Fish farm adopts technology

Loch Duart fights fraud with ‘chemical fingerprinting’

Loch Duart is first fish farmer in northern hemisphere to adopt the technology

A Scottish salmon company is the latest food firm to adopt ‘chemical fingerprinting’ to protect its products from fraudsters.

Loch Duart, based in Sutherland and the Hebrides, has teamed up with New Zealand food science firm Oritain whose technique has been used to improve the traceability and authentication of food.

It is estimated that food fraud affects at least 10% of the global food supply chain at a cost to the industry in excess of $50 billion per year.

The chemical fingerprint works in a way similar to a normal fingerprint, only the unique identifier is chemical.

The concept, developed in close collaboration with New Zealand’s University of Otago, is based on the notion that animals or fish raised on a farm will eat the same food.

Chemical fingerprinting is becoming increasingly popular as a food authenticator mechanism, particularly in the wake of the 2013 horse meat scandal and as premium products face the threat of counterfeiters.

It was used to prove that fruit products sold in China were falsely advertised as from New Zealand when they were in fact domestically produced.

Scientists used chemical fingerprints to reveal that more than half of a sample of saffron products were fraudulent, being labelled as a product of Spain when actually they originated from other countries.

Chemical fingerprints have been taken up by New Zealand’s manuka honey industry for product identification.

The firm has partnered with a New Zealand seafood company to provide fraud protection for its salmon, mussels and oysters.

From next year Loch Duart will be able to audit at any stage in the supply chain and determine exactly where the salmon being tested originates from.  Loch Duart will be first fish farmer in the northern hemisphere to use the technology.

Alban Denton, managing director of Loch Duart, said: “If another salmon is ‘passed off’ as ours, consumers are being both exploited and misled. Our distributors have told us that it happens. We’re determined to do everything we can to protect our world renowned brand.” 

Oritain UK executive director, Rupert Hodges, said: “Our pioneering use of forensic analysis allows us to not only identify the country and region from which the salmon we test is from, we can actually trace it back to the individual farm.

“This means that from now on customers across the globe, can be assured that when they buy Loch Duart salmon, we can prove that it is what they are getting.”     

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