Selvarani Elahi's Posts (279)

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10858947484?profile=RESIZE_584xSince the pandemic, almost 40% of us order takeaway food through an app or online. Some 170,000 food businesses are on three of the biggest online platforms, Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo. They have significant reach across the takeaway, restaurant and food-to-go sectors.

These three online platforms, supported by the FSA, have developed a new Food Safety Charter. The Charter commits them to make sure businesses selling food through their platforms are registered with their Local Authority and meet a minimum standard under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS). The Charter also commits them to use their communication channels to businesses and customers to share FSA hygiene and safety information and support those with food hypersensitivities.

This initiative is a great starting point for FSA's work with online platforms and it believes it will improve compliance of food businesses with minimum standards. FSA is working to ensure food is safe wherever you buy it, and the Food Safety Charter is an example of the FSA following our guiding principle of working with and through others to protect consumers.

If you have any thoughts on regulating online food sales, FSA would be really interested to hear them in the comments section of this blog.

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10858932281?profile=RESIZE_400xAt the 1996 World Food Summit, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger (World Food Summit,1996). To achieve this commitment, agrifood systems will need to be transformed to sustainably deliver safe and nutritious food for all.

This publication from the Food and Agriculture Organization explores a selection of the most relevant drivers and trends identified through the FAO food safety foresight programme. While for some of the drivers and trends the food safety implications are apparent, for others these may not be as obvious. An overview of the various drivers and trends are discussed for the following selection of emerging areas of interest, as identified through the FAO food safety foresight programme:

  • Climate change
  • Consumer behaviours
  • New food sources and food production systems
  • Growing food in urban spaces
  • Technological innovations
  • Microbiomes in agrifood systems
  • circular economy
  • Food fraud.

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Food Supply Chain Management: A Year in Review

10845122073?profile=RESIZE_710xThis new article by our Advisory Board Member, Dr John Spink, provides a summary of the past year and drills into lessons learned and best practice recommendations.

The article can be summarized as: “The crux of the last year of supply chain management is that our problems have shifted from ‘known knowns’ to ‘unknowables.’” What I mean by this is that previously we could expect similar types of supply chain disruptions. Now, between the lingering COVID impact, the Ukraine-Russia repercussions, plus other stressors, we’re seeing many completely new and unexpected types of problems.

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FSA updates areas of research interest

10835253086?profile=RESIZE_584xThe Food Standards Agency (FSA) has updated its areas of research interest (ARI) to include a focus on food that is healthier and more sustainable.

FSA has added four new ARI that reflect the updated priorities in their 2022-2027 strategy: that food is safe; is what it says it is; and is healthier and more sustainable. The update includes revising the overarching research themes and the addition of four new ARI. The updated ARIs are:

Research priority one: Assuring food and feed safety and standards

  1. What is the impact of chemical hazards (including nanomaterials and microplastics) in food and how can we reduce it?
  2. What are the impacts of foodborne pathogens and how can we reduce them?  
  3. What is the impact of food hypersensitivity (including allergies and intolerance) and how can we reduce it? 
  4. What is the impact of crime, including food fraud, on the UK food supply chain, and how can we reduce it? 
  5. What are the differences in food production systems and food standards globally and how does this impact on trade and the food available to UK consumers?  
  6. What is the impact and risk of novel and non-traditional foods, additives, and processes on the food system, including on consumer confidence?  

Research priority two: Understanding consumers and our wider society

  1. How do consumers view and understand the food system, and balance their choices against multiple competing factors (including safety and standards, nutrition and health, choice, availability, affordability, sustainability, and welfare)?  
  2. What role does consumer and Food Business Operator behaviour and perception play in ensuring food safety and standards?  
  3. What impact do food insecurity and other disparities have on the consumer and the food system?  

Research priority three: Adapting to the food and feed system of the future

  1. What are the risks and opportunities presented by shifts and disruptions in the food system, including new and emerging technologies, and how should we regulate food in the future? 
  2. How can the FSA continue to be an innovative and effective regulator when developing and implementing food regulations? 

Research priority four: Addressing global grand challenges 

  1. How can the FSA improve the evidence base concerning Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and food?  
  2. What are the impacts of climate change, including society’s efforts to mitigate it and adapt to it, on the food system? 
  3. How can we support the necessary transition to more healthy and sustainable diets, and what will be the impact on the UK food system, including food security, safety and standards?
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EC JRC Food Fraud Report August 2022


JRC has published its monthly summary on articles covering food fraud and adulteration. In this issue, there are articles on frauds involving:

  • olive oil
  • molasses and sugar
  • fruits, vegetables
  • soy, seafood
  • meat
  • alcoholic beverages and wine
  • cereals
  • milk
  • cheese
  • tea
  • sauces
  • fruit juices.

