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Labelling rules require that if raw fish has been previously frozen and sold as chilled/fresh, then it must be labelled as previously frozen or defosted. Norwegian researchers have developed a method based on D/H-NMR analysis to look at certain metabolites, which change concentration when Atlantic salmon is frozen and thawed, then stored chilled. Of the metabolites studied, aspartate concentration was considered the best marker for previously frozen salmon, as it formed in the thawed fish only after the second day of storage at 4 °C, reaching a maximum after 3-5 days then declining. 

Read the article and the abstract.

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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducted targeted surveillance between 2019 and 2020 as part of ongoing efforts to detect honey adulteration with exogenous sugars in both domestic and imported honey sold in Canada. A total of 275 samples were collected across Canada and analysed using Stable Isotope Ratio Analysis (SIRA) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Two types of honey samples were collected. One group of 127 samples, consisted of single-ingredient honey products such as bulk and honey for further processing from importers and a small proportion from domestic establishments. These were collected from suppliers where the chance of non-compliance was higher, based on risk-factors such as a history of non-compliance, gaps in preventive controls, or unusual trading patterns. The other 148 samples of honey were collected by an independent third party at retailers in various cities across Canada as part of CFIA's compliance monitoring of the marketplace, to gauge overall compliance. Of the targeted samples 17(13%) were considered unsatisfactory from the analytical results of which only 1 was Canadian honey. Of the retail samples, only 3 were considered unsatisfactory, and all of these were imported. As a result of CFIA's actions, an estimated 83,461 kg of adulterated honey was prevented from being sold in the Canadian marketplace between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020.

Read the report, which also gives access to the full analytical results

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FSSAI found a consistent increase in cases of non-compliance across the country from previous years. The National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories tested 1,06,459 food samples during 2018-19, and found 30,415 samples non-conforming, of which 3900 samples were declared unsafe, 16,870 were sub-substandard, and the rest were mislabelled. As a result the Authority prosecuted 2813 criminal and 18550 civil cases resulting in 701 criminal convictions and 12734 fines.

Read the article or the full FSSAI Annual 2018-19 report in English (from page182)

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The Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Food in Spain conducted more than 900 inspections in 133 companies this past year. However, the companies chosen were regarded as medium or high risk of infractions after an exploratory programme of inspections of 250 companies. The biggest problem was in the labelling of the products, and of the 438 labels checked, 341 were regarded as non-compliant.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Food is the lead partner in the €1.3 million QUALIFY project that continues until January 2023 and involves six countries (Bulgarian, Slovenian and Estonian chambers of commerce and industry, the regional government of Thessaly in Greece and Vienna Chamber of Agriculture, and the Béritovet veterinary agency in France). It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to increase SME competitiveness in EU regions and states.

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Prof. Chris Elliott gives a reasoned response to two reports about widespread honey fraud on the UK and Indian markets. In both cases, the analysis of the honey samples was by NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), and although the method is soundly based, issues have been raised around the databases used to verify adulteration or authenticity of honey from different countries, and this was discussd in a UK Government sponsored workshop organised by LGC on the technique last year: Honey authenticity: determination of exogenous sugars by NMR Seminar (2019) Report

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The use of hand-held infrared spectrometers combined with chemometrics to authenticate different foods has increased in popularity especially for screening samples in-situ. This study is the first interlaboratory trial to compare the performance of low-cost portable NIR devices coupled to chemometrics to detect adulterated food. In the study, there were 27 participants from 22 countries across five continents using 34 unique devices. The food chosen for this study was oregano, which already had a history of vulnerability to adulteration by different leaves of olive, myrtle, sumac, cistus and phlomis. Participants were sent authentic samples of oregano, and of olive and cistus leaves, as well as a calibration set of oregano and adulterated samples and a validation set of authentic and adulterated samples in order to build models for oregano adulteration. Participants correctly predicted >98% genuine oregano after device standardisation, and predicted 100% adulterated samples after standardisation. The devices native setup shows limited ability to perform a true screening of oregano using the setup offered. However modifications to the setup could in the future offer a solution that facilitates fit-for-purpose real time detection of adulterated samples within the supply chain.

 

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Eat Just chicken nuggets

Singapore has given regulatory approval for the world’s first “clean meat” that does not come from slaughtered animals.

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said an expert working group reviewed data on Eat Just’s manufacturing control and safety testing of the cultured chicken.

“It was found to be safe for consumption at the intended levels of use, and was allowed to be sold in Singapore as an ingredient in Eat Just’s nuggets product,” the SFA said.

