12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

26 Feb 14

**Calls for more local authority powers to tackle food fraud
**Is plastic packaging contaminating food?
**Rotting meat found at Irish processing plant
**UK agency spearheads new EU FoodIntegrity project
**Illegal dyes found in sweets
**Veterinarian body speaks out against in vitro testing techniques for bacteria
**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
**The Food Safety Network

**Calls for more local authority powers to tackle food fraud
The UK Food Standard Agency's (FSA's) Director of Legal Strategy, Rod Ainsworth, has claimed in a report to be considered by the FSA board on 5th March, that local authorities need increased powers to enable them to deal with food fraud more effectively. Given the many instances of deliberate and criminal food fraud detected over the past 18 months, Ainsworth's view is that EU backing - as well as more funding - is required to counter industry opposition on the matter and give local authorities the power and the necessary resources to seize fraudulent foods. [Guardian]

**Is plastic packaging contaminating food?
A commentary in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health caused somewhat of a furore when its author, Dr Jane Muncke, claimed there was a public health risk from plastic packaging contaminating food and drink products. The Guardian reported on critiques of Muncke's claims from other scientists, who cited the very low levels of contamination; the fact that many of the chemicals referred to occur naturally in foodstuffs; and the worse contamination that is prevented and risk of tampering mitigated by packaging's protective function.

**Rotting meat found at Irish processing plant
It is currently being reported that rotting meat intended for use in burgers for human consumption was found at an Irish processor by Polish food safety inspectors during the horsemeat scandal. The Polish investigators' report claims the rotting green meat had been mixed with fresher meat in preparation for introduction into the supply chain for human food products. The manufacturer in question strongly denies these claims, countering that the meat had been kept for examination as part of the horsemeat enquiry, and had deteriorated during this process as it was repeatedly unpacked and handled. The manufacturer is supported in this defence by the Irish government; however, the Guardian quotes Mike Steel - who worked for the Northern Irish Agriculture Department as Head of Enforcement - expressing doubts about this explanation, as the "temperature in the refrigerated vehicle...should have been low enough to prevent significant deterioration [and]...if the meat had deteriorated I would have expected it to deteriorate more uniformly." [Irish Mirror]

**UK agency spearheads new EU FoodIntegrity project
25th February saw the launch of a five-year European Union project to detect and protect and against food fraud. Dubbed FoodIntegrity, the initiative is funded to the tune of €12 million by the EU, and a UK body - the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) - has been chosen as its leader. FoodIntegrity will encompass various aspects of safeguarding food authenticity: carrying out research on new methods, systems and processes; building an international network of relevant expertise; gap analysis and developing tools for horizon scanning. [labmate-online]

**Illegal dyes found in sweets
There has been widespread reporting in the national press about sweets containing dyes that potentially cause cancer found on sale in Bradford and across West Yorkshire. The illegal dyes were detected by West Yorkshire Trading Standards' Public Analyst during routine testing of some traditional Asian sweets. Criminal investigations have begun in response to the findings. [FoodManufacture]

**Veterinarian body speaks out against in vitro testing techniques for bacteria
The Association of Veterinarians in Industry (AVI) has spoken out in opposition to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regarding EFSA's use of in vitro testing to detect bacteria. AVI's position is that a particular haemolytic test used by EFSA does not distinguish between disease-causing and non-pathogenic bacteria, and that safety studies should be carried out on particular bacillus strains entering the food chain. [ThePoultrySite]

**Animal diseases updates and food poisoning outbreaks
Regular global updates on food poisoning outbreaks and animal diseases, such as avian influenza, foot and mouth, Ebola, SARS, and Anthrax can be found on the International Society for Infectious Diseases ProMED-mail web site.

**BITES safe food from farm to fork
TheBITES web site at Kansas State University (KSU) provides up-to-date details of food safety incidents around the world. It replaced the International Food Safety Network (iFSN) web site at KSU, which is no longer being kept up-to date. The Fsnet Archives are still available but only updated until September 2009.

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