Food adulteration and contamination, accidental or intentional, has never been acceptable. In 21st century food processing and production it is identifiable and preventable. Advances in technology mean that demonstrating the authenticity of food products has never been easier.

The presence of unexpected ingredients can be a result of deliberate contamination (fraud), a genuine mistake, a lack of training in identifying raw materials, insufficient control in the supply chain or documentation checks.

There are various routes to demonstrating the authenticity of food as well as reducing the risk of adulteration and contamination, two key routes are:

  • Food safety schemes
  • Species testing and analysis

Food substitution of food is commonplace. A robust safety management system can help to ensure that fish, and meat products, amongst others, are what they claim to be.

Food safety scheme

Food supply chains employ a variety of quality, safety and safety schemes to ensure that policies and processes are in place to source and ensure incoming raw ingredients are of the desired product and quality. The robust controls these schemes require, reinforced by independent audit and certification, help to ensure that the risk of adulteration or contamination is minimized, and that food origins are traceable and verifiable.

Species identification

The food industry loses some $10-15 billion annually to fraud. Next generation sequencing (NGS) DNA analysis is the most powerful tool in the food industry’s battle to protect operations, customers and consumers, and to eliminate food fraud. Not only can this type of testing be used to confirm species authenticity with a full biological breakdown of the sample and drive improvements in traceability, it also has the added benefit of being able to ascertain species, as required for food labels. For example, all species identification analysis using NGS will confirm, with just one test, all the fish species that are present to confirm, for example, that the fish in a pie is solely salmon.

NGS DNA untargeted diagnostics can identify the biological content of a food sample, processed or unprocessed, and will answer the question “What’s in my sample?” for categories including:

  • Fish & seafood
  • Meat
  • Plants
  • Mushrooms
  • Pathogens

Other popular techniques, known as ‘targeted’, will answer the question ‘does this sample contain pork?’, and include:

  • PCR

All species identification analysis can confirm species, including Latin names, to help ensure the accuracy of food labels and to meet legislative requirements. In addition, it can be employed to check for allergen contamination.

SGS services

In addition to our world leading audit and certification services, and extensive global network of ISO 17025 food testing laboratories, SGS has specialist molecular biology facilities which enable the company to authenticate foods and identify any contamination (accidental and intentional) for clients around the world.

Complementary to species identification testing, SGS offers a wide range of services to help combat food fraud, including Transparency-One, radioactive isotope testing for geographic fraud or sugar identification, inspections for net content fraud, and many other tests depending on the items.

Download the full Focus On Agri Food Asia >

Mario Gadanho
Business Development Manager

James Cook
Global Food Inspection Technical Manager

About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.