessary. The third loophole determined by the Ministry relates to regulations on the identification of Vietnamese products. In fact, Vietnam has yet to issue criteria for how a product is recognised as being Vietnamese. Although the country has regulations on identifying "Made-in-Vietnam" products, these regulations are applied only to exports and not to items sold in the domestic market. The Ministry has proposed two solutions: a) minimising unregulated trade and fostering formal trade, and b) encouraging manufacturers to produce high-quality and safe products with their origin printed on packages.

 Read the article here

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