Selvarani Elahi's Posts (70)

The 2019 Organic Market Report reveals that the UK organic market continues to grow. The market is now in to its 8th year of steady, loyal growth, growing +5.3% in 2018 and on target to reach £2.5bn by 2020.

The 2019 Organic Market Report is the most comprehensive report covering the organic market in the UK today. It is an essential read and reference document for anyone researching or working within the industry, selling organic products or assisting businesses in selling organic in the UK.

The report takes a detailed look at the sales trends across all channels and the major reasons for this growth – it includes updates on the performance of organic in supermarkets, independent retailers, the food service sector and a spotlight on home delivery.

It shares the output from recent consumer research that considers the organic customer, how they shop and what influences their decision making, as well as some interesting take-outs around hot topics like packaging and wider environmental issues that continue to influence shopper choices.

The report also covers farming and the opportunities for export and growth internationally. It takes a look at the year ahead and some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the organic industry.

The report is free for Soil Association Certification licensees (you just need your licence number) and costs £100 +VAT to purchase for non-licensees.

Download the 2019 Organic Market Report

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The British Retail Consortium sends 'no deal brexit letter' to MPs at the House of Commons warning of the consequences of a 'no deal Brexit' for consumers and the food supply chain. The letter is signed by the CEOs of ten leading retailers and says that "We are extremely concerned that our customers will be among the first to experience the realities of a no deal Brexit. We anticipate significant risks to maintaining the choice, quality and durability of food that our customers have come to expect in our stores, and there will be inevitable pressure on food prices from higher transport costs, currency devaluation and tariffs.

We are therefore asking you to work with your colleagues in Parliament urgently to find a solution that avoids the shock of a no deal Brexit on 29 March and removes these risks for UK consumers."

Read full letter here.


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Whilst deliberate adulteration of herbs and spices is understood to be a common phenomenon, this study highlights a potential food safety issue:

Between 2008 and 2017, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tested more than 3000 samples of consumer products during lead poisoning case investigations and surveys of local stores, and of these, spices were the most frequently tested (almost 40% of the samples).


A total of 1496 samples of more than 50 spices from 41 countries were collected during investigations of lead poisoning cases among New York City children and adults and local store surveys.

More than 50% of the spice samples had detectable lead, and more than 30% had lead concentrations greater than 2 parts per million (ppm). Average lead content in the spices was significantly higher for spices purchased abroad than in the United States. The highest concentrations of lead were found in spices purchased in the countries Georgia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Morocco.

Read paper.


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The survey assessed how LAs plan and prioritise their food standards work, the resources and capacity they have and how they measure the success of their programmes. The review can be found here

Key findings from the survey

  • Levels of food standards resource in England are generally lower than in Wales and Northern Ireland, with 22% of English LAs having less than 1 Full-Time Equivalent (‘FTE’) person dedicated to food standards work.  
  • 15% of food businesses are unrated for food standards risk, however the figures for some LAs are higher
  • LAs had difficulty in recruiting qualified officers and 57% of LAs were not in a position to support a student through the qualification process 

Alternative approaches to food standards delivery are being adopted effectively by many LAs. FSA intend to explore and build on areas of good practice as part of their reform programme. 

Review to be discussed at the next FSA Board meeting

The review of food standards has been published as part of the FSA Board papers. 

The next Board meeting will be held at Church House in London on Wednesday 5 December 2018 at 8.30am. You can attend in person or watch it live online.

A full agenda and published papers can be viewed in the board meeting section of the FSA website

For details on how to register to attend the Board meeting, please see the Board section of the FSA website.


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Sourdough or sourfaux?

According to an investigation by Which? magazine, 15 out of 19 so-called sourdough loaves, sold in supermarkets, that they examined were not made in the traditional way and contain extra ingredients or additives.

Traditional sourdough is considered to be one of the oldest forms of bread and the technique can be traced back to ancient Egypt.


But Which? magazine says it looked at 19 sourdough loaves sold in supermarkets and found only four were made in the traditional way with the three basic ingredients.

The others contained extra ingredients, such as yeast, ascorbic acid and yoghurt and vinegar.

