CKNW: Award winning UBC researcher sheds light on ‘food fraud’

A UBC researcher says over 20 per cent of Vancouver residents have fallen victim to food fraud.

Yaxi Hu says many food items eaten every day are packed with things that aren’t supposed to be in them.

But the 24-year-old has come up with an award-winning method to combat food fraud and keep contaminants out of our food supply.

“People commit fraud because they want to make more economic benefit, so they use some cheaper materials to replace more expensive materials. So we tried to use a more rapid, and more accurate method to differentiate the authentic food from the fake food.”

Hu will receive a Mitacs Awards for Outstanding Innovation on Monday for her method, which detects contaminants including harmful food dyes and biotoxins.

“This problem is becoming more and more severe because there are so many steps within the food supply chain that people can do something to make the fake food sneak into the market.”

Using NMR spectroscopy – a technology commonly used in biology and medical research – Hu is able to enable food testing on dry samples.

She will receive her award on Nov. 14.

— Niamh Anderson, CKNW