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11001991485?profile=RESIZE_710xToday, the European Commission has published the results of the EU-wide coordinated action “From the Hives” on honey contaminated with sugars.

These investigations aimed to put a stop to operators voluntarily placing contaminated honey onto the EU market and sanction them accordingly if needed. Of the 320 samples taken at EU borders and analysed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), 147 (46%) were suspected of being non-compliant.

This suspicion rate was considerably higher in comparison to an earlier EU-wide coordinated control plan conducted in 2015-17, where 14% of the analysed samples did not comply with established benchmark criteria to assess honey authenticity.

However, the JRC applied a different set of methods, with improved detection capability, throughout the current exercise, which may explain this contrast.

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Review of DNA Methods to Detect Pork in Foods

11000974279?profile=RESIZE_400x This review describes all the available DNA methods, which can detect pork in foods, as a basis for Halal verification. The review describes the following assays: Singleplex and Multiplex PCR, PCR-RAPD and PCR-RFLP, Real Time-PCR, DNA-Barcoding, Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), Biosensor - optic and electrochemical, and CRISPR/Cas12. It discusses the detail probes, primers etc as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

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Compound-specific stable isotope analysis (CSIA) of food products is a relatively new and novel technique used to authenticate food and detect adulteration. This paper reviews recent applications of CSIA to authenticate the origin of different foods. CSIA δ13C values are widely used to verify geographical origin, organic production, and adulteration. The δ15N values of individual amino acids and nitrate fertilizers have proven effective to authenticate organic foods, while δ2H and δ18O values are useful to link food products with local precipitation for geographical origin verification. CSIA has a stronger analytical advantage for the authentication of food compared to bulk stable isotope analysis, especially for honey, beverages, essential oils, and processed foods.

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EVOO is a high value edible oil, which is susceptible to adulteration and extension. This study looks at proof of concept for screening EVOO-filled containers non-invasively for adulteration without any sample extraction by capturing the differences in the dielectric properties of mixed oils. The
sensor system displayed a fast response (100 ms) and  detection limits for different adulterants/extenders (refined olive oil (32.8%), rapeseed oil (19.4%), soya oil (10.3%) and castor oil (1.7%)), which is suitable for high-throughput (>60 sample/min) screening. The sensors do not work with metal containers, only plastic ones. Furthermore, a low-cost automated system prototype was tested to of translate the proof of concept for possible scaling up, but further work is required to expand the range of possible adulterants and reduce the detection limits.


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Consumers are demanding to know the origin of the food they buy, which can have a higher value depending on the origin and whether the food is a PDO (protected denomination of origin), or PGI (protected geographical indication). The elemental fingerprint of food is an efficient way to authenticate its geographical origin. Control laboratories are accredited and properly equipped for elemental analysis, and standardisation and comparability of results is warranted.

Download the Science for Policy Brief here

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The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its February 2023 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.

Also included in the Summary are links to two other interesting items, including a study investigating food fraud during Covid-19 and the mitigation strategies applied in UK, and a short documentary on food fraud by CNBC.

You can download the February 2023 Summary here

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Most adulterated foods - 2022 data added

"Which foods are most adulterated?" is a question that the Food Authenticity Network is frequently asked, so we are delighted to be continuing to collaborate with FoodChain ID to provide this information. 

Foods most reported as being fraudulent based on data from the FoodChain ID Food Fraud Database, are posted on an annual basis in the Food Fraud Prevention section of the Food Authenticity Network website.

The 2022 data has just been added to the 'Most adulterated foods' section.

























