food fraud (181)

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Global demand for soyabeans has increase dramatically especially over the past 30 years, which has led to concerns about lower-than-expected product quality, adulteration, illegal trade, and deforestation. Therefore, development of effective analytical regimes to determine geographical origin and hence traceability, have become a priority. This is the first review that investigates current analytical techniques coupled with multivariate analysis for determining the geographical origin of soybeans. The 10 analytical techniques in 3 main groups outlined above are assessed, compared, and discussed in terms of their operating specifics, advantages, and shortcomings. The contribution of chemometrics in in analysing complex data is also covered. Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages of its own. For example, the major drawback of geochemical techniques is their instrumental and operational costs, which can be mitigated by spectroscopic methods at the expense of sensitivity. Gaps in application of some analytical techniques are also identified. 

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10949009861?profile=RESIZE_400xAquacultured prawns were the second highest export of Bangladesh, but have now been renegated to seventh place. In the period from July to December 2022, 1,660kg of prawned were seized and destroyed by authorities because they were found to have been injected by a jelly-like substance to increase the water content. The injection was carried out after harvest, and by some traders in the supply chain. Exporters are worried that these incidents may reduce exports even more.

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This paper proposes an innovative method based on AI, to reinforce traceability systems in detecting possible counterfeiting by product substitution. It is an item-based mass balance method that analyses the agreement of the traceability data flows not by using explicit (even stochastic) rules, but by exploiting the learning capabilities of a neural network. The system can then detect suspect information in a traceability data flow. The AI-based method was applied to a pork slaughtering and meat cutting chain case study, and used the weights of different cuts of a pork carcase as the training phase of AI. Any analogous carcase information along the supply line might indicate substitution or modification of the pork carcase cuts. 

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Chris Elliott on BBC Radio 4 - Fighting Food Fraud

10930141894?profile=RESIZE_400x Chris Elliott was the the guest on BBC's Radio 4 programme - The Life Scientific talking about his life and his work on food fraud. The recording of the programme will be available for over a year from 10 January 2023. Chris was a founding director of the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queens University Belfast. After the horsemeat fraud incident in 2013, he conducted an independent review of the UK food system. Following Recommendation 4 in the review report, LGC set up the Food Authenticity Network with funding from Defra. Chris also goes into details of the latest developments in fighting food fraud.

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Saffron is a high value spice and hence susceptible to adulteration and fraud. In this study, a machine vision system based on smartphone image analysis and deep learning was used to detect saffron authenticity and quality. A dataset of 1869 images was created of 6 types of saffron/adulterants including: dried saffron stigma using a dryer; dried saffron stigma using pressing method; pure stems of saffron; sunflower; saffron stems mixed with food colouring; and corn silk mixed with food colouring. The deep learning system developed for grading and authenticity determination of saffron in images captured by smartphones and applied to these images, was a Learning-to-Augment incorporated Inception-v4 Convolutional Neural Network (LAII-v4 CNN). After applying further data augmentation and comparison against regular CNN-based methods and traditional classifiers, the results showed that the proposed LAII-v4 CNN approach gave an accuracy of 99.5%.

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Food Fraud: a Joint Nordic Threat Assessment

10885049698?profile=RESIZE_400xThis publication examines the joint threats arising from criminal activity in the Nordic food production chain. The countries participating in the project are Norway (leader), Denmark, Iceland and Sweden. It summarises and draws from the discussions which took place at a methodology seminar for participants in December 2018, the purpose of which was to discuss what a threat assessment is, and what is known about fraud and deception in the Nordic market. International experts from the UK and the USA, as well as experts from the Nordic customs authorities and the police, also participated in this seminar. In 2019, Denmark, Norway and Sweden carried out national threat assessments as a contribution to this Nordic report. Finally, a seminar for Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority inspectors and local inspectors was arranged in Iceland and was also attended by US participants.

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10884938055?profile=RESIZE_400xThis review is a chapter in a book entitled "Blockchain in Finance, Marketing and Others". It explains the workings of blockchain, and its applicability in monitoring and verifying the data and information in the food chain from farm to fork. It covers how blockchain can address the challenges faced in ensuring food supplies deal with food safety, food fraud and food waste issues, as well as its benefits.

