Food Authenticity and Traceability

Module summary

Module code: FOOD1052
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Richard Fuchs



Recent scandals such as the horsemeat in meat products and melamine in milk have shown the impact that food adulteration can have on food businesses, and on some occasions on consumer health. Food can also be mis-sold based on its geographical origins or supposed certification. In most cases, either cheaper raw materials are being used or false claims are being made in order to increase profit. This Module looks at the legal requirements for product authenticity, including labelling information, traceability systems and also introduces students to some of the analytical methods than can be used to determine authenticity of a product.

This Module aims:
• to identify ways in which food can be adulterated or mis-sold and review recent incidents;
• to identify the legal requirements for food authenticity;
• to illustrate how traceability can be implemented and managed along the food supply chain;
• demonstrate methods that can be used to authenticate food.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
1. critically discuss ways in which food can be adulterated or mis-sold;
2. interpret legislative requirements regarding food authenticity;
3. critically discuss the role that labelling and certification logos have in informing consumers about product characteristics and production methods;
4. identify methods that can be used to manage traceability along the supply chain;

Indicative content

• Methods used to adulterate or mis-sell food supported by case studies
• Legal requirements for food authenticity
• Geographical origins of food
• Legal requirements for information on food labels
• Certification of food, e.g. organic production
• Legal requirements for traceability
• Implementation of traceability along the food chain
• Basic tests used to authenticate food products

Teaching and learning activity

Information will be primarily imparted through lectures and practical session. Activities will include seminar sessions with presentations, group work, guided group analysis of published literature and reports, case-study seminars led by those with recent first-hand experience and group evaluations. Students will be introduced to some tests that can used to determine the authenticity of a food product in laboratory practicals.


Presentation: 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Duration: 15 minute presentation.
Outline Details: presentation on a topic set by the module leader followed by questions.

Practical Report: 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Word Length: 2000 words.
Outline Details: Report on one of the practical experiments.

Formative Assessment: Students will complete a quiz to check their level of understanding of the module and will prepare a short practical report.