Food Integrity Experts Agree On These Four Points
At the end of April 2021, the European Union (EU) food scientific community met virtually for the Food Integrity conference—and its outcomes showed that every sector of the industry are involved in food safety and fraud.
The panel discussions and presentations at the conference, originally funded by the EU FoodIntegrity project and now organized by New Food, displayed evidence from the public, private, legal, and even non-profit sectors.
Here are four standout conference takeaways that the food community and the public should be mindful of:
Food frauds haven’t decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting manufacturers and producers under increasing stress.
Main challenges for producers:
- Rapidly changing supply chain due to shutdown of industry sectors, production
- Changes in demand with panic-buying and shut down of restaurants and cafeterias
- Short-term changes in the manufacturing processes, due to safety measure to prevent the spread of the virus
- Suspensions/delay of audits and auditor visits
As shared by many panelists at the conference, risk assessment sustained by reliable analytical technique is key to maintain integrity, safety and trust for consumers. However, advanced technologies to detect biological contaminants are not new—these were already extensively used for the detection of allergens, microbial contamination, pathogens, and animal species (especially for religious dietary rules).
Country authorities constantly fight adulteration, but as mentioned during a panel, a collaborative approach would be beneficial to tackling this challenge, and that means trust and transparency must be ensured throughout the supply chain.
Labs have an important role in fighting food frauds: they need to support the supply chain being a step ahead criminal activities by identifying analytical methods, which could ensure robustness and accurate results.
For example, honey, which is recognized as one of the most adulterated foods, has a global consumption of a million tons yearly, Fourier transform near-infrared spectroscopy (FT-NIR) provides a quick, high quality testing method that allows for the detection of adulterants routinely.
To protect consumers’ health, brand reputation and the market, transparency and analytical solutions supporting clear label claims are needed.
Recently, mass spectrometry (MS) methods have become reliable, multi-target approaches for allergen identification. By identifying the contaminating allergens through detection of specific and prototype signature peptides, MS can deliver confidence for this challenging application.
- Analytical Workflows
With the growing cannabis, CBD, and hemp marketplace, there are increasing regulatory and safety concerns around these products and how to ensure a reliable product.
One panelist highlighted information about testing on how analytical technologies provide needed evidence and data quality of contaminants in raw materials and finished products. Quality testing is essential for CBD and cannabis producers and processors in order to guarantee quality to consumers and to meet current regulations.
LC-MS/MS can support labs with these needs, but testing must be integrated by full workflow to allow accurate sample preparation and software reporting. Workflow automation could be key so labs can focus on reporting and compliance.
A Comprehensive Analytical Approach
Fighting food fraud and preventing food safety scandals is becoming increasingly challenging as the sophistication of analytical techniques is increasing.
A new, combined approach to deal with the complex ingredient sourcing, food processing, and packaging processes could help address risk assessment needs.
Learn more about how to adapt your analytical needs: