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The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is proposing additional record keeping requirements for a list of "high risk" foods under the US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which is intended to make it easier to rapidly and effectively track the movement of a food to prevent or mitigate a foodborne illness outbreak. The Food Traceability List (FTL) identifies the foods which would be covered by the new rule. The additional recordkeeping requirements would apply not only to foods specifically listed on the FTL, but also to foods that contain foods on the list as ingredients.

Read the FDA's Proposal here

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8041096082?profile=RESIZE_400xMooncakes are a traditional Chinese bakery product eaten during the moon watching Autumn Festival. Chinese police have arrested 40 people suspected of producing and selling fake mooncakes of a well known Hong Kong brand. The investigation started when it was discovered that this brand of mooncakes were being sold 50-70% cheaper on-line. This eventually led them to a production line in Zhangzhou, which employed 100 people producing the fake mooncakes 24/7, where over 12,000 boxes of the fakes were seized. Police said the authentic counterparts of the seized mooncakes are worth over 30 million yuan (US$4.4 million). The investigation is still on-going.

Read the article here

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8028918875?profile=RESIZE_400xThe European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) publishes a monthly Food Fraud Summary summarising food fraud incidents and investigations from around the world. The September 2020 Summary has just been published. In particular, a large scale horse and donkey meat fraud has been investigated in Colombia, where horses and donkeys, often sick animals, were slaughtered and adulterated with chemicals, and sold as beef for school meals. The fraud took place between May 2018 and September 2019, and involved 2-2.5 tonnes of meat each week.

Read the monthly summary here

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8017971267?profile=RESIZE_584x Registration is now open for a free online conference, run in partnership between the UK Food Standards Agency and the University of Sheffield, on Monday 9 November 2020 as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science.

The COVID 19 outbreak has necessitated a move away from more traditional data collection methods and accelerated the innovative use of digital data. In partnership with the University of Sheffield, this virtual half-day event will demonstrate how digital data collection and analysis can inform our understanding of food, and outline key findings related to the digitalisation of food behaviours.  

It will cover the recent review of the FSA flagship survey, Food and You, digital self-report methods on handwashing behaviour and key findings from recent social media analysis, including COVID-19 trends in food behaviour.    

The event offers an excellent opportunity for anyone in the social science community to hear about how social science directly informs real life policy-making in a government context under rapidly changing circumstances. As well as learning about the work and priorities of the FSA and international colleagues, virtual panel sessions will provide an opportunity to discuss ideas with experts from academia, industry and policy.  

To book your place, please register using Eventbrite.  

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The UK National Food Crime Unit has launched a new newsletter. 

This newsletter is intended to keep you informed of what the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) believe to be the current issues that are affecting the food industry. It is aimed at all sectors. It aims to improve awareness of significant or new trends in the food industry in order to strengthen the overall response to food crime.

 

The first edition includes articles on:

  • Covid-19
  • Theft of Meat
  • European Distribution Fraud
    (EDF)
  • Food Service Sector
  • Cannabis edibles - THC laced sweets
  • Shellfish allergy triggered by straws
  • Mass culling of birds

If you want to receive copies of the NFCU's Food Crime Newsletters then sign up at NFCU.Outreach@food.gov.uk. or become a Member of the Food Authenticity Network for free and they will be emailed, when available, with our Monthly Highlights Emails.

 

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7983965864?profile=RESIZE_584xThe Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) and Food Standards Scotland’s Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) have published an assessment of food crime threats to the UK.

The Food Crime Strategic Assessment examines areas of the food supply chain which may be vulnerable to food crime, as well identifying emerging threats which need to be addressed. 

The assessment found that most food crime relates to two broad activities – either selling something of little or no value to the food chain as edible and marketable, or selling passable food, drink or feed as a product with greater volume or more desirable attributes. In practice, this could include replacing ingredients with cheaper and inferior materials, falsely extending use-by dates, or deliberately marketing unsafe products as being fit for human consumption. 

The NFCU have identified priority areas of work for this year in their control strategy. These areas include combatting the selling of dangerous non-foods sold for human consumption, preventing illegal shellfish entering the food chain, and increasing understanding of the use of online platforms to facilitate food crime. The Unit will continue its work with local authorities, law enforcement agencies and the food industry to prevent and protect against incidences of food crime and take action when they occur. 

The SSFCIU has also published its Control Strategy 2020/21, which outlines the food crime priorities and actions being taken to prevent food crime, detect and deter criminality and prosecute offenders. The Control Strategy looks to manage the threat of food crime and set out a clear path in what is a complex and challenging area. This strategy is informed by the UK’s Food Crime Strategic Assessment which FSS developed jointly with Food Standards Agency (FSA). This work assessed information and intelligence from a range of sources and was supported by contributions from partner agencies and industry.

Further information can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7965267870?profile=RESIZE_400xThe European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) publishes a monthly Food Fraud Summary summarising food fraud incidents and investiations from around the world. The July-August Summary has now been published. It is a more extended document than usual covering the summer months, and highlights in particular a number of wine counterfeiting investigations in Italy, Spain and Bordeaux wines sold in China.

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Stable Isotope Ratio (SIRA) analysis is widely used to investigate different authenticity issues from exogenous sugar adulteration to geographic origin. An international project  has developed, quality-tested, and measured isotope–delta values of 10 new food matrix reference materials (RMs) for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur SIRA measurements. The RMs include (i) two honeys from Canada and tropical Vietnam, (ii) two flours from C3 (rice) and C4 (millet) plants, (iii) four vegetable oils from C3 (olive, peanut) and C4 (corn) plants, and (iv) two collagen powders from marine fish and terrestrial mammal origins. The RMs were collaboratively tested by 8 laboratories to obtain consensus values and measurement uncertainties. These new RMs should facilitate mutual compatibility of stable isotope data if accepted normalisation procedures are applied and documented.

Read the abstract and supporting data here

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A Rapid NIR Method to Detect Cinnamon Adulteration

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True cinnamon (Cinnamon verum) is a high value spice only grown in Sri Lanka. It can often be adulterated with the lower priced Cinnamon cassia. This can have food safety implications because Cinnamon cassia contains high levels (1%) of coumarin, whereas true cinnamon has a minimal amount (0.04%) of coumarin. Coumarin is toxic to some animals and certain sensitive humans causing liver and kidney damage. Argentinian researchers have developed a rapid, low cost, non-destructive method based on NIR (Near-infrared diffuse reflectance) spectroscopy and chemometrics to detect the adulteration of true cinnamon.

Read the abstract here

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One of the frequently encountered types of adulteration is the adulteration of meat and animal products. In its most recent annual report [1] , the Food Fraud Network showed data that in the top ten product categories, fish and fish products take the second place, meat and meat products the third and poultry the fifth. Jointly, these three animal product categories eclipse any other product category.

There are different types of fraud that can be found in animal products. These include addition of illegal substances like melamine to milk, the treatment of tuna with carbon monoxide, and the replacement of high-quality species with lower quality ones, or even illegal ones. An example for this can be found in the publication by Fang and Zhang [2], where the addition of murine meat to substitute mutton has been reported.

Since there are many animal species that can be used for adulteration, using a species-specific PCR is often not economically viable when the adulterant species is not known. Here, the DNA barcoding approach is the better choice to cover a much wider range of species.

In the literature, numerous publications can be found that describe different primer sets to be used for barcoding. Unfortunately, not all methods have been thoroughly validated for the species they can, and, equally important, cannot detect.

The German §64 Food and Feed Law Methods Group for Animal and Plant Speciation has developed a tool that will help scientists to quickly determine which species can be detected and which cannot with a specific set of primers.

The tool, called BaTAnS – short for Barcoding Table for Animal Species – lists relevant publications, identifies the level of validation that has been performed for a specific method (and set of primers).

Read full article.

 

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Following the previous LGC e-seminars on quantitative PCR assay design and PCR assay optimisation, this e-seminar, entitled “An introduction to quantitative PCR assay validation”, will introduce the viewer to the topic of qPCR assay validation and provide best practice guidance on how to undertake the process. The information presented will equip viewers with the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure that methods are validated and fit for purpose. Key stages in the validation process are indicated, routinely employed evaluation parameters described and critical performance criteria highlighted. Links to useful resources, additional guidance and references are also provided.

Those who should consider viewing this e-seminar include individuals currently working within the foods molecular testing area, particularly representatives from UK Official Control Laboratories, industry and members of organisations associated with the UK official control network.

The production of this e-seminar was funded by Defra, FSA, FSS and BEIS under the Joint Knowledge Transfer Framework for Food Standards and Food Safety Analysis.

This e-seminar can be be viewed on LGC's YouTube channel at  https://youtu.be/grf4tZQOArM

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 This paper reports the results of an international cooperative research project to address potential food fraud issues related to rice supplies in China, India, Vietnam and Ghana, and as rice fraud manifests differently in each country, tailored solutions were required. A portable NIR (Near Infra-Red) instrument with chemometrics calibrated to the authentic rice, was used as a fingerprint screening method. Non-conforming or suspicious samples were analysed in a second stage (confirmatory test) using laboratory-based gas chromatograph-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) fingerprinting methods, which were developed to differentiate between: high value Basmati rice varieties and their potential adulterants; six Geographic Indicated protected rice varieties from specific regions of China; various qualities of rice in Ghana and Vietnam; as well locally produced and imported rice in Ghana. In addition, an inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICPMS) method was developed to support the Chinese rice varieties methods, as well as a liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-QTOFMS) method for quality differentiation in Vietnam. This two stage approach permits a much higher level of on-site screening of rice samples followed by the laboratory corroborating mass spectrometry analysis to assist decision making in accepting rice supplies. 

