Karen Everstine, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Food Fraud: Where Do I Start?

By Karen Everstine, Ph.D.
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Karen Everstine, Decernis

I attended the Safe Food California Conference last week in Monterey, California. Food fraud was not the main focus of the conference, but there was some good food fraud-related content. Craig Wilson gave a plenary session about the past, present and future of food safety at Costco. As part of that presentation, he discussed their supplier ingredient program. This program was implemented in response to the 2008 Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak in peanut paste but has direct applicability to food fraud prevention.

Food Fraud: Problem Solved? Learn more at the 2019 Food Safety Supply Chain Conference | May 29–30, 2019 | Attend in Rockville, MD or virtually Jeanette Litschewski from SQFI gave a breakout presentation on the most common SQF non-conformities in 2018. She presented data from 7,710 closed audits that cited 44,439 non-conformities. Of those, 756 were related to food fraud requirements. While this presentation was not focused on the specifics of the food fraud non-conformities, Jeanette did mention that many of them were related to broad issues such as not having completed a food fraud vulnerability assessment or appropriately documenting that each of the required factors was addressed in an assessment.

I was invited to give a breakout presentation with an overview of food fraud issues globally and a brief outline of some of the tools currently available to assist with conducting vulnerability assessments. Although many of the attendees had already began implementation of food fraud measures, there was a lot of interest in this list of tools and resources. Therefore, I am recreating the list in Table I. The focus is on resources that are either complimentary or affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses, with recognition that “full-service” and tailored consulting services are always an option.

Food Fraud Resources (Table I)
Food Fraud Mitigation Training Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessments Food Fraud Data/Records
Michigan State Massive Open Online Courses for Food Fraud SSAFE/PwC Decernis Food Fraud Database
Food Fraud Advisors Online Training Courses USP FFMG FPDI Food Adulteration Incidents Registry
Food Fraud Advisors Vulnerability Assessment Tools (downloadable spreadsheets):

The USP Food Fraud Mitigation Guidance referenced in Table I is a great source of general information on food fraud mitigation, as is the “Food Fraud Prevention” document created by Nestle. Many of the GFSI Certification Programme Owners have also released guidance documents about vulnerability assessments, such as BRC, FSSC 22000, and SQF.

The Decernis Food Fraud Database and the FPDI Food Adulteration Incidents Registry (see Table I) are two sources of historical food fraud data that are referenced specifically in the SSAFE/PwC tool. Companies can also track official information about food safety recalls and alerts (including related to food fraud) from public sources such as the FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts; Import Refusals; Warning Letters; USDA Recalls and Public Health Alerts; EU RASFF, and many others.

Of course, there are quite a few companies that offer tailored tools, training and consulting services. Companies that offer courses in food fraud mitigation and assistance in creating a vulnerability assessment (or FDA-required food safety plan) include NSF, Eurofins, AIB International, SGS, and The Acheson Group.

Also available are services that compile food safety recalls and alerts (including those resulting from food fraud) from multiple official sources, such as FoodAKAI and HorizonScan. EMAlert is a proprietary tool that merges public information with user judgment to inform food fraud vulnerability. Horizon Scanning is a system that can monitor emerging issues, including food fraud, globally.

Food fraud mitigation, vulnerability assessment
Vulnerability assessments should help focus resources towards those ingredients truly at risk of fraudulent adulteration.

In short, there are many resources available to help support your food fraud vulnerability assessments and mitigation plans. If I have unintentionally missed mentioning any resources you have found to be helpful, please let us know in the comments.

Todd Fabec, Rfxcel
FST Soapbox

Why the Modern Food Supply Chain Needs Real-Time Environmental Monitoring

By Todd Fabec
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Todd Fabec, Rfxcel

Food supply chains are becoming more complex, as food companies are increasingly faced with blind spots such as deviations from required environmental conditions, theft, fraud and poor handling. Supply chains are global; transit routes that involve road, rail, sea and air create many potential points of failure in food safety or product integrity protocol that, until recently, were largely outside a company’s control.

Learn more about how to address risks in your supply chain at the Food Safety Supply Chain Conference | May 29–30, 2019 | Rockville, MD (or attend virtually)To maintain product quality and safety, companies should implement an environmental monitoring (EM) solution that paints a complete picture of their food products as they move through the supply chain. EM solutions that utilize devices powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) allow real-time tracking of cargo and provide actionable data that can mitigate common problems, change outcomes, and protect brands and consumer health.

Let’s take a deeper look into the problems that food manufacturers and distributors are facing how EM solutions can minimize or eliminate them altogether.

Current Hurdles for Food Supply Chains

As the global network of food trade expands, the diverse challenges facing suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and logistics companies present even more of a threat to supply chains and revenue.

