Posted on 1st November 2013 by biocheckuk.
Should the consumer now trust the foods they buy? This month the Food Standards Agency released the second quarterly report of industry testing of beef products for horsemeat or horse DNA. No horsemeat/horse DNA was reported above the 1% threshold. To date, a total of 32,404 results have been submitted and 47 samples found to be positive. There have been 5 arrests and no prosecutions since the Republic of Ireland Food Safety Authority released its finding of horsemeat in burgers on the 15th January. In February, the European Commission announced its’ 5 point action plan to tackle food fraud and will deliver a report shortly on the possible extension of mandatory origin labelling to all types of meat used as ingredient in foods. A review of the incident was commissioned on the 4th June to be led by Professor Chris Elliot, an interim report is expected in December and a final report in Spring next year.
Is there now the correct balance between industry testing and consumer expectations? The common view expressed at meetings this month (such as one hosted by SOFHT on the incident and the Association of Public Analysts conference on Food Fraud) is that there is a need for better intelligence and strict enforcement against the perpetrators. Testing was introduced as an emergency measure, the role testing is now playing is to reinforce improved traceability and readdress the reliance on assurance. It needs to be focussed, risk based and intelligence lead and the methods of analysis employed need to prove beyond reasonable doubt any instance of food fraud. The choice of tests available are expected to expand to address current limitations: onsite tests for real-time information; quantitative approaches and direct detection of specific protein biomarkers to create a peptide fingerprint. Bio-Check’s introduction of the onsite Raw Meat FlowThrough™ tests last month, is one example of such new approaches. Other methods already available include : the ELISA-TEK range of Raw and Cooked ELISAs (19) and our offering of universal primers (4) and species specific primers (18) for PCR.
Posted in Speciation