While these are not necessarily bad for you or unhealthy, Chris Young from the Real Bread Campaign says customers are being misled.

"If you are told you are buying something, you should get what you pay for. Particularly when some of the supermarkets are charging a premium for that product," he said.

The Real Bread Campaign group says it wants to see a legal definition of the terms "sourdough" or "artisan bread", so stores cannot "misinterpret" them.

Read full article.

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Australia's biggest listed honey company and some of the country's largest supermarket chains face accusations of unwittingly selling "fake" honey.

Testing at a leading international scientific lab that specialises in honey fraud detection has found that almost half the honey samples selected from supermarket shelves were "adulterated", meaning it has been mixed with something other than nectar from bees.

The adulterated samples were all products that blend local and imported honey.

ASX-listed Capilano's Allowrie-branded Mixed Blossom Honey, which sources honey from Australia and overseas, and markets itself as 100 per cent honey, showed up as "adulterated" in the majority of samples tested.

The results are set to ignite a storm over how honey purity is tested that will involve the Federal Government as well as local and international regulators.

Read full article.

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A new study from Oceana, an ocean conservation and advocacy group, found that a lot of fish at the store is mislabeled. Most of the fish mislabeled was snapper. The report found that much of it was swapped out with Tilapia and other types of fish.


Experts say if you want to make sure you're really getting snapper fish, check the skin. It should be bright pink or almost red in color. Without the skin, you may not be able to tell what you're getting.

The FDA says another product that is misleading in grocery stores is honey, saying sometimes what’s being sold isn’t pure honey.

Some red flags on the label include the words "sugar-free" and "blended honey." The fake stuff tends to have more processed sugar and doesn't have the same health benefits.

And if you're treating yourself to a nice steak dinner, beware of Kobe beef. Real Kobe beef is extremely rare outside of Japan and cannot be found in grocery stores. Only a few restaurants in the country have the real thing.

The Kobe Distribution Association website has a list of places where they've sent their Kobe beef.

Read full story.

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The Food Authenticity Network was discussed at the Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting in July during the side events “food integrity and food authenticity: a way forward”: 

Side event 1 - IGO Panel Discussion Food Integrity and Food Authenticity: A Way Forward

The Food Authenticity Network was quoted a number of times at both side events by the panellists as being a leading example of an integrity network.

A discussion paper is being developed through the Food Import and Export Inspection (CCFICS) and Certification Systems (CCFICS) to define and distinguish the various terms related to the subject e.g. food integrity, food fraud, economically motivated adulteration (EMA).

Side event 2 – NGO Panel Discussion Food Integrity and Food Authenticity: A Way Forward

The UK provided an overview of the Food Authenticity Network and distributed material on the Network to delegations.

Countries attending the side events indicated both their progress and challenges related to the subject, highlighting the diversity of Codex Members in terms of their capacity to identify and address fraudulent activities. They also underlined the very practical daily challenges they face due to lack of regulation, capacity and knowledge on this issue.

In summarising, panellists concurred that Codex was an ideal arena in which to further explore the issue and to promote harmonization, especially regarding definitions.

Read full report.

Watch webcast.


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In 2017 a cross government framework was agreed for the provision of Knowledge Transfer (KT) of scientific method development to support food standards and food safety analysis in Public Analyst (PA) and industry laboratories.

The KT will be delivered through a three year project funded in partnership between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the Government Chemist (GC) programme (funded by BEIS). The framework will provide a more sustainable and cost-effective programme of KT on analytical tools to support food law enforcement for ensuring food authenticity, safety, hygiene and quality.

The aim is to deliver a strategic three year programme of scientific KT activities to ensure effective analytical laboratory capability in the UK for food standards and food safety analysis. The programme will upskill laboratories on new and emerging food safety and standards detection methodologies, disseminating best practice in their application and providing the tools and know-how to respond to current and emerging analytical needs.

The activities to be undertaken are agreed by the partners on an annual basis by means of a prioritisation exercise. The activities delivered in year 1 (FY17) were:

  • A one-day workshop “An analytical roadmap for detecting allergens in spices” attended by 19 participants from Public Analyst laboratories, industry and the project partners.
  • Two e-seminars on digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) and designing quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assays.

The e-seminars and the materials from the allergens workshop are now available in the training section of the Food Authenticity Network website:

Activities for delivery in year 2 (FY18) are currently being agreed.

If you have ideas for training that are not currently addressed by other avenues such as the National Reference Laboratories, commercial training etc.. then we'd love to hear from you; please email










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With many reports of increasing levels of fraud in the organic food sector including from The Grocer in March 2018, the IFST statement on organic food is a useful guide that looks at current EU rules related to organic food, explores how this type of food should be labelled and advises on where to begin if a food business seeks to move into organic food production.

 It covers the following areas:

  • What is organic food
  • Labelling of organic food
  • What EU Regulation applies to organic food?
  • Where next
  • References

Read the full statement here.


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Less than 1% of the world's vanilla flavour comes from real beans.

We are used to seeing vanilla all around us - in candles, cupcakes and creme brulees. But if you’re eating something vanilla-flavoured or smelling something vanilla-scented - it’s probably artificial.

Scientists have been making synthetic vanillin - the compound that gives vanilla its aroma - since the 19th Century. It has been extracted from coal, tar, rice bran, wood pulp and even cow dung.

Today, the vast majority of synthetic vanillin comes from petrochemicals.

It can be 20 times cheaper than the real thing.

The burgeoning interest in “artisanal” food made in a traditional way explains some of the demand for natural vanilla. But much of the rocketing price can be put down to food rules on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Europe and the United States, ice cream labelled “vanilla” must contain natural vanillin extract from vanilla pods. If the flavour comes wholly or partly from artificial sources, the packaging must say “vanilla flavour” or “artificial vanilla”.

Vanilla from vanilla pods will have a taste and potency unique to the area in which it is grown, much like wine. The vanilla from Madagascar has a distinct rummy taste and sweet aroma, which is why ice-cream makers choose it over vanilla from other countries.

And there is more and more pressure on food companies to switch from artificial vanilla to vanilla beans. Big corporations such as Hershey and Nestle have started buying natural vanilla extract for their products in large quantities, which injects more demand into the limited supply chain and raises prices further.

After being immersed in hot water the beans are left to dry in the hot sun

Over the past decade, vanilla prices have gone through dramatic booms and busts.

Madagascar’s 80,000 growers produce more vanilla than any other country - so what happens on the island affects the global industry.

Read full article here.

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On 11 August, the environmental protection service of the Spanish civil guard SEPRONA announced the seizure of 45 tons of illegally treated tuna fish. Four people were investigated and face possible criminal penalties of up to four years in prison for endangering public health, as well as administrative sanctions. The investigation has so far uncovered three companies and three fishing vessels involved in the fraudulent scheme.

Investigators found that frozen tuna only suitable for canning had been illegally treated with substances that enhance the colour and then been diverted to the market to be sold as fresh fish. This treatment can pose a serious public health risk associated with allergic reactions to histamine.

The investigation was coordinated by EUROPOL under the OPSON VII operation, in collaboration with the European Commission and other Member States, which was previously reported on the Food Authenticity Network in May 2018.

Criminal investigations are ongoing.

For more information on this case including the European Commission's contribution and information on other successful outcomes for EU coordinated cases.

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In a move that customers have labelled very fishy, the Chinese government has ruled that rainbow trout can now be labelled and sold as salmon.

The seemingly bizarre move comes after complaints earlier this year that rainbow trout was being mislabelled.

In May, media reported that much of what was sold as salmon in China was actually rainbow trout, to widespread consternation from fish-buyers.

But instead of banning vendors from deceiving their customers, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), which falls under the Chinese ministry of agriculture, has ruled that all salmonidae fish can now be sold under the umbrella name of “salmon”, reports the Global Times.

Rainbow trout and salmon are both salmonidae fish and look quite similar when filleted. However, salmon live in salt water and rainbow trout live in fresh water.

Read the full article.


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Food Fraud News, 2018 February: This is an update of our MSU Food Fraud Initiative Activities.

Mission: MSU’s Food Fraud Initiative, an interdisciplinary activity focused on detecting and deterring this public health and economic threat.

