UK Food crime unit recommended

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  • Published: Sep 4, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: MRI Spectroscopy / Raman / Proteomics / Chemometrics & Informatics / Base Peak / X-ray Spectrometry / Infrared Spectroscopy / NMR Knowledge Base / UV/Vis Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: UK Food crime unit recommended

A UK government report has recommended that a specialised crime unit be set up to deal with the growing problem of food crime. As the report's author, Chris Elliott from Queen's University Belfast says “Concerns have been expressed during this review that the term food fraud creates an impression of some kind of low grade infraction of the law, of a harmless minor breach of technical regulations of the kind that many hard pressed businesses may be tempted to resort to in difficult times.”

However, this can be far from the case with strong evidence that organised crime is moving into the area as there are big profits to be made and the penalties are milder than those for alternatives like drug dealing.

Some of the common fraud types include the intentional adulteration of foodstuffs with cheaper ingredients, some of which might not even be regarded as food substances. Take the well-publicised case in China recently where melamine was added to powdered milk to increase the apparent protein content. This was initially discovered because many children became ill and six eventually died.

One of the key recommendations involves the analysis of suspect food samples. An EU Reference Laboratory system should be identified for food authenticity testing because currently “no single institution in the UK could field the complete range of techniques with the required expertise.”

For the future “there should be a virtual network of laboratory "Centres of Excellence" co-ordinated by the Food Authenticity Steering Group. Such a virtual network will make the most effective and efficient use of each laboratory's individual capabilities."

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