Selvarani Elahi's Posts (56)

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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The legislation seeks to provide the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program with between $15m and $20m a year from 2018 to 2023 to upgrade compliance and enforcement actions in the US and abroad. An additional $5m would also be provided to improve tracking of international organic trade and data collection systems to ensure full traceability of imported products.

The proposed legislation follows a report last month, which found the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (has oversight of the National Organic Program) was lacking in its control and oversight of imported products labelled as organic and concluded that some fraudulent and mislabelled products could be slipping through customs into the US.

Read full article here.

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The UK National Measurement System’s (NMS) Annual highlights report has been published. The report provides a snapshot of the achievements and the impact of the NMS, and demonstrates how measurement plays a vital role in all aspects of our lives.

Every time you get a Certificate of Analysis for an authenticity test of one of your products or, more generally, use your GPS, put petrol in your car, receive a medical diagnosis etc. you are putting your trust in measurements that are underpinned by a system that ensures they are both reliable and internationally recognised. 

The Government invests approximately £65m every year in our measurement infrastructure, and it provides important support for evidence-based policy and regulation.

  • The report shows that the NMS is collaborative, with 445 active academic partnerships delivering key priorities across all sectors, of advanced manufacturing, energy and environment, life sciences and digital.

  • Measurement enables trade, and the NMS provides vital support to industry. In 2016/17 the NMS offered 437 different measurement services to over 731 different customers across the UK.

  • The reach of the NMS is nationwide, and has a significant pool of knowledge that is shared through products, services, reference materials, event best practice guides and online resources.

  • The NMS is providing important skills capabilities for now and in the future, by running a broad range of specialist training programmes and offering a trailblazer apprenticeship standard for metrology technicians.  In 2016/17, 1,189 people have been trained across 57 training courses

  • Important work has started in identifying the most pressing industry challenges in the quality, reliability and integrity of data.

UK NMS Annual highlights report. 

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Download your copy now

Discover the role of the Government Chemist in combating food fraud, learn the outcomes of referee cases, and read about the research carried out in 2016 under the Government Chemist function.


Food safety: evaluated levels of carcinogenic toxins in seeds, nuts and spices

Food authenticity: assessed claims for the geographical origin and botanical source of honey

Allergens: detected sulphites in food containing interfering ingredients such as garlic

Quantifying protein allergens: carried out research into the quantification of proteins extracted from processed food for immunoassay and mass spectrometry analysis

Foresight and future work:  looked to the future to identify food safety and authenticity related challenges and how best to prepare for them. 

Save the date: Government Chemist conference 2018
The 2018 Government Chemist Conference will take place in London on 13-14 June. Further information about the conference will be disseminated in the autumn, watch your inbox for details.

Get in touch
If you have any questions about the work of the Government Chemit, or about food safety and/or authenticity related issues, email us at: or have a look at our website: 

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Italy has announced plans to bring in mandatory origin labelling for tomato-based products, bypassing EU procedures and sparking fears for the unity of Europe's single market.

The move comes just weeks after Italian authorities unveiled a decree implement a two-year trial for mandatory origin labelling for pasta and rice , requiring manufacturers to indicate the country of origin of the grains used to manufacture processed rice and pasta items on packaging.

Italy also has origin labelling for dairy products.

The move is intended to counter growing competition coming from imports of Chinese tomato puree which, according to Coldiretti, the association that represents the Italian agricultural sector, increased by 43% in 2016.

Read full article.

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Oceana, a nonprofit seafood conservation group, did a study back in 2015 and found that 43 percent of the salmon they tested was actually mislabeled.

Most of that salmon fraud ― we’re talking 69 percent of it ― mislabeled farmed salmon as being wild-caught salmon, which is typically more revered. That means you could be paying for a wild-caught Pacific salmon filet, when in fact you’re getting Atlantic farmed salmon.

Other fraud in the salmon market occurs when “one type of wild salmon is substituted for another, like the cheaper chum salmon or pink salmon being sold as a more expensive salmon like coho or sockeye,” Kimberly Warner, chief scientist at Oceana, told HuffPost.

Most of the fraud happens at restaurants.

Oceana found that most of the fraud from their study occurred at restaurants (67 percent vs. 20 percent at big chain retailers). Smaller grocery markets were also often guilty of salmon fraud. Big chain retailers are your safest bet for getting the salmon you actually want. But it isn’t always restaurants or markets pulling a fast one on consumers. 

Sometimes the restaurants and retailers are the victims.

“What we’re dealing with is two different types of fraud,” Gavin Gibbons of the National Fisheries Institute told HuffPost. “One is species substitution, where the retailer or restaurant is the victim. They’re being defrauded because the person selling them the salmon tells them it’s one thing when it’s not. The other side of it is menu mislabeling or just mislabeling in a retail establishment, and that’s when they say it’s wild-caught salmon but they know it’s farmed salmon. So there’s two distinctly different things, but they’re both fraud.”

Read full article

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The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) has published a Food and Agribusiness Roadmap to which identifies  key growth areas for Australia's food exports.

The document was produced in collaboration with FIAL and names climate change, geopolitical instability and technological advances among the primary challenges facing Australian agribusinesses in the coming decades and warns that previous successes cannot be sustained through productivity improvements alone.

Five key growth enablers arose from industry consultation, each requiring a unique mix of science and technology investment, business action and ecosystem assistance:

1) Traceability and provenance

2 ) Food safety and biosecurity

3) Market intelligence and access

4) Collaboration and knowledge sharing

5) Skills.

The report states that food fraud is estimated to cost around 40 billion U.S. dollars per year worldwide, with the United States (29.8%), China (13.6%) and India (12.6%) being the largest sources of fraudulent production. However, the report also highlights breakthroughs in tracking RFID chips, barcodes and QR codes in food labels and predicts that these will help address some of industry's concerns in traceability and provenance.

Read Roadmap.

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The Food Authenticity Network Newsletter - Issue 6 has just been distributed to our members. It can also be accessed here:

Food Authenticity Network Newsletter - Issue 6

This is a special edition of our Newsletter as it marks the second anniversary of the Food Authenticity Network. So we thought it would be  useful to inform our members about what has been achieved in the past two years and what is available on the website.

As well as this recap, in this Newsletter, there is an article  on the use of peptide analysis to determine meat species from the new Quadram Institute (formerly IFR, Norwich), which is one of our Centres of Expertise. There is news about two initiatives in CEN, one looking at definitions and  terms for food authenticity and fraud, and a coordinating group to look at food authenticity methods in CEN Technical Committees. The work of SGF global standards of running a voluntary control system for the fruit juice industry is also described.

We hope you will enjoy reading the Newsletter and we look forward to receiving any comments you may have on it at

Kind regards


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