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Food & Beverage Reporter Jan-Feb 2016

12 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 | FOOD & BEVERAGE REPORTER O ne of the safety areas of increasing concern in the global food supply web is food fraud, estimated to cost the industry between $10-15-billion a year and which has always been difficult to detect. But that is changing thanks to smart new gene sequencing technology. Leading the way is global food analysis lab SGS, which recently entered into a partnership with biotechnology company Biopremier, a specialist in DNA sequencing of agri-foods. The two companies are using next-generation (gene) sequencing (called NGS) to tackle and reduce food fraud. In a media release, the companies say that in an industry where customer and consumer trust is paramount, their gene sequencing technology will make identifying the biological content of food “faster, more efficient and without the risk of false positive results”. NGS is a DNA diagnostic tool which identifies the biological content of a food sample. Sources can be meat, microorganisms, plants, seafood and allergens. Unlike traditional PCR (polymerase chain reaction) lab analysis, which identifies or excludes specific targets one test at a time, with NGS a single test can analyse and identify the full biological content of a food sample. For example, with just one test NGS can tell you exactly which meat species are present in a hamburger. SGS says its partnership with Biopremier gives it access to an NGS database of more than 4 000 species of meat, and new species are being added all the time. For fish, molluscs, crustaceans, spices, birds and others, the NGS database is even bigger. The potential benefits of NGS to the food industry are immense. The companies say with NGS it is now possible to quickly and cost-effectively test for meat and seafood substitution, and allergen contamination. “Our partnership with Biopremier is a real advantage for SGS’ food supply chain customers. It can help to speed up testing, reduce food fraud and improve food safety,” says Olivier Coppey, SGS EVP. FOOD SAFETY Smart new DNA tools to combat food fraud Food Fraud 101 The UK Foods Agency defines food fraud as the deliberate placement of food on the market for financial gain with the intention of deceiving the consumer. Although there are many kinds of food fraud, the two main types are: 1. The sale of food which is unfit and potentially harmful, such as: • recycling of animal by-products back into the food chain • packing and selling of beef and poultry with an unknown origin • knowingly selling goods which are past their use-by date 2. The deliberate mis-description of food, such as: • products substituted with a cheaper alternative, for example, farmed salmon sold as wild, and Basmati rice adulterated with cheaper varieties • making false statements about the source of ingredients i.e. their geographic, plant or animal origin Publisher’s note: Michigan State University has a pioneering Food Fraud Initiative headed by Dr John Spink (who’s also a special advisor to the Chinese Government). Their website is an excellent resource for those interested in food fraud issues and they also offer an online course (called a MOOC) on food fraud (free and open to anyone, but 2016 dates not yet set). Their most recent report is a review of the counterfeit wines problem - the passing off of plonk as rare vintages at eye-watering prices. Find the MSU programme here: database of more than 4000 species

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