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1. National Food Crime Unit External Review 2022

In June 2018, the Food Standards Agency Board agreed to expand National Food Crime Unit's (NFCU) activities from having a strategic and tactical intelligence capability to a comprehensive response to criminal threats and vulnerabilities, including investigative capabilities. This review of the NFCU ran from June to October 2022. The Review centred on 22 key findings which relate to the themes below:

  • The evidenced capability of the Unit to handle intelligence and pursue crime reduction, supported by the professional expertise of its staff, the benefit derived from their existing professional networks within law enforcement and the deep commitment and effort of the Unit’s officers;
  • The impact of increasing strategic cohesion between NFCU and the rest of the FSA with regards to the food crime threat;
  • The practical challenges of complex fraud investigation, particularly given the absence of key powers, but also the importance of encouraging a more ‘lawfully audacious’ approach;
  • The critical contributions of the Unit’s capabilities around sensitive intelligence collection and financial investigation;
  • The importance of food-specific domain expertise in understanding and tackling the food crime threat, the external factors which may increase the risk of food crime and the risk that the threat is underestimated by many;
  • Areas of potential improvement to service delivery in terms of internal training, intelligence sharing, online investigation tradecraft and the consideration of offender management opportunities.
  • The importance of strengthening the Unit’s external influence, relationships and information sharing with the public and private sectors, at home and abroad.

 Read the review report.

2.  Food Fraud Prevention Strategy - A global perspective on testing, monitoring and verification

This paper, by Dr. John W Spink and reviewed by Selvarani Elahi MBE, provides insight into how the food authenticity-related concepts of testing, monitoring, and verification can be applied effectively within the overall framework of food fraud prevention.

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10974233682?profile=RESIZE_400xThis study aims to determine volatile compounds in red wines of Zweigelt and Rondo varieties using HS-SPME/GC-MS (headspace solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography - mass spectrometry), and to find a marker and/or a classification model for the assessment of varietal authenticity. Wines were produced from the two varieties, and 67 volatile compounds were tentatively identified in the test wines. The relative concentrations of volatiles were used as an input data set, divided into two subsets (training and testing), to the support vector machine (SVM) and k-nearest neighbor (kNN) algorithms. A subset of 6 volatiles was chosen for evaluation, and it was found that 2 of the volatiles in particular gave an accuracy of 100%. One of the chosen volatiles in Zweigelt wines was absent from the Rondo wines. Further chemometric analysis identified two further volatiles of importance for SVM . The classification model approach needs expanding for mixed varieties, and when the same varietal wines are produced in different geographical locations.

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Quinoa, coix seed, wild rice and chickpea have experienced increasing demand globally and have high economic values. Therefore, they are susceptible to substitution. In this study, a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method for rapid detection and authentication of quinoa, coix seed, wild rice and chickpea in composite foods was developed. Specific primers and probes were designed with 2S albumin genes of quinoa, SAD genes of coix seed, ITS genes of wild rice and CIA-2 genes of chickpea as the target genes, and the resulting alleles were of relatively small size (130-360bp). The assay identified the target ingredients with a content below 0.01%. A total of 24 commercially available processed food samples were tested by the qPCR method, and the results indicate that this method is applicable to the detection of ingredients in different matrices, and in highly processed composite foods.

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Collagen-based chicken skin is being increasingly used in fat reduced meat products as it has good water retaining properties. This study has identified two unique peptide markers of chicken skin collagen, after extraction, and trypsin digest using LC-MS. The assay has very low detection limits for the two peptide markers. The method was validated by analysing the peptides derived from pork and beef collagen in meat and collagen mixtures. The two chicken collagen peptide markers were not found in either beef or pork collagen, and hence were unique to chicken skin. Further work to make the method quantitative is being undertaken.

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Botanical ingredients are high value products, which are used widely in phytomedicines, dietary/food supplements, functional foods, and cosmetics.  Published reports show that a proportion of these botanical ingredients and products are adulterated, and usually, such adulteration is carried out for financial gain, where ingredients are intentionally substituted, diluted, or “fortified” with undisclosed lower-cost ingredients. While some of the adulteration is easily detected with established laboratory assays, the adulterators frequently use sophisticated ways to mimic the visual aspects and chemical composition of the labelled botanical ingredient, in order to deceive the analytical methods that are used for authentication. This review surveys the most common adulterant used for each botanical, and the used approaches for botanical ingredient adulteration, as well as discussing the  appropriate test methods for the detection of the adulteration.

