Ready for BRC issue 8?

BRC i8Certification for issue 8 of the BRC Global Standard Food Safety starts from 1st February 2019. There are several new requirements (e.g. 1.1.2 food safety and quality culture plan) and a couple of new sections (e.g. section 8 production risk zones). Food Safety professionals are making improvements to satisfy the requirements of the standard and reviewing what objective evidence they can provide to support these requirements. This evidence will be needed for the third-party audit(s) and for internal audits which now need to be spread throughout the year with a minimum of 4 different dates (3.4.1). Sampling and testing will provide an important portion of the objective evidence necessary included in, for example: the Management of suppliers of raw materials (3.5.1), Traceability (3.9), Food Defence (4.2), Housekeeping and hygiene (4.11), Environmental monitoring (4.11.8), Management of Food Allergens (5.3) and Product Authenticity (5.4).  There is also a new requirement ( that the significance of laboratory results should be understood and acted upon accordingly. All these changes are making the role of sampling and analysis more important, yet increasingly complex to understand especially with the new analytical technology. For example, recent advances in onsite testing and ‘next-generation’ sequencing are driving a paradigm shift towards increasing use of such tests to improve control and decision making in food manufacture.

Related products: onsite Allergen, Gluten and Raw Meat Species FlowThrough™ tests.

FSA seeking your views on allergen labelling

1200px-Food_Standards_Agency_svgThe Food Standard Agency has opened consultation on plans to improve the allergen labelling laws across the UK. Currently, food service operators do not have to list the ingredients of foods packed and sold on their premises. At the recent inquest in to the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to sesame in a baguette in 2016, it was heard that she was re-assured by the lack of specific allergen labelling on the packaging. The consultation was launched on the 25th January for nine weeks, views are sought on the plans and how to ensure that labels are clearer, so that allergic consumers will have confidence in the safety of their food. View the consultation details here.

Related products: laboratory Gluten and Allergen-Check™ ELISAs and onsite FlowThrough™ tests.

After a long wait, there’s no longer a weight

ELISA 090413_032A test kit manufacturers perspective

Background: All good things are worth the wait and the weight we lose is strictly speaking a mass … On the 16th November 2018, the world’s increasing demands on measurement, lead to the redefinition of the kilogram (BIPM, 2018). As one of the seven SI base units of quantities (which are used for defining 22 derived units in this internationally agreed system organised by BIPM), the kilogram for mass is now defined in terms of an electric current rather than a physical object – the platinum-iridium ingot held in Paris called “Le Grand K”. After almost 130 years, Le Grand K, as well as six copies held around the world, have been deteriorating with discrepancies between them. The new definition is based on a constant of nature, Planck’s constant, which is more robust and will lead to more precise measurements (Horizon, 2014).

What does it mean for allergen analyses?: For all types of measurements this is an important moment, including for the measurement of the allergen content in foods. A key challenge for robust allergen analysis is the ability to relate results back to a reference. For there to be this essential metrological traceability there needs to be a documented unbroken chain of calibrations, each contributing to the measurement of uncertainty (VIM, 2012), linking back to the reference – in this case, the kilogram, the SI unit of mass.

The benefit of metrological traceability is confidence in the measurement result. This in turn leads to confidence in the implications of the measurement, which for allergen analyses includes: the effectiveness of allergen controls, the levels of cross-contact, the allergen content of a finished product, compliance with a regulatory threshold for gluten. Consequently, this could lead to improvements, for example, in: mandatory & precautionary allergen labelling, allergen information in food service operations, best practice and better protection for the allergic consumer.

