The most well-known and widely-accepted definition of food fraud was published by Dr John Spink and Douglas C Moyer of the Michigan State University in 2011 and is:
Food fraud is a collective term used to encompass the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging; or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain. (Spink and Moyer (2011))
Other published definitions include:
Food fraud is deception, using food for economic gain (Spink, et al 2016)
Food Fraud: Any actions taken by businesses or individuals that deceive other businesses and/or individuals in terms of misrepresenting food, food ingredients or food packaging that brings about a financial gain. (Elliott, 2018)
Food fraud “is deception of consumers using food products, ingredients and packaging for economic gain and includes substitution, unapproved enhancements, misbranding, counterfeiting, stolen goods or others.” GFSI Position on Mitigating the Public Health Risk of Food Fraud (2014)
It’s been happening for millennia; the sale of food that is not quite what it should be. We call it food fraud, and it’s a serious problem. Although it has been a well-known problem for many years, it wasn’t until the large-scale and well-publicised ‘horsemeat scandal’ of 2013, in which beef products were found to be adulterated with horsemeat, that the international food industry started to act in a collaborative way to tackle the issue. Since then, the food industry has discussed and implemented a range of measures designed to minimise the occurrence of food fraud. These measures include new regulatory requirements for food fraud prevention in the USA and changes to food safety standards in other parts of the world.
One of the industry’s tools for preventing food fraud is a special type of risk assessment, known as a vulnerability assessment, which became part of all major food safety standards in 2018. To learn more about vulnerability assessments, click here. Other tools include enhancements to the traceability of food and ingredients, tightening of purchasing specifications and increased testing and inspection of foods, ingredients and suppliers.