FSA begins study on geographic origin of foods

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is due to begin its study into the geographical origin of food, in a bid to ensure products with UK labels are correct.

The new testing initiative is a joint effort by the FSA and Defra and, over the next four months, samples from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be analysed through stable isotope ratio analysis.

The study will aim to check that origin labels are accurate, as well as trying out the use of stable isotope analysis.

Bpex director Mick Sloyan said: “The FSA is testing a variety of food types and one of those is pork. They approached Bpex to see if we would allow them to use our SIRA (Stable Isotope Reference Analysis) database and we agreed.

“It is probably one of the most developed of such databases around at the moment. Their request to use it is an endorsement of our investment in the technology.”

The total of 100 samples will be taken from retail, wholesale and foodservice outlets and will include beef, burgers, pork, lamb, tomatoes, apple juice and honey.

A spokesperson for the FSA told meatinfo.co.uk: “We don’t have any particular expectations for what we will find. We want to use the study for two things: check product testing and gain experience using isotope analysis. It’s the first time we have ever done it and we need to see what it shows us.”

This particular type of testing is a screening method that could indicate potential fraudulent activity. Those flagged will be followed up with a traceability audit.

Eblex added: “We welcome any initiative that helps give consumers confidence in where their food comes from.”

The study should be completed by April 2014.

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