According to PwC agribusiness advisory partner, Greg Quinn, worldwide food fraud results in losses of at least $65 billion a year. Luxury products such as Japanese Wagyu beef and Italian olive oil are regularly counterfeited and incorrectly labeled, and buyers often have no way to trace the origins of what they are purchasing.

Companies in the food and beverage industry also face diversion and theft, which can happen at any of the many blind spots along the supply chain. In fact, food and beverages were among the top commodities targeted by thieves in North America last year, accounting for 34% of all cargo theft, according to a report by BSI Supply Chain Services and Solutions.

Food product quality and safety are also seriously compromised when cargo is poorly handled while in transit, with hazards such as exposure to water, heat and cold, or substance contamination. These types of damages can be particularly acute in the cold chain, where perishable products must be moved quickly under specific environmental conditions, including temperature, humidity and light.

Furthermore, inefficiencies in routing—from not adhering to transport regulations to more basic oversights such as not monitoring traffic or not utilizing GPS location tracking—delay shipments, can result in product spoilage and/or shortened shelf life, and cost companies money. Routing and EM have become more important in light of FSMA, which FDA designed to better protect consumers by strengthening food safety systems for foodborne illnesses.

In short, businesses that manage food supply chains need to be on top of their game to guarantee product quality and safety and care for their brand.

How Does Product Tracking Technology Work?

Real-time EM solutions are proving to be an invaluable asset for companies seeking to combat supply chain challenges. Such product tracking capabilities give companies a vibrant and detailed picture of where their products are and what is happening to them. With EM in the supply chain, IoT technology is the crucial link to continuity, visibility and productivity.

So, how does integrated EM work? Sensors on pallets, cases or containers send data over communication networks at regular intervals. The data is made available via a software platform, where users can set parameters (e.g., minimum and maximum temperature) to alert the system of irregularities or generate reports for analysis. This data is associated with the traceability data and becomes part of a product’s pedigree, making it a powerful tool for supply chain visibility.

EM Combats Supply Chain Stumbling Blocks

EM allows companies to monitor their supply chain, protect consumers and realize considerable return on investment. The technology can show companies how to maximize route efficiencies, change shippers, or detect theft or diversion in real time. Tracking solutions transmit alerts, empowering manufacturers and suppliers to use data to halt shipments that may have been adulterated, redirect shipments to extend shelf life, and manage food recalls—or avoid them altogether. Recalls are a particularly important consideration: One 2012 study concluded that the average direct cost of a recall in the United States was $10 million.

The IoT-enabled technology provides real-time information about how long an item has been in transit, if the vehicle transporting it adhered to the approved route, and, if the shipment stopped, where and for how long. This is crucial information, especially for highly perishable goods. For example, leafy greens can be ruined if a truck’s engine and cooling system are turned off for hours at a border crossing. With EM and tracking, businesses are able to understand and act upon specific risks using detailed, unit-level data.

For example, a company can find out if pallets have dislodged, fallen, or have been compromised in other ways while in transit. They can receive alerts if the doors of a truck are opened at an unscheduled time or location, which could indicate theft. Thieves target food cargo more often than other products because it’s valuable, easy to sell and perishable, and evidence of the theft does not last very long. In fact, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that cargo theft costs U.S. businesses $30 billion each year, with food and beverage being one of the primary targets. Businesses need to get smart about preventative actions.

All of this actionable data is available in real time, allowing businesses to make decisions immediately, not after the fact when it’s too late. When necessary, they can divert or reroute shipments or take actions to remedy temperature excursions and other environmental concerns. This saves money and protects their reputation. Furthermore, third-party logistics firms and contracted delivery companies can be held accountable for incidents and inefficiencies.

Conclusion

As the benefits of global supply chains have grown, so have the risks. With the FSMA shifting responsibility for safety to food companies, real-time EM is a vital step to ensure cargo is maintained in the correct conditions, remains on track to its destination, and is safeguarded from theft and fraud. With the advent of IoT-enabled tracking and EM technologies, supply chain operations can be streamlined and companies can prevent waste and financial losses, protect their investments and brand identity, and gain an advantage in the marketplace.

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Some Booze Is Going to the Dogs

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud, Dogs drinking cocktail
Records involving fraud can be found in the Food Fraud Database.

It is not really surprising that alcoholic beverages are the target of fraudsters. However, it is certainly not the norm to find counterfeited spirits in the heart of Europe sporting big brand names. Whether the products discovered at an illegal factory in Knockbridge, Ireland contain any adulterants other than ethyl alcohol is not known, however, a warning about potential danger to public health was issued, since the beverages were not made under controlled conditions.

Resource

Hutton, B. (March 30, 2019). “Warning issued about counterfeit alcohol after illegal factory uncovered in