Without sophisticated laboratory techniques it can be extremely difficult to identify adulterated raw materials and products. However, analytical techniques exist that can help. Rapid PCR testing can quickly identify possible adulteration of one product with another. For example, in the meat industry; a problem that came to prominence following the 2013 EU horse meat scandal in which undeclared horse meat found its way into burgers and ready meals. Other analytical tests such as Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry can help identify adulteration of high value products such as saffron and olive oil.
An aspect of this testing that needs careful consideration, however, is managing the data generated and making that data available to whoever needs it. Reputable growers, manufacturers and wholesalers carry out regular adulteration quality checks that may lead to the withdrawal of products from the shelves. For example, a major UK supermarket pulled its own brand honey from shelves as a precautionary measure in November 2019 after independent tests indicated it contained syrups made from sugar. The key to making this work is a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) that not only manages the samples submitted for testing and the testing data, but which is also able to alert analysts when a problem is detected and to notify interested parties. This allows remedial or corrective action to be taken and prevents potentially contaminated products being released to market. Problems with adulterated food should be the exception however, not the rule. Therefore, it is also important that interested parties receive notification as soon as possible when materials under test are shown to be acceptable. Failure to release this data in a timely way can lead to unnecessary delays in the production process or product release.