Authenticity testing of ingredients and foods is an important tool in the fight against food fraud, but it’s not easy to get it right. Here are our recommendations to help you design a food authenticity testing plan.
- First define the goals of the testing plan. Because different materials have different food fraud risk profiles, you will need a different testing protocol for each material that you want to test. For each material to be tested, choose a test type and laboratory and set accept-reject criteria for test results. Use our testing checklist to help.
- Decide how samples will be collected, and define the sample size with the help of your chosen laboratory. For each lot or batch of material that needs to be tested, figure out how to obtain a sample that is properly representative of that batch. Sampling protocols will depend on the size of the lot, the form of the food (solid, liquid, bulk, etc.) and the practicalities of accessing materials within the batch. Learn more about sampling protocols from the US FDA’s laboratory manual.
- Choose a frequency of testing for each material and document it in the plan.
- Write down your goals, test methods, accept/reject criteria, sampling procedures and approved laboratories. This written information will be the foundation for your testing plan document. Add a description of what action you will take if you get results that confirm or imply authenticity problems with the sample. Who will you report the results to? Who is responsible for making decisions about actions to be taken? Add document control features and file the plan within the food fraud section of your food safety management system.
- Implement your plan. Be prepared to change your test frequencies or test methods as new information becomes available. Review your test plan at least annually to make sure it aligns with your food fraud vulnerability assessment results.