Food Fraud

At the time of writing, 2022 is already half over and some interesting food fraud cases have come to light. Here are our top 5 picks.

 

The incidents in this list have been chosen because they pose food safety risks to consumers or are likely to be affecting large numbers of products.

Continue to stay alert and adjust your risk assessment regularly.

 

#1 Counterfeit chocolate bars

Counterfeiting is a type of food fraud where a well-known brand of food or drink is produced by an unauthorised manufacturer and passed off as the real thing. In this case, it concerned chocolate bars of a Nestle brand distributed in the UK.

 

#2 Secret tank in milk truck in Italy

This scam stays (hopefully) an exception. A truck used to transport milk had been modified in such a way that the milk could be diluted with water undetected just before unloading. The milk taken for testing purposes met the quality tests, but before it was pumped into the storage tanks of the buyers, it had been diluted. Besides the financial damage, consider the risk of contamination from this fraudulent manipulation

 

#3 Smuggling and mislabelling of seafood

This is a form of food fraud that is consistently high on the top 10 list. Not only is smuggled fish and seafood very likely to be illegally caught, but often the species information is manipulated and the product is mislabelled. Experts estimate that at least 10% of seafood offered for retail sale has been affected by fraudulent manipulation at some point between catch, storage and processing.

Species identification has become routine. With the help of modern PCR techniques and other analytical methods, misdeclaration can be reliably detected. AGROLAB LUFA is a reliable partner for this. With certain restrictions, it is also possible to analytically verify information on the catch area, wild catch or aquaculture.

#4 Organic fraud with cereals

False declarations of the organic status and origin of grains and oilseeds are a common form of food fraud that usually go undetected, guaranteeing a sure profit for the fraudsters.  False declarations can also result from incomplete documentation on complex trade routes, but in the wake of the Ukraine war and the resulting supply shortages and price explosion, an accumulation of declaration fraud and errors is to be expected. The distinction between organic and conventional cultivation can in certain cases be recognised analytically by the ratio of stable nitrogen isotopes. Declarations of origin and variety declarations are also analytically verifiable.

 

#5 False country of origin claims

This type of fraud is also widespread. It affects both raw commodities and packaged retail products in all food categories. Typical examples in 2022 included dried fish, pulses and spices in Italy, fresh fruit, vegetables, mushrooms and honey in France, and wine from Italy that did not originate in Italy.

The good news is that this type of fraud can often be detected with combined analytical methods, especially if authentic reference samples were previously available that could be used to create a specific "product fingerprint" database.

 

Professional food fraudsters exploit the limitations of current analytics and adapt their manipulations in such a way that they are difficult and costly to detect. Therefore, only strict supplier selection, regular audits and additional spot checks will help. If you believe or have actually become a victim of fraud, please inform the monitoring authorities.

 

 

YOUR PLUS: AGROLAB works with several partner laboratories to solve even difficult questions of origin and authenticity control and tries to stay one analytical step ahead of the fraudsters.

 

 

This article was inspired by a recent publication on https://foodfraudadvisors.com

 

Author: Frank Mörsberger

 

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