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Food Fraud A booming business

Every month I am amazed to read of the amount of food fraud reported worldwide. Adulteration of honey, illegal fishing, out of date foods being re labelled and sold on, adulteration of Alcohol are but a few of the cases reported. The European Commission issue a food fraud report monthly which is compiled by collecting media reports of food fraud from around the world. Here is a link to get the December 22 report Food Fraud Summary December 2022 | Knowledge for policy (europa.eu)

It is astonishing to see the devastation that these cases can bring to peoples lives. 44 people died in Columbia from alcohol that was made with methanol. Several more were hospitalised. A similar case of contraband liquor in India has also contributed to several fatalities. Other cases are purely for economic gain like the mislabelling of products. How often have we heard of Pomace oil being sold as Olive oil. This happened again lately in Portugal according to the report.

Another resource to explain food fraud is https://www.ifst.org/resources/information-statements/food-fraud . It gives some general information about Food Fraud, types of food often associated with food fraud and also some information on food defence for businesses. In the new BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, v9, the clause on food defence has been strengthened to ensure systems are in place to protect products, premises and brands from malicious actions while under the control of the site. This links with the clause in section 5.4 concerning food fraud and in the new Standard companies can consider food fraud and food defence together. A new clause, 4.2.1, has been added to ensure the competency of the food defence team in understanding the risks they are trying to prevent. This clause alludes to the training of staff in understanding the risks they are trying to prevent however the Standard is not prescriptive in how this knowledge is demonstrated. BRCGS Food Safety, v9, clause 5.4 states “systems shall be in place to minimise the risk of purchasing fraudulent or adulterated food raw materials and to ensure that all product descriptions and claims are legal, accurate and verified.” There is a new clause in this section of the Standard which states “where personnel are engaged in vulnerability assessment, the individual or team responsible shall understand potential food fraud risks. This shall include knowledge of raw materials used by the site and the principles of vulnerability assessment”.

The old adage “buyer beware ” has never been so true. These reports highlight the need for stringent controls at governmental level and also on a regional and local level. Good traceability and strict supplier controls are a must for every business to help them avoid some of these food gangsters.

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