The agency said it has put in place a regulatory framework for “novel food” to ensure that cultured meat and other alternative protein products meet safety standards before they are sold in Singapore.

The decision paves the way for San Francisco-based startup Eat Just to sell lab-grown chicken meat. The meat will initially be used in nuggets, but the company hasn’t said when they will become available.

Demand for alternatives to regular meat has surged due to consumer concerns about health, animal welfare and the environment. According to Barclays, the market for meat alternatives could be worth $140bn (£104bn) within the next decade, or about 10% of the $1.4tn global meat industry.

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Genome editing techniques that modify the DNA of plants do not pose more hazards than conventional breeding or techniques that introduce new DNA into a plant, an EFSA assessment concludes.

The scientific opinion focuses on plants produced using different genome editing techniques: site-directed nuclease-1 (SDN-1), site-directed nuclease-2 techniques (SDN-2) and oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis (ODM). These differ from site-directed nucleases-3 (SDN-3), which was assessed by EFSA in 2012, because they modify a specific region of the genome without introducing new DNA.

Experts concluded that the existing guidance for risk assessment of genetically modified plants is applicable for the evaluation of the three new techniques. However, fewer data for the risk assessment might be needed due to the absence of new DNA.

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In September, the EU and China signed a bilateral agreement to protect 100 European Geographical Indications (GIs) in China and 100 Chinese GIs in the European Union against misuse of the product's name and imitation. The EU list of GIs to be protected in China includes iconic GI products such as Cava, Champagne, Feta, Irish whiskey, Scotch Whisky, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Münchener Bier, Ouzo, Polska Wódka, Porto, Prosciutto di Parma and Queso Manchego. Among the Chinese GI products, the list includes for example Pixian Dou Ban (Pixian Bean Paste), Anji Bai Cha (Anji White Tea), Panjin Da Mi (Panjin rice) and Anqiu Da Jiang (Anqiu Ginger). The agreement is expected to enter into force at the beginning of 2021, after adoption by the Council of Ministers. The Agreement should boost European agri-food exports to China, already worth €14.5 billion in 2019. It is also a good measure of China’s ambition to protect intellectual property rights more robustly.

Read the article, and the European Commission's Press Release, which also gives the full lists of the 100 European GIs and the 100 Chinese GIs. 

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European honey producers have seen the worst harvest in decades, and it is predicted that this year will see a 40% drop in honey production. Although climate change has disrupted the flowering season, adverse weather conditions in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, where the majority of honey is produced, has also taken its toll on honey production. European honey producers only provide 64% of European consumption, the difference being made up by cheaper imports, which will make up the loss of European production. Copa-Cogeca (Union of farmers and their cooperatives in the European Union) has already called on the European Commission to set up an emergency action plan to help the 650,000 beekeepers with 10 million hives in the EU to survive in the future.

Read the article and the Copa-Cogena Press Release

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Recently, herbs and spices have been found to be susceptible to adulteration and fraud. In this feasibility study, the composition of capsaicoinoids and carotenoids has been determined and used as markers for the authenticity of paprika. Capsaicinoids and carotenoids were determined in 136 paprika samples, from different origins (La VeraMurcia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic) and types (hot, sweet, and bittersweet) using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry using atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (UHPLC–APCI–HRMS). The composition of capsaicinoids and carotenoids was analysed chemometrically through a classification decision tree built by partial least squares regression−discriminant analysis (PLS−DA) models and reached a prediction classification rate of 80.9%.

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This method has been developed so that it can differentiate between a slaughtering method that conforms with Islamic rights, and therefore can be certified as Halal, and one which does not.. Kosher slaughter and Islamic rights, Zabiha (ZA) slaughtering procedure involves the severing of the poultry's throat with a single stroke of a sharp knife thus cutting a carotid artery, jugular vein, windpipe, and esophagus without injuring the spinal cord. Non-Zabiha (NZ) slaughter may involve completely cutting off the neck of the animal during slaughter, and hence detaching the spinal cord. Liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS) based non-targeted metabolomics of chicken meat samples were evaluated to differentiate meat samples based on slaughtering methods. Forty samples were grouped into equal numbers of Zabiha (cutting neck without detaching spinal cord) and Non-Zabiha (completely detaching neck). A volcano plot revealed at least 150 features found significantly different between the two groups having ≥ 2-fold changes in intensities with p-values ≤ 0.05. Among them 5 identified metabolites and 25 unidentified metabolites have clear differences in peak intensities. After chemometric analysis, the 5 metabolites were considered as potentially significant markers to differentiate between the two methods of slaughter.

