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10761257652?profile=RESIZE_584xResearch published by the Food Standards Agency indicates that the top three food-related concerns amongst consumers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are food waste, the amount of sugar in food, and animal welfare, with over half of respondents reporting that they are concerned about each of these issues.

Food and You 2, the FSA’s flagship consumer survey, also shows that two in five of us say we’ve eaten less processed food in the past year, and are trying to cut down on food waste.

The survey is an official statistic and measures self-reported knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to food safety and other food issues amongst adults in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland twice a year.

This latest survey was conducted between October 2021 and January 2022 and provides rich and high quality data on what people think, feel and do when it comes to food.

Key findings 

Confidence in food safety, authenticity and the food supply chain  

  • Most respondents (92%) reported that they were confident that the food they buy is safe to eat and more than 8 in 10 (86%) respondents were confident that the information on food labels is accurate 
  • Around three quarters of respondents (76%) reported that they had confidence in the food supply chain 
  • Respondents were more likely to report confidence in farmers (88%) and shops and supermarkets (85%) than in takeaways (61%), and food delivery services (45%) 

Concerns about food  

  • Most respondents (86%) had no concerns about the food they eat 
  • When prompted, the most common concerns amongst all respondents were food waste (63%), the amount of sugar in food (59%) and animal welfare (56%)

Food security  

  • Across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 82% of respondents were classified as food secure (70% high, 12% marginal) and 18% of respondents were classified as food insecure (10% low, 7% very low) 

Eating out and takeaways 

  • Around half of respondents had eaten food in a restaurant (53%), from a café, coffee shop or sandwich shop (either to eat in or to take out) (52%) or ordered a takeaway directly from a takeaway shop or restaurant (50%) in the previous 4 weeks 
  • Over a third of respondents had eaten food from a fast-food outlet (either to eat in or take out) (38%) or ordered a takeaway from an online food delivery company (for example, Just Eat, Deliveroo, Uber Eats) (35%) in the previous 4 weeks  
  • Most respondents (89%) had heard of the FHRS and around 4 in 10 (41%) respondents reported checking the food hygiene rating of a business in the previous 12 months  

Food allergies, intolerances and other hypersensitivities  

  • Just over 1 in 10 (12%) respondents reported that they had a food intolerance, 4% reported having a food allergy, and 1% reported having coeliac disease 
  • Of the respondents who reported having a food allergy, the most common foods reported as causing a reaction were peanuts (26%) and fruit (24%) 
  • Of the respondents who reported having a food intolerance, the most common foods reported as causing a reaction were cow’s milk and products made with cow’s milk (41%) and cereals containing gluten (19%) 

Eating at home 

  • Over two thirds (69%) of respondents identified the use-by date as the information which shows that food is no longer safe to eat 
  • Around two-thirds (67%) of respondents reported that they always check use-by dates before they cook or prepare food 
  • Over half of respondents (56%) reported that they never wash raw chicken, whilst 40% of respondents wash raw chicken at least occasionally 

Food shopping: sustainability and environmental impact  

  • Half (50%) of respondents thought that eating less processed food and 47% thought that minimising food waste contributed most to someone having a sustainable diet  
  • Most (59%) respondents thought that buying locally produced food or food that is in season contributed most to someone making sustainable food shopping choices  

Sustainable diets, meat alternatives and genetic technologies  

  • The most common changes respondents reported making in the previous 12 months were eating less processed food (40%) and starting to minimise food waste (40%)
  • Around a third (32%) of respondents reported that they currently eat meat alternatives, 21% of respondents reported that they used to eat meat alternatives but no longer do and 39% of respondents reported that they had never eaten meat alternatives 
  • Respondents reported greater awareness and knowledge of genetically modified (GM) food (9% had never heard of GM food) than gene-edited or genome-edited food (GE) (42% had never heard of GE food) 

Awareness, trust and confidence in the FSA 

  • Around three quarters (77%) of respondents who had at least some knowledge of the FSA reported that they trusted the FSA to make sure ‘food is safe and what it says it is’ 

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10758018274?profile=RESIZE_400xUKAS with Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) would like to invite laboratories to express an interest to join a pilot programme to become accredited by UKAS to perform non-targeted food /feed authenticity testing against the conformity assessment requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2017 and UKAS document Lab 13 for expressing opinions and interpretations.