Summary for February 2018: Our “MOOC” programs expanded to include a new MSU Food DEFENSE Audit Guide MOOC. Also, we’re excited that for 2018 we have 12 presentations scheduled so far including international locations in Japan, Australia, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Next Month – Education &Training:


a.      2018, March 15 & 22 – 10am ET


a.      2018, March 6 & 13 – 1pm ET


a.      On-demand lectures starting March 30

4.      Graduate Courses, Online, Registration open for Summer Semester:

a.      “Packaging for Food Safety” VM/PKG 841

b.      “Product Protection & Anti-Counterfeit Strategy” VM/PKG/CJ 840

Next Month – Outreach & Presentations:

1.      2018/04/15- Presentation, Food Fraud Prevention for Spices, Annual Meeting, American Spice Trade Association ASTA, Naples, Florida

2.      2018/03/26- Presentation, Food Fraud Terminology Survey, GMA Science Forum, Grocery Manufacturers Association, DC

3.      2018/03/12- Presentation, Food Fraud Audit Guide, FSSC Webinar Series, AM for Europe and Eastern USA, Webinar

4.      2018/03/06 – Moderator, Food Fraud Prevention, GFSI Annual Conference, Tokyo, Japan

5.      2018/03/06 – Presenter, Food Fraud Prevention Strategy Update, GFSI Annual Conference, Tokyo, Japan


Publications – Recent Annual:

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LGC has published a review in the Journal of AOAC International on definitive approaches for the authentication of chondroitin, a supplement with a risk of serious adulteration.

Chondroitin is an over-the-counter food supplement often available in combination with glucosamine sulfate. It is sold widely for a number of uses for humans and animals and taken by many who suffer from osteoarthritis where it has been shown to have small to moderate benefits.

The paper, written in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, makes key recommendations for forensically robust analysis of supplements containing chondroitin to prevent their adulteration with inferior substitutes.

Authors Michael Walker and Christopher Mussell (LGC), along with Professor Duncan Thorburn Burns (Institute of Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast), outlined the necessary steps to ensure the quality of chondroitin, including testing raw materials for currently known adulterants.

Michael Walker, Referee Analyst for the Government Chemist, said: “The Laboratory of the Government Chemist has had a long interest in the analysis of supplements containing chondroitin stemming from work carried out suggesting some were deficient of the declared amounts of chondroitin.”

Duncan Thorburn Burns, Professor at Institute of Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, added: “As a natural polymer, routine analytical methods for chondroitin tend to be relatively nonspecific. Our paper demonstrates how to achieve the goal of affirming identity (including source) and purity.”


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Crowe Clark Whitehill has published a report about consumers expectations, food and drink businesses, and their approach to counter fraud.

The report highlights the divergence between common industry practice and consumer expectations.  For example, consumers expect that food and drink businesses to share information early and not wait until all the facts are known.

Consumers also expect businesses to share information about incidents that result in a financial loss, not just incidents that could cause a health risk. 

Consumers expect businesses to share detailed information with the Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit/National Food Crime Unit rather than combined and anonymised data.

The overarching message across the various findings is that consumers expect more transparency. Which is a reasonable expectation. The report is available here:

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Following extensive consultation with the Food and Drink Industry, Campden BRI, one of our Food Authenticity Centres of Expertise, publishes a report of industry needs that can be met through innovation in science and technology. The consultation spanned ‘pre-farm to post-fork’, so many needs were identified.

Commonly expressed needs:

  • Sustaining product quality in the face of rising costs of operations and materials
  • Soil health - recognition of soil as a resource and methods for its protection
  • Human microbiota - understanding and harnessing the role of gut microbes in diet-related health conditions
  • Anti-microbial resistance - addressing its significance for the food and drink sector
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber-security - managing the benefits and risks of the ‘connected world’ (e.g. Internet of Things, ’Big Data’, and machine learning)

Long-standing needs that are common to different parts of the supply chain, include:

  • Assuring product safety through systems and analytical tools
  • Encouraging consumer well-being through healthy diets
  • Protecting consumers and industry from food fraud
  • Encouraging sustainable practices, reduced use of resources and adding value to waste
  • Tackling industry’s ´skills shortage´.

