Archive: November 2014

Protection against Food Fraud

Cheese_55_bg_061806 (2)The UK food and drink manufacturing industry had a turnover of £92 billion in 2012 and the industry makes up the largest of our manufacturing sector. For any fraudsters motivated by economic gain the industry is a tempting target. The industry has a gross value added of £24billion; the temptation for fraudsters is to earn a share, for example by dilution or substitution. The unintentional consequences of such actions often affect public health, sometimes seriously, for example in 2008 melamine in Chinese infant formula affected an estimated 300,000 individuals and led to infant deaths. In contrast, the concern over potential residues of the veterinary painkiller phenylbutazone (‘bute’) in horsemeat last year was fortunately declared to be a very low risk to health. New approaches have been developed to protect the industry, for example using Threat Assessment of Critical Control Points (TACCP) against the threat of malicious attacks. The Elliott report published in September identified eight integrated recommendations to address food crime; embedded in one of these was an encouragement for industry to sample, test and supervise food supplies at all stages of the food chain. When fraudsters actively seek to avoid detection, any strategy for protection has to involve innovation in methods of detection. These are topics covered in two conferences where Bio-Check are present in November, on 5th  organised by Campden BRI and 24th / 25th  organised by LGC.

Posted in Allergens, Speciation

Mycotoxin warnings

wap_03_bg_030406The challenge from mycotoxins is forever changing due for example to seasonal growing conditions, climate change, crop practices and land use. There is no single strategy that copes with the vast array of mycotoxins – over 400 are known about – which predominantly produced by Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium mould species. Warnings about their occurrence are issued in Europe by RASFF Food and Feed Safety Alerts, a system which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. During the last month alerts included aflatoxins in: roasted salted pistachios from the US; dried figs from turkey; whole emmer wheat pasta from Italy; maize from Serbia and melon seeds from the Netherlands.  In the UK, farmers are well informed about mycotoxin risks throughout the growing season by the Home Grown Cereal Authority and also by regular independent surveys. A recent such report warned farmers that feedstuffs could be more at risk; an analysis of last year’s forages revealed that 75% contained at least one mycotoxin. This month, experts met in Vienna at the World Mycotoxin Forum to discuss the global impact of mycotoxins. Topics included an incident in the Balkans early last year when there were reports of nationwide contamination of milk for human consumption by aflatoxin M1, believed to be from contaminated feed. There have also been recent outbreaks of aflatoxicoses in East Africa. As part of a strategy for the prevention and mitigation of the harmful effects of mycotoxins through detection, Vicam revealed its latest innovations at the meeting; these included its range of front line screening tests Vertu (e.g. Afla-M1) as well as its world-renowned range of multitoxin immunoaffinity columns.

Posted in Mycotoxins

Horizon Scanning



Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK this last month:


  • Investigation reveals that goat’s cheese made from sheep’s milk is being sold
  • A Swiss Wildlife Park is serving its animals as carpaccio
  • Handbook of food allergen control and detection – new publication
  • Gluten free foods set to get much healthier
  • Projects seeks evidence for de-sinewed meat
  • FSA checks for soya in wheat flour
  • Tackling the Global Food Crisis: Supply Chain Integrity
  • Window of opportunity before allergen thresholds


Follow us on Twitter to receive ‘up to the minute’ market information about food adulteration and food contaminant issues that could be important to your business.

Posted in About us