This programme presents an excellent opportunity for laboratories to demonstrate their testing capabilities together with opinions and interpretations under ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accreditation, in the ever evolving authenticity testing food market place.

Successful applicants will be accredited to undertake non-targeted authenticity testing using specific techniques/methodologies and as part of this pilot, are expected to include an opinion on the authenticity of the food product on the accredited test report.

The number of laboratories participating the pilot programme is limited. Official laboratories undertaking this pilot study will be supported in funding and funding will be considered for other eligible laboratories. On-going accreditation costs would be the responsibility of the laboratory.

UKAS is currently gauging the potential level of interest in this area so would also like to hear from technical experts that may wish to support UKAS as a stakeholder to provide expertise and support to the development of accreditation criteria and process.

To express an interest, organisations will need to respond by email to developmentenquiries@ukas.com by 30 Sept 2022

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This review examines the potential of non-targeted metabolomic analysis to assess food authenticity. It looks at range of products, which includes wine, rice, olive oil, spices, and honey because they are regarded as the most vulnerable to fraud. The identification of biomarkers  for geographical origin is central theme of the review.

Read the abstract here

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The inclusion of offal, which usually has a lower value than meat, in any meat product in the EU and UK must be declared on the label. This literature review investigated appropriate methods to determine the adulteration of meat with offal, especially those technologies suitable for future validation to underpin a high throughput, low-cost method suitable for application by enforcement laboratories. The technologies, which determine elemental composition and peptide markers, were particularly highlighted as demonstrating potential for future development.

Read the abstract here

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10742783097?profile=RESIZE_400xEVOO is one of the foods lidentified as being very vulnerable to food fraud. This comprehensive review examines the  application of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to EVOO as a reliable and rapid tool to verify different aspects of its adulteration, such as undeclared blends with cheaper oils and cultivar, and geographical origin mislabelling. NMR makes it possible to use both targeted and untargeted approaches, and to determine the olive oil metabolomic profile and the quantification of its constituents.

Read the full open access paper here

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The NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) is a UK Government organisation, which offers practical guidance on cybersecurity and responds to cybersecurity incidents. It has issued advice to anyone thinking about using blockchain in their supply chain. The advice is contained in a White Paper looking at distributed ledger technology, and whether this is the appropriate technology and the best tool for the job, as well as some of the misconceptions around the technology.

Read the blockchain blog, and the White Paper.

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Front-face fluorescence spectroscopy (FFFS) can detect fluorescent molecules in solid matrices without contact and sample preparation. This study explores the potential use of FFFS as a rapid, non-destructive technique coupled with multi-variate analysis for predicting beef adulteration with chicken. Samples of varying amounts of raw, minced chicken mixed with uncooked minced beef were prepared (1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 100%). Fluorescence spectra were obtained from pure and prepared adulterated meat samples, and principle component analysis, partial least square regression and hierarchical cluster analysis were used as chemometric tools. The chemometrics were able to determine adulteration in minced beef meat from 10% chicken meat, but were unable to  determine adulteration from below 5%. 

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This paper details the within-laboratory and inter-laboratory trial validation of a multiplex real-time PCR method for the simultaneous, sensitive and specific detection and semi-quantitative estimation of the nut species - peanut, hazelnut, walnut and cashew in processed food. The assay developed for the 4 species of nuts (peanut, hazelnut, walnut and cashew) was based on a TaqMan™ real-time PCR method, which targeted  multicopy sequences from mitochondrial, ribosomal RNA genes and chloroplasts, respectively. A series of prepared cookies, sausages, sauce powders, and veggie burgers spiked with different amounts of the 4 defatted nuts were used for the validation trials.The within-laboratory trial checked the specificity, crosstalk, sensitivity [limit of detection (LOD) including asymmetric LOD], precision and trueness of the assay. The inter-laboratory trial with 12 participating laboratories conducted both qualitative and quantitative determinations, and determined trueness/recoveries, precision, and measurement uncertainty. Using multicopy target sequences, a very sensitive detection of the allergenic ingredients is possible. Within the collaborative trial, a concentration of 0.64 mg/kg (i.e. approx. 0.1–0.2 mg “nut” protein/kg) could be reliably detected in a processed cookie matrix. With regards to quantitative analysis, there was insufficient recovery data (bias) resulting in measurement uncertainties of more than 50%. The results of in-house tests suggest that roasting of nuts is the main factor inducing deviant (low) recoveries.

