12 January - 20 June 2016

Food safety

  • Codex agree on guidelines for the control of Salmonella in beef and pork & guidelines on food hygiene to control foodborne parasites
  • Enzymes in pineapple found to cure diarrhoea in piglets
  • A Foodborne Illness Strategy for Scotland Consultation
  • What are we really eating?
  • Vegetables from Mars?
  • EFSA publish statement on the presence of microplastics and nanoplastics in food
  • National Food Crime Unit launches a new reporting facility - ‘Food Crime Confidential’
  • EFSA to evaluate the effect of BPA on the immune system
  • Guide published on authenticity of herbs and spices
  • New multipart ISO standard to validate microorganism testing methods for the food industry

Codex agree on guidelines for the control of Salmonella in beef and pork & guidelines on food hygiene to control foodborne parasites
The guidelines adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission focus on practices from primary production to processing to prevent, reduce, or eliminate Salmonella in fresh beef and pork. In addition, the best way for consumers to avoid becoming sick from eating meat that may be contaminated with Salmonella is to cook it thoroughly. (FAO)

The guidelines adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission provide information on hygienic production of various types of foods to control parasites and protect health. (FAO)
View all guidelines approved

Enzymes in pineapple found to cure diarrhoea in piglets
Australian scientists have reported that enzymes found in the stems and roots of pineapples can cure diarrhoea in piglets, reducing the reliance on antibiotics. Researcher Rob Pike from La Trobe University states that the alternative treatment may also be effective in humans, given the similarities in physiology and anatomy between humans and pigs. It is thought that developing a natural alternative to treating diarrhoea in pigs and humans would significantly help with tackling the global superbug problem.  The three enzymes, called bromelain, work by preventing bacteria from attaching to cells within the gut, denying the bacteria the chance to evolve and become resistant.  The Sydney Morning Herald reports that pig farmers rely heavily on antibiotics to treat scour, pre-weaning diarrhoea, in piglets.

A Foodborne Illness Strategy for Scotland Consultation
The Food Standards Scotland (FSS) Strategy to 2021 sets out the agency’s vision to create a food and drink environment in Scotland that benefits, protects and is trusted by consumers. A key objective for delivering this vision, which is set out in the Food (Scotland) 2015 Act, is to protect the public from risks to health which may arise in connection with the consumption of food. The Food Standards Agency Scotland are consulting on a draft of its proposal.  The foodborne illness risks addressed by the strategy are:   pathogenic bacteria and viruses, biotoxins, chemical contaminants and radiological contaminants.  The framework of the strategy is based on a source – pathway – receptor approach, targeting the key transmission pathways for foodborne illness from the source of the contaminant through all stages of the food chain to the final consumer.

What are we really eating?
The ITV Tonight’s programme Food Fraud - what are we really eating” has analysed food from a number of takeway restaurants in Blackpool to investigate fraud.  A scientist, commissioned by the programme, analysed four takeaway meals: two curries, a kebab and a pizza.  A lamb madras curry, lamb korma and doner kebab which were all thought to contain lamb were found to contained beef and no lamb.  A pizza which was described as containing 100% mozzarella was found to contain cheese made from a blend containing 30% fake cheese.  Andy Morling from the National Food Crime Unit is quoted as saying: “If you look in the average shopping basket, everything within the shopping basket has the vulnerability to be subject to fraud.”

RSSL can perform meat speciation using UKAS accredited ELISA techniques to identify the presence of pork, beef, lamb, poultry and horse. Our authenticity testing covers coffee, sources of milk for dairy products, premium and speciality oils (including olive oil authenticity). For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Vegetables from Mars?
Dutch scientists have successfully managed to grow four types of vegetable and cereals in soil similar to that found on Mars.  Radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes were found to contain no dangerous levels of heavy metals and so are reported to be safe to eat.  Since 2013, the team from Wageningen University and Nasa have manged to grow 10 crops.  Further tests are needed on the six remaining crops, including potatoes, to check for safety.  (The Guardian)

