Food Fraud

15-12-2020

Do we really know what we eat?
Safety is a prerequisite for the circulation of food in the market. The development of methodologies for this endeavor (HACCP, HARPC), have significantly improved the safety of the products produced. In recent years, however, following cases of deliberate contamination of food, there has been a need for food companies to take additional measures for the safety of production facilities and to prevent fraud in order to protect their prestige and reliability.

What is food fraud?
According to Regulation 625/2017 of the European Union, regarding the official controls of the authorities, as falsification / fraud is characterized any information that may mislead consumers, especially in terms of nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, shelf life, country of origin or place of origin, method of preparation or production of food.
The main features of food adulteration / fraud are:
1. Non-compliance with the legislation on the production of products
2. The intention of the company to proceed with fraud
3. The financial benefit of this effort
4. Consumer deception
Incidents of fraud can be:
Dilution: mixing one high value liquid with another of lower value
– Replacement: the replacement of one component or part of a product of high value by another of lower value
– Hide: Hide items for use with lower quality ingredients
– Incorrect labeling: placing false claims on the label of a food for profit
– Unauthorized use: the use of unauthorized ingredients in products in order to improve their characteristics
– Counterfeiting: copying a name, recipe, processing method for financial gain
– Sale of products from theft / suspicious markets: the sale of products that come from theft or of unknown characteristics due to the fact that their origin is not clear
Foods such as honey, fats / oils (e.g. olive oil), catches (e.g. tuna) have been identified as the most likely foods for adulteration.

Who is affected?
Action against food adulteration / fraud applies to all producers of food and packaging materials (who come into direct contact with food).

Is it obligatory?
In the context of the application of HACCP principles, anti-fraud measures are indirectly mandatory, without the need to define the methodology for the measures to be taken. Accordingly, the new version of ISO 22000: 2018, gives companies the freedom to assess the need to take measures to combat fraud legislation.
The development of procedures for the fight against possible fraud / fraud in the produced food / materials is obligatory during the application of recognized, according to GFSI, standards (BRC, IFS, FSSC 22000), FAMI QS etc., which holistically approach the safety of food & feed.

What is required?
Several methodologies have been developed in order for a business to develop and implement a fraud / fraud prevention plan (TS / PAS 96, SSAFE, etc.). In this regard, the standards have issued guidelines or tools to facilitate the companies that are going to implement them.
In any case, each company must choose the appropriate methodology for it to develop a comprehensive and effective plan to combat fraud. This effort is based on Vulnerability Assessment.
The vulnerability study includes:
• the evaluation of incoming materials in the company, evaluating at least the following:
– The historicity of the materials
– The evaluation of suppliers (direct suppliers, brokers, financial status of suppliers, certifications)
– The position of suppliers in the supply chain
– The price of materials
– The nature of the supplied materials (powder, liquids, solids)
in combination with the existing measures and the frequency of inspections, they form the basis for the evaluation of the incoming and the taking of appropriate measures.
• evaluation of points within the company, which may lead to cases of fraud / fraud. The following must be taken into account in this evaluation:
– Points where the compliance of the product with the legislation is judged
– Points where unwanted replacement of materials may occur during the production process
– The culture of the employees
– The company policy
The recognition of critical materials and points in the production process, determine the set of policies that must be adopted by the company, in order to reduce to acceptable levels the risk of fraud / fraud.

PRIORITY combines extensive experience and specialization in food hygiene and safety, having worked with hundreds of food companies since 1998: from sanitary infrastructure design, to software automation of HACCP procedures and controls, conducting unannounced audits and providing scientific consulting in food safety crisis. You can count on PRIORITY for your international certifications, legal compliance, national authorities and customer audits.