food authenticity (54)


CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas(CRISPR-associated protein) is derived from a microbial antiviral system and is commonly associated with cutting edge gene editing. However, the system can also be adapted for diagnostic applications inclusive of novel approaches for food authenticity and adulteration testing.

In this paper, the Chinese research team coupled PCR amplification with a CRISPR-Cas12a based colorimetric system to indicate the presence of DNA barcoding targets by a visible colour change. The whole detection process including PCR amplification and TMB ( 3,3′,5,5′-tetramethylbenzidine sulfate) colorimetric analysis can be completed within 90 minutes.This sensitive assay was verified by the identification of four important species of pufferfish,

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This article written by Prof Chris Elliott delves into a potential scandal unfolding in China surrounding soy sauce manufactured by Foshan Haitian Flavouring & Food, and highlights a warning food and beverage manufacturers should heed. The true soya sauce is produced by a lengthy fermentation process of soya beans. However, an inferior soya sauce can be produced from a mix of ingredients that include salt, caramel colouring and flavour enhancers such as monosodium glutamate.

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10846787662?profile=RESIZE_400xThe authenticity and origin of animal-derived foods are important for consumer information and prevention of food fraud. This review examines the current research techniques for verifying the authenticity and origin of animal-derived foods, in particular using stable isotope ratio analysis and spectroscopic techniques coupled with chemometrics. It covers meat, dairy, and seafood products, as well as honey. It also includes the new trend of analysing the inedible parts of animals to verify their origin.

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Species identification of mussels (Mytilus spp.) is challenging not only because there are 7 species commercialised globally, but there is hybridisation of species where they coexist in the same geographical area. The most popular approach to specimen identification is sequencing analysis, which can be performed by different methods.One of them is the Forensically Informative Nucleotide Sequencing (FINS), which involves the estimation of sequence similarity among specimens by phylogenetic methods is based on genetic distances and drawing a phylogenetic tree. However, methodologies based on tree topologies perform poorly for species identification.

In this study, the performance of two mono-locus approaches for species identification  in 61 Mytilus mussels are compared: the high-resolution melting analysis of the PAP (polyphenolic adhesive protein) gene and the partial sequencing of the H1C (histone) gene. The H1C sequences were analysed with five different methods. Both approaches show discrepancies in the identification of putative hybrids, but  if the putative hybrids are excluded, the two methods show substantial to perfect agreement. This study highlights the need to use standardised molecular tools, as well as the use of multi-locus methods for SI of Mytilus mussels in testing laboratories.

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Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) is an instrument which seperates ionised molecules in an electric field against a counterflow of neutral drift gas at atmospheric pressure. Heavier ionised molecules will collide more often with the drift gas, and hence move more slowly in the electric field compared to lighter molecules. IMS has high sensitivity, and is useful in fingerprinting applications, and can be used as a stand alone instrument or coupled with a mass spectrometer. As the number applications of IMS has increased in the past few years, this paper reviews its use in food safety and authenticity applications.

Read the full open access paper (by clicking on "view pdf") here

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10515403653?profile=RESIZE_192X This research was recently presented as a conference poster. The Spanish researchers froze mackerel fillets under 3 different freezing regimes and also had a chilled control. The water content and weight loss was determined, and IR spectra obtained from two types of NIR spectrometer (one being hand-held), followed by chemometric analysis. The results indicated that the NIR spectrometers could differentiate 100% between the chilled fillets and the frozen fillets subjected to different numbers of freeze/thaw cycles, which was attributed to the water content loss caused by the freeze/thaw cycles. The same change in spectra occurred when measuring (blind) thawed samples, as well as the changes caused by freezing in the physical muscle cell structure. In frozen samples, differences in spectra of previousy frozen/thawed and refrozen samples were as a result of scattering of light by the ice crystal structure caused by different freezing regimes.

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10356801473?profile=RESIZE_400xCRC Press has published a book entitled "The Authenticity of Foods of Plant Origin". The 13 chapters cover a wide range of plant foods including tomato, rice, banana, wheat, maize, GMO's, wine and olive oil, as well as covering traceability, legislation, and  trends to improve authenticity and traceability. The book is available as both a hard back and ebook.

Link to the book here

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Food fraud is the deliberate and intentional act of substituting, altering or misrepresenting foodstuff for financial gain. Economical motivations for food fraud result in criminals focusing on opportunities to commit fraud rather than targeting specific products, thus reducing the probability of food fraud being detected. Although primarily for financial gain, food fraud can impact consumer wellbeing. Therefore, authenticating food is a key stage in protecting consumers and the supply chain. Food manufacturers, processors and retailers are increasingly fighting back as occurrences of food fraud become more prevalent, resulting in a greater focus on detection and prevention.