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This review conducted by an expert group of ILSI (International Life Science Institute) Europe details the numerous activities by authorities undertaken within different regions (Europe, North America, Asia, Latin America, and Africa) to counter food fraud. It defines "food inauthenticity" in terms of misrepresentation of a food within a contractual agreement, and/or misrepresentation of a food within a legal obligation (i.e non-compliance of the law). It also describes the guidance available to the food industry to understand how to assess the vulnerability of their businesses, and implement the appropriate mitigation.

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Addition of cheese whey to raw milk is an extension fraud, and this paper develops a rapid method for its detection. FTIR (Fourier-transform infrared) spectroscopy of milk produces a large amount of data, which can treated by machine learning methods such as classification tree and multilayer perceptron neural networks (MPNN) the two methods used in this study. A total of 520 samples of milk adulterated with cheese whey in concenrations from 1-30% were prepared, and 65 samples were taken as the control. These were stored at different times and temperatures, and analysed by FTIR. A further 520 samples of authentic raw milk were used, and selected components (fat, protein, casein, lactose, total solids, and solids nonfat) and freezing point (°C) were predicted using FTIR, then used as input features for the machine learning algorithms. Performance metrics included accuracy as high as 96.2% for CART (classification and regression trees) and 97.8% for multilayer perceptron neural networks, with precision, sensitivity, and specificity above 95% for both methods. The authors make a caveat on these results that the samples were all prepared from bulk raw milk, not individual milk, whose composition is more variable.

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This study looked at verification of egg production method from organic, free range, barn and caged produced eggs, all of which are defined in EU legislation. A total of 84 eggs were bought from local supermarkets in northern Spain (18 each of organic and free range eggs, and 24 each of barn and caged eggs). The egg contents were homogenised and centrifuged to separate the plasma from the granules, and the UV-VIS-NIR spectra of the plasma measured in a spectrophotometer, and different chemometric models applied to the spectra variables . As two samples were detected as outliers and removed, the 82 samples were divided into two groups: 62 for model calibration and 20 for validation. Spectra analysis with QDA (quadratic discriminant analysis) gave a higher accurate categorisation of the four production systems, with a sensitivity of 100% in the calibration set. The validation set scored 87.5% sensitivity and 94.07% specificity using the visible spectra. 

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10837224682?profile=RESIZE_400xThis is Tenet's quarterly publication (Issue 5), which discusses the various methods of tackling food fraud, from food safety and quality legislation, and consumer protection legislation, to contract law and trade practices. It also examines the importance of auditing your suppliers and look deeper into non-party disclosure and ‘Norwich Pharmacal’ orders.

If you work in the food and drinks industry and take an interest in fraud and financial crime impact in the sector, please take a look at the Secret Ingredient -Issue 5.

 

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Wild-caught seafood is vulnerable to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which often leads to overfishing and destruction of marine environments. A recent study has developed a method to determine the geographical origin of seafood using oxygen isotope (δ18O) composition imprinted in the shells and bones of seafood (δ18Obiomin). This value is determined by ocean composition and temperature rather than the seafood's biology.  Global ocean isoscapes of predicted δ18Obiomin values specific to fish (otoliths), cephalopod (statoliths) and shellfish (shells), and a fourth combined “universal” isoscape, were evaluated in their ability to derive δ18Obiomin values among known-origin samples. After validation and testing of the method, it was  demonstrated that this global isoscape can be used to correctly identify the origins of a wide range of marine animals living in different latitudes. After removing tuna species from the analyses, a prediction rate of up to 90% in classifying fish, cephalopods, and shellfish between the tropical waters of Southeast Asia and the cooler waters of southern Australia was obtained. Further research is planned to incorporate other chemical markers into improving the prediction of geographical origin. 

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The continued depletion of wild fish stocks is leading to increased strain on the aquaculture sector in terms of sustaining the supply of fish and seafood to global markets. This article examines how digital transformation can help support and meet expansion needs of the fisheries/aquaculture industries that includes exploiting and harnessing ICT (information and communications technology), IoT (internet of things), Cloud-edge computing, AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, immersive technologies and blockchain. Digital technologies can bring significant operational benefits for the global food chain, improving efficiencies and productivity, reducing waste, contamination and food fraud.

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Seafood is one of the foods which suffers a high prevalence of food fraud. This review examines reported seafood fraud incidents from the European Union's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, Decernis's Food Fraud Database, HorizonScan, and LexisNexis databases between January 01, 2010 and December 31, 2020. It provides a global comparison, and assesses food fraud trends across 80 countries and 72 seafood species. It also provides an analysis of the types of fraud that exist within the seafood supply chain and the supply chain nodes that are more vulnerable to criminality.

