UK – Bia Analytical, a leading UK food authentication testing lab, will now test for adulteration within white pepper alongside the other nine herbs it currently analyses, after several prominent cases of food fraud including sage and oregano.
White Pepper, in like manner to Black Pepper, is made from the berries of the pepper plant, originating in India and cultivated in many other tropical regions. Although derived from the same plant, White Pepper comes from berries that are picked at full ripeness then soaked in water leading to fermentation. The outer layer is then removed.
White Pepper is usually more expensive to produce than Black Pepper as the process involves more steps. It is therefore a target of adulteration with the ground form being most at risk from economically motivated food fraud through addition of substances such as husks, skins, spent materials and flour.
In January, the Belfast-based company expanded its laboratory-based food authenticity testing services with two additional spices, black pepper and turmeric. This followed a successful seed funding at the start of 2020 which saw it round up the work on building new chemometric models for black pepper and turmeric, to provide accurate authenticity testing and detect Economically Motivated Adulteration (EMA) in food ingredients.
Bia Analytical’s state-of-the-art food laboratories carry out accurate and rapid analysis of samples, with a guaranteed three working day turnaround time, to help reduce food business’ exposure to the risk of food fraud.
The team is working to extend the product portfolio from the current nine to 25 models by the end of 2021 with the inclusion of methods for new food groups.
Food fraud has become one of the greatest issues being faced by the food industry, with several high-profile cases recently causing manufacturers to sit up and take notice.
Oregano’s struggles with adulteration have been well-documented, but more recently sage has also been subject to a similar period of adulteration, with many products being bulked out by materials such as olive leaves.
According to new food magazine, food fraud was one of the most-discussed topics during Food integrity 2021, an online event that explores transparency and trust in our food systems.
Chris Elliott, Professor of Food Safety at Queen’s University, Belfast and founder of the Institute for Global Food Security cited in his column following the event, that work is being done and progress made to fight this threat against the food industry.
Testing will no doubt be a big weapon in the fight against food fraud, as testing capability for more and more foodstuffs is developed.