The way forward: Currently, when accredited laboratories (ISO17025) perform analyses of a homogenous sample in a proficiency testing round and use different ELISA test kits, submitted results differ.  The lack of metrological traceability inherent in the analyses leads to reduced confidence in the accuracy of the results and predictions made from them. The work necessary to address these urgent analytical needs has already been critically reviewed (Walker et al., 2015). The review identified three gaps (production of reference materials, a bioinformatics gap analysis and the development of reference methods) which need to be addressed by the co-ordinated efforts of the allergen analytical community – in particular, through the National Measurement Institutes (e.g. Joint Research Centre of the European Commission) and international collaborations (e.g. MoniQA). These gaps also impact the current work of those involved in standardisation, especially now that there are partnership agreements in place between AOAC/ISO and ISO/CEN. For example, CEN/TC 275/WG12 on Food Allergens is revising technical standards that will provide general considerations and minimum performance criteria for different types of allergen and gluten methods. All these efforts will help to ensure that different methods produce reliable, repeatable and comparable measurement results. Yet to compare results, the units of measurement need to be reported in the same way, preferably expressing the allergenic ingredient protein content and/or by providing a conversion factor. As we start 2019, there needs to be a greater move to adopt SI units which should mean avoiding the use of ‘parts per million’; instead expressing results for example as ‘mg gluten / kg of food’ or a ‘gluten content of 20 mg/kg food’.

Useful source:

Preparations for BREXIT

BrexitParliament has decreed that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on the 29th of March 2019.

Whilst the details surrounding the process are currently unclear, the impending departure will mean changes for us all.

Although Bio-Check (UK) develops and manufactures its products in the UK, we do obtain some supplies from overseas. Given the potential for customs checks to cause delays, we are temporarily increasing our stocks as a contingency.

If you intend to do the same with stocks of Bio-Check’s food testing kits, please do let us know without delay, so that we can make it possible to provide all our customers in these uncertain times.


Horizon scanning


Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK in Jan 2019:





– 2019 and beyond: Six trends shaping the supermarket of the future
– Seitan (wheat gluten) used in plant protein-based foods as vegetarian meat substitute
– This is no ordinary vegan blunder
– Tell the FSA what you think of their new recalls and withdrawals guidance
– ‘Protein glue’ processing aid could trigger coeliac disease, say researchers
– Japan lifts 23-year ban on British beef imposed after BSE crisis
– Team looks into risk of mycotoxin contamination in oats
– Food allergies affect more than 10% of US adults
– The Pret effect takes hold
– Report Says Europe’s Food Safety System ‘Overstretched’
– Stability for food prices worldwide in December 2018
– Four on trial in Paris over Horsemeat scandal
– ‘Food systems are ripe for technology disruption’
– Food allergies: Tougher labelling law to prevent deaths
– What is the future of vegan food?
– Plant-based labels argument continues
– Wheat made ‘gluten safe’ for coeliacs with gene editing technology

Follow us on Twitter to receive timely information about food adulteration and food contaminant issues that could be important to your business.

Gluten awareness, risk assessment and management

Various_grainsInternational Coeliac Day was held on 16th May 2018 to raise awareness of the disease across the globe; in the UK, the awareness campaign was extended into a week of activities (14th-20th May). Earlier in the year, Coeliac UK launched an initiative, as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, to raise £5m to support improvements to the lives of those with coeliac disease. As part of this initiative, Coeliac UK announced a new research fund to encourage developments in diagnostics, self-care and gluten-free food production. In North America, there have been developments in the field of certification; Allergen Control Group Inc. which owns and operates the only ISO 17021 accredited management scheme for gluten-free food production, was acquired by BRC Global Standards. This move is complimentary to BRC’s growth towards becoming a global brand and consumer protection organisation. Its food safety standard is already a global brand – having over 17,000 certified sites – and operates in over 90 countries. Issue 8 of the BRC food safety standard is expected to be published in August, with the first audits starting in February 2019.

Related products: onsite Gluten R5 FlowThrough™ tests for assessing the effectiveness of gluten controls; Gluten-Check™ ELISAs, an R5 Mendez method for quantifying the gluten content of ingredients, swab solutions & finished products; and Surface-Check™ Swabbing for collected environmental samples.

