Bia Analytical adds paprika to authenticity testing portfolio
Belfast, Northern Ireland based Bia Analytical Ltd has developed a rapid and robust screening technique to detect economically motivated adulteration in paprika using its innovative and leading laboratory-based food authenticity testing services.
Paprika can be adulterated through the addition of materials such as illegal dyes, brick powder, starch products and spent paprika (defatted waste product produced during paprika oleoresin extraction).
According to herb and spice industry sources, there is particular interest in methods that can detect the addition of spent paprika, which can be used as a bulking agent. Traditional methods, including DNA testing have become a useful instrument to assess the safety, quality and integrity of the food chain. However, such methods cannot differentiate between paprika and its spent material to identify this form of adulteration.
Spectroscopy with chemometric analysis, as used by Bia Analytical, differentiates between authentic and spent paprika and so is becoming the optimal method for adulteration detection in herbs and spices.
John Hill, director at The John Hill Partnership commented: “The accurate identification of adulterants in dried herbs and spices is challenging and can lead to false positives due to their complex matrices and the use of overly sensitive methods. Bia Analytical working with Queens University and supported by leading companies within the dried herb and spice sector have developed a proven methodology which has been exhaustively validated. In my opinion Bia Analytical offer the best, currently available, technique for the identification of adulterants in specific dried herbs and spices”.
The Food and You 2 survey carried out by the Food Standards Agency during the Covid-19 pandemic found that, when prompted, 43% of respondents reported that they were concerned about food fraud or crime. The survey covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland was commissioned to measure the public’s self-reported knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours regarding food safety and other food-related issues.
The continual improvements made in testing methodologies is being led by Bia Analytical and represents an important addition to the toolbox used by the industry to help reassure consumers that every effort is being made to guarantee the safety and quality of their food.
Dr Terry McGrath, Bia Analytical chief technology officer, who is leading the development, said: “Spices such as paprika are vulnerable to food fraud due to their pricing structure, ground nature of the product and complex supply chain. Paprika is not only sold as a retail product but is also commonly added as an ingredient in the manufacture of processed foods, and therefore, fraud in the supply chain of this spice could have a significant and exponential impact.”
Bia Analytical’s state-of-the-art food laboratories in Belfast 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 company now offers rapid authenticity testing for five herbs and spices – paprika, oregano, sage, black pepper and turmeric with the team working to extend the product portfolio to twenty-five models by the end of 2021 with the inclusion of methods for new food groups.