Read full report


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The European Commission has  released its report concerning the Fitness Check on General Food Law (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002)

The main findings were:

  • The General Food Law Regulation is still relevant today with respect to the current trends: growth and competitiveness and increased globalisation. Nevertheless, it is less adequate to address new challenges like food sustainability in general, and more specifically, food waste;
  • Overall, the General Food Law Regulation has achieved its core objectives, namely high protection of human health and consumers' interests and the smooth functioning of the internal market;
  • No systemic failures have been identified;
  • Current food safety levels are more favourable than before the adoption of the General Food Law Regulation (e.g. food largely free of pesticide residues and of veterinary medicinal product residues or below the EU legal limits, re-evaluation programmes of existing authorised substances in place etc.);
  • The systematic implementation of the risk analysis principle in EU food law has overall raised the level of protection of public health;
  • The creation of EFSA has improved the scientific basis of EU measures. Major improvements in increasing EFSA's scientific capacity of expertise, the quality of its scientific outputs, its collection of scientific data and in the development and harmonisation of risk assessment methodologies have taken place;
  • Better traceability of food and feed in the entire agri-food chain;
  • Better transparency of the EU decision-making cycle;
  • EU emergency measures and existing crisis management arrangements have overall achieved consumer health protection and the efficient management and containment of food safety incidents. Nevertheless, the 2011 E.coli outbreak in sprouts in Germany has high-lightened the need to continuously re-evaluate the management of food crises;
  • The General Food Law Regulation has contributed to the effective functioning of the internal market by creating a level playing field for all feed and food business operators in the EU market and reducing disruptions of trade where problems have occurred. The value of the EU internal trade in the food and drink sector has increased by 72% over the past decade. It has also contributed to the EU product safety recognition worldwide and to an improved quality perception for EU products in non-EU markets. The EU food and drink industry has achieved a more globally competitive position since 2003 vis-à-vis the main trading partners.

Nevertheless, certain shortcomings have been identified:

  • There are still national differences in the implementation and enforcement of the EU legislative framework; however, these are not systematic but occur rather on a case-by-case basis;
  • Despite overall considerable progress, transparency of risk analysis remains an important issue in terms of perception:
    • As regards risk assessment in the context of authorisation dossiers, EFSA is bound by strict confidentiality rules and by the legal requirement to primarily base its assessment on industry studies, laid down in the GFL Regulation and in the multiple authorisation procedures in specific EU food legislation. These elements lead civil society to perceive a certain lack of transparency and independence, having a negative impact on the acceptability of EFSA's scientific work by the general public. There is therefore a need to address these issues in order to protect the reputation of EFSA's work;
    • Risk communication has not always been effective with a negative impact on consumers' trust and on the acceptability of risk management decisions;
  • A number of negative signals have been identified on the capacity of EFSA to maintain a high level of scientific expertise and to fully engage all MS in scientific cooperation;
  • Lengthy authorisation procedures in some sectors (e.g. feed additives, plant protection products, food improvement agents, novel foods, health claims) slow down the market entry process.

Read full report

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Chicken meat that has been removed from the bones by a machine must be labelled as ‘mechanically deboned’ under EU rules. However, this label pushes down the price of meat, holding back the competitiveness of the sector.

EU-funded project MEAQUAS aimed to boost the competitiveness of chicken meat produced in the EU with innovative tools to assess the quality of mechanically deboned meat. This will allow high quality mechanically deboned meat produced in the EU to be identified and compared to lower quality mechanically deboned meat which is often imported from outside the EU.

Project scientists have developed a new method to automatically analyse and grade the meat using novel staining markers that highlight muscular structures. The software then uses image processing algorithms to quantify the degree of degradation in the meat.

MEAQUAS’ technology quantifies the loss of structural integrity in the chicken meat, a key indicator of the meat’s quality and a way of proving that mechanically deboned meat is of the same quality as hand-removed meat.

MEAQUAS hopes that regulatory bodies will define criteria for different meat qualities using the results of the project’s measuring technology. Ultimately, quality screening will enable high quality mechanically deboned meat to be labelled simply as ‘chicken meat’, improving its market value.

Read full article

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