Allergy awareness, risk assessment and management

Lupin_jaune,_peau,_lupin_sans_sa_peau,_petit_pois,_lupin_intact_(avec_peau)Food Allergy Awareness week, a North American initiative organised by FARE, was held from the 13th-19th May to shine a light on food allergies and anaphylaxis through a programme of activities. In the UK, the Anaphylaxis Campaign organised their signature ‘Orange Wig’ day on the 18th May to raise awareness, funds and support for those with severe food allergies. On the 18th of September, the Campaign will also host its expert-led annual conference, ‘Developing a Safer Future’ for professionals in the food and pharmaceutical industries to gain key insights in the area. A recent publication by the University of Central Lancashire revealed the extent of allergy risk with takeaway foods, highlighting that takeaway staff believe that it is a customer’s responsibility to inform them about their food allergy and that 43% of staff mistakenly believe that offering water would dilute a food allergen to stop the reaction. The challenges of allergen control in industry were also highlighted this month by an annual survey on ‘Sanitation for Allergen Control’. It reported that specific cleaning sites were the most difficult sanitation issue, a finding that might be echoed by BRC non-conformances, where evidence of poor cleaning (section 4.11.1) is one of the top deviations from the standard. On 26th May mandatory allergen labelling requirements for lupin will begin in Australia and New Zealand; reflecting the continued global effort needed to improve the information provided to consumers.

Related products: onsite Allergen FlowThrough™ tests for assessing the effectiveness of allergen controls; 18 laboratory Allergen-Check™ ELISAs, for quantifying the allergen content of ingredients, swab solutions & finished products ; and Surface-Check™ Swabbing for collected environmental samples.

Protecting your data

legislation-3231548_960_720As I am sure you are aware, from 25th May the EU General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679; GDPR) gives you greater protection, rights and control over how your data is used. In response to this Regulation, Bio-Check (UK) would like to let you know how we are storing and using your data.

You do not need to do anything, other than read the information below.

We will:

  • Hold your data (e.g. contact details, purchasing history, product interests etc) securely.
  • Contact you when we believe there is a legitimate interest to do so (e.g. follow-up to orders and enquiries, updates to new products & services etc).
  • Not share your data with third parties. unless it is to fulfil services you have requested (e.g. provide shipping instructions to couriers).
  • If required, analyse your data to understand how we can continuously improve our services to you (e.g. in the context of customer satisfaction under our IS09001 accreditation).
  • Respect your preferences in respect of communications (e.g. remove you from our mailing list).

You can decide to stop us contacting you at any time, or ask us to amend your preferences, simply by informing us via

To understand more about the data we hold, control and use; please read our Privacy Policy

Horizon scanning

MC900299701  Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK in May 2018:

  • Cattlemen’s petition would cause chaos in the market place
  • Clean meat: traditional animal agriculture has reached capacity
  • Food allergen management in takeaways
  • New fund for research into coeliac disease and gluten-free production
  • Australia and New Zealand new lupin labelling deadline approaches
  • Traceability goes paperless in digital evolution
  • Breakthrough in toxic grain
  • What is happening in ATP testing?
  • BRC Global Standards acquire Allergen Control Group Inc
  • BRC Global Food Safety Issue 8 is coming soon


Follow us on Twitter to receive timely information about food adulteration and food contaminant issues that could be important to your business.

FSA investigation: withdrawal of meat products

steak-2272464_1280In January, the UK Food Standards Agency announced that it had taken action at a major meat business, resulting in a voluntary withdrawal of the manufacturer’s products from the supply chain and a stop on all products leaving the manufacturer’s various sites. The action came after an unannounced inspection of the company’s Birmingham site on the 12th January, where serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations was apparent. The business supplies a wide range of catering and hospitality outlets, including care homes and schools; the concern resulting from the investigation was of a systemic and widespread problem, which was more serious due to its scale and nature. Professor Chris Elliott tweeted on these reports that ‘this will further undermine trust in the entire UK food industry’. It also coincides with the FSA’s own biannual Public Attitude tracker where respondents rated ‘Food hygiene when eating out’ as the top food safety concern. The withdrawal should serve as a reminder of the importance of the management of suppliers of raw materials and packaging, which was a new fundamental in the 7th issue of BRC’s Global Standard for Food Safety. The monitoring of suppliers helps avoid any potential risks, from raw materials (including packaging) to the safety, authenticity, legality and quality of final products. For example, where raw materials are identified as being at high risk of adulteration, appropriate assurance and/or testing processes should be in place, especially if the available methods of detecting adulteration would be easy to implement. Bio-Check’s Raw Meat FlowThrough™ tests take only a few minutes to perform with minimal skill, can detect adulteration at the 1% Action Limit or surface cross-contamination at low levels. The availability of such simple tests is already mitigating vulnerabilities in the supply chain and improving hygiene. Please contact us to discuss your plans.

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