Food forensics

No, not a storyline on TV’s CSI, but a reference to the Agency’s drive to combat food fraud, highlighted in the New Scientist’s 11 November 2006 issue.  My colleague Mark Woolfe, who leads on the Agency’s food authenticity research programme, was quoted.

In the last 10 years we’ve seen DNA techniques, originally applied to criminal forensics, adapted to detect food fraud. We’ve used it to check if Basmati rice has been mixed with cheaper varieties, or whether potatoes are being fraudulently labelled as King Edwards.

And differences in stable isotopic ratios can help to differentiate between wild and farmed fish. We’ve also set up a national food fraud database for local authorities to share intelligence on known or suspected food fraud incidents.  Like science, effective enforcement relies on a sound evidence base and a high level of information-sharing. On that subject, please respond to this posting if you‘ve got any comments, have first hand experience of food fraud, or simply want to know more.