Fraudsters beware! The Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the UK along with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are putting food declared as grown in the UK to the test.
The study will use the technique Stable isotope analysis (SIA) to screen over 100 products including beef burgers, pork, lamb, tomato, apple juice and honey.
According to the FSA website, SIA measures the ratios of differing isotopes of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon in the food. Food produced in the UK should have a particular isotope “fingerprint” compared to that produced in mainland Europe. The example given on the website is that of the amount of heavy hydrogen and oxygen in crops grown in the UK. The proximity to the sea means there are more of these isotopes present in the UK crops compared to those grown in mainland Europe. The technique is not 100% accurate but will give indications of food that should be more closely looked at.
It would be interesting to see if this technique works for honey, as we reported back in 2012 honey adulteration is a problem and some unscrupulous fraudsters use ultra filtration to remove markers in the honey (such as pollen) that could be used to trace its origin.