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A study of the grain trade during 2020 indicates that policies to protect supply chains must be enacted to avoid supply chain shocks such as COVID-19 and locust swarms exacerbating food insecurity in global regions that rely on food imports.

Food insecurity is complex — there is no silver bullet of policy or market intervention that can lead to a situation where all people at all times will have continuous access to healthy, affordable diets. And though global food systems are interdependent and also complex, food insecurity in many regions has been precipitated by pestilence, environmental disaster and conflict. Pestilence is a fatal epidemic or pandemic disease affecting humans, crops or livestock that impacts food supply and production; insect and rodent plagues remain a major threat to human food security1,2,3,4,5. Recently, swarms of locusts larger than any recorded in recent decades detrimentally affected more than 330,000 hectares of land from Ethiopia to India6, whilst the COVID-19 pandemic — and the controls implemented to curb infection rates — affected food production and supply3.

In times of crisis, the demand for staple foods increases in ways that can destabilize local and global supply chains and cause social unrest3,7. In this issue of Nature Food, Falkendal et al.8 quantify wheat, rice and maize supply chain disruption from 2020 locust swarms and COVID-19-related effects on food prices, stock levels, international trade and export restrictions. The study considers two dimensions of food security, first outlined nearly a quarter of a century ago at the World Food Summit in 1996, namely: physical availability of food (production output, stock levels and trade dynamics) and economic and physical access to food (the ability to buy food, for example, ratio of prices to income, and accessible marketing channels). The authors frame their argument in terms of stability and the socio-economic shocks (political instability, unemployment and drastic loss of income) that the COVID-19 pandemic brings with it that will lead to greater food insecurity in the short and medium term.

In their model, Falkendal and colleagues find that export restrictions and precautionary purchasing in response to COVID-19 could destabilize global grain trade, leading to many low- and middle-income countries that rely on grain imports potentially experiencing further food insecurity that exacerbates the effects felt from shocks such as COVID-19 and locust swarms. Thus, protectionist measures initiated by governments, institutions or market actors to secure national food security will affect those who are food vulnerable, and consumer support policy measures should be introduced to mitigate the risk of food insecurity. The authors call for incremental rather than blunt, binary ‘borders open or borders closed’ food security policies, and a need for mutually agreed solutions to address food insecurity — rather than unilateral national decision-making based primarily on self-interest. Whether altruist or self-serving food security policies are implemented by governments and market actors will be demonstrated in practice over the coming months.

The impact of economic stabilization policies following the 2007 economic crash highlights how individuals and households can transition instantly from a higher standard of living into a situation where they must survive with less, raising the question as to what is the minimum standard for an acceptable life9. In the UK, the last time minimum standards with regard to food for an acceptable life were determined was the food rationing legislation on 15 September 194110 — the Hansard report makes challenging reading when comparing the proposed austere diet to our typical food consumption in the UK. The UN Sustainable Development Goals also determine the dynamics of an acceptable life, and multi-level consensus building and action is essential to safeguard food supply – especially if, as a global community, we seek to deliver the two targets of “no poverty and zero hunger”. Despite having policy and technological tools to reduce the impact of many human, zoonotic and plant diseases, collective strategic risk at local, regional and global levels cannot be ignored. Falkendal and colleagues have shown that a proactive strategy and a co-ordinated collective response with shared goals and co-operative actions is necessary as the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural events such as locust swarms arise in order to ensure that the grain trade remains stable, equitable and accessible to all.

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This fully funded Ph.D project, supported by Quadrat's Doctoral Training Programme, is supervised by Dr Tassos Koidis, IGFS/Queens University Belfast, in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen and local industry organisations in Malaysia. The project will be examining the development of new methods of authenticating sustainable oil palm for the protection of tropical diversity. The candidate for the research project should have an interest in earth and agricultural sciences, laboratory experience including instrumental analysis and method development, background in statistical analysis, fluency or willingness to learn a programming language. 

