Food fraud is and has been a hot topic for some time now. Pre-emptive countermeasures even more so. The focus and goal should be to not just catch food fraud but to prevent it from occurring in the first place. An understanding of the fraud and what to investigate is critical to make this happen.
What is Food Fraud?
Simple definition: Food fraud is illegal deception for economic gain using food.
Food fraud is the act of purposely altering, misrepresenting, mislabeling, substituting or tampering with any food product at any point along the farm–to–table food supply–chain. Fraud can occur in the raw material, in an ingredient, in the final product or in the food’s packaging. – Gary C. Smith, Colorado State University
Is it still a threat today?
Today’s globalization has led to this fraud becoming a bigger recognized threat. Manufacturing scale is huge in many cases with fraud slipping by undetected many times.
With that said, there have been some marked improvements in traceability allowing more transparency of the source of the product. Also with advanced detection technology a more accurate identification of the source of anomalies is to be had. So, is it still a threat?
It is. Here is a recent example of fraud: How a spice scammer allegedly fleeced the federal government out of thousands of dollars worth of garlic powder. Obviously, alive and well unfortunately, and when it does happen it is costly.
“The movement of so many products so far around the world also creates a new and expanding fraud opportunity. …One incident can very quickly impact products around the world. And, …one rogue supplier can cripple an entire industry.” – John Spink
What to do.
The most important role for food science and technology is to take a holistic, all-encompassing view of food fraud with the goal of preventing it. An understanding of fraud criminal acts and methods is crucial. Implementation to detect and deter will entail specific tests and methods, countermeasures / control systems, which can deter further fraud. Simply put:
✓ Detect: Review ingredients/products for a short time
✓ Deter: Pre-testing of specific products
✓ Prevent: Perform a broad review of all products
Something to consider: Detecting food fraud involves analytical testing details, sampling plans and frequency, and the actual measurable contribution to prevention. Basically, to verify information accompanying the food as correct.
To help prevent food fraud an understanding of what tools and processes are needed. Solutions like supply chain management, food authenticity testing, countermeasures from packaging science, information technology for traceability, decision-sciences and risk analysis to assess the vulnerability such as Enterprise Risk Management (ERM).
To understand more of how Coolearth Software can help you with preventing food fraud exposure contact us to learn more.
Resource: Food Fraud Prevention by John Spink, PhD – November 2016