A panel of four leading experts, including Michael Walker (consultant referee analyst for the Government Chemist Programme) discuss food adulteration, fraud and prevention during a webinar organised by FoodQualityNews.
The Food Fraud Forum, which was broadcast live on 27 May 2015, is available to listen to on demand. It also featured Dr John Spink, from Michigan State University, Chris Van Gundy, from Keller and Heckman LLP, and Dr Paul Brereton from the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera).
Michael, who was a subject matter expert for Professor Chris Elliott during the Elliott review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks, described the Elliott review process and answered questions on definitions of food fraud (misdescription of food for financial gain), and the prevention of food fraud.
The engaging discussion included questions submitted live by listeners and covered a range of topics, including the risks industry faces throughout the supply chain, from those making the ingredients to the retailer selling the final product.
Around 200 people listened in, many with questions posed in quick-fire fashion to the panellists by Joe Whitworth, a French-based journalist with FoodQualityNews who organised and moderated the forum.
The current issues around the cumin recalls (rescinded in Canada) were touched on, as well as trust and traceability in the supply chain. The panellists agreed fraud had been in the supply chain for a long time, and was here to stay, but gave practical suggestions on how to put barriers in the way to – as John Spink put it – “keep the bad guys out of your business”.
Filed under: Allergies, EU Regulation/Legislation | Tags: allergens, Food labelling, foods
A fit and healthy 22-year-old girl collapses suddenly after eating a cake and is rushed to hospital. She spends three days in intensive care and five more days in hospital recovering. Poison might have been suspected but there is no investigation for attempted murder. The culprit is caught but walks free from court with just a £7,500 fine.
You may find this shocking, but this was a real UK court case in 2010. The poison: peanuts. The charge: selling falsely labelled food.
In a comment article in the latest issue of Chemistry and Industry magazine (13 March 2015), Michael Walker, Consultant Science Manager for the Government Chemist, and Hazel Gowland, from Allergy Action, discuss this court case as part of a recent review they carried out examining court cases in the UK involving fatalities, personal injury, or criminal non-compliance with food law.
The article outlines the role businesses must play in protecting people with food allergies and the need for tough sanctions if they fail in their duty. They explain the difficulties in detecting the presence of allergenic proteins in foods and why techniques for measuring allergens need to be standardised.
Visit the Chemistry and Industry website to access a copy of the article.
Filed under: Environment/Ecology | Tags: biofuels, Environmental, Food labelling
The Government has announced its intention to source all palm oil used in its central food and catering services from sustainable sources by the end of 2015. The Government will also set up an advice and information service to help UK businesses and government procurers work towards 100 % sustainable palm oil.
Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change and does arise in some areas of the world as a result of palm oil production. Palm oil and palm kernel oil are used in the food industry as frying fats and as ingredients in a wide range of foods such as biscuits, margarine, snacks and bakery products. They are also used in the production of biodiesel, in animal feed, and soaps and other cleaning products and cosmetics.
The question, from a measurement standpoint, is whether there is any laboratory test that can verify that palm oil is from a sustainable source or not? We know that geographical origin can be ascertained using techniques such as isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS), so can we predict a need for such services when this laudable scheme is implemented fully?
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have called for restaurants, pubs and caterers to state the country of origin of the food they sell.
Any legislation in this area will require enforcement laboratories to be able to distinguish between major ingredients of foods from different countries of origin, which will present a significant, but not insuperable, challenge.