government chemist (5)

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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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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3549856866?profile=RESIZE_710xRachel Gullaksen, Sean Daly and Malcolm Burns (from left to right) looking at multispectral imaging applications for food authenticity

The Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) aims to help protect businesses and consumers from fraudulent supply chains through building relationships with industry, delivering crime prevention initiatives and conducting thorough, proportionate investigations where necessary. This is to support the Food Standard Agency to deliver its overarching strategy that “food is safe and is what it says it is”.

Following an increase to its budget, the NFCU has seen significant extension of the unit’s capabilities and remit in terms of its investigation and crime disruption capabilities and the prevention of food crime. As part of its outreach programme and as a follow-up to a meeting between Darren Davies, Head of the NFCU and the Government Chemist, Julian Braybrook and Selvarani Elahi in May 2019, colleagues from the NFCU visited LGC.

Selvarani Elahi gave a presentation on the Food Authenticity Network, highlighting the benefits of closer collaboration between this growing global network and the NFCU, both of which were created by the UK government to address the recommendations of the Elliott Review.

NFCU colleagues were taken on a tour of LGC’s National Measurement Laboratories where LGC staff demonstrated research on a range of technologies from point-of-use screening to confirmatory methods capable of combating food crime or food fraud .

 

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LGC has published a review in the Journal of AOAC International on definitive approaches for the authentication of chondroitin, a supplement with a risk of serious adulteration.

Chondroitin is an over-the-counter food supplement often available in combination with glucosamine sulfate. It is sold widely for a number of uses for humans and animals and taken by many who suffer from osteoarthritis where it has been shown to have small to moderate benefits.

The paper, written in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, makes key recommendations for forensically robust analysis of supplements containing chondroitin to prevent their adulteration with inferior substitutes.

Authors Michael Walker and Christopher Mussell (LGC), along with Professor Duncan Thorburn Burns (Institute of Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast), outlined the necessary steps to ensure the quality of chondroitin, including testing raw materials for currently known adulterants.

Michael Walker, Referee Analyst for the Government Chemist, said: “The Laboratory of the Government Chemist has had a long interest in the analysis of supplements containing chondroitin stemming from work carried out suggesting some were deficient of the declared amounts of chondroitin.”

Duncan Thorburn Burns, Professor at Institute of Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, added: “As a natural polymer, routine analytical methods for chondroitin tend to be relatively nonspecific. Our paper demonstrates how to achieve the goal of affirming identity (including source) and purity.”

 

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