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In this article, Emily Miles, Head of the Food Standards Agency, and Prof Chris Elliott, Queens University Belfast, discuss the impact of reduced funding to local authorities (LAs) at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Food Safety Conference. Emily Miles noted the 20% reduction in food professionals (Environmental Health Officers and Trading Standards Officers) for 2020/21 and what it might mean for food safety, and the effect on our future trade after Brexit. Prof Elliott spoke about the seven principles of food integrity: food should be safe; authentic; nutritious; systems used to produce food should be sustainable; ethical; we have to respect and protect the environment and all those people who produce food.The budget cuts for sampling and testing could lead to a two-tier system in the UK, where large food retailers and manufacturers continue their own very effective food integrity assurance, but leave the SMEs in a very vulnerable position.

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Pistachio is one of the most expensive nuts, and is prone to adulteration because of its high commodity value. The most common adulterants are green pea and peanuts with added colours. Turkish researchers have developed a non-targeted method using portable FT-IR (Fourier Transform infared) and UV–Visible spectrometers.  Samples of pistachio granules were adulterated with green pea and peanut at concentrations from 5-40% w/w, and their spectra taken using  a portable FT-IR spectrometer and a conventional UV–Vis spectrometer, which were analysed by Soft Independent Modeling of Class Analogy (SIMCA) to generate classification algorithms to authenticate pistachio. Partial Least Square Regression (PLSR) was used to predict the concentrations of adulterants, and both instruments gave excellent predictions of adulterant levels.

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8169733900?profile=RESIZE_400xItalian researchers have developed a method based on FT-NIR (Fourier transform - near infrared) spectroscopy combined with chemometrics to authenticate pasta made exclusively with durum wheat. In addition, the objective of this study was to verify that the pasta was made with 100% Italian durum wheat. The 361 samples used were pasta marketed in Italy and made with durum wheat cultivated in Italy (n = 176 samples), and on pasta made with mixtures of wheat cultivated in Italy and/or abroad (n = 185 samples). The samples were analysed by FT-NIR spectroscopy coupled with supervised classification models. Good performance results of the validation set (sensitivity of 95%, specificity and accuracy of 94%) were obtained using principal component-linear discriminant analysis (PC-LDA), which clearly demonstrated the high prediction capability of this method. 

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This open access paper provides a comprehensive review of the definition and composition of honey, the different types of adulteration, common sugar adulterants, and detection methods of honey adulteration. It also discusses some of adverse health aspects of honey adulteration. 

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McCormick Responds to QUB's Sage Findings

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On 23 October, I posted the study carried out by IGFS at Queens University Belfast (QUB) on behalf of the Food Industry Intelligence Network (FIIN), which showed that 25% of the sage herb samples tested were adulterated, and the level of bulking ranged from 29 -58%. Now the Vice President of McCormick has responded to the results of this small survey.

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Basmati rice is a high value popular type of rice based on its distinctive organoleptic properties. Approval of varieties meeting the specification laid down for Basmati rice is undertaken by the Indian and Pakistani Export Authorities, and these have been accepted in a UK industry/enforcement Code of Practice (COP). Originally 15 varieties were approved to be marketed as Basmati, 9 of which are allowed to be imported tariff free into the EU as brown rice. New varieties have been bred for higher yield, disease and pest resistance, as well as salt tolerance, and 25 new varieties have been added to the COP. This has resulted in the need for new DNA markers to be investigated as the original DNA microsatellite method cannot identify the new varieties effectively. This study details whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) and insertion/deletion (InDel) variations developed into KASP™ (Kompetitive Allele Specific PCR; LGC Biosearch Technologies) were more effective DNA markers for all the approved varieties of Basmati rice. The results provide a method that distinguishes 37 Basmati varieties from all others using between 3 and 8 KASP markers out of a pool of 98 informative markers. A reduced set of 24 KASP markers could determine whether a sample belongs to one of eight family groups.

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Eurofins has announced the launch of the TOFoo (True Organic Food) project to develop analyses and services to ensure the authenticity and integrity of organic food products. The project will be rolled out over five and a half years, with a EUR 17.3 million budget. The project has secured over EUR 8 million in funding from the Future Investment Programme, run by the General Secretariat for Investment (SGPI), and operated by Bpifrance on behalf of the French Government. The project has five partners from the food industry, laboratory analysis and digital sectors, and four partners from academia.

Read the Press release here

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