Botanical ingredients at risk of adulteration include, but are not limited to, the essential oils of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Lamiaceae), rose (Rosa damascena, Rosaceae), sandalwood (Santalum album, Santalaceae), and tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia, Myrtaceae), plus the extracts of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, Ericaceae) fruit, cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon, Ericaceae) fruit, elder (Sambucus nigra, Viburnaceae) berry, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Araliaceae) root, ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgoaceae) leaf, grape (Vitis vinifera, Vitaceae) seed, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, Arecaceae) fruit, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum, Hypericaceae) herb, and turmeric (Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae) root/rhizome.

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Review of the Adulteration of Cow Milk


The common adulterants used in cow milk are water, starch, flour, urea, formalin, sodium hydroxide and cane sugar. Extension of milk with added water is the most common. These adulterants have effect on the nutritional quality of cow milk by decreasing the concentration of ingredients found and wholesomeness of the milk. This review examines the occurence of adulteration, as well as the methods to detect it.

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Fish species identification is normally undertaken using DNA barcoding methods. However, it is often useful to have an on-site rapid non-destructive method to verify fish species. In this study, 2 Raman spectrometers (a portable Raman spectrometer and a benchtop confocal Raman spectrometer) were used and compared for their performance to identify 11 species of fish (4 species of Salmonidae and 7 species of non-Salmonidae).  Supervised chemometric/machine learning classification models were constructed based on a hierarchical classification principle to develop this 11-class identification. Both Raman spectrometers were able to differentiate Salmonidae from non-Salmonidae fish with close to 100% accuracy. To further identify the fish to species level, the portable Raman spectrometer provided better accuracy (i.e., 93% and 93% accuracy for the Salmonidae group and non-Salmonidae identification, respectively) compared to the benchtop Raman spectrometer (i.e., 90% and 84% accuracy for the Salmonidae group and non-Salmonidae identification, respectively). The overall non-destructive analytical time was only 5 minutes.

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10971365678?profile=RESIZE_400xIdentifying the extension of fruit juices with water is a great challenge. In this study, Brazilian researchers used the isotope ratio (18O/16O) as the authenticity marker for the addition of exogenous water in grape juice. The development and validation of the assay were performed using Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS), and the effect of temperature and evaporation of δ18O in experimental juices was evaluated, to determine their reference values.The influence of the juice industrial production process on 18O values was verified, and commercial juices were evaluated in relation to the reference values of  the addition of water. The temperature and evaporation parameters did not influence the results of the 18O of the juice, as they presented differences lower than the method uncertainty. The heat exchanger system did not influence the proposed method either. Hence, the reference values for juice is derived from the grape musts, without affecting the interpretation of the final results. The method was tested on 30 commercial samples of whole grape juices, of which 9 had exogenous water, 3 proved to be reconstituted juices, and 18 were considered to have no exogenous water. 

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10971338498?profile=RESIZE_400xHoney is one of the foods susceptible to extension and adulteration with exogenous sugars. Whereas there is a well established test for C4 sugar (cane or corn based sysrups) adulteration using EA-IRMS (elemental analyser -isotope ratio mass spectrometry), detection of C3 sugar syrups (rice and beet sugar) is more difficult. In this study, an approach combining Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and chemometrics was developed for a rapid screening tool to detect potential adulteration of honey with either rice or corn syrup. A set of 46 authentic and 39 commercial honey samples were collected and adulterated samples of between 1-16% with rice syrup and 3-15% corn syrup were prepared, and their FTIR spectra determined. A single class soft independent modeling of class analogy (SIMCA) model was developed on the spectra of the set of commercial and authentic honey samples. The SIMCA model was externally validated with a set of calibration-independent authentic and commercial honey control samples, and those spiked with rice and corn syrups in the 1-16% concentration range. The authentic and commercial honey test samples were correctly predicted with a 88.3% classification rate. High accuracy was also found in predicting the rice and corn syrup spiked samples above 7% concentration range, yielding 97.6% and 94.8% correct classification rates, respectively.  