Scope and approach

The aim of this review paper is to highlight and assess food fraud and authenticity throughout the food supply chain. Food fraud is a significant issue across the food industry, with many high-profile cases coming to public attention. Hence, this paper shall discuss the impact of food fraud on both consumers and manufacturers, the current and future trends in food fraud and methods of defence that are currently in use. Furthermore, emerging issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, shall be discussed alongside the challenges they yield in terms of food fraud detection and prevention.

Key findings and conclusions

The incidence of food fraud is diverse across the sector, rendering it difficult to quantify and detect. As such, there are numerous food safety and traceability systems in use to ensure the safety and authenticity of food. However, as food fraud continues to diversify and evolve, current methods of detection for guaranteeing authenticity will be drastically challenged. Issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, have instigated increased demand for food. This combined with reduced industry inspections, weakened governance, audits and ever-increasing pressure on the food industry has exposed greater weaknesses within an already complex system.

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Ancient wheat varieties - einkorn, emmer and spelt are called "hulled wheat" because the hulls are quite tough and not removed during threshing, unlike common and durum wheat, where the hulls are more brittle, and are termed "hulless wheat". Ancient wheat varieties are increasing in popularity, especially with organic farmers, because of their organoleptic qualities. They are collectively called the Italian term "farro". There is a siginificant price differential between hulled and hulless wheat, and hence a requirement to verify labelling of products containing einkorn, emmer and spelt. In this study, researchers have developed a digital PCR method that will quantify the amount of "farro" and hulless wheat (common or durum wheat) in flours and wheat based products. It was tested between two laboratories with a range of products, and apart from two products (which may have been labelling incorrectly), the two laboratories determination matched each other and the labelling very closely. There was no or very little cross reactivity with barley, oat and rice.

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The increase in consumption of vegan foods has promoted higher production of different plant-based proteins. This study looked at developing a non-invasive and rapid method to determine the authenticity of plant-based protein powders (free of soy, lactose, and gluten), and classify possible adulterants (soya, whey and wheat) in the powders, using FT-NIR (Fourier Transform-Near-Infrared Spectroscopy) and chemometrics. A set of 47 pure plant protein samples were analysed by FT-NIR.  A set of 144 adulterated samples were prepared by adding 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40% (w/w) of each adulterant into pure plant-based protein powder samples, and also analysed. The spectra were analysed chemometrically combining one class and multiclass methods, and it was found that this approach could be successfully used in a range of 10–40% of adulteration, to verify the authenticity of the plant-based protein powders and to classify adulterants into soy, whey, and wheat.

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9549834470?profile=RESIZE_400xForeword by the Government Chemist

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is a powerful tool for rapidly and cost-effectively identifying and characterising plant, animal and microbial species present in mixed food samples.

The application of NGS to food authenticity, adulteration and safety testing is a constantly evolving field with its own unique set of challenges that need to be explored. Further work needs to be conducted to better understand the performance characteristics and establish relevant performance criteria and metrics, to enable results generated in different laboratories to be compared and interpreted with equal confidence.

Following concerns raised from food industry members on the use of NGS for the quantitative determination of food ingredients, the Government Chemist engaged with Defra’s Authenticity Methodology Working Group (AMWG) [1] and its Technical Sub-Group (AMWG-TSG), resulting in the AMWG producing a view [2] on the use of NGS for food authenticity testing [3].

Download Defra’s Authenticity Methodology Working Group’s view on the use of Next Generation Sequencing for food authenticity testing

[1] An independent expert group that provides scientific and technical advice to support Defra’s food authenticity programme.

[2] The views/opinions expressed by AMWG were correct at the time of the note (November 2020).

[3] Government Chemist representatives: Selvarani Elahi, Deputy Government Chemist, is the Chair of AMWG and Dr Malcolm Burns, Head of GMO unit, Principal Scientist and Special Advisor to the Government Chemist, is a Member of AMWG; they both participated in the AMWG-TSG meeting on NGS and subsequent discussions, inputting into the AMWG view on NGS.