More details for applicants here

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JRC's December 2020 Food Fraud Summary Published

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The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its December 2020 Food Fraud Monthly Summary reporting food fraud incidents and investigations from around the world. Thanks again to our Member Bruno Séchet for creating this  infographic and allowing us to share it with the rest of the Network

Read the December 2020 Summary here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prawns and shrimps (small prawns) are the world’s most popular shellfish. High demand for prawns leads to intensive farming, which can lead to bacterial disease problems. To prevent bacterial disease and promote growth, antibiotic drugs are frequently used. US Researchers in Louisiana took 56 prawn samples in late 2016 and early 2017 from a variety of local retail outlets, and all the prawns were raised by aquaculture and imported from India, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Bangladesh and Ecuador. The samples were analysed for the presence of veterinary drug residues (oxytetracycline, nitrofurantoin, chloramphenicol, fluoroquinolone and malachite green) using ELISA test kits. Additional screening with the Alert sulfite detection kit was used to determine if sulfite residue was over the US legal limit of 100 ppm.

Screening analysis revealed that samples were positive for nitrofurantoin (70 % of samples), malachite green (5 %), oxytetracycline (7 %), and fluoroquinolone (17 %). Malachite green, oxytetracycline and fluoroquinolone are all banned in the US, and nitrofurantoin, an antibiotic growth promoter, has been banned in the EU since 1995. No samples contained chloramphenicol residues. Using LC-MSMS validation, one sample tested positive for 60 ppm of oxytetracycline and 4 ppb of ciprofloxacin. Almost half the 51 samples tested positive for sulfite residue (45 %), but were within the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit (10−100ppm, with one sample was greater than 100ppm).The rest were less than 10ppm of sulphite However, sulfites were not listed on any of labels of the 51 tested packages of imported prawns.

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Venison is  high value meat. Chinese researchers have developed an innovative assay which combines PCR (polymerase chain reaction) amplification of venison DNA with a lateral flow immunoassay (LFI) to visualise the PCR product. The PCR amplification used a 277 bp fragment of a venison mitochondrial DNA D-loop region, and the PCR products labelled with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) and biotin were examined using a paper-based LFI strip within 5 min. The assay gave a high specificity for venison with no cross-reactivity to 17 animal and 2 plant species, and enabled the detection of raw, oven-heated, and fried venison in binary mixtures with a limit of detection (LOD) of 0.01% (w/w), In addition, the PCR-LFI test was applied to 15 commercial venison products, and the results were validated by PCR agarose gel electrophoresis.

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8388578865?profile=RESIZE_710x14 arrested in Spain and investigations underway in France.
 

The Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and Europol have dismantled an organised crime group involved in the production, distribution and sale of alleged organic pistachios which did not meet required ecological standards. 

The operation began in 2019, with various reports of ecological certifications being misused on pistachios that did not adhere to set agricultural standards. The Spanish Civil Guard detected a mix of organic and non-organic pistachio nuts that contained pesticides (including glyphosate and chlorate), illegal under requisites imposed by the Spanish agricultural sector. 

The investigation uncovered that the illegal pesticides were being used to better the quality and quantity of the harvests and increase the monetary value of the production. Marketed as organic the nuts were sold for up to 80% over the retail price of non-organic pistachios. The nuts from the main Spanish distributor were also being sold in France under false organic certifications. 

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Basmati rice is a high value rice because of its unique organoleptic properties, and hence is vulnerable to adulteration by non-Basmati varieties. Authentication of Basmati rice has been based on specific varietal identification using DNA markers - microsatellites or more recently KASP markers. Pakistan has designated a specific geographical region for Basmati varieties to be grown and applied to the European Commission for PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status of its Basmati rice.This study develops a method based on elemental analysis with chemometrics to differentiate rice grown inside and outside the recognised Basmati growing region. Sixty-four rice samples were collected from the Punjab region of Pakistan, 21 from the PGI region and 43 outside this region. Elemental analysis by ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry) of 71 elements was performed on the samples and combined with DD-SIMCA (data-driven soft independent modelling by class analogy) for the differentiation of Pakistani rice grown inside and outside the PGI Basmati growing region, The model obtained achieved a sensitivity and specificity of 100% and 98%, respectively.

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We've gone .Global!

8372568101?profile=RESIZE_400xWe're pleased to say that FoodAuthenticity is now officially at www.foodauthenticity.global.

Site members may need to sign again in to the .global site, as browsers with saved passwords will not transfer the saved password automatically.

We will be maintaining foodauthenticity.uk to redirect automatically to the new .global address, but please remember to use the .global address in referring to the site. 

