Food Fraud. A Global Problem
Have you heard of food fraud?
Food fraud is a collective term used to describe the deliberate and intentional altering of food, or food packaging, or false or misleading statements about a product, for economic purposes.
It could for example mixing a liquid ingredient with a high value with a liquid of a lower value, such as adding water to a 100% natural orange juice. This type of food fraud can also be potentially dangerous for consumers, if for example olive oil is diluted with tea tree oil, which is potentially toxic.
People are less and less trusting about the food they consume, which is a good thing. In recent years, food fraud has become a bigger problem for consumers, but sources point out that it has been around since 1784.
Fraud is an economically motivated criminal activity. As a food company, it is vital to have control measures in place to reduce the risk of food fraud.
To estimate vulnerability to food fraud, 3 factors are considered: opportunities, motivation, and inadequate or no control measures. It is usually calculated as the following equation:
Opportunities + motivation – control measures = vulnerability
Does the product go through a long commercial chain? Could an incident occur in this chain? To control this, it is important to use recognized distributors, producers, transporters etc., that also are committed to preventing food fraud.
When a product is in high demand due to its origin, composition, properties etc., there is motivation to cut corners to make more money. An example could be to dilute an expensive, freshly squeezed orange juice with water in order to cut costs, but still charge the same price to your clients.
To control the opportunities and motivations that may arise within the supply chain, the following control measures are used:
• Certificates of analysis of raw material suppliers.
• Analysis of raw materials. (Including identity analysis).
• Supply chain audits.
• Use of security seals and guarantee seals for incoming and outgoing raw material.
• Better supplier approval processes.
• Weight tests at the supplier’s facilities for the raw material and products prone to fraud.
• Changes in the supply chain. For example, change of supplier or change to a shorter supply chain.
• Certified food safety or quality management systems
It is recommended that these processes and controls are audited and certified by an independent, third party, to help minimize the risk of food fraud.
Freshzilla is BRC certified to ensure we provide safe food. To eliminate the possibility of fraud, we take care of all the controls in the supply chain and have a plan and controls to avoid food fraud, thus providing our customers with safe and fresh products.
Marlene Guzmán (September 2020)
Photo credits: shutterstock.com/