Happy New Year!
Last year was a busy year for Food Fraud Advisors.
Detection and enforcement actions increasing
Food fraud remains a hot topic in the food industry and is garnering stronger interest from the international anti-counterfeiting industry as well as international crime prevention groups like Europol and Interpol. Recently, the international media have been discussing the role of organised crime syndicates in the food industry, particularly in the produce sector in Italy and in tuna trading in Europe.
Detections of food fraud and seizures have increased: almost a quarter of the 31 m counterfeit items seized by EU customs agents in 2017 were food stuffs.
In 2018 we were pleased to witness a number of serious law enforcement actions across the globe. This is a trend which I hope will continue. As an example, the people responsible for a long-running, fraudulent organic grain scheme in the USA were charged and pleaded guilty. In Pakistan, the authorities have used new laws prohibiting the sale of unpackaged spices, which were created to reduce food adulteration, to seize 165,000 kg of spices and shut down 400 spice processing facilities.
Rising consumer awareness
Meanwhile, consumer awareness of food fraud is also rising. Nearly three quarters of UK consumers think there is a serious problem with food fraud in their country and one quarter of consumers think they have experienced it first hand.
Test method developments
In academia, new test methods for food fraud detection continue to be created and refined. As exciting as it is to read headlines in journals about the latest scientific breakthrough, many of the research papers report on testing methodology that won’t be ready to be used by food manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers for some time. One such exciting headline recently gushed that scientists have found a new ‘simple’ method to distinguish organic milk from conventional milk. The headline did indeed to turn out to be too good to be true, with more work on a larger sample size needed to validate the method. However, with organic products at very high risk of food fraud and detection being difficult, it’s great to see the analytical community working on these problems.
Our year working for you
Within Food Fraud Advisors we have been focussing on keeping up to date with our customers’ needs for the latest versions of SQF, BRC and IFS food safety standards. Food fraud documentation is one of the top sources of non-conformities in food safety audits so many of our customers have been seeking help to boost their programs.
SQF’s standard in particular caused a few headaches for our clients. SQFI did not publish any guidance for food fraud until after the implementation date for Edition 8. As a result, many SQF-certified facilities needed our help to understand and implement programs to meet the new food fraud requirements before their first audits. Within the SQF guidance document there is a recommendation for senior managers to be trained in food fraud awareness and we were pleased to launch a short, practical on-demand training course to meet this requirement. We’ve had great feedback about this course, and for only $59 it’s a great way to meet your continuous improvement and training requirements for 2019.
Also in 2018, our one-stop, deep-dive food fraud training course was re-launched, with new lessons, more downloadable templates, new content for food fraud teams and step-by-step instructions for creating and implementing a food fraud prevention program from scratch. Check it out today.
We look forward to working with you in 2019 and beyond.