 

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In the US, hemp plants (Cannabis sativa) that produce delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) in amounts higher than 0.3% are classed as cannabis, and lower amounts than 0.3%, as hemp. THCA is the precursor of the psychoactive delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that forms from its oxidation. At present, confirmatory testing whether a sample is cannibis or hemp has to be carried out in a certified laboratory by HPLC, which is time consuming and labour intensive. US researchers have developed a rapid portable, confirmatory, non-invasive and non-destructive approach for cannabis diagnostics that could be performed by a police officer using a hand-held Raman spectrometer.

Samples were taken from both hemp plants and 3 varieties of cannabis plants, and the latter were frozen at  −10 to −15 °C and thawed, which is the standard procedure in cannabis farming that is used to preserve cannabinol content of plants during their post-harvest processing. The Raman spectra were analysed using orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) to determine the spectral regions giving the best separation between the two classes especially for THCA. The chemometric model showed 100% accuracy in determining whether a sample was hemp or cannabis, and further modelling gave a prediction rate of 96-100% in identifying the three cannabis varieties.

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Using NMR to Authenticate Spanish Wine

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This article reports a recent webinar to discuss the role of NMR in the non-targeted authenticity analysis of wine, and in particular Spanish wine. The NMR analysis is able to identify and quantify several hundred compounds present in the wine. Reference databases have been built up of these compound profiles using authentic wine, and these are used on wine samples to verify whether they are authentic or not. The method has been adopted by the  Estación Enológica de Haro (EEH) part of the Institute of Vine and Wines Sciences in La Rioja, which serves the wine industry across Spain, and analyses 25,000 samples annually and conducts around 263,000 analyses every year from private clients.  

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Methods to determine the geographic origin of EVOO are a useful tool to prevent fraud for this high value oil. Portuguese researchers have applied SIRA of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen (δ13C, δ2H and δ18O) with chemometrics to verify whether the geographical origin of VOOs obtained from three Mediterranean countries can be determined. One hundred and thirty eight authentic VOO samples were collected from Portugal, France and Turkey from two different harvest years (2016 and 2017). The samples were analysed for the isotopic ratios using an elemental analyser coupled to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (EA-IRMS). Using meteorological and geographical parameters, a meteoric water line for olive oil from Portugal, France and Turkey, in two harvest years, were created to assess the impact of climate change on their δ2H and δ18O values. After principal component analysis, the VOOs from Portugal and France were well separated, Turkey slightly less so, but also the 2016 and 2017 harvest years of each country were also discriminated.  

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The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt across the world and it is reasonable to expect that they have the potential to impact on the vulnerability of the global food supply chain to food fraud. Recent reports suggest the potential for increased food fraud in global food supply chains due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Food Authenticity Network (FAN) and Mérieux Nutrisciences have collaborated to undertake a detailed assessment of the data to establish whether food fraud incidents are indeed increasing.

The analysis conducted identified a small increase in official food fraud alerts since the onset of the pandemic (19 more official reports) and a more significant increase in the number of media reports (81 more media reports) in January to June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019).

It is not clear how significant the observed increases are considering the availability of a relatively small number of global official food fraud alerts and the variability in the type of data available from different countries and sources, making it difficult to undertake statistical comparisons.

Following extraordinary meetings of its Advisory Board in May and July 2020, FAN concluded that the conditions created by the pandemic have increased food fraud vulnerability but that there was insufficient evidence of ‘dramatic’ increases in specific COVID-19-related food fraud incidents. This study supports that conclusion. However, it is likely that the true impact of COVID-19 on the incidence of global food fraud will not be known until full resumption of regulatory surveillance world-wide and at this point, it is possible that more evidence concerning pandemic-related factors may emerge.

In the meantime, FAN recommends that due to the heightened vulnerability of food to fraud, the food industry be extra vigilant and use the available existing best practice authenticity control measures and tools (COVID-19 Resource Base) to mitigate any potential emerging threats.

