Seen and heard: food fraud news in brief

Australian honey probe, TruTag’s edible barcodes, South Africa’s illicit abalone trade and a blockchain solution to counterfeit crabs.

Spat over honey adulteration kicks off in Australia

Australia's largest honey producer Capilano has rejected the findings of a scientific study that found almost one in five samples of local honey were adulterated, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Macquarie University scientists found adulteration in 18 per cent of 38 samples of Australian honey bought at supermarkets and markets. The honey industry is already being investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after an earlier study found evidence that some honeys, including a Capilano product, contained added plant sugars.

TruTag’s edible barcodes added to PwC’s Food Trust Initiative

TruTag Technologies has forged an alliance with PricewaterhouseCooper’s PwC Australia unit to help fight food fraud.  The collaboration will see TruTag’s edible barcodes – a silicon dioxide-based marker technology – incorporated into PwC’s Food Trust Platform, a suite of anti-counterfeit technologies including blockchain intended for use by the food and beverage industry. PwC Australia and TruTag say they are already working on programs for lead in the meat and wine industry, and want to expand their focus into other food and beverage applications.

Organised crime wreaking havoc with South African abalone stocks

A new report estimates that poachers have taken a staggering 96m giant sea snails (abalone or Haliotis midae) from South African waters between 2006 and 2016, reaping around $900m in illicit profits from the trade. Most of the snails are dried and end up in Hong Kong en route to China and other markets to feed Asia’s massive appetite for the delicacy. The report from the TRAFFIC conservation group  calls for greater national and regional collaboration to fight the illicit trade and the introduction of abalone traceability systems.

Blockchain system launched to protect Chinese crab delicacy

Chinese search giant Baidu has partnered with Top Crab, a company that specialises in selling freshwater hairy crabs farmed in Yangcheng Lake in east China, to protect the brand from counterfeiters passing off other, lower-priced species as its premium product, reports Baidu is contributing a traceability applet built upon its proprietary blockchain, called XuperChain, to tackle counterfeit products. “After fishermen catch crabs, Baidu will move each crab data, including the certificates of origin, its image, and exclusive barcode onto XuperChain,” says the website. Customers can then scan a barcode on the crabs’ shells using a smartphone to help determine whether they are authentic.

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