food fraud (83)

India is Facing a Serious Food Fraud Problem

5758891462?profile=RESIZE_400xThe FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) analysed 106,459 food samples across India in 2018-19, and found over 15.8% of the food samples were sub-standard, 3.7% unsafe, and 9% mislabelled. The FSSAI have accused 10 Indian states of being unable to ensure food security for consumers as they lack the workforce and adequate food testing laboratory infrastructure. In addition, a research report by Uttra Pradesh based Harcourt Butler Technical University found 70% of adulterated mustard oil in markets in Kanpur, a city known for its important markets for edible oil.

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5758031681?profile=RESIZE_400x The publication of the EU Food Fraud Network 2019 Annual Report was announced on May 19.The European Commission has given details of the proceduresof the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System (AAC), and illustrated this with an example of an olive oil investigation. The AAC is an IT system developed and managed by the European Commission. An EU country can contact the competent authorities of another EU country and share information in a secure manner, which can lead to administrative actions, administrative sanctions or judicial proceedings. This exchange of information is an essential element for effective cross border investigation and for strategic assessment of the threat of fraud, which is at the heart of the exchange of information of the Food Fraud Network.

The 2019 Annual Report reveals that the top category of food investigated was fats and oils, with 44 recorded instances of administrative and investigative actions. Read the article here

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As food is now sourced globally, it is important that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has a good understanding of the global drivers of food fraud (root causes of why food fraud incidents occur) that impact the UK and which of the available tools can help it best protect the UK food supply from these influences.

 A Defra funded project is in progress to address these needs. A literature review and expert workshop, held in January 2020, identified food fraud drivers and food fraud mitigation tools.

The aim of this survey is to get your views on the outputs of the literature review and expert workshop so that the most commonly used tools can be selected for evaluation in phase 2 of the Defra project.

The survey will take 10 minutes or less to complete:

Complete Survey

We thank you in advance for your assistance and kindly request that the survey is completed by Friday 19 June 2020.

The Food Authenticity Network Team

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The European Commission is still developing an integrated system to combat food fraud to match that of the safety of food and feed in the EU. The European Commission (EC) Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality (part of the Joint Research Centre) is charged with the provision of scientific insight for the policy making of EC services dealing with food fraud, and the creation of expert networks with the competent authorities of the EU Member States. The Centre undertook a stocktaking exercise of what works well, and which areas will need improvement for competent authorities to fight food fraud. This exercise highlighted (i) the development of early warning systems, (ii) the availability of compositional databases of vulnerable foods, and (iii) the creation of centres of competence as priorities for further action.

Read the abstract here 

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UK POSTnote on Food Fraud is Published

5253502081?profile=RESIZE_584xThe Food Authenticity Network is proud to have contributed to the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) note on Food Fraud.

The POSTnote provides an overview of food fraud, including its drivers and impacts. It discusses methods for food authenticity testing, broader strategies to prevent food fraud and impacts of EU exit.

 Key Points

  • Foods that are commonly reported to be adulterated include herbs and spices, coffee, seafood, honey and olive oil.
  • In addition to affecting consumer choice and confidence, food fraud may pose a public health risk. In 2016, a restaurant owner was sentenced to prison after substituting almond powder with mixed nut powder containing peanuts, resulting in the death of a customer.
  • Other impacts on consumers include loss of nutrition and inadvertent consumption of foods that are normally restricted for ethical or religious reasons.
  • Businesses may suffer financial losses following food fraud incidents due to factory closure, product recalls or destruction of contaminated ingredients or products. Companies may also suffer reputational damage.
  • A range of UK laws and regulation contribute to preventing food fraud. The majority of law relating to food in the UK is based on the Food Safety Act 1990, which prohibits food which is not of the nature, substance or quality that consumers would expect, and describing or presenting food in a false or misleading way.
  • Public bodies responsible detecting and mitigating food fraud include local authorities, government departments and regulators. In England, Defra is responsible for policy and legislation on food labelling and composition. It is also responsible for the Government’s food authenticity research programme, which identifies risks to food authenticity and develops and validates food testing methods.
  • Strategies to detect and prevent food fraud broadly fall into two categories: scientific analysis to test the authenticity of foods and broader mitigation strategies including intelligence gathering, vulnerability assessments and economic analysis strategies.
  • Each food business has its own approach to testing the authenticity of its products. Food retailers often have contractual agreements with suppliers that require them to carry out authenticity testing of their ingredients. Large food retailers, such as supermarkets, typically have their own routine monitoring programmes.
  • There are a variety of analytical techniques that can be used to test for adulterated food and drink and often a combination of methods will be used.
  • Testing can be targeted (whereby the analysis looks for a pre-defined characteristic, such as a specific adulterants or section of DNA), or non-targeted (whereby multiple measurements of a sample are taken using a variety of techniques to obtain a sample’s ‘chemical fingerprint’)
  • Barriers to tackling food fraud relate to the cost and capability of authenticity testing, perpetrators changing their mode of operation, and a complex regulatory enforcement system.
  • The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that there is no evidence to suggest the UK will be at more risk from food crime after the Brexit transition period. However, some stakeholders have raised concerns that EU exit may impact the UK’s vulnerability to food fraud.
  • Concerns relate to checks on food imports, the UK’s food testing capacity and the extent of UK access to EU food fraud intelligence networks.

