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Welcome to AgroisoBlog


We aim to educate and enlighten about Stable Isotope Analysis and other counter fraud techniques.


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By Agroisolab, Oct 6 2017 08:53AM

African swine fever virus (ASFV) can spread very rapidly in pig populations
African swine fever virus (ASFV) can spread very rapidly in pig populations

Recent outbreaks of African swine fever in Europe has prompted China to reduce its import quota of European pork due to the threat of the infection spreading throughout China’s own supply chains.

China contains half the world’s pork-producing pigs so the potential of the virus advancing is considered a high risk.

The virus which is found more so in wild boar than in commercial herds can have a devastating impact on the pork industry. African swine fever is a serious, highly contagious, viral disease of pigs. African swine fever virus (ASFV) can spread very rapidly in pig populations by direct or indirect contact. It can persist for long periods in uncooked pig products, facilitating its introduction into new areas.

This virus can also become endemic in feral or wild suids (hooved animals), and transmission cycles between these animals and Ornithodorids ticks can complicate or even prevent eradication. ASFV isolates vary in virulence from highly pathogenic strains that cause near 100% mortality to low–virulence isolates that can be difficult to diagnose. There is no vaccine or treatment.

With such a large customer of European pork, China’s reduction in pork imports means there is a further risk of the surplus pork being mislabelled and re-distributed into the European market place.

When these events occur, whether it be a Disease outbreak, or contamination within a supply chain the 5 main reasons why mislabelling occur are.

• Food fraud / intentional mislabelling for profit

• Weak quality management systems

• Lack of understanding of the supply chain / buying in bulk off a screen

• Products shipped abroad for processing

• Suppliers using ANY means to meet the tough demands of a contract

Agroisolab recommends conducting origin tests for any pork or pig meat products declared as British. For information concerning origin testing for pork please use the link provided to see our current offers

By Agroisolab, Sep 29 2017 03:46PM

2 Sisters Food Group are accused of altering food safety dates on chicken
2 Sisters Food Group are accused of altering food safety dates on chicken

Following an investigation by the Guardian and ITV news, 2 Sisters Food Group has been discovered to be tampering with food safety records. 2 Sisters Food Group is the single largest chicken company in the UK ahead of Moy Park and Cargill Meats Europe. 2 Sisters supply products to many of the major retailers.

The evidence suggests that 2 Sisters Food Group are capable of altering food safety dates on chicken, this may also affect the traceability of 2 Sisters Food Group products which are traced dependent on their “kill date” or day of kill. Additionally, the Guardian investigation also discovered 2 Sisters re-packaging meat returned from supermarkets. Repackaging meat is a potential way chicken can become mislabelled with respect to its origin if measures aren’t taken to ensure the traceability of the chicken.

This investigation has discovered issues that may be particularly concerning to consumers given the Food Standards Agency’s recent focus on campylobacter levels in poultry.

It should be noted that 2 Sisters have publicly stated that they are “…proud to be leading the largest and most comprehensive programme to tackle campylobacter ever undertaken by the UK poultry industry.” (Reference on 2 Sister’s website).

2 Sisters Food Group claims to have launched a £10m initiative to combat campylobacter levels in poultry. Altering food safety dates is likely a major step in the wrong direction for combatting food safety issues such as campylobacter levels in chicken.

2 Sisters Food Group are one of the few UK chicken companies who label a “farm of origin” on their products for their customers. If 2 Sisters have been discovered to be repackaging old meat and altering kill dates on packs of chicken, how sure can consumers be that what they are buying is safe and originates from where it says it comes from?

The fact this issue had to be discovered by an undercover investigation highlights the lack of checks being performed by chicken industry auditors. With Brexit potentially affecting the workforce in abattoirs this problem may become worse. The lack of a sufficient workforce in the meat industry is recognised as a problem by the British Poultry Council.

In 2014, 2 Sisters were discovered dropping chicken on the floor of their production line of their Scunthorpe factory and returning it to the production line to sell to consumers. Despite this discovery, an FSA investigation cleared 2 Sisters of any hygiene failings.

What could have been done to prevent this?

Now more than ever, Agroisolab recommends the Food Standards Agency and the British Poultry Council step up checks carried out in the poultry industry to ensure buyers of poultry meat from the United Kingdom are protected from food safety and traceability scandals such as this.

Agroisolab’s IsoTrace service could have helped prevent this food traceability and food safety issue. IsoTrace is a service that involves taking samples from abattoirs every time a farm sends animals for slaughter. These samples are archived for later analysis in a similar way to the way anti-doping systems operate. At a later date, retail samples or samples which are supposed to be from the same batch can be compared to the archived sample. The IsoTrace system is in routine use in the EU by KAT eggs, the European equivalent of the Lion Mark. Using this system, it is easy to analyse samples and identify if kill date or traceability information has been tampered with.

Nearly 10 years ago, the British Pig Executive - BPEX (now AHDB Pork) had the foresight to develop a method to ensure British pork is British and can be traced by analysis. This method has helped ensure that buyers of British pork are buying an authentic product.

