Health knowledge made personal
Join this community!
› Share page:
Search posts:

CROWN CAPITAL ECO MANAGEMENT /Food fraud tackled by forensic scientists

Posted Nov 10 2012 6:43am

Imagine tucking into a fine fillet of "British" beef, only to learn it actually came from Australia. Or drinking "French" wine that actually came from California.

What if the "Italian" olive oil you pour over the accompanying salad originated in Morocco?

That might not be so bad, you may think.

But what if a bottle of vodka you'd purchased in good faith is tainted with methanol, making it lethal to drink?

Or the baby food you feed your youngest is not what the label on the jar said it is?

As global trade has increased, so has the potential for food fraud, where fraudsters lie or hide the true provenance of produce.

Alongside food safety and health fears, its raises concerns over quality control, reputational damage and lost revenue, and puts the spotlight on illegal activity.

Now some firms are taking to using scientists, a type of food "crime scene investigators", to tackle the issue.

Faking it

In a world where food is exported and imported every day, how do you prove that the origin of a product is legitimate?

A company in New Zealand has developed a scientific origin system which maps and catalogues "food fingerprints".

"What we do needs to be able to stand up in court," says Dr Helen Darling, from Oritain.

Most food supply chains use predominantly paper-based systems to trace the origin of food, such as following barcodes.

But while these show the route a product has travelled and how, and "whatever kind of details you want to capture in that system", says Dr Darling, Oritain's proof of origin "cannot be faked".

Oritain's scientific liaison officer Rebecca McLeod says it ties food and drinks back to their geographic origin, by measuring the geochemical fingerprint of say, an apple, as well as the fingerprint of the soil it grew in, and that of the surrounding atmosphere.

"We look at the concentrations of a whole suite of different metal elements - present in the soil, and get introduced by things like fertilisers, and taken up by plants, and we can trace them to animals that eat plants as well.


Related Videos:  

Post a comment
Write a comment:

Related Searches