Like many other food safety and quality professionals, perhaps you are thinking about implementing a testing program for food fraud detection. Are there vulnerabilities in your supply chain? Maybe you are buying products or raw materials that are on our food fraud hot list, or perhaps your food fraud vulnerability assessments identified materials that might be affected by food fraud.
Testing is an important tool in the fight against food fraud, but it’s not always easy to get it right. Are you prepared for testing? Before you begin to contact laboratories, make sure you can answer these questions:
- Do you need a ‘snap-shot’ of a product at a single point in time or are you aiming to build a longer-term picture of authenticity?
- Are you acting on any specific information, such as a tip-off or allegation from a competitor?
- Is there a particular adulterant you need to look for?
- Are you a brand owner checking possible counterfeits or diverted products to determine if they are legitimate?
- Do you need the test results to stand up in a court of law or other legal scenario?
- Is the test material a single agricultural product or a processed multi-component food?
- Is the material shelf stable or will it need special sample storage/transport conditions between sampling and testing?
- Is the testing needed to check on credence claims, for example, organic, free-range, country of origin?
- Do you need qualitative or quantitative results? For example do you need to know if an adulterant is present or absent in the tested material or do you also need to know the amount of the adulterant that might be present?
- What level of certainty do you require?
- How much time have you got?
- What’s your budget?
- Are you prepared for what you might find; do you have a plan of action to take if food fraud is detected?
There are many laboratories that perform some type of food authenticity testing, but few that perform many types. Expect to speak to a number of different laboratories before you find one that can meet your needs.
Read this next: How to design an authenticity testing program