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food fraud (64)

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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Beef burgers that failed to meet legal standards were sold to charities tackling food poverty in France. Using European FEAD funds (Funds for European Aid to the Most Deprived), food charities (Banques Alimentaires, French Red Cross, Restaurants du Coeur, and Secours Populaire Français) allocated €5.2million to purchase around 1,500 tonnes of frozen beefburgers and distribute to the 5 million people living in food poverty. However, these burgers were found to have excess fat, poor quality meat and defects in composition. The charities removed the frozen burgers from their distribution networks and informed the national enforcement authority (DGCCRF). Its investigations traced the poor quality burgers to a French company, which had purchased the burgers through another intermediary Franch company from Poland. Polish investigators have also been contacted to carry out their own investigations. DGCCRF will pursue the French companies through the courts, and indicate that the facts point to "deception by an organised gang". 

3076302712?profile=RESIZE_710x Read the full article here

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According to the first EU-wide intellectual property crime threat assessment from Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), most criminal activity involving counterfeiting is carried out by increasingly professionalised organised crime networks, which can reap large profits while running relatively few risks.

Food and drinks remain highly popular items for counterfeiters, with the EU consistently emerging as a major destination market for counterfeit food and drinks. Detected counterfeit food products include baby milk powder, stock cubes, cheese, coffee, olive oil and pasta. Several of these goods have been found in groceries and supermarkets, illustrating that they also infiltrate the legal supply chain. As the counterfeit goods are almost always of substandard quality and produced in unhygienic environments, they can pose a serious risk to the health and wellbeing of consumers. In some cases, counterfeit food has even been found to contain dangerous or hazardous ingredients. Law enforcement authorities regularly detect other types of counterfeit goods alongside counterfeit food and drinks, highlighting how organised crime groups are frequently involved in trading an ever wider range of different counterfeit goods. In general, there appears to be an overall professionalisation of the organised crime groups involved in food counterfeiting.

Besides food, counterfeit alcoholic beverages pose a considerable risk to EU consumers. Spirits and wine are especially popular goods targeted for counterfeiting by organised crime groups. They frequently place cheap wine in bottles containing fake expensive wine labels, sometimes even adding pure alcohol on counterfeit spirits. Production methods have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, with some organised crime groups operating their own production lines, including the packaging and labelling of the product. Another method is to use legitimate production lines one day a week or month for the production of counterfeits.

Read the full report.

 

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Pictured above is Bhavna Parmar of the UK Food Standards Agency with Anne Bridges of AACC International.

The Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) held its 40th Session in Budapest, Hungary, from 27 to 31 May 2019. The Session was attended by 49 Member countries and 1 Member organization and 12 observer organisations.

Selvarani Elahi, representing the UK Government Chemist, attended as part of the UK delegation together with colleagues from the Food Standards Agency and the Association of Public Analysts.

CCMAS considers methods of analysis for Codex standards and testing in relation to international food trade. CCMAS 40 discussed analytical methods for nutritional metals, acid value and free fatty acids in palm oil, milk and milk product commodities, 'gluten free' labelling in products containing cereals, pulses and legumes, and herbs & species. The meeting also received updates from working groups on the revision of three substantive Codex documents: general standard for methods of analysis and sampling, guidelines on measurement uncertainty and guidelines on sampling. Work on these documents continues in order to reach global consensus.

As there is increasing interest in food integrity and food authenticity at Codex, the poster on the Food Authenticity Network attracted attention from delegates. Follow-up discussions are planned with member countries on creating ‘country-specific’ pages on the Food Authenticity Network for their countries in order to create a truly global network. Discussions will also continue with the food industry and observer organisations looking to support the work of the Network.

If you would like further information on supporting the Network, please contact us on Secretary@foodauthenticity.uk.

The Food Authenticity Network is mentioned in the meeting report, which is available from the Codex Alimentarius website.

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Between the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2018, DGCCRF (DG for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control) carried out a survey to check the country of origin of kiwis marketed in France. Investigators focussed on one Italian company exporting kiwis into France, and by checking customs and cross-border information with Italian officials, found that the imported kiwis were marketed as French produce. This company is being prosecuted in Italy. Suspicions also were roused by phytosanitary residues found on the Italian imported kiwis, which led to another seven French companies being found incorrectly labelling the country of origin of Italian kiwis. In all, it was estimated that around 15,000 tonnes of the kiwi fruit (12% of the French kiwi market) were being sold as French produce when in fact they were grown in Italy, which because of the price differential between French and Italian kiwis, were yielding a profit of around € 6 million. Prosecutions have been initiated against these seven companies.

