Vicam receives Market Leadership award

Vicam logoVICAM (a Waters Business) receives the 2016 North American Food Safety Diagnostics Market Leadership Award from Frost & Sullivan. The announcement on the 14th July commented that “With its wide portfolio of rapid tests for mycotoxins coupled with its access to the latest research advancements, industry expertise, and regulatory updates, VICAM is poised to meet the safety testing needs of every sector of the modern and complex global food supply chain for food and beverages.” Bio-Check (UK) is pleased to represent Vicam as their exclusive distributor in the UK and Ireland and congratulate them on this recognition.


Ensuring reliable tests for aflatoxins in corn

CSince the early 1990’s the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has provided a rapid test kits evaluation programme for detection of mycotoxins in grains and oilseeds. On the 16th June the USDA informed Vicam that their Afla-V Aqua test kit has been approved for quantitative aflatoxin determinations in corn (including dent or field corn, corn meal, cracked corn, corn flour, corn grits or polenta, and corn screenings). The Afla-V Aqua is a lateral flow based test that utilises a water based extraction and the Vertu reader for quantitative measurements that can be performed in 5 minutes. Test kits meeting GIPSA’s Design Criteria and Test Performance Specifications receive a Certificate of Conformance and can be used in the Official Inspection System. Afla-V Aqua is the third Vicam test to be approved under the scheme, the other two are Afla-V and AflaCheck.

Easter holidays 2016

easter eggOur office will be closed for the UK public holidays:

Friday 25th until Tuesday 29th March 2016.

Urgent enquiries should be sent through our web site or by contacting individual staff directly. We would like to take this opportunity to remind customers to ensure they have sufficient stock to cover this period.

Enjoy the Easter holiday

Christmas & New Year holidays

Christmas bellsOur office will be closed for the public holidays:

Thursday 24th until Tuesday 29th December
and Friday 1st January 2016.

Urgent enquiries should be sent through our web site or by contacting individual staff directly. We would like to take this opportunity to wish you our best wishes for Christmas and for the coming year.

New Allergen-Check kits for testing wine

Two new Allergen-Check ELISA kits, Ovalbumin-Check and Lysozyme-Check have been launched for detecting protein residues from finings in wine. In addition the validation of the Casein-Check kit has been extended to include both red and white wine. In Europe, Regulation No. 579/2012 applies to wine and wine fining agents derived from egg and milk. In determining whether egg and milk fining agents are still present in wine, they should not be found above a level of 0.25 mg per litre (parts per million, PPM). If egg or milk fining agents are absent or present below this level they are exempt from the allergen labelling requirements in Europe; whereas, they need to be declared if found at 0.25 mg/L (PPM) and above. The O.I.V. (International Organisation of Vine and Wine) has established the following requirements for ELISA method determinations: LOD of 0.25 mg/L (PPM), Lower Limit Of Quantitation of 0.50 mg/L (PPM) and a recovery rate of between 80% and 105%. The performance of the three Allergen-Check wine kits (Casein, Lysozyme and Ovalbumin) have been validated and fulfil the performance criteria of the O.I.V.  Contact us to discuss your wine testing

Investigation into herbs and spices supply chain

As the number of recalls for the presence of undeclared allergens in spices and herbs increases across North America and Europe the root cause of the problem is not yet known. There has also been a RASFF Alert followed by product withdrawals for traces of peanut found in pili pili powder (derived from chilli peppers) from China and distributed to Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Slovakia, South Korea, UAE and the UK. One of the suppliers of products in which contamination with almond is alleged has challenged the accuracy of analytical results of the official regulator. The specificity of any test method can be affected by the presence of closely related analytes reacting in a way that it is difficult to distinguish from that of the true response for the target analyte; this leads to so called ‘false positive’ results. Such cross-reactivity and interference studies are normally included in the validation of methods and ideally must use materials of guaranteed purity relevant to the samples being tested. Almond is a member of the Prunus genus of trees and shrubs, which includes apricot, cherry, peach and plum. The aromatic spice mahlab or mahaleb is prepared from dried, ground cherry kernels and could be present in the spice supply chain. Currently, test kit manufacturers are checking the cross-reactivity of their ELISA kits to this and other spices. Preliminary results for the Almond-Check kit indicate that this kit cross-reacts, as expected, to apricot and cherry seed proteins; chilli powder that may or may not have been contaminated through the supply chain reacted at a low level but the assay did not cross-react with cumin or paprika. In similar studies, the Peanut-Check kit did not cross-react with chilli, cumin or paprika, though fenugreek (also a legume) reacted at a low level. Since the samples of spices tested were obtained from industry the purity of supplies cannot be guaranteed. Although false positivity could be an issue, the chilli and fenugreek could be contaminated and the finding of mostly negative results is encouraging. A revised Validation report for these kits will be issued once all findings have been confirmed. Contact us to discuss your spice testing

Horizon Scanning


Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK in March:




  • First prosecution as a result of the horsemeat incident
  • The importance of Food Traceability
  • South Africa’s worst drought since 1992 prompts corn imports
  • India plans to target very serious issue of food adulteration
  • Food fraud fines to soar as deterrent to criminals
  • China’s make-or-break year for food safety reform
  • Wine expert explains how to catch the cheats
  • FDA food recalls down in Q4 but the number of affected units rockets by 142%
  • Scope for improvement in food authenticity industry
  • What is the world’s biggest cash crop?
  • Cereal study urges US focus on oats


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.

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

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