Archive: May 2014

Food Crime under the spotlight

Food FraudProfessor Chris Elliott’s final report reviewing the integrity and assurance of British food supply networks is expected next month. The interim report made 48 recommendations to address the gaps in tackling ‘food crime’ following the horsemeat scandal, covering: Consumers First, Zero Tolerance, Intelligence Gathering, Laboratory Services, Audit, Government Support, Leadership, and Crisis Management. It will be for the UK Government to implement any improvements. Professor Elliott commented on Twitter that he believed his recommendations would get a fair hearing, in spite of earlier reports to the contrary. The negative impact of food fraud is now more widely recognised; it undermines consumer confidence and business. Furthermore food fraud is a global risk to the supply chain and is not restricted to the UK. Consequently, the importance of this new risk to the global supply chain is likely to be incorporated in Issue 7 of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety to be launched at the end of the year. The draft revised standard is currently in consultation with comments required back by the end of May. Unsurprisingly, systems to verify authenticity and effective traceability of raw materials are under consideration; these are systems where testing will play its part (e.g. onsite, ELISA, PCR for species identification). If food crime was not enough to undermine consumer confidence; the media has recently attacked some food retailers for not labelling foods that contain halal meat.

Posted in Speciation

Food Allergen Thresholds

Food AllergensBio-Check attended the 8th Workshop on Food Allergen Methodologies this month in Vancouver, Canada. The conference discussed the international approaches to allergen thresholds protecting the health of consumers following avoidance diets for medical reasons. In the case of gluten, there has been a consensus to apply a safe threshold of 20ppm gluten to gluten-free products but not for other allergens. The analytical tools (onsite, screening, confirmatory) needed as prerequisites to support such a method based approach expose many challenges. The lack of Reference Materials needed to evaluate and validate methods is fundamental to the enforcement of safe limits. The complexity and diversity of food composition means that ‘one- size-fits-all’ approaches to analysis are unrealistic; not only are a diversity of analytical approaches required but new ones as well. For example, highly processed and fermented foods attracted attention as one category of foods where current gluten detection methods have limitations: by detecting a specific target they are unable to detect other relevant peptide fragments. The work on thresholds is being driven through research organisation such as FARRP, TNO, ILSI and industry groups such as VITAL. In many cases, they are working collaboratively, which will increase the prospect for harmonisation of thresholds. Using the most robust scientific data they are establishing references doses for each allergen for which action levels can be set. The reference doses are considered conservative, protecting all but the most sensitive individuals. They are also a reminder that, when assessing the risk of food allergens, as well as their prevalence and severity, their potency needs to be considered as well.

Posted in Allergens

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Posted in About us