 Read the article here and the DGCCRF survey report in French

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Canada’s has announced that its long-awaited national food policy is getting $134.4 million over five years. The programme will focus on tackling food waste, improving community access to healthy food, shining a spotlight on Canadian food both at home and abroad, and increasing food security in Northern and remote communities.  Within the programme, $24.4 million is earmarked to help the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) fight food fraud. The goal will be to detect instances where food or ingredients have been deliberately tampered with or are being misrepresented. Examples of potential food fraud could also include misleading labels on food packaging.

Read the article here

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Kona coffee is regarded as a high value coffee. Hawaiin farmers in the Kona District produce just over 1.2 million kg of coffee beans each year, yet they have estimated that around 9 million kg of coffee beans are sold under the name "Kona". Hence the farmers have launched a lawsuit against some of largest retailers and producers in the country, which pack and sell 19 brands of Kona coffee. The farmers are accusing these companies of selling coffee with a “false designation of origin,” labelling the coffee as Kona despite containing little to no Kona beans at all. Modern isotopic techniques have been applied to confirm coffee origin in the Kona District. Blends of Kona coffee are also common. There is a law in the Kona District that requires that the name Kona can only be used if there is a minimum of 10% Kona coffee in the blend, and the percentage of Kona is declared. Although this law does not apply in other parts of the country, labelling of blends should not be misleading as to the coffee content. There is also another lawsuit filed on behalf of the consumers who have been missold Kona coffee. 

 Read the article here

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The Canadian regulatory framework prohibits selling adulterated food or selling food in a false, misleading or deceptive manner. Although the number of prosecutions for food fraud cases in Canada has steadily decreased in the last decade, except for a spike in 2017, penalties are becoming more severe (i.e. 12-fold increase in fine amount between 2008 and 2018). The majority of cases are in violation with the Food and Drugs Act, Section 5(1), which prohibits “labelling, packaging, treating, processing, selling or advertising food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression.” In the cases presented in this study, violators having been found guilty were fined between $25,000 and $1.5 million, but none were sentenced to imprisonment.

To improve control over food fraud incidents, the Canadian government should clearly define food fraud and include a definition and description of the different types of fraudulent activities. To support this, the Government of Canada should raise awareness about food fraud among members of the food industry, while requiring expanded testing of raw ingredients and final products for authenticity. A critical step is for the Canadian government to conduct a country-wide food fraud vulnerability assessment to identify the most problematic types of food fraud and then create a country-wide food fraud prevention strategy. Once the prevention strategy is in place, then the most efficient countermeasures and control systems can be considered. The holistic and all-encompassing food fraud prevention focus would be on a coordinated and optimized reduction of the entire fraud opportunity. The creation of government-industry-academia partnerships would also play an essential role in preventing and combating food fraud. It is possible that few – if any – additional government allocation will be required to put the plan in place and begin to make significant improvements.

Read full paper here.

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Food fraud a worldwide problem and many countries continue to commit considerable resource to combat the issue. With the food supply chain now truly global, there is acknowledgement that having agreed definitions for terms commonly associated with food authenticity and food fraud would be of great benefit.

The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima), has led a European initiative with the objective of making communication regarding food fraud more precise. Together with food fraud experts (including from the Food Authenticity Network Team) from several European countries including the UK, a European standard has been created that defines many of the English terms and concepts used in connection with food fraud. The words are placed in a hierarchical system that makes it easier to understand how they relate to each other - see image.

The standardisation was coordinated as part of the EU-funded Authent-Net and FoodIntegrity projects. It was published in January 2019 by Standard Norway, and it is also being distributed by several other National Standardisation Bodies in Europe; currently Estonia, Netherlands, and the UK.

This standard represents an important first step in the global standardisation of these terms which will help facilitate trade, combat food fraud and better secure our food supply chains.

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A new article on food fraud public policy development for countries has been published by Dr John Spink (Director of the Food Fraud Initiative at Michigan State University) and the concepts described also apply to companies.

Abstract

Background

Food fraud is generally agreed to be defined as an illegal deception for economic gain using food which includes all types of fraud and all products. Food fraud – including the sub-category of Economically Motivated Adulteration or EMA – is an urgent global public policy issue that requires the development of common definitions and harmonized prevention management systems.

