UK Food Authenticity Programme – The Analytical Tool Box
Consumers need to be confident about the authenticity of the food they choose to eat. The UK has a highly competitive and resilient food and drink sector. However, pressures on the food system, changing diets, lifestyles and the global nature of the food chain mean tackling food fraud is a priority to ensure the integrity of the food chain. Verifying food authenticity and food misdescription presents analytical challenges around finding markers and ensuring confidence in detection and quantitation methodology which can stand up in a court of law. The UK Government's Food Authenticity Programme has led the way in tackling these challenges by building up an analytical toolbox of validated methods for screening and quantitative analysis. DNA-based technologies have been at the heart of the programme, resulting in DNA becoming a transferable routine tool of choice for food law enforcers. Challenges still remain around DNA extraction and quantitation when these are applied to complex, multi-ingredient foods. The global nature of the food chain also presents challenges requiring collaboration, coordination and standardisation of methods. New research will need to harness the power of technological innovation to develop non-targeted, easy to use methods to keep pace with the growing diversity of food fraud.