Selvarani Elahi's Posts (76)

The Canadian regulatory framework prohibits selling adulterated food or selling food in a false, misleading or deceptive manner. Although the number of prosecutions for food fraud cases in Canada has steadily decreased in the last decade, except for a spike in 2017, penalties are becoming more severe (i.e. 12-fold increase in fine amount between 2008 and 2018). The majority of cases are in violation with the Food and Drugs Act, Section 5(1), which prohibits “labelling, packaging, treating, processing, selling or advertising food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression.” In the cases presented in this study, violators having been found guilty were fined between $25,000 and $1.5 million, but none were sentenced to imprisonment.

To improve control over food fraud incidents, the Canadian government should clearly define food fraud and include a definition and description of the different types of fraudulent activities. To support this, the Government of Canada should raise awareness about food fraud among members of the food industry, while requiring expanded testing of raw ingredients and final products for authenticity. A critical step is for the Canadian government to conduct a country-wide food fraud vulnerability assessment to identify the most problematic types of food fraud and then create a country-wide food fraud prevention strategy. Once the prevention strategy is in place, then the most efficient countermeasures and control systems can be considered. The holistic and all-encompassing food fraud prevention focus would be on a coordinated and optimized reduction of the entire fraud opportunity. The creation of government-industry-academia partnerships would also play an essential role in preventing and combating food fraud. It is possible that few – if any – additional government allocation will be required to put the plan in place and begin to make significant improvements.

Read full paper here.

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Food fraud a worldwide problem and many countries continue to commit considerable resource to combat the issue. With the food supply chain now truly global, there is acknowledgement that having agreed definitions for terms commonly associated with food authenticity and food fraud would be of great benefit.

The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima), has led a European initiative with the objective of making communication regarding food fraud more precise. Together with food fraud experts (including from the Food Authenticity Network Team) from several European countries including the UK, a European standard has been created that defines many of the English terms and concepts used in connection with food fraud. The words are placed in a hierarchical system that makes it easier to understand how they relate to each other - see image.

The standardisation was coordinated as part of the EU-funded Authent-Net and FoodIntegrity projects. It was published in January 2019 by Standard Norway, and it is also being distributed by several other National Standardisation Bodies in Europe; currently Estonia, Netherlands, and the UK.

This standard represents an important first step in the global standardisation of these terms which will help facilitate trade, combat food fraud and better secure our food supply chains.

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IFST has re-written its “Food authenticity testing” Information Statement and split it into two parts:

Food authenticity testing part 1: The role of analysis, which now covers the role of analytical testing within the context of an overall supply chain assurance strategy.

Analytical testing is a valuable tool in the armoury to assure food authenticity but cannot be used to identify every type of food fraud.  It is only one part of an overall strategy to mitigate fraud risk.

Many modern tests are based upon comparing a pattern of measured values in the test sample with patterns from a database of authentic samples. Interpretation is highly dependent on the robustness of the database, and whether it includes all possible authentic variables and sample types. This information may not be released by the laboratory.  Interpretation of results is rarely clear-cut, and analytical results are often used to inform and target further investigation (such as unannounced audits or mass-balance checks) rather than for making a compliance decision.

This paper describes where testing can and cannot be used, and highlights generic issues relating to interpreting food authenticity testing results.

Food authenticity testing part 2: Analytical techniques, which gives describes specific analytical techniques, their applications, strengths and weaknesses.

This paper describes the principles, different configurations, applications, strengths and limitations of some of the more common analytical techniques used in food authenticity testing:
• Mass spectrometry
• Stable isotope mass spectrometry
• DNA analysis
• Nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry
• Spectroscopy.

Generic strengths and limitations of food authenticity test methods, particularly those relating to methods comparing against reference databases of authentic samples, are discussed in “Food authenticity testing: The role of analysis”. It also describes the difference between targeted and untargeted analysis.

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Much needed guidelines for building and curating food authenticity databases has been published by the FoodIntegrity EU Project.

Food fraud is a global issue often detected through the use of analytical testing. Analysis of suspect foodstuffs and comparison of their results to those contained within a food authenticity database is a typical approach. This scientific opinion was commissioned as part of the FoodIntegrity EU project to provide guidance for the creation of these food authenticity databases.

This opinion paper provides what the authors believe are the most important considerations which must be addressed, when creating a food authenticity database. Specifically, the areas of database scope, analytical methodology, sampling, collection and storage of data, validation and curation are discussed.

Full paper.

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A new article on food fraud public policy development for countries has been published by Dr John Spink (Director of the Food Fraud Initiative at Michigan State University) and the concepts described also apply to companies.

Abstract

Background

Food fraud is generally agreed to be defined as an illegal deception for economic gain using food which includes all types of fraud and all products. Food fraud – including the sub-category of Economically Motivated Adulteration or EMA – is an urgent global public policy issue that requires the development of common definitions and harmonized prevention management systems.

Scope and approach

There is a need to assess the food fraud public policy development steps to understand the current state and more importantly to identify next steps that will support efficient and successful implementation. Since food fraud policy development is in early stages of development, there is a unique opportunity to build upon the current state and make adjustments that will potentially yield tremendous benefit through harmonization and coordination.

The process model steps reviewed include

Problem Identification (Foundation Setting and Definition & Formation), Agenda Setting, Alternate Approaches, Legitimation, Implementation, and Evaluation. The research included a review of the current public policy development stages for the United Kingdom, European Commission, China, United States of America, and then also the Global Food Safety Initiative GFSI.

Key findings and conclusions

The international food fraud policy-making is currently advancing through Agenda Setting, Alternate Approaches, and Legitimation. The next steps for an efficient and effective food fraud policy-making implementation are to: (1) establish the definition and scope, (2) define food fraud as a food agency issue, (3) publish an official government statement focused on prevention (e.g., law, regulation, rule, guidance, etc.), (4) support and fund the policy implementation, and (5) continue to evaluate and adjust the response. Since food fraud policy development is in the early stages of development, there is a unique opportunity to build upon the current state and make adjustments that will potentially yield tremendous benefit through harmonization and coordination.

Full article.

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Issue 9 of the Food Authenticity Network Newsletter is now available and features a foreword from Professor Chris Elliott of Queen's University Belfast.

The newsletter describes how from January 2019, the Network has transitioned from being soley government funded to a public-private partnership led by LGC. Using this vehicle, our ambition is to build a truly global Network by working with governments, industry and other stakeholders from around the world. In support of this vision, the website domain name will transition to an international domain: www.foodauthenticity.global, but we will still operate our present domain www.foodauthenticity.uk in parallel to make sure links keep working.

In this issue, there are three interesting articles as well as our Centre of Expertise Profile:

  • An article on the FAO/IAEA’s new 5 year project on Authenticating High Value Foods.
  • An article from Which? on its consumer and authenticity activities.
  • An article that describes the latest features of the Decernis food fraud database (formerly run by USP)
  • Centre of Expertise Profile, LGC; LGC is proficient across multiple techniques required for food authenticity testing, including rapid / non-targeted / point-of-use methods.

 

 

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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: www.foodauthenticity.uk/training-top.

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 Secretary@FoodAuthenticity.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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