Archive: July 2014

Horse meat investigation progress

Hackfleisch-1 (2)There has been some progress in July but the final report of the Elliott Review has been delayed. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced the results of the fourth quarterly report of industry testing of horse in meat products. It also reported the second round of the EU testing of undeclared horse in processed beef products.  The latest Industry testing report includes 3,395 new results for beef products, and 2,466 results for other (non-beef) meat products for the period from January 2014. A total of 50,876 results for horse meat/DNA in meat products have been submitted by industry to the FSA since 15 February 2013, based on immunoassay and DNA based methods. Of these, 47 were positive samples. No new positive results at or above the 1% threshold level have been reported since the first quarterly report in June 2013. The latest EU testing round of 150 processed meat sample samples (e.g. ready meals containing beef, canned beef products, beef sausages, beef burgers, minced beef and beef meat balls) were taken by 24 local authorities (between 21 April and 16 June 2014) and reported no traces of horse meat at or above the 1% threshold as determined by DNA analysis. Some samples were analysed for other meat species (other than horse) and of these 3 minced beef samples from butchers contained other meats at 1-5% as a result of cross-contamination and one sausage sample contained chicken above the level indicated on the label (which is now being investigated). Meanwhile Professor Chris Elliott’s final report reviewing the integrity and assurance of British food supply networks is still awaited. The Government re-shuffle on the 15th July has meant there is a new Secretary of State for DEFRA, Elizabeth Truss MP, who announced the delay on the 17th July but offered no explanation. Professor Elliot submitted his report in June with a number of recommendations to address the gaps in tackling food crime. Meanwhile the Food Industry has drafted revised standards (e.g. BRC) to include systems to verify authenticity and effective traceability of raw materials. Bio-Check believes the Industry need for testing and vigilance in this area will continue given the perceived threats to the supply chain.

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Posted in Speciation

Regulatory Changes for Food Allergens

UnitedStates-Europe mergeThere are two significant changes coming into effect. In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Final Rule for defining ‘Gluten-Free’ in the labelling of foods reaches its date for compliance (5th August 2014). In the UK, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published its Technical Guidance to assist small and medium sized business comply with the new European Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIC). The new rules for allergen labelling of pre-packed and non-prepacked foods come into force on the 13th December 2014. Both initiatives follow periods of public consultation. (i) The FDA Final Rule specifies the requirements for a “gluten-free” claim to be made and includes the regulatory threshold of 20 ppm gluten (i.e. below 20 mg gluten per kg of food) consistent with the Codex Standard (118:1979) and the European Regulation (41/2009). When analysis of food is used for the basis of compliance the FDA have specified that they would use a scientifically valid method that can reliably detect the presence of 20ppm gluten in a variety of foods (including both raw and cooked or baked). They decided against specifying analytical methods in order not to limit the testing options, a different position to Codex where a preferred method (R5 Mendez ELISA) is stated; this is currently under review. (ii) The FIC new rules for allergen labelling now include businesses that supply non-prepacked foods who can use a variety of means to declare to their customers the inclusion of any one of the regulated 14 food allergens. Importantly, the allergen information should be accurate, consistent and verifiable upon challenge. For example, any foods where ingredients are unknown or there is uncertainty, would require further investigation before the allergen status of that food can be verified; this could include food analysis when appropriate. Both Regulations establish new requirements and uniform conditions for the provision of food allergen information, which will help ensure that individuals with coeliac disease and /or food allergies are not misled and are provided with truthful and accurate information with respect to foods.

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Posted in Allergens