Read the full summary at: August 2022 JRC Food Fraud Summary


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High performance liquid chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) was used to identify gelatin from seven commercial cyprinid fishes;, black carp, grass carp, silver carp, bighead carp, common carp, crucian carp, and Wuchang bream.

By comparison with theoretical mammalian collagen (bovine and porcine collagen), the common and unique theoretical peptides were found in the collagen of grass carp, silver carp, and crucian carp, respectively.  Seven common characteristic peptides were obtained from the fish gelatins. Moreover, 44, 36, and 42 unique characteristic peptides were detected in the gelatins of grass carp, silver carp, and crucian carp, respectively.

The researchers concluded that the combined use of common and unique characteristic peptides could verify fish gelatin in comparison with mammalian gelatin.

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10807044874?profile=RESIZE_710xYellow fruit varieties of tomatoes attract a premium price in many Mediterranean countries, particularly the landrace of Pomodorino giallo del Vesuvio  (“GiaGiù” or E40).

The aim of this work was to phenotypically and genotypically distinguish the GiaGiù landrace through morphological descriptors and molecular markers, in order to provide an effective tool to authenticate this product as fresh and processed tomatoes.

The distinctive traits of GiaGiù were the potato leaf morphology and the pyriform shape with a pointed apex of the yellow fruits. The genotypic distinction of E40 was performed by using two Cleaved Amplified Polymorphic Sequence (CAPS) markers designed on a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) of the Phytoene synthase 1 (psy1) gene that confers the yellow color to tomato fruit and already known as specific of GiaGiù genotype. Additional CAPS markers were designed on two private mutations of E40 genes derived from data retrieved from a Genotyping-By-Sequencing (GBS) dataset, already available.

These findings were confirmed by comparing E40 private mutations with the 360 accessions of the BGI tomato 360 genomes resequencing project. The designed markers allowed the researchers to distinguish GiaGiù in all fresh and processed fruit tomato matrices tested, providing a molecular tool to authenticate GiaGiù products.

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Authorities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan are using a mobile testing laboratory to check the authenticity of milk sold in local shops. 

They have recently identified and destroyed more than 2,000 litres of milk diluted with water or adulterated with other chemicals and have closed a number of dairy shops.

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In this study, the Thermo Scientific™ NGS Food Authenticity Workflow was used to analyse spices and herbs.  

Reference samples were analysed to verify the specificity, and spikings down to 1% (w/w) allowed verification of its sensitivity including in complex mixtures of five different spices and/or herbs. 

272 commercial samples were collected in Asian and European markets.  78% of the commercial samples were compliant with the declared content, whereas the rest were shown to contain undeclared species that were in a few cases allergenic or potentially toxic. 

The researchers conclude that the overall workflow is user-friendly and straightforward, which makes it simple to use and facilitates data interpretation.

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10806994475?profile=RESIZE_400xAccording to the current food legislation in Bulgaria, dried herbs are classified under the large group of food supplements and their trade is allowed in pharmacies, drugstores and grocery stores.

Researchers sampled 103 dried herb food supplements on sale in Bulgaria and analyses them using macro- and microscopic tests. 

They found that the majority of samples failed to meet specification and that there was widespread adulteration and foreign body contamination.  17.5% of samples contained species which are prohibited for consumption due to their pyrrolizidine alkaloid content.

This work implies the need for strengthening control of herbs and spices.

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UK Seizure of Illegally Harvested Shellfish

10806985279?profile=RESIZE_710xShellfish harvesting is highly regulated in most countries, including the UK.  Harvest areas are opened or closed by regulatory authorities depending on water quality and potentially toxic algal blooms.  Illegal harvesting from closed areas puts consumers at risk as they can carry E coli, norovirus or be contaminated with high levels of toxic chemicals..  It is a perennial problem and previous incidents have involved large-scale organised crime.

A recent crackdown by authorities (the council, Sussex Police, Food Standards Agency, National Food Crime Unit, Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and Gangmaster Labour Abuse Authority) on the English South Coast led to the seizure of illegally harvested shellfish.

This case was part of Operation Pearl and involved months of covert investigations had taken place to understand how the illegally harvested shellfish were reaching food businesses and consumers.

Read the full article.

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 10800246475?profile=RESIZE_710xA three-dimensional paper-based microfluidic device has been designed and fabricated to simultaneously detect multiple chemical adulterants in milk using a visual colourimetric indicator. 

It is intended as a quick and cheap screening test for use in developing countries.  

The authors propose that it could be used by consumers to check milk before consumption.

It was shown to detect urea, detergents, soap, starch, hydrogen peroxide, sodium-hydrogen-carbonate, and salt which had been added to milk at concentrations between 0.05% and 0.2% v/v.

