food authenticity (58)


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.

Read the full open-access paper

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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.

Read the abstract here

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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.

Read the abstract here

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Woman checking vegetables in garden allotment

Food fraud poses a serious threat to the food system. How can we fight against it and be confident that the food we are buying is authentic and safe?

Top Takeaways from this blog

  • Food fraud in EU Member States increased by 85% between 2016 and 2019 (1) and the COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to have increased cases even further (2).
  • All types of food fraud are detrimental to the reputation of the agrifood industry and cause harm to consumers and legitimate businesses.
  • Innovation and collaboration are crucial for the agrifood industry to share best practice and create solutions for food fraud mitigation and prevention.
  • Technologies and digital traceability systems such as blockchain can help to track a food product’s journey through the supply chain and pinpoint the origins of food fraud.
  • Raising awareness about how to identify food fraud, through initiatives such as EIT Food’s Future Learn education courses, is a great way to reduce risks and increase consumer confidence. 

Read full blog, which refers to the Food Authenticity Network as a "great example" of what is being done to mitigate and prevent food fraud.

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Aromatic peanut (groundnut) oil (APO) is produced from roasted peanuts, and hence has stronger peanut aroma than refined peanut oil. It is popular in Chinese, Indian and SE Asian cuisine. Chinese researchers determined the tocopherol content of APO and 4 refined vegetable oils (soybean, sunflower, maize, and rapeseed oils) using hplc with UV detection. The tocopherol isomer content, especially α and γ tocopherols, were found to be the most suitable markers to disciminate between APO and the 4 vegetable oils. In addition, APO was mixed with the 4 oils (at the levels of 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 g/100 g, w/w) to determine whether the tocopherol analysis is a better approach than fatty acid profiling for detecting APO adulteration. The results showed that for tocopherols, the detection limits were 5 g/100 g for soybean oil and 10 g/100 g for other three oils in APO, showing a higher sensitivity than fatty acids profile based method for detecting APO adulteration.  

Read the abstract here

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The Food Standards Agency is reiterating its advice to the CBD industry to submit their novel food applications and move towards compliance with novel food regulations. Companies with suitably validated applications should then be able to continue selling their products in England and Wales until they have been considered by independent scientific committees and a decision on authorisation has been made. 

The criteria for products which can remain on sale from 1 April 2021 has been updated. Previously, only products which were on sale at the time of the FSA’s announcement (13 February 2020) and were linked to an application which had been validated by 31 March 2021 were to be included. To maximise the opportunity to pass validation, this now includes all products linked to an application submitted before 31 March 2021 that is subsequently validated.

Businesses wishing to sell their products in Britain should submit their novel food applications via the new Regulated Products system which is jointly operated by the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland.


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 AOAC International's Food Authenticity Task Force has developed standard method performance requirements (SMPR) for targeted and non-targeted food authenticity methods. SMPR set minimum performance criteria that food authenticity testing methods for milk, honey and olive oil need to fulfil. 

Further information was provided in a recent free-of-charge webinar, which can be viewed on registration.

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The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt across the food supply network.

The Chairman of our Advisory Board, Sterling Crew, has published a paper for the IFST, in which he reviews the potential food authenticity challenges created by the pandemic and the mitigation of the emerging risks and threats.

Many of the risk factors for food fraud have increased across the global food supply network due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Steps taken following the horsemeat incident and the Elliott report have strengthened the UK’s food supply network authenticity controls and helped to mitigate vulnerability to COVID-19 related fraud..Chris Elliott

The pandemic has highlighted some of the weaknesses in the nature and complexity of the global food network. The UK food industry must assure the authenticity of food by continuing to minimise the vulnerability to food fraud , by building resilience to possible future shocks and by mitigation of the emerging authenticity risks and created by COVID-19.

Read full article.

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A project has started in Australia to use a portable Xray fluorescence instrument to give an elemental fingerprint in order to verify that seafood being sold in Australian markets originates in Australian waters. Elemental profiles will need to be determined for each species of seafood and the regions from where they are caught. This will give confidence to consumers that the seafood they purchase will not be fraudulently mislabelled as Australian. The project is being run by the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation and is part of a larger Traceability Grants Program.

Read the article here

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6845726263?profile=RESIZE_400xIsotopic methods have been recognised by CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) and in part by the OIV (Organisation Internationale de la vigne et du vin) as a means of detecting the non-permitted presence of exogenous acetic acid and water in vinegar (CEN) and specifically wine vinegar (OIV). The methods used are EN 16466-1 for D/H in the methyl site of acetic acid [(D/H)CH3] using 2H-SNIF-NMR (Site Specific Natural Isotope Fractionation-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance), EN 16466-2 and OIV 510/2013 for analysis of 13C/12C in acetic acid (δ13C ‰) using IRMS (Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry), and EN 16466-3 and OIV 511/2013 for analysis of 18O/16O in water (δ18O ‰) using IRMS.