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International Atomic Energy Agency Jobs - IAEA Jobs - GCF Jobs


Laboratory Head (Food and Environmental Protection Lab)(P5)

Organization: NAFA-Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory

Primary Location: Austria-Lower Austria-Seibersdorf-IAEA Laboratories in Seibersdorf

Job Posting: 2021-08-05, 2:21:29 PM

Closing Date: 2021-09-02, 11:59:00 PM

Duration in Months: 36

Contract Type: Fixed Term - Regular

Probation Period: 1 Year

Organizational Setting

The Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications implements the IAEA's Major Programme 2, "Nuclear Techniques for Development and Environmental Protection". This Major Programme comprises individual programmes on food and agriculture, human health, water resources, environment and radiation technologies. These programmes are supported by laboratories in Seibersdorf, Monaco and Vienna. The Major Programme's objective is to enhance the capacity of Member States to meet basic human needs and to assess and manage the marine and terrestrial environments through the use of nuclear and isotopic techniques in sustainable development programmes. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture assists Member States of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the IAEA in using nuclear techniques and related technologies to improve food security, alleviate poverty and promote sustainable agriculture. The Joint Division consists of five Sections, each with an associated laboratory (located in Seibersdorf, 45 km south-east of Vienna), in the areas of: animal production and health; plant breeding and genetics; insect pest control; soil and water management and crop nutrition; and food and environmental protection.

The Food and Environmental Protection Section and Laboratory assist Member States in ensuring the safety and quality of food and agricultural commodities through the development of analytical techniques and application of food irradiation, focusing on the use of nuclear and related technologies in the management of food and environmental hazards and on strengthening capacities for nuclear emergency preparedness and response in agriculture.

Main Purpose

As a member of the FAO/IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratories team and with the programmatic direction of the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre, the Laboratory Head (Food and Environmental Protection Lab) leads the innovative Research and Development (R&D) activities of the Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory (FEPL) relating to the development of methodologies to enhance food control systems in Member States for food authenticity, to support food traceability and to control food contaminants and residues of agrochemicals, in the context of joint FAO/IAEA programmes to ensure food quality and safety and to enhance international trade.


The Laboratory Head plays several key roles in the Agency's Laboratories and the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme: (1) a team leader, ensuring the efficient and effective development and implementation of the FEPL's research, training and services activities; (2) an advisor to the Head of the Food and Environmental Protection Section and to the Director of Joint FAO/IAEA Centre, on programmatic, scientific, technical matters; and advocate for relevant administrative matters.

Applications from qualified women and candidates from developing countries are encouraged.

Further information on the role.

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Government Chemist 2020 Annual Review

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The Government Chemist Annual Review provides a summary of the work undertaken by the Government Chemist team, including highlights from the referee cases, advisory work and capability building activities. The review also details the impact of the work obtained though active engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. The main topics described in this review are:

  • Referee cases: analysis of food for genetically modified organisms, antibiotics in honey and food labelling

  • Advisory role: overview of the activities associated with the advisory role, including responding to enquiries from stakeholders and consultations and horizon scanning on the area of honey authenticity to further facilitate the provision of advice to UK Government on this topic

  • Capability building: the review highlights particular projects the Government Chemist team worked on to be ready for future challenges. In this review, the ongoing work related to food allergy topics, and CBD and controlled cannabinoids is described

  • Knowledge sharing activities to further the impact of the referee and advisory functions: the review highlights some of the knowledge sharing activities undertaken by the team to ensure that the breadth of knowledge generated through the Government Chemist’s programme reaches its target audiences.

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9325334460?profile=RESIZE_584xThe Food Authenticity Network (FAN) is pleased to announce support from the Food Industry Intelligence Network (FIIN), an industry-led consortium which enables a collaborative and targeted approach to supply chain assurance.

Both FAN and FIIN were established in 2015 in response to the recommendations of the ‘Elliott Review’ to respectively, bring together global information on food authenticity testing and to create a ‘safe haven’ for industry members to collect, collate, analyse and disseminate information and intelligence to protect the interests of the consumer.

Helen Sisson, Industry Co-Chair of FIIN said, ‘’On behalf of the FIIN membership we are delighted to commit support for the Food Authenticity Network. One of the FIIN founding objectives is to ‘Help ensure the integrity of food supply chains and protect the interests of the consumer’. In order to support delivery of this objective effective authenticity testing, harnessing advances in analytical testing methodologies and identifying competence and capability in the testing arena is pivotal to FIIN succeeding in its goals. The Food Authenticity Network enhances FIIN with these additional capabilities and therefore our support is a natural extension of the FIIN evolution.’’