Read full POSTnote.

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An interlaboratory comparison (ILC) was organised by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre to provide an opportunity for interested laboratories to assess and compare their competence in determining the 13C/12C ratios of fructose, glucose, di- and trisaccharides in honey by using liquid chromatography – isotope ratio mass spectrometry (LC-IRMS).

Fourteen laboratories participated in the ILC and tested six honey samples. The majority of the participating laboratories demonstrated the proficient use of the applied LC-IRMS for mono-, di- and trisaccharides in honey, which will allow them to apply the technique for detecting adulterated honey samples within the scope of the method. Further guidance on the proper detection and evaluation of the oligosaccharide fraction will be needed to provide proof that the method is fit for compliance assessment of honey with purity criteria.

In general, the results of the ILC demonstrate that LC-IRMS is a suitable technique for determining carbon isotope ratios of fructose, glucose, di- and trisaccharides in honey with sufficient precision and it is fit for assessing whether sugar syrups have been added to honey, within the limits of the method.

Read the full report.

 

 

 

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The Government Chemist, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) held a UK seminar on honey authenticity: determination of exogenous sugars by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) on 13 November 2019, which was attended by 57 people representing stakeholder organisations.

The aim of the seminar was to bring together stakeholders involved in honey production and analysis to discuss this topic and ideally come to an agreed position. It was anticipated that the output of this seminar would help inform future UK government policy on the use of NMR for honey authenticity.

The seminar consisted of a series of presentations from invited experts that set the scene for the workshop part of the day, which involved participants splitting into four representative groups to discuss the suitability of NMR for enforcement purposes and to identify gaps and priorities to assessing the use of NMR for the appraisal of honey authenticity.

The report details the aims and outputs of the seminar.Honey authenticity: determination of exogenous sugars by NMR Seminar Report (PDF, 913KB, 19 pages)

Presentations are also available

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European standardisation in the field of food and feed contributes to improving levels of food safety and protecting the health of consumers. CEN (European Committee for Standardization) provides validated test methods that are used by the food industry and by the competent public authorities for official control purposes and by food- and feed-producing companies for internal checks. 

Food authenticity was identified as a new area of interest and a Technical Committee was established to standardise methods in this area. At its first meeting in 2019, this committee established a series of working groups (WG) within which methods would be standardised:

WG1:   Concepts, terms and definitions

WG2:   Species analyses using DNA-based methods

WG3:   Coffee and coffee products

WG4:   NMR analysis

WG5:   Stable Isotope Analysis

WG6:   Validation concepts of non-targeted methods

It has just been announced that the UK has been voted to lead on Working Group 1 (concepts, terms and definitions):

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Dr James Donarski from Fera Science Ltd will be the Convener and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will provide the Secretariat function.

The development of a common language for concepts, terms and definitions associated with food authenticity is important to securing the integrity of food and mitigating food fraud, facilitating international trade.

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4817817072?profile=RESIZE_710xTwo fraudulent horsemeat shipments were seized in Europe last week, marking the start of an expected surge in food fraud.

The seizures have reinforced concerns among food safety experts that criminals will target food supply chains disrupted by the pandemic.

The horsemeat samples were held in the Netherlands and Denmark, with one intended for “unauthorised placing on the market,” according to the EU’s RASFF food safety register.

“You’ll see that regulators across Europe will probably now be looking at horsemeat and the labelling of it much more closely because those two cases have been identified,” said Louise Manning, professor of agri-food and supply chain security at Royal Agricultural University.

It was “unusual” to have two horsemeat seizures in as many days, she said, though it was unclear whether it was due to increased fraud activity or greater vigilance.

The risk of food crime has soared during the pandemic as the collapse of foodservice and the closure of meat processing plants has created a dramatic imbalance in supply and demand.

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4760208496?profile=RESIZE_400xIGFS, Queens University Belfast working with ABP have analysed 413 fraud reports in the beef supply chain between 1997 and 2017 .published in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and HorizonScan to determine their overall pattern.  Counterfeiting was the most common type of fraud in the beef industry; it accounted for 42.9% of all reports documented. When reports were classified by area in the supply chain in the report occurred, 36.4% of all cases were attributed to primary processing, of which 95.5% were counterfeiting cases. Counterfeiting included products manufactured/packed on unapproved premises, or without appropriate inspection or documentation, as well as products issued with fraudulent health certificates.

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GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) has just unveiled Version 2020 of its Benchmarking Requirements under its new Director Erica Sheward. As well as assessing food safety culture when companies are certified, Version 2020 puts more emphasis on food fraud and its mitigation to ensure compliance with both EU and US food law.