An international collaborative trial has been undertaken in 7 laboratories to define standard deviations of repeatability (sr) and reproducibility (sR) for vinegar and balsamic vinegar stable isotope ratios of H (D/H), C (δ13C) and O (δ18O), in order to establish them as fully recognised official standards. The laboratories analysed two samples of wine vinegar, one cider vinegar, and four balsamic vinegars. The results of the trial are in line with those in the literature or reported in corresponding official methods, and sr and sR of balsamic vinegar are in line with those of vinegar and must.

Read the paper here

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This e-seminar, entitled “Fish speciation for food authenticity”, will introduce the viewer to the analytical needs associated with fish speciation for food authenticity, the prevalent methods used in testing laboratories within the UK and European Union, as well as provide a summary of the scope and limitations of these methodologies. 

For further information and to watch the e-seminar go to the e-Semimars tab of the Training page.


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5849088062?profile=RESIZE_400xNot from concentrate (NFC) orange juice sells at a premium compared to orange juice from concentrate. Chinese researchers have used untargeted metabolomics followed by identification of potential markers from standards to distinguish the two types of orange juice. This produced 91 and 42 potential markers present in NFC orange juice using the mass spectrometer injection in positive and negative mode, including 7 tripeptides (reported for the first time in orange juice). A partial least squares discriminant analysis model, based on the potential markers in positive mode was constructed and validated with 97% and 95% accuracy for training and test. The model was successfully applied to commercial samples, and one NFC brand of orange juice was found to be possibly mislabelled.

Read the abstract here

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As food is now sourced globally, it is important that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has a good understanding of the global drivers of food fraud (root causes of why food fraud incidents occur) that impact the UK and which of the available tools can help it best protect the UK food supply from these influences.

 A Defra funded project is in progress to address these needs. A literature review and expert workshop, held in January 2020, identified food fraud drivers and food fraud mitigation tools.

The aim of this survey is to get your views on the outputs of the literature review and expert workshop so that the most commonly used tools can be selected for evaluation in phase 2 of the Defra project.

The survey will take 10 minutes or less to complete:

Complete Survey

We thank you in advance for your assistance and kindly request that the survey is completed by Friday 19 June 2020.

The Food Authenticity Network Team

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The Government Chemist, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) held a UK seminar on honey authenticity: determination of exogenous sugars by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) on 13 November 2019, which was attended by 57 people representing stakeholder organisations.

The aim of the seminar was to bring together stakeholders involved in honey production and analysis to discuss this topic and ideally come to an agreed position. It was anticipated that the output of this seminar would help inform future UK government policy on the use of NMR for honey authenticity.

The seminar consisted of a series of presentations from invited experts that set the scene for the workshop part of the day, which involved participants splitting into four representative groups to discuss the suitability of NMR for enforcement purposes and to identify gaps and priorities to assessing the use of NMR for the appraisal of honey authenticity.

The report details the aims and outputs of the seminar.Honey authenticity: determination of exogenous sugars by NMR Seminar Report (PDF, 913KB, 19 pages)

Presentations are also available


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European standardisation in the field of food and feed contributes to improving levels of food safety and protecting the health of consumers. CEN (European Committee for Standardization) provides validated test methods that are used by the food industry and by the competent public authorities for official control purposes and by food- and feed-producing companies for internal checks. 

Food authenticity was identified as a new area of interest and a Technical Committee was established to standardise methods in this area. At its first meeting in 2019, this committee established a series of working groups (WG) within which methods would be standardised:

WG1:   Concepts, terms and definitions

WG2:   Species analyses using DNA-based methods

WG3:   Coffee and coffee products

WG4:   NMR analysis

WG5:   Stable Isotope Analysis

WG6:   Validation concepts of non-targeted methods

It has just been announced that the UK has been voted to lead on Working Group 1 (concepts, terms and definitions):


Dr James Donarski from Fera Science Ltd will be the Convener and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will provide the Secretariat function.

The development of a common language for concepts, terms and definitions associated with food authenticity is important to securing the integrity of food and mitigating food fraud, facilitating international trade.

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A national survey of CBD products by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has found that the majority of products analysed were in breach of various articles of food law and some posed potential safety risks for consumers.

