Archive: February 2015

What’s taken away in your takeaway

meat-on-sticksThe substitution of lamb for cheaper meats was raised as a concern in April last year when a Which? Survey found 40% of sampled lamb takeaways (principally kebabs) in London and Birmingham contained undeclared meats. The Food Standards Agency’s own UK-wide investigation soon afterwards sampled 307 lamb takeaway dishes (curries and kebabs) and found 21% were non-compliant for meat species declarations; of these 35% were below the 1% EU Action limit and were considered to be due to poor handling practices during preparation rather than adulteration. Beef, chicken, turkey and pork were detected in non-compliant samples. Local authorities (co-ordinated under the new Food Crime Unit) have investigated all these cases and taken appropriate action, including a number of prosecutions, which mean that operators face fines of up to £5,000. European Regulation 178/2002 defines the responsibility of businesses with regard to preventing food fraud, ensuring that they describe foods accurately and don’t mislead the consumer. Analytically, such investigations mainly use methods based on ELISA and PCR techniques to confirm the accuracy of labels. Though each has its own performance parameters, ensuring consistency between such techniques is made easier with the recent introduction by LGC of new reference materials of meat mixtures prepared under ISO Guide 34.  There are now six new mixtures of beef, chicken or turkey in sheep meat. Bio-Check recommends the use of such materials when validating a laboratory’s chosen analytical method. Contact us to discuss your method validation

Posted in Speciation

Undeclared peanut and almond cases

The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) own investigation of lamb takeaway dishes for meat substitution found that 7% of dishes with a sauce contained undeclared allergens. The levels of undeclared peanut and almond present were low but sufficient to elicit a reaction in sensitive consumers. The levels found are likely to be indicative of contamination of ingredients or cross-contamination during food preparation. In separate, unrelated incidents in North America, since the start of the year there has been a widespread series of recalls of undeclared peanut in foods, originally starting from a single recall concerning undeclared peanut in cumin. Since then the FDA has advised consumers with peanut allergy to avoid foods containing ground cumin or cumin spice. The contamination is believed to have occurred in the supply chain, in which there is a severe shortage following crop failures in the major growing regions of India. Following these cases in North America, the UK’s FSA launched a sampling programme to test for peanut and almond. Testing by the FSA and retailers revealed undeclared almond in two fajita products as well as in ground cumin; all three products were recalled.  A large, Scandinavian-owned spice producer has subsequently withdrawn some different spice blends across Scandinavia after paprika testing proved positive for almond. Even though these cases are unrelated, the spice industry is responding to the supply chain concerns; it has met with other stakeholders to better understand existing controls and vulnerabilities and conducted significant amounts of its own allergen testing. Both ELISA and PCR methods are being used to analyse samples, which by their nature, these sample types can be problematic. Contact us to discuss your testing requirements

Posted in Allergens

Horizon Scanning


Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK in February:




  • Imports that the US refuses due to food fraud issues
  • Scotland gets own crime unit to fight food fraud
  • LGC scientists have prepared 6 new meat mixture Reference Materials
  • Peanut allergy cut by early exposure
  • Record seizures of fake food & drink in INTERPOL operation
  • Unlabelled nuts in food prompt FSA investigation
  • US lawmakers propose bill to create single Food Safety agency
  • £30m food research centre for Belfast under way
  • Klenzan launch rapid Allergen and Species tests
  • 27% of lamb takeaways flout law
  • FSA welcomes fish fraud conviction


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Posted in About us