Selvarani Elahi MBE, UK Deputy Government Chemist and Executive Director, Food Authenticity Network, said: “I am very happy that FIIN has committed to supporting us as FAN and FIIN share many values and both seek to help secure global food supply chains. FIIN and its 48 food industry Members bring a wealth of invaluable global food industry experience to the Food Authenticity Network, and I definitely think we will be stronger by working together.”

Professor Chris Elliott OBE, Queen’s University Belfast and author of the ‘Elliott Report’1 said: “I am delighted to see how two concepts that were crafted in the Elliott Review have flourished and become such successes. Both FIIN and FAN are unique initiatives with nothing quite like them elsewhere in the world. The challenges of combating food fraud are set to remain and potentially worsen. This collaboration strengthens our position to be able to better combat food fraud collectively and I am very excited to see what FIIN and FAN can achieve together.”

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Horizon Europe Food Authenticity Calls

9240407881?profile=RESIZE_400xHorizon Europe Cluster 6 Work Programme 2021-2022 on Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment includes two proposed calls related to food authenticty:

  • HORIZON-CL6-2022-FARM2FORK-01-04: Innovative solutions to prevent adulteration of food bearing quality labels: focus on organic food and geographical indications p199
  • HORIZON-CL6-2022-FARM2FORK-01-11: Effective systems for authenticity and traceability in the food system p217

Further information can be found at: wp-9-food-bioeconomy-natural-resources-agriculture-and-environment_horizon-2021-2022_en.pdf (

The commission are also hosting a number of information days that run until 16 July for those who might be interested in preparing a proposal. Homepage | Horizon Europe Info Days 2021 (

This site also contains a document library under each topic with useful information.

For UK specific information visit:


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Spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS) collects the Raman scattered signal at some distance from the excitation laser spot on the sample. In this way, the Raman spectra are recovered from the sample's sub-surface through the packaging, providing a characteristic fingerprint of the product which can be further analysed chemometrically. This is a relatively new technique, and this review examines all the studies reported to date, where SORS is applied to analyse different foods and beverages, permitting rapid, non-invasive analysis to ensure quality control and authentication of raw materials and end products.

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Northern-Ireland researchers have compared the performance of 3 NIRS (near-infrared spectroscopy) instruments in the authentication of coriander seed. The iS50 NIRS benchtop instrument, the portable Flame-NIR and the handheld SCiO device were assessed in conjunction with chemometric analysis in order to determine their predictive capabilities and use as quantitative tools. Two hundred authentic coriander seed samples and 90 adulterated samples were analysed on each device. All instruments correctly predicted 100% of the adulterated samples. The best models resulted in correct predictions of 100%, 98.5% and 95.6% for authentic coriander samples using spectra from the iS50, Flame-NIR and SCiO, respectively. The development of regression models highlighted the limitations of the Flame-NIR and SCiO for quantitative analysis, compared to the iS50. However, in terms of sensitivity, robustness and cost, the Flame-NIR and SCiO instruments can be considered as excellent on-site screening tools when combined with confirmatory testing.

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This review is a chapter in a recently published book -"Biosensors in Agriculture - Recent Trends and Future Perspectives". Lateral flow assays (strips) can play an important role in food authentication, They can be applied on-site, give rapid results, inexpensive, and simple to use. This review examines all the DNA and protein-based lateral flow assays that have been constructed so far for food adulteration detection.

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A Ph.D thesis from the University of Milan-Bicocca in English is publicly available. The thesis gives a good overview of DNA barcoding, NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) and metabarcoding, and isothermal nucleic acid amplification. The research carried out looked at applying DNA barcoding to processed foods, which required smaller DNA fragments. However, the approach is not suitable for mixed species samples, and NGS and metabarcoding approaches were more successful. Finally, an isothermal amplification assay was applied to authenticate truffles.

You can read the 253 page thesis here   

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Sanger sequencing (DNA barcoding) is a robust method for species identification. However, it is not always suitable for species identification of processd mixed species products. Chinese researchers have developed an NGS method based on the amplification and sequencing of shorter 16S rRNA DNA sequences. The assay was developed using a mixture of 8 salmon species, which were all correctly identified even when the species was presented as low as 1%(w/w). It was tested with a market survey of 32 commercial salmon products. Sanger sequencing was used on single species unprocessed products and NGS on mixed species products, which was also cross validated with a real-time PCR assay. The survey revealed that 50% of the samples were mislabelled.

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