EFSA publish statement on the presence of microplastics and nanoplastics in food
Following a request from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the EFSA Panel for Contaminants in the Food Chain was asked to deliver a statement on the presence of microplastics and nanoplastics in food, with particular focus on seafood. Primary microplastics are plastics originally manufactured to be that size, while secondary microplastics originate from fragmentation. Nanoplastics can originate from engineered material or can be produced during fragmentation of microplastic debris. Microplastics range from 0.1 to 5,000 μm and nanoplastics from approximately 1 to 100 nm (0.001–0.1 μm). There is no legislation for microplastics and nanoplastics as contaminants in food. Methods are available for identification and quantification of microplastics in food, including seafood. Occurrence data are limited. In contrast to microplastics no methods or occurrence data in food are available for nanoplastics. Microplastics can contain on average 4% of additives and the plastics can adsorb contaminants. Both additives and contaminants can be of organic as well of inorganic nature. Based on a conservative estimate, the presence of microplastics in seafood would have a small effect on the overall exposure to additives or contaminants. Toxicity and toxicokinetic data are lacking for both microplastics and nanoplastics for a human risk assessment. It is recommended that analytical methods should be further developed for microplastics and developed for nanoplastics and standardised, in order to assess their presence, identity and to quantify their amount in food. Furthermore, quality assurance should be in place and demonstrated. For microplastics and nanoplastics, occurrence data in food, including effects of food processing, in particular, for the smaller sized particles (< 150 μm) should be generated. Research on the toxicokinetics and toxicity, including studies on local effects in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, are needed as is research on the degradation of microplastics and potential formation of nanoplastics in the human GI tract.

National Food Crime Unit launches a new reporting facility - ‘Food Crime Confidential’
National Food Crime Unit has launched ‘Food Crime Confidential’ - a reporting facility where food crime can be reported safely and in confidence, over the phone and through email. The facility is particularly targeted at those working in or around the UK food industry. The FSA’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) works with partners to protect people from serious criminal activity that impacts the safety or authenticity of food and drink they consume. (FSA)

RSSL's Emergency Response Service (ERS) helps customers deal with a wide range of product emergencies and offers advice on crisis management. It operates 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.  To request an ERS presentation or find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

EFSA to evaluate the effect of BPA on the immune system
EFSA has set up a working group of international experts to evaluate new scientific evidence on the potential effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on the immune system. EFSA’s expert Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids will issue a scientific statement regarding the new information after its 13-15 September plenary meeting. ​  EFSA is conducting the review following publication of a report by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) that raises concerns about the effects of BPA on the immune system of foetuses and young children. The report by RIVM critically examines two studies describing pre- and perinatal effects of BPA on the immune system by Menard et al. (2014) that were unpublished when EFSA reviewed the available scientific literature for its 2014 risk assessment of BPA. The report recommends supporting research on alternatives to BPA and advising consumers to reduce their exposure to BPA from food and other sources

Guide published on authenticity of herbs and spices
The BRC, FDF and SSA have produced a guide on the authenticity of herbs and spices.  In 2015 there was an incident in Canada and the United States where certain batches of ground cumin and paprika tested positive for undeclared peanut protein.  A sampling programme was set up in the UK to investigate whether this was a large scale adulteration case.  However the FSA found only traces of peanut and almond in some products, indicating cross-contamination rather than large scale adulteration.  A workshop was set up to determine whether there were weaknesses in the supply chain associated with dried herbs and spices in the UK. A guidance document has now been produced based on recommendations arising from the workshop.  It includes advice on how to identify vulnerabilities in supply chains, and preventative measures that should be considered.

RSSL can verifying the authenticity of dried oregano.  RSSL are industry experts in allergens, and provide a comprehensive range of testing, training and food allergen consultancy services to help you control and manage allergens within manufacturing and retailing.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

New multipart ISO standard to validate microorganism testing methods for the food industry
The ISO 16140:2003 for the validation of alternative (proprietary) microbiological methods has been revised and now provides a specific protocol and guidelines for the validation of methods both proprietary or not.  ISO 16140-1:2016 Microbiology of the food chain – Method validation- part 1 Vocabulary defines general terms and definitions relating to method validation of microbiology in the food chain. ISO 16140-2:2016, Microbiology of the food chain – Method validation – Part 2: Protocol for the validation of alternative (proprietary) methods against a reference method specifies the general principle and the technical protocol for the validation of alternative, mostly proprietary, methods for microbiology in the food chain. Validation studies according to ISO 16140-2:2016 are intended to be performed by organisations involved in method validation. (ISO)

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