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Latest technology to help ensure food traceability in organic certified products

Date Published: 22/05/2017

Food traceability

Latest developments in food traceability and testing technology are helping OF&G ensure that the increased demand for organic food continues to be met from certified products.

Special tests which take so-called ‘environmental fingerprints’ of produce are enabling OF&G to work with organic businesses to ensure that food is being produced to meet the sector’s rigorous standards.

With the organic food sector growing faster than any other food sector in the UK, it’s hoped that the system will ensure that only organic products with the highest integrity will reach the market.

It will also help offer guarantees to shoppers that the organic produce they buy meets their high expectations around quality and the way food is produced.

“Following the horse-meat scandal, the expectations for businesses to develop their authenticity and traceability validation has increased,” says OF&G chief executive Roger Kerr.

“As custodians of organic standards, we recognised this specialist technology can help us identify areas of risk in the organic supply chain, and help us make more targeted investigations where needed.

“It means we’ll be able to better protect the reputation of the organic sector, and provide a very strong deterrence to anyone considering breaking the rules and undermining our licensees to take advantage of organic premiums.”

To make use of the technology, OF&G is working in partnership with a company called Food Forensics to incorporate specialist laboratory testing into its regular audits. Together with the certifier’s current audit process, it will provide the baseline for validating organic supply chains.

“Food Forensics will test for any non-authorised substances, and will also test a proportion using the environmental footprint testing,” says Mr Kerr.

“This will help us identify any areas or products that might suggest a higher risk, and help us identify any areas that need further investigation during our annual inspections.

“While the test doesn’t in itself indicate whether a product is or isn’t organic, it will work alongside OF&G’s robust inspection and certification system to identify suspected malpractice,” Mr Kerr adds.

“In that way, it offers an additional, quantifiable way of identifying risk,” he says. “This new development will form part of our ongoing work to further ensure the integrity of UK organic supply chains.”

Food Forensics is a specialist provider of Food Authenticity Solutions, recognised as a FSA Centre of Expertise for authenticity testing. The company is providing independent, objective and evidence-based support for OF&G’s organic team, enabling it to set the bar in organic assurance and utilise advances in laboratory testing to deliver targeted and efficient support to existing certification and inspection controls.

Working in partnership with Food Forensics, OF&G aims to deliver benefits to licensees, suppliers and consumers alike.