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Spanish authorities have uncovered a large criminal network producing and distributing counterfeit whisky. The authorities seized items imported from China, which included nearly 300,000 whisky bottles, 171,200 counterfeit tax stamps, 18,400 capsules and more than 27,000 cardboard boxes with the logo of a well-known brand. The first base of the operation was in Ciudad Real, and was run by an Asian businessman who imported from Asia fake tax stamps, counterfeit glass bottles, labels and caps from a well-known brand. The alcoholic mixture was prepared and bottled in another part of the operation in La Rioja. The bottles were sent back to Ciudad Real where the labels and seals were added ready for distribution. The fourteen people arrested are now awaiting trial in La Rioja.

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The use of pork and porcine ingredients is banned in halal and kosher foods. This review by Indonesian researchers examines the various methods from DNA analysis, FTIR spectroscopic analysis, chromatography to electronic nose, that have been used to detect porcine DNA, pork, pork gelatine, and lard in meat products.

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Nitrogen factors are used to calculate meat and seafood content (quantitative ingredient declarations-QUID) of products by analysis in order to check recipe calculations and labelling declarations on finished products. They are also still one of the easiest ways to calculate added water by difference. A “nitrogen factor” is the average nitrogen content of a specific cut or whole animal (meat/seafood) usually expressed on a fat free basis.Obtaining nitrogen factors usually requires extensive surveys of analyses of the flesh of meat animals/seafood from particular species as there are usually a large number of variables to take into account (breed/species, gender, age at slaughter, seasonal variation, carcase weight or size, geographical origin, production method, whether raised by aquaculture or caught wild). If all the variables are taken into account, this leads to very large studies and high study costs. By using a number of alternative study designs, including fractional designs and algorithmic optimal designs, the number of samples can be significantly reduced and hence the survey costs with minimal impact on the information gained.  

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The Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission has published its Monthly Food Fraud Summary for November 2020.

Thanks again to our Member Bruno Séchet for creating this fantastic infographic and allowing us to share with the rest of the Network 😁.

Access JRC Monthly Food Fraud Reports

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Garlic is widely used in cooking all over the world. Researchers at Queens University Belfast have verified whether NIR (near infrared) and FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) spectroscopy with chemometric analysis can detect garlic mixed with possible adulterants. Authentic and adulterated garlic (with talc, maltodextrin, corn starch, cornflour, peanut butter powder, sodium caseinate, potato starch, rice flour, cassava and white maize meal) samples were prepared at 20–90% levels, and NIR and FTIR spectra of the samples obtained. Principal component analysis (PCA) models were created to establish if there was separation of garlic from the adulterants.Orthogonal partial least squares – discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) models were then developed to be able to detect and classify the levels of adulteration correctly using both NIR and FTIR.

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Food Fraud: A Global Threat With Public Health and Economic Consequences serves as a practical resource on the topic of food fraud prevention and compliance with regulatory and industry standards.

It includes a brief overview of the history of food fraud, current challenges, and vulnerabilities faced by the food industry, and requirements for compliance with regulatory and industry standards on mitigating vulnerability to food fraud, with a focus on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Benchmarking Requirements.

The book also provides individual chapters dedicated to specific commodities or sectors of the food industry known to be affected by fraud, with a focus on specific vulnerabilities to fraud, the main types of fraud committed, analytical methods for detection, and strategies for mitigation.

The book provides an overview of food fraud mitigation strategies applicable to the food industry and guidance on how to start the process of mitigating the vulnerability to food fraud. The intended audience for this book includes food industry members, food safety and quality assurance practitioners, food science researchers and professors, students, and members of regulatory agencies.

Food Authenticity Network Members are eligible for a 30% discount by using the code ATR30 at https://www.elsevier.com/books/food-fraud/hellberg/978-0-12-817242-1

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There has been a large increase in the sale of craft beers, which pride themselves as having distinctive flavours and colour by using proprietary recipes of cereals and flavourings. As craft beers sell for a premium price over large scale produced beers, having a method to distinguish the two types is important to prevent fraud. The use of 1H NMR and chemometrics to identify metabolites in craft beers, which are absent in large scale produced beers has been used by various researchers around the world. In a recent paper, Italian researchers developed a protocol for NMR anlaysis with chemometrics enabling the automatic identification and quantification of metabolites in approximately thirty seconds per spectrum. Craft beers possessed lower concentrations of adenosine/inosine and trehalose and higher levels of trigonelline, asparagine, acetate, lactate, and succinate when compared with large scale produced beers. These results give a starting point for the development of a standardised protocol to distinguish between the two types of beers.

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