Isn’t it time that the British chicken industry set up something together to ensure the traceability of poultry?

By Agroisolab, Sep 18 2017 03:22PM

"Scottish" salmon with confusing country of origin labelling
"Scottish" salmon with confusing country of origin labelling

Salmon season runs from late spring to early September. This is when the salmon are at their peak physical development ready to make their trek from the ocean back upstream to reproduce. And so naturally, that season is when the market is flooded with wild-caught salmon, and when less salmon fraud is likely to occur. In fact, in previous studies, Oceana had previously only found a 7% rate of salmon fraud, because they were testing the fish during peak salmon season, when wild-caught salmon is more plentiful.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find wild-caught salmon other times of the year – you absolutely can, because it’s flash frozen. However, when the frozen stock eventually gets depleted the likelihood of mislabelling farmed salmon as wild salmon becomes a higher risk.

With this knowledge, we can assume that during off season there is a higher risk of fraudulent behaviour. Sea-Pac owner Alistair Thompson, from Aberdeenshire, admitted fraud at Aberdeen Sheriff Court after labelling the fish as coming from Shetland Products and Fraserburgh Freezing and Cold Storage – companies which had been approved for exporting to Russia, Lithuania and Estonia, reports BBC Scotland (

Alistair Thompson admitted to fraudulently obtaining more than £200,000 by deliberately mislabelling Scottish salmon in order to export them to Eastern Europe. Sea-Pac has since gone into liquidation, and the case – which is believed to be one of the most significant food crime incidents in Scotland – was brought to court following a four-year investigation led by Aberdeen City Council.

Agroisolab can offer origin testing for salmon declared to be from Norway, Chile and are currently building new reference data base for the United Kingdom.

By Agroisolab, Sep 14 2017 10:13AM

With the ever-increasing demand for super foods with compelling health benefits inundating the supermarket aisles, we must be more vigilant than ever in making sure that the information provided on the packaging represents what is in the product.

One product that has been brought into disrepute recently is coconut water. Certain brands have been mislabelling the product, claiming it is 100% coconut water with no added sugar.

The FDA carried out an investigation and found many products which did not declare to contain added sugar, or were declared to be 100% coconut water have been found to contain undeclared sugar.

A claim stating that sugars have not been added to a food, and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, may only be made where the product does not contain any added mono- or disaccharides or any other food used for its sweetening properties. If sugars are naturally present in the food, an indication (‘contains naturally occurring sugars’) should also appear on the label.

With coconut water rapidly becoming the UK’s fastest growing soft drink, with annual sales breaking the £100m mark, consumers should be more discerning, and recognise that with increased consumption there also comes increased risks in the supply chain due to the demand.

Vita CoCo, one of the producers affected by the mislabelling issue
Vita CoCo, one of the producers affected by the mislabelling issue

Agroisolab offers tests for additional sugar content in products using carbon isotope analysis. Please contact us for more details.

By Agroisolab, Sep 1 2017 02:42PM

In February this year, controversy erupted after it emerged that some retailers were using lamb from New Zealand in their ready meals, despite the labelling on the packaging implying that the lamb was British.

Some Waitrose and Aldi ready meals were labelled as 'produced in Britain' and 'British classic' despite the lamb origin being labelled on the back as New Zealand. Following outrage, Waitrose attempted to clarify by posting on social media that the 'British' part of the name of the range meant the origin of the recipe. Unsurprisingly, customers weren't thrilled with this explanation.

But why is it so important to buy British?

Sheep farming in Britain goes back to Neolithic times, and continues to be one of our most important industries. With British standards of farming welfare among the highest in the world, it is important to support British farmers to ensure that these standards remain high, and that consumers are buying lamb that they know has been raised with welfare and quality in mind.

Customers have a right to know where their food comes from, an especially important factor in meat production. The horsemeat scandal in 2013, where horse meat was found in several beef products in major supermarkets, showed the impact of what can happen when supply chains experience weak traceability and fraud. In an age where food crime is one of the most lucrative crimes, it is vital that consumers are protected in regards to quality and origin.

Buying British lamb not only supports British farmers, but also high welfare standards - so don't be sheepish, buy British!

By Agroisolab, Aug 29 2017 02:07PM

Download the TimberRisk August newsletter here!

Risk in focus:

• EU court places emergency ban on logging in Bialowieza forest

• Norway slashes aid to Brazil over deforestation

• Scientists warn logging in DRC could cause environmental disaster

• Hardwood floors may be made of illegally-sourced wood

• Government alleged to have lied about fighting illegal logging of Rosewood in Ghana

• Timber products made in Vietnam potentially made from illegally-sourced wood

Hydrogen isotope ratios from Spruce timber in boreal forest
Hydrogen isotope ratios from Spruce timber in boreal forest

EU court places emergency ban on logging in Bialowieza forest

Illegal Polish timber may enter the UK market from Europe's oldest forest, Bialowieza in Poland, as the government struggles against the European Union for logging rights.

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