Read the abstract here

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Facing up to food fraud in a pandemic

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The global disruption caused by COVID‐19 has, and will continue to have, a generic impact on the likelihood of many food fraud risks. It is important that food businesses keep their vulnerability assessments and risk management plans under continual review in light of ‘COVID‐effects’ to assess whether they apply to their own supply chain. These effects are layered onto existing macro‐economic trends, such as the increase in plant‐based foods, direct online sales and supply shortages due to conflict or climatic events.

In this article, John Points and Louise Manning, both members of the IFST's COVID‐19 Advisory Group, assess the evidence for an increase in food fraud as a result of the COVID‐19 pandemic and conclude that:

It is very difficult to obtain objective evidence of the incidence of food fraud in a specific sector, or to determine objective trends. Evidence based on reported incidence is fraught with caveats and needs to be interpreted with care. These caveats notwithstanding, there is no evidence within the Horizonscan database that COVID‐19 has yet led to an increase in food fraud.
 
Read the full article here.
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7932204055?profile=RESIZE_400x Scallops are high value seafood products usually sold without their characteristic shells. Each species differs in its taste and value with the Pecten spp.  scallops attracting higher prices in Europe. German researchers have developed a multiplex real-time PCR method to reliably identify the main commercial scallop species: Pecten spp. (usually King scallop P. maximus), Mizuhopecten yessoensis (Japanese scallop), and Placopecten magellanicus (Atlantic sea scallop). Primers and probes  based on mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene amplifying fragments of 138–198 bp were used, and non-targeted species gave either no fluorescent signal or cycle numbers (Cq) very different from the targeted species. The newly developed assay was tested on commercial samples from German supermarkets and fishmongers accompanied by simultaneous verification through Sanger sequencing, which revealed a high mislabelling rate of 48%, especially for products purchased at fishmongers. 

Read the abstract here

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France's DCGGRF has undertaken an investigation to determine whether meat producers are complying with traceability and labelling requirements. Pic: GettyImages/margouillatphotos

In April 2015, origin labelling became mandatory for fresh meat products in France.

Three years on, France’s Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) conducted an investigation into beef, sheep, pork, and poultry products in France, which has revealed more than 30% fail to comply with labelling and traceability requirements. 

Read full article.

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New Measurement for Recovery Programme (M4R)

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LGC is a UK National Measurement Laboratory and as such, is involved in a new initiative called the Measurement for Recovery Programme (M4R).

The aim is to help boost resilience and competitiveness by bringing together the UK’s top scientists and facilities with companies, to address problems in innovative ways. The programme can help solve analysis or measurement issues that cannot be resolved using standard technologies and techniques.

The programme can help industry with a range of challenges through:

  • Provision of measurement and analysis expertise
  • Investigation of the feasibility of concepts and validation of products and processes
  • Supporting of new products and services which directly help the national response to COVID-19
  • Helping cost reduction or improved productivity
  • Increased product reliability and mitigation of in-service costs
  • Advice on standards and regulatory needs.

M4R is open to all registered UK companies and can provide expert advice and support for projects of up to 20 days from partner National Measurement Laboratories, at no charge.

 If you are interested, then please contact measurement@lgcgroup.com for further information.

 

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This article in New Food Magazine discusses how Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and Whole Gene Sequencing (WGS) can assist in detecting and identifying contamination, and also playing an important role in assuring traceability of food products when combined with blockchain along the supply chain. Technology improvements have meant that NGS and WGS have high throughputs at much lower cost than before, and NGS machine can now be used for WGS as well.

The genomic information derived by these techniques on pathogenic bacterial contamination when combined with data such as the date and place of findings, can help track down the exact sources of contamination and therefore avoid large scale recalls of food products. The role of NGS in obtaining DNA traceability combined with blockchain permits products all the way along the supply chain to be traced back to their original raw materials whether that be plants or animals. 

Read the article here

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7858071264?profile=RESIZE_400xThe recently published "Fixing the Future of Food" report, carried out by Veris Strategies, found that 78% of industry leaders (from companies like Nestle, Greencore, World Resources Institute and more) felt that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious weaknesses in the UK food system. Further, 96% of those leaders felt that the UK was not prepared to deal with the long term effects of the pandemic.

The report also polled consumers and found that 90% of consumers believed the pandemic would lead to more sustainable and ethical food systems. 

Read the story on the report from Food & Drink International Magazine here, or download the full report here.

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Study finds dolphin meat in tuna cans

7857838700?profile=RESIZE_400xA study conducted by Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) researchers found traces of dolphin meat in three out of 15 samples of tuna cans on sale in Mexico. 

Lead researcher Karla Vanessa Hernendez Herbert used DNA probes with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify dolphin meat adulteration.

The full report has yet to be published in a journal, but the Herbert and Professor Francisco Montiel Sosa disclosed the results in an interview with Mexican newspaper, Excelsior. The original article can be read here in Spanish., or a summary of the article from SeafoodSource can be found here.

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