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The production of “smokies” involves the illegal slaughter of sheep, which have their fleece retained on the carcasses, and burnt with blow torches to impart a smoked flavour to the meat. The illegal trade in “smokies” is a serious public health risk, as the meat is often infected with diseases and parasites that could pass to those people who eat the meat. The animals are also killed inhumanely with no regard to their welfare, hence this process is illegal in the UK and many European countries. 

Robert Thomas was found to be part of an organised crime group (OCG), who were involved in running an illegal meat operation, where “smokies” were being prepared for human consumption. Mr Thomas was initially prosecuted in 2015, but lied about his assets. He was extradited from Ireland in February 2022 and prosecuted in June 2022 for perjury. However, it appears that Mr Thomas will be subject to further legal proceedings.

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10496174869?profile=RESIZE_400x                                                                                                     Photo by W. Grover, UCR

Prof. Grover at the University of California, Riverside has developed a coating technique called CandyCode, which could prevent counterfeiting of food and pharmaceuticals. The technique was developed by coating pills with coloured  "hundreds and thousands". The unique pattern of colours created on the pills acts as an "edible barcode". In assessing how unique the coated pills were, and how many variations would be possible, a computer simulation was used of even larger CandyCode libraries, Prof Glover found that a company could produce 41 million pills enough for each person on earth, and still be able to uniquely identify each CandyCoded pill. A pharmaceutical producer could cover each pill it produced in the tiny coloured candies, then uploaded a photo of it into its system, and consumers would be able to guarantee that a pill is genuine by scanning their drugs using a smartphone app. The technique can be applied to other mediums such as bottle caps for fraud protection of wine, olive oil etc..

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Italian authorities supported by experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Technical Department of the Financial Police, have completed one of the country’s most extensive operations against the sale of mislabelled olive oil, by investigating 183 companies involved in olive oil imports and commercialisation. Products worth more than €170,000 were seized by the police, which resulted in a total of €10 million in administrative fines. Of the samples analysed, more than 27% failed the tests governing extra virgin olive. The authorities claim that they have prevented 2.3 million litres of virgin and refined olive oils labelled as extra virgin olive oil from entering the market. 

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In response to many questions posted in the chat of the Webinar on the Global Honey Supply Chain that took place on 19 January 2022, the page on the Government Chemist website has been updated with work in progress on honey authenticity:

"This webinar and the consequent e-seminar is part of a suite of activities Defra, FSA, FSS and the Government Chemist are jointly working on to address some of the underpinning scientific issues that have emerged on the subject of honey testing and a number of workstreams are in progress.

Two further e-seminars, which will assist in disseminating information on honey authenticity testing, are in production. These cover using NMR testing for the determination of exogenous sugars in honey and best practice in establishing and curating databases for food authenticity. Work is also underway to develop guidance on applying a weight of evidence approach for food authenticity analysis, to pilot accreditation of non-targeted authenticity testing methods, to improve consistency and confidence in testing and reporting and to explore a data trust framework to share information on the honey supply chain and testing between interested communities. This will be followed by activity to standardise a protocol for the collection of authentic honey samples and to establish a framework for the scrutiny of authenticity databases. We are collaborating with key stakeholders on all these initiatives to secure the best outcome for all.

FSA’s blog on the complexities of honey authenticity, includes links to the recently published Government Chemist independent review of methods for honey authenticity testing and of the analytical reports underpinning recent allegations of honey fraud."

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This e-seminar, by Cathal Henigan, Purchasing Director at Valeo Foods UK, will provide an introduction to the subject of the global honey supply chain.

Topics covered in this short presentation include an overview of the role of beekeeping, honey extraction and honey processing. In addition, key aspects of relevant legislation are described, such as the control of pests and diseases, honey composition, and control of the export and sale of honey. Details of the global market for honey are also described as well as an assessment of the risk to the supply chain through criminal activities such as food fraud.

The e-seminar is intended for individuals currently working within the food testing arena, the food industry, and those involved with the UK official control system.

The production of this e-seminar was co-funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, via the Government Chemist, under the Joint Knowledge Transfer Framework for Food Standards and Food Safety Analysis.

This e-seminar has also been added to the Food Authenticity Network's Training section.

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