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The Consumer Insights tracker provides up-to-date findings each month on consumer behaviour and attitudes in relation to the following topics:

  • Food insecurity (including food affordability)
  • Food availability 
  • Consumer concerns in relation to food
  • Confidence in the food supply chain and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as a regulator

This monthly bulletin summaries the key findings for each of these topics from wave 18 of the survey (conducted 13 – 15 January 2023).

Key Findings

Food Affordability and Food Insecurity

  • 15% of participants reported that they had used a food bank or food charity at least once in the last month. 
  • 25% of participants reported that they had skipped a meal or cut down the size of their meals because they did not have enough money to buy food in the last month.
  • 29% of participants reported feeling worried about being able to afford food in the next month.
  • 81% of participants reported feeling concerned about food prices. 
  • 69% of participants reported that their shopping had ‘got more expensive’ in the past week. 

Food Availability

  • 30% of participants reported feeling worried about there not being enough food available for them/their household to buy in the next month.

Food Safety Behaviours to reduce energy bills

  • 16% of participants turned off a fridge and/or freezer containing food 
  • 24% of participants changed the settings on their fridge and/or freezer so that food is kept at a warmer temperature 
  • 25% of participants lowered the cooking temperature for food 
  • 27% of participants reduced the length of time that food is cooked for 
  • 60% of participants used cheaper cooking methods (e.g., using a microwave, air fryer or slow cooker) instead of an oven to heat or cook food .

Concerns about the Food Industry

  • 54% of participants reported feeling concerned about the healthiness of the food in their personal diet. 
  • 56% of participants reported feeling concerned about animal welfare in the food industry. 
  • 56% of participants reported feeling concerned about sustainability/the impact of food production on the environment. 
  • 38% of participants felt concerned about the safety of food produced in the UK, compared to 50% who felt concerned about the safety of food imported from outside the UK.
  • 40% of participants felt concerned about the quality of food produced in the UK, compared to 50% who felt concerned about the quality of food imported from outside the UK.

Confidence in the Food Supply Chain

The proportion of participants who reported that they were ‘confident’ in the food supply chain was 65% in January 2023. This is in line with the previous month (65%, December 2022), but is significantly lower than the year prior (70%, January 2022).

  • 76% of participants felt confident that those involved in the food supply chain in the UK ensure that food is safe to eat. 
  • 70% of participants felt confident that those involved in the food supply chain in the UK ensure food is of a high quality. 
  • 52% of participants felt confident that those involved in the food supply chain in the UK ensure that there are affordable food options for everyone. 
  • 66% felt confident that those involved in the food supply chain in the UK ensure there is enough food available for people to eat. 

Monthly data tables are available to download via the FSA’s data catalogue. Tracker bulletins dating back to April 2022 are available to view via the Consumer insights tracker webpage. More detailed commentary, and timeseries analysis is published periodically on the Consumer Insights tracker webpage.  

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The US border agents are seizing increasing quantities of eggs smuggled from Mexico to USA. Egg prices in USA have more than doubled in 2022, driven in part by an outbreak of avian influenza. Between 1 November 2022 and 17 January 2023, the border agents report over 2000 "encounters" with people trying to bring shell eggs into the US from Mexico, which is prohibited under US law. An outbreak of avian influenza has caused the loss of 57 million birds (mainly chickens and turkeys) in the US.

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10967812876?profile=RESIZE_400x The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) has updated its Organic Regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic products. Strenghtening Organic Enforcement protects organic integrity and bolsters farmer and consumer confidence in the USDA organic seal by supporting strong organic control systems, improving farm to market traceability, increasing import oversight authority, and providing robust enforcement of the organic regulations. Certification requirements for home produced and marketed organic produce as well as imported  produce have been increased. The final rule will be implemented in 2024.

Read the Press release here

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The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its January 2023 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.

Also included in the Summary are other interesting articles, including one from the Fraud Advisory Panel on the true cost of counterfeit alcoholic drinks. Also, the World Health Organization has published a Technical Brief" Transforming food systems to reduce global inequality and improve food safety and health", in which unsafe and adulterated foods are highlighted as a serious issue to be tackled.

You can download the January 2023 Summary here

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