News 593 views last update:Feb 25, 2016

BPEX tracing pork system endorsed in FSA report

The isotope system for tracing pork developed by BPEX has been endorsed in a study carried out by the Food Standards Agency.

The FSA looked at six different food groups and used Stable Isotope Ratio Analysis (SIRA) to check the country of origin claims. Where pork was concerned, BPEX made its own database available for the study.

SIRA measures the ratio of specific isotopes which differ very slightly in their characteristics in different geographic regions throughout the UK and the world. These differences are reflected within the tissue of pig meat depending on where the pig was reared.

The FSA said the results were re-assuring for consumers as SIRA proved to be effective to assess whether  the origin was as stated and highlighted where further investigation was needed.

BPEX Director Mick Sloyan said "SIRA is a powerful tool and an important one in the overall context of traceability providing further assurance for consumers.

"BPEX has invested levy funds in SIRA over a number of years and was delighted to share the comprehensive pork database with the FSA.

"We continue to invest in SIRA as a means to enhance traceability. This is especially important as part of provenance and traceability which are core values within the British Meat Processors pork assurance scheme on which Red Tractor is based.

"We intend to extend this technology to bacon and ham in the coming months." The FSA study was to assess whether six foods, beef, pork, lamb, apple juice, tomatoes and honey, were correctly labelled as to country of origin.

It was also designed to gain experience of using SIRA to determine the country of origin of a food and assess SIRA's potential as a 'screening' tool.

Of the 96 samples screened using SIRA, 78 had isotope ratios consistent with the origin claimed and 18 were identified for follow-up investigation.

A more detailed audit of 17 of these was carried out and the evidence supported the origin claim.

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