The survey reveals that 37% of the products tested had a THC* content that could result in safety limits set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) being significantly exceeded and the implicated batches of these products are currently being recalled. In addition, it was found that the analytically determined CBD content in over 40% of samples varied significantly (>50%) from the declared CBD content.

The implications of these results for consumers range from consumers being grossly misled to being put at risk by the ingestion of relatively high levels of THC. The majority of the 38 products tested from the Irish market were manufactured outside of the country.

The FSAI is working with the Environmental Health Service of the HSE and the relevant food businesses in relation to the matter.

Read full article.

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4016008456?profile=RESIZE_710xAlthough the process for application to become a Centre of Expertise is open throughout the year, the UK Government has taken a decision to announce a formal call for new applications once a year.

If you think your laboratory can fulfil the AMWG criteria for a Centre of Expertise then please complete a self-assessment evidence proforma, providing evidence of your capabilities, and return to by 31 March 2020.

Your application will be processed and discussed with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and you will be notified of the outcome by the end of May 2020.

Benefits of being a Food Authenticity Centre of Expertise

  • Recognition of your organisation’s food authenticity testing expertise
  • Posters of Centres of Expertise are placed on the Food Authenticity Network website
  • Centres of Expertise are featured in Food Authenticity Network newsletters
  • Centres of Expertise have the opportunity to:
    • Potentially contribute to the resolution of future incidents of national / international importance
    • Support UK food authenticity testing capability by offering analysts advice
    • Work with the Food Authenticity Network & its members (>1,500 members from 67 different countries / territories and in 2019, >12,000 users accessed the website)
    • Work with other Food Authenticity Centres of Expertise.


Following the Elliott review in 2013-14, the UK Government set up the Food Authenticity Network to help bring those involved in food authenticity testing together in a more coordinated way. The Network raises awareness of the range of methods / techniques used to check for mislabelling and food fraud and to ensure that the UK has access to a resilient network of laboratories providing fit for purpose testing to check for food authenticity so that ultimately, consumers can have greater confidence in the food they buy.

Recognising that no one organisation will be equipped with all the necessary expertise in all methods / techniques used in food authenticity testing, and across all of the food commodities, Professor Elliot’s review also proposed the creation of “Centres of Excellence” to cover the different disciplines and techniques involved.

The UK Government’s Authenticity Methods Working Group (AMWG) produced a number of criteria which outlined the type of qualities an organisation offering a particular expertise might be expected to demonstrate to become a ‘Centre of Expertise’. There is an expectation that such organisations should be prepared to engage with and offer support to others in their areas of expertise both within the Network and more widely if required.

In 2015, the UK Government invited organisations working in the food authenticity testing field to consider if they had the expertise, capability and experience expected of a Centre of Expertise and through this process, acknowledged fourteen organisations as Food Authenticity Centres of Expertise.

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3674633424?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Royal Society of Chemistry has published a book on 'DNA Techniques to Verify Food Authenticity'                       (, which includes a chapter (number 26) on the Food Authenticity Network.

 About the book:

The food supply chain needs to reassure consumers and businesses about the safety and standards of food. Global estimates of the cost of food fraud to economies run into billions of dollars hence a huge surge in interest in food authenticity and means of detecting and preventing food fraud and food crime. Approaches targeting DNA markers have assumed a pre-eminence.

This book is the most comprehensive and timely collection of material from those working at the forefront of DNA techniques applied to food authenticity. Addressing the new field of analytical molecular biology as it combines the quality assurance rigour of analytical chemistry with DNA techniques, it introduces the science behind DNA as a target analyte, its extraction, amplification, detection and quantitation as applied to the detection of food fraud and food crime. 

Making the link with traditional forensic DNA profiling and describing emerging and cutting-edge techniques such as next generation sequencing, this book presents real-world case studies from a wide perspective including from analytical service providers, industry, enforcement agencies and academics.  It will appeal to food testing laboratories worldwide, who are just starting to use these techniques and students of molecular biology, food science and food integrity. Food policy professionals and regulatory organisations who will be using these techniques to back up legislation and regulation will find the text invaluable. Those in the food industry in regulatory and technical roles will want to have this book on their desks.


Author information:

The editors possess unrivalled expertise and are keen to describe and foster advances in the key area of DNA techniques applied to food authenticity. Dr Lucy Foster is an experienced food scientist, and head of food research including authenticity research at Defra, for many years commissioning studies of global reach. Dr Malcolm Burns is an internationally recognised molecular biologist and expert in DNA quantitation. Dr Michael Walker was a founder board member of the Food Standards Agency, a subject matter expert to the Elliott Review, is Head of the Office of the Government Chemist, and, with a thriving consulting practice, is an experienced expert witness.


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