Scope and approach

There is a need to assess the food fraud public policy development steps to understand the current state and more importantly to identify next steps that will support efficient and successful implementation. Since food fraud policy development is in early stages of development, there is a unique opportunity to build upon the current state and make adjustments that will potentially yield tremendous benefit through harmonization and coordination.

The process model steps reviewed include

Problem Identification (Foundation Setting and Definition & Formation), Agenda Setting, Alternate Approaches, Legitimation, Implementation, and Evaluation. The research included a review of the current public policy development stages for the United Kingdom, European Commission, China, United States of America, and then also the Global Food Safety Initiative GFSI.

Key findings and conclusions

The international food fraud policy-making is currently advancing through Agenda Setting, Alternate Approaches, and Legitimation. The next steps for an efficient and effective food fraud policy-making implementation are to: (1) establish the definition and scope, (2) define food fraud as a food agency issue, (3) publish an official government statement focused on prevention (e.g., law, regulation, rule, guidance, etc.), (4) support and fund the policy implementation, and (5) continue to evaluate and adjust the response. Since food fraud policy development is in the early stages of development, there is a unique opportunity to build upon the current state and make adjustments that will potentially yield tremendous benefit through harmonization and coordination.

Full article.

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Issue 9 of the Food Authenticity Network Newsletter is now available and features a foreword from Professor Chris Elliott of Queen's University Belfast.

The newsletter describes how from January 2019, the Network has transitioned from being soley government funded to a public-private partnership led by LGC. Using this vehicle, our ambition is to build a truly global Network by working with governments, industry and other stakeholders from around the world. In support of this vision, the website domain name will transition to an international domain: www.foodauthenticity.global, but we will still operate our present domain www.foodauthenticity.uk in parallel to make sure links keep working.

In this issue, there are three interesting articles as well as our Centre of Expertise Profile:

  • An article on the FAO/IAEA’s new 5 year project on Authenticating High Value Foods.
  • An article from Which? on its consumer and authenticity activities.
  • An article that describes the latest features of the Decernis food fraud database (formerly run by USP)
  • Centre of Expertise Profile, LGC; LGC is proficient across multiple techniques required for food authenticity testing, including rapid / non-targeted / point-of-use methods.

 

 

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RIKILT Wageningen University & Research and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA)'s Laboratory for Food and Feed Safety will merge into a new institute effective on 1 June 2019. The institute will be called WFSR (Wageningen Food Safety Research) and will be part of RIKILT (Wageningen University & Research). This merger will benefit knowledge in the area of food and feed safety, as well as of food fraud.  WFSR will also function as an international and European national reference laboratory.

Read RIKILT's Press Release

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In this review, Spanish researchers have summarised drivers and examples of the widespread occurrence of food fraud and the analytical methodology to detect it.  Food chain integrity policies are discussed. Future directions in research, concerned not only with food adulterers but also with food safety and climate change, may be useful for researchers in developing interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary
problems.

Read the full review here

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Less than 1% of the world's vanilla flavour comes from real beans.

We are used to seeing vanilla all around us - in candles, cupcakes and creme brulees. But if you’re eating something vanilla-flavoured or smelling something vanilla-scented - it’s probably artificial.

Scientists have been making synthetic vanillin - the compound that gives vanilla its aroma - since the 19th Century. It has been extracted from coal, tar, rice bran, wood pulp and even cow dung.

Today, the vast majority of synthetic vanillin comes from petrochemicals.

It can be 20 times cheaper than the real thing.

The burgeoning interest in “artisanal” food made in a traditional way explains some of the demand for natural vanilla. But much of the rocketing price can be put down to food rules on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Europe and the United States, ice cream labelled “vanilla” must contain natural vanillin extract from vanilla pods. If the flavour comes wholly or partly from artificial sources, the packaging must say “vanilla flavour” or “artificial vanilla”.

Vanilla from vanilla pods will have a taste and potency unique to the area in which it is grown, much like wine. The vanilla from Madagascar has a distinct rummy taste and sweet aroma, which is why ice-cream makers choose it over vanilla from other countries.

And there is more and more pressure on food companies to switch from artificial vanilla to vanilla beans. Big corporations such as Hershey and Nestle have started buying natural vanilla extract for their products in large quantities, which injects more demand into the limited supply chain and raises prices further.

After being immersed in hot water the beans are left to dry in the hot sun

Over the past decade, vanilla prices have gone through dramatic booms and busts.

Madagascar’s 80,000 growers produce more vanilla than any other country - so what happens on the island affects the global industry.

