Archive: January 2015

Horizon Scanning


Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK in January:




  • First person to face jail over horsemeat scandal
  • Peanut allergy researchers say they may have found a cure
  • Vicam video communicates mission
  • Recommendations of the post-horsemeat reviews
  • 5 of the most common food packaging and labelling errors
  • Invitation to food scholars in fake Gulf halal food case
  • UN FAO global food price monitor
  • Quaternary ammonium compound maximum residue levels
  • Key changes and focus in BRC Food Safety issue 7
  • Food Unwrapped Diet Special
  • The origins of some of our food allergies


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Posted in About us

Thresholds for unintended allergens?

TThe Four Food Groupshe lack of data on allergen thresholds is preventing the development of effective, evidence-based food allergen control plans in food manufacture and clinical management strategies for allergy sufferers. Consumer confidence in the allergen content information offered by food businesses has now become even more important following the introduction last month of the new Food Information to Consumers Regulation (No. 1169/2011). All food businesses (including e.g. restaurants, takeaways, bakeries and delicatessens) must now declare any of 14 identified allergenic ingredients which are used in non-pre packed or loose foods that are sold or provided to consumers. Therefore for the purpose of mandatory ingredient and voluntary ‘may contain’ statements, identifying levels below which sensitive consumers will not react would be desirable to help provide reliable advice. A recent paper entitled ‘How much is too much’ by Ballmer-Weber et al presented new findings for five food allergens: peanut, hazelnut, celery, fish, and shrimp. They found that four produced similar dose distributions, with estimated doses eliciting reactions in 10% of the allergic population (ED10), ranging from 1.6 to 10.1 mg of protein for hazelnut, peanut, and celery; ED10 values for fish were somewhat higher (27.3 mg of protein) but shrimp provided a radically different ED10 value of 2.5 g of protein. Assuming that there is a theoretical value below which no individual reacts, in this study, it might be expected to be below 3μg/g of protein. VITAL 2.0 already uses clinical data to provide a risk assessment tool for food producers. It allows an assessment of allergen cross-contact to be made when providing appropriate precautionary labelling on products. The action levels that determine whether the ‘may be present’ statement is used are based on portion/serving size and can for the more potent allergens can set a challenge for current allergen detection test methods at the higher serving size. (500g; e.g. for mustard the reference dose is 50μg protein therefore the action level for a 500g serving is 0.1μg/g protein, whereas Mustard-Check ELISA Lower Limit Of Quantitation is 0.5μg/g protein). Contact us to discuss your testing

Posted in Allergens

New focus on food fraud in BRC Issue 7

BRC i7The 7th issue of BRC’s Global Standard for Food Safety has been published and becomes effective on 1st July 2015. There are many new considerations for those involved with food testing. Whilst it represents an evolution of many of the existing requirements, there are now 12 fundamental requirements which must be adhered to at all times and will require objective supporting evidence. Two new fundamentals are introduced: a focus on improving the management of suppliers of raw materials and packaging (3.5.1) and labelling and pack control (Section 6.2). Concern continues over the unabated rise in product recalls (e.g. 16% rise in Q4 2014, Stericycle) with food allergens representing a growing and major cause (e.g. FDA FRF reports note a more than 30% growth from 2009 to 2012). There is a common belief that these recalls can be significantly reduced by adoption of such measures as are required by Issue 7. Avoidance of food fraud, defence of reputation and product authenticity – and ways of ensuring them – are now hotly debated following the European horsemeat incident (2013). Using BRC Standard 7, the monitoring of suppliers helps avoid any potential risks from raw materials (including packaging) to the safety, authenticity, legality and quality of the final product. Additionally, there are more stringent requirements for the fundamental of traceability (3.9); certified sites must not only have an effective system themselves, but also have evidence that their suppliers do as well. Further, the Global Food Safety Initiative believe that food fraud mitigation should be an integral part of a company’s food safety management system, the company should perform a food fraud vulnerability assessment (5.4.2) and have a food fraud control plan to mitigate any identified vulnerabilities (see guideline PAS 96:2014 from the FSA).  For example, where raw materials are identified as being at high risk of adulteration, appropriate assurance and/or testing processes shall be in place (5.4.3), especially if the available methods of detecting adulteration would be easy to implement e.g. the Raw Meat FlowThrough test takes only 12 minutes, requires minimal skill yet detects at the 1% Action Limit. The availability of such simple tests is already resulting in more testing being performed and should also mean greater openness and transparency in sharing results. This trend towards greater ‘joining up of the dots’ between suppliers and manufacturers could lead to new insights for all.  Contact us to discuss your plans


Posted in Allergens, Mycotoxins, Speciation