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Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash





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This paper reviews recently published Chinese research to highlight the recent advances of isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) as a regulatory and verification tool for Chinese food products.  It covers more than 100 IRMS research papers that use up to 5 light stable isotopes (3C/12C, 2H/1H, 15N/14N, 18O/16O, 34S/32S) as authenticity markers, combined with chemometric models. 

The range of food products include organic foods, honey, beverages, tea, animal products, fruits, oils, cereals, spices and condiments that are frequently unique to a specific region of China.

The authors conclude that - compared to other food authenticity and traceability techniques - IRMS has been successfully used to characterize, classify and identify many Chinese food products, reducing fraud and food safety problems and improving consumer trust and confidence.  

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10800233884?profile=RESIZE_710xA volatile organic compound (VOC) analysis method has been developed to distinguish human remains from animal species in forensic cases and to identify the species of remains after disaster accidents. 

Seven animal species, plus human, were investigated.  Some VOCs had high species specificity, demonstrating that all tested muscle tissue samples could be distinguished based on different VOCs.  HS-GC-IMS proved to be a rapid, high-throughput, high-sensitivity and specific species identification method.  The authors propose that the technique could also be applied to food authenticity testing to verify meat species.

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Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

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EC JRC Food Fraud Report July 2022


JRC has published its monthly summary on articles covering food fraud and adulteration. In this July issue, there are articles on frauds involving:

  • alcoholic beverages
  • seafood
  • milk
  • fruits and vegetables
  • cereals
  • soybean
  • meat
  • live animals
  • herbs and spices
  • olive oil
  • tea
  • ice creams
  • non-alcoholic beverages
  • sugar
  • honey
  • wine
  • seeds.

Read the full summary at: July 2022 JRC Food Fraud Summary


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Short Survey for the UK Government Chemist

10796476695?profile=RESIZE_400xThe Government Chemist plays a crucial role in the UK’s food and feed system in both its statutory and advisory capacities.

The data we get is vital for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to demonstrate the social, economic and industrial impact of the Government Chemist.

So if you have used the services of the Government Chemist (anything from Referee Analysis (food safety, food authenticity,advice etc.), Advice, Training materials, Publications, Events, Attendance at meetings etc.), please complete a short (10 mins max) impact evaluation survey:

Thank you to all those people who have already completed the survey and thanks in advance to anyone that will complete the survey now. We really appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback.

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An e-seminar covering issues surrounding the use of CBD in food supplements and difficulties likely to be encountered in their analytical testing has been published.

It aims to help manufacturers, suppliers and laboratories understand the issues surrounding the use of cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, in food supplements and the difficulties likely to be encountered in testing food supplements containing CBD. The manufacture and supply of food supplements are strictly controlled under food laws, it is therefore important to understand what CBD is and how it is regulated in food products. This presentation focuses on CBD, its chemistry in relation to food supplements and regulatory legislation, as well as considering the analytical aspects of measuring CBD in food supplements.

The e-seminar is intended for individuals working in official control laboratories, 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, Defra, the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, BEIS 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, where 12 other authenticity related e-seminars are available.

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An article published in the I online newspaper reports on the ongoing risk of herbs and spices adulteration.  

Investigators and analysts have told i that the $20bn (£17bn) global herbs and spices industry is being increasingly targeted by organised crime gangs and fraudsters determined to use disruptions to global supply chains, caused by factors from Brexit to Covid-19 to the war in Ukraine, to cash in with fake, adulterated or contaminated products.

This article reviews recent surveillance findings, common adulterants, detection methods and includes comments from the National Food Crime Unit and the Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit.

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Photo by Andrea Leon on Unsplash

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Here, a biomarker-free detection assay was developed using an optical nanosensor array to aid in the food safety of citrus juices.

Researchers have coupled machine learning capability of their computational process named algorithmically guided optical nanosensor selector (AGONS) with the fluorescence data collected using their nanosensor array, in a biomarker-free detection assay, to construct a predictive model for citrus juice authenticity. 

Over 707 measurements of pure and adulterated citrus juices were collected for prediction. Overall, the approach achieved above 90% accuracy on three data sets in discriminating three pure citrus fruit juices, artificially sweetened tangerine juice with various concentrations of corn syrup, and juice-to-juice dilution of orange juice using apple juice. 

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Photo by ABHISHEK HAJARE on Unsplash

Abstract Image


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Telemeres are genetic book-ends that cap the ends of coding sequences within chromosomes.  Their length is chipped away every time DNA replicates.  Telemeric length is an indicator of an animals age but can also be suggestive of stress or environmental conditions. 

An interesting review article has been published that examines telomeric length as potential verification for fish authenticity descriptions such as organic vs conventional rearing or wild-caught vs aquaculture.

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Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

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