Read full article here.

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On 11 August, the environmental protection service of the Spanish civil guard SEPRONA announced the seizure of 45 tons of illegally treated tuna fish. Four people were investigated and face possible criminal penalties of up to four years in prison for endangering public health, as well as administrative sanctions. The investigation has so far uncovered three companies and three fishing vessels involved in the fraudulent scheme.

Investigators found that frozen tuna only suitable for canning had been illegally treated with substances that enhance the colour and then been diverted to the market to be sold as fresh fish. This treatment can pose a serious public health risk associated with allergic reactions to histamine.

The investigation was coordinated by EUROPOL under the OPSON VII operation, in collaboration with the European Commission and other Member States, which was previously reported on the Food Authenticity Network in May 2018.

Criminal investigations are ongoing.

For more information on this case including the European Commission's contribution and information on other successful outcomes for EU coordinated cases.

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In a move that customers have labelled very fishy, the Chinese government has ruled that rainbow trout can now be labelled and sold as salmon.

The seemingly bizarre move comes after complaints earlier this year that rainbow trout was being mislabelled.

In May, media reported that much of what was sold as salmon in China was actually rainbow trout, to widespread consternation from fish-buyers.

But instead of banning vendors from deceiving their customers, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), which falls under the Chinese ministry of agriculture, has ruled that all salmonidae fish can now be sold under the umbrella name of “salmon”, reports the Global Times.

Rainbow trout and salmon are both salmonidae fish and look quite similar when filleted. However, salmon live in salt water and rainbow trout live in fresh water.

Read the full article.

 

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Researchers at the University of Nebraska carried out an interesting robust study to examine how information about food fraud incidents affects consumers’ valuation of products. Specifically, the study examined:

- changes in consumers’ valuation of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) after they received information about food fraud,

- how information about food fraud attributable to one country affects valuation for products from other countries, and

- how information about food fraud affects the valuation of olive oils in different price segments.

   Read the article at: consumer EVOO study

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Blockchain technology has the potential to transform the food industry and provide a new way of dealing with food safety and food fraud. This article by Sterling Crew is taken from his article in March edition of Food Science and Technology (free on line for IFST members). It examines its application to enhance transparency, tracking and traceability in the food supply chain, and considers how it could help to build consumer confidence and  give a more secure food supply system.

Read the article here

 

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Food Fraud News, 2018 February: This is an update of our MSU Food Fraud Initiative Activities.

Mission: MSU’s Food Fraud Initiative, an interdisciplinary activity focused on detecting and deterring this public health and economic threat.

Summary for February 2018: Our “MOOC” programs expanded to include a new MSU Food DEFENSE Audit Guide MOOC. Also, we’re excited that for 2018 we have 12 presentations scheduled so far including international locations in Japan, Australia, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Next Month – Education &Training: http://foodfraud.msu.edu/mooc/

1.      FOOD DEFENSE AUDIT GUIDE MOOC (MOOCD) <<NEW>>

a.      2018, March 15 & 22 – 10am ET

2.      FOOD FRAUD AUDIT GUIDE MOOC (MOOCA)

a.      2018, March 6 & 13 – 1pm ET

3.      FOOD FRAUD OVERVIEW MOOC 2018 (MOOC1)

a.      On-demand lectures starting March 30

4.      Graduate Courses, Online, Registration open for Summer Semester: http://foodfraud.msu.edu/resources/programs-courses/

a.      “Packaging for Food Safety” VM/PKG 841

b.      “Product Protection & Anti-Counterfeit Strategy” VM/PKG/CJ 840

Next Month – Outreach & Presentations: http://foodfraud.msu.edu/resources/events/

1.      2018/04/15- Presentation, Food Fraud Prevention for Spices, Annual Meeting, American Spice Trade Association ASTA, Naples, Florida

2.      2018/03/26- Presentation, Food Fraud Terminology Survey, GMA Science Forum, Grocery Manufacturers Association, DC

3.      2018/03/12- Presentation, Food Fraud Audit Guide, FSSC Webinar Series, AM for Europe and Eastern USA, Webinar

4.      2018/03/06 – Moderator, Food Fraud Prevention, GFSI Annual Conference, Tokyo, Japan

5.      2018/03/06 – Presenter, Food Fraud Prevention Strategy Update, GFSI Annual Conference, Tokyo, Japan

 

Publications – Recent Annual: http://foodfraud.msu.edu/resources/publications/

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