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4248572073?profile=RESIZE_710xThis study examines fraud vulnerability in the Dutch food service sector; identifies underlying fraud vulnerability factors; and studies the differences in fraud vulnerability between casual dining restaurants, fine dining restaurants and mass caterers for four product groups. Vulnerability was assessed by an adapted SSAFE food fraud vulnerability assessment, tailored to the food service sector. Fifteen food service operators were assessed, and were rated high vulnerability for 40% of the fraud indicators, which is much higher than food manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers assessed in a previous study. In particular, there was more opportunities for fraud and fewer controls were noted. The overall fraud vulnerability was determined more by the type of food service operator than by the type of food product. Hence casual dining restaurants were assessed as being the most vulnerable, followed by fine dining restaurants. Mass caterers were assesed as the least vulnerable operators to fraud, because they had more adequate controls in place.

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4223202673?profile=RESIZE_710xTurmeric sales in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the last five years, from US$163 million in 2014 to US$375 million in 2019, which is also mirrored by a global increase as well. This increase in turmeric trade also gives an increased problem of adulteration and fraud. The article discusses with leading experts the potential and identified adulterants, and what consumers should do to protect themselves from purchasing adulterated turmeric.  

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The US agencies have issued letters to seven companies, and removed online listings from others, whose products falsely claim to prevent or treat coronavirus.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued warning letters to seven companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 products that claim to treat or prevent the virus. At current there is no approved prevention or therapy for coronavirus.

According to the agencies, the products being sold are unapproved and pose a significant risk to patient health, as they may be unsafe for consumption and/or stop or delay patients getting necessary medical diagnoses and treatments.

The companies selling these products are violating federal law and may be subject to legal action, including but not limited to seizure or injunction, emphasise the organisations.

 

 

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The European Council has adopted conclusions on further steps to improve ways of tackling and deterring fraudulent practices in the agro-food chain.

In its conclusions the Council recalls that a high level of protection is an overall objective of EU policies concerning health, safety, environmental protection and consumer protection, and recognises that the current EU legal framework on tackling food fraud is adequate.

The Council nonetheless emphasises the need for continuous and improved cross-sectorial cooperation to fight against food fraud. This cooperation should include not only food and feed control authorities, but also authorities involved in the fight against financial crime and tax, customs, police, prosecution and other law enforcement authorities. In relation to this, the Council calls upon the Commission and member states to allocate adequate resources to ensure effective implementation of existing EU legislation by improving the shared understanding of the criteria determining food fraud.

3859201797?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Council also stresses the need to promote awareness-raising among consumers and to continue to broaden training on countering food-fraud.

Read text of conclusions.text of conclusions

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Two Long Island, New York, companies and their owners have pleaded guilty to mislabelling giant squid from Peru as octopus, which commands a higher retail price than squid. From 2011 to 2014, the defendants imported, processed, marketed, sold, and distributed over 51,000 kg of squid worth US $1.1 million that they had falsely labelled as octopus. The defendants admitted to defrauding over ten grocery stores that in turn sold the seafood product to consumers. The defendants await their sentencing.

3777228231?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here

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Looking to 2020, among the challenges faced by the food sector, which can affect their reputation and market, are food allergies, food fraud and climate change. Food allergies amongst the population especially in children are on the increase, and allergy related recalls have increased by 20% in 2019, along with some tragic high profile allergic reaction deaths. Hence industry, especially the food service sector, will need to take more precautions in future. Climate change will also potentially impact on industry affecting its raw materials and ingredients supplies and production in particular. Food fraud continues to remain a high profile and challenging issue for industry, especially where there is reliance on imported raw materials and ingredients. 

3772769190?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the article here

 

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Michele Suman, Head of Food Safety and Authenticity Research at Barilla Spa, in Parma discusses the latest challenges and innovations effecting the industry in an interview with New Food's editor. He will be elaborating the use and validation of non-targeted methods at next year's Food Integrity Conference in March in Twickenham, London, much of which was developed in his work in the EU Project FoodIntegrity. 

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3435350351?profile=RESIZE_710xThe EU FoodIntegrity project has published a number of Scientific Opinions on difficult stakeholder derived issues that concern food fraud. The topics were all identified by stakeholders and are intended as documents that describe best practices. The published Scientific Opinions can be found here under the 'Scientific Opinions' tab.

The latest Scientific Opinion published is on "Use of NMR applications to tackle future food fraud issues". The SO discusses how both targeted (allows the identification of specific markers of identity/adulteration for a given foodstuff) and untargeted (the chemical profile of the whole foodstuff is used to create a unique fingerprint as a reference for suspect samples) NMR methodologies are applied in routine use for food fraud monitoring. The cost-effective approaches for routine application are discussed using examples of Food Screener™ and benchtop low-field instruments.

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The Albanian NFA has uncovered a major fraud where vegetable fat labelled as margarine manufactured in Ukraine was imported and then sold as "butter" in Albania. The same importer also labelled some of the product as "buttermilk" and the Ukranian origin changed to Germany. After 5 inspections, the NFA fined the importer a total of Albanian Lek 2.9 million (around £21,000) and removed 47 tons of margarine from the market.

3133650063?profile=RESIZE_710x  Read the article here

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