 

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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.

Read the full open access paper here

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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.

Read the full open access article here

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Cypriot halloumi cheese was grant PDO status in October 2021, after a 7 year consideration by the European Commission. Sales and exports of Cypriot halloumi generated €270m annually in 2020/1. Recently, German authorities have confiscated Cypriot halloumi because it did not have PDO certification, and cheesemakers in Cyprus have also seen their products confiscated by Cypriot customs officials before being loaded onto planes heading for EU markets, as they did not comply with PDO criteria. The main issue appears to be the ratio of goats and sheeps milk to cows milk, which must be greater than 51% to meet the PDO specification. A non-negotiable compromise has been issued by the Cypriot President, which amongst other things gives cheesemaker two months to fully comply with the PDO specification. 

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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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Effect of Storage Time on Wine DNA

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DNA analysis to check wine authenticity and integrity has been reported in several previous studies. This study examines the survival of DNA during wine storage, before and after bottling in the  case of a large Italian wine cooperative. Two monovarietal productions: red sparkling Bonarda PDO and white Pinot gris PDO, were followed starting from the end of oenological practices until 1 year after bottling. The wine was analysed using SSR (simple sequence repeats or microsatellites) DNA analysis for four consecutive months before bottling, and month 2, 8 and 12 after bottling. The results showed that after 8 months, DNA degradation increased significantly in the red wine samples in particular, which would hinder DNA traceability.

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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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10640618291?profile=RESIZE_710xThe European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its June 2022 Food Fraud Monthly Summary reporting food fraud incidents and investigations from around the world. These have been kindly represented as an infographic above by our Member Bruno Séchet, and thanks for allowing us to share it with the rest of the Network.

Included in this month's Summary is a reference to a 2021 Italian Report on food fraud inspection, and an Oceana report claiming half of Mexico's seafood is illegally fished.

You can download the full summary here

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In Ecuador, the cocoa bean clone CCN-51 is grown for bulk cocoa bean use, whereas the "Arriba Nacional" variety is highly valued for its fine cocoa flavour. An assay based on in-vitro use of CRISPR-Cpf1, which is suitable for AT-rich targets, such as the chloroplast genome (cpGenome), was developed to give a rapid differentiation between the two cocoa varieties. Two assay systems were used to digest both Arriba and CCN-51. The results were tested qualitatively by agarose gel electrophoresis, and quantitatively by capillary gel electrophoresis. Using this assay, admixtures containing 5% CCN-51 (P < 0.01) in Arriba and 10% Arriba (P < 0.05) in CCN-51were reliably detected. The application to processed cocoa products was also successful.

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S3Food is a European funded initiative to bring digital innovation to the agrifood sector. One of the projects based in Greece, combines DNA profiles of the olives and the EVOO into the blockchain system. Other quality parameters such geographical location, yield, harvesting and milling time and other quality parameters are also entered into the blockchain information system. This is designed to ensure that there is (non-tampering) full traceability from olive grove to shelf, and hence assure the integrity of the olive oil along the supply chain from farm to fork. The whole traceability story will be available to consumers by means of a QR code.

Read the project's short summary here, or the food press article here

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Vanilla is used widely in the food industry, and is a high value ingredient. A rapid assay has been developed using DAPCI (Desorption Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionisation) coupled with a time-of-flight mass spectrometer, to distinguish natural vanilla from imitation vanilla. The assay can be directly applied to vanilla pods/powder or vanilla extracts. Pure extracts produced mass spectra with no additives detected (ethyl vanillin, piperonal and coumarin). Coumarin which is restricted in some coutries had a limit of detection of 0.1ppb. The method is being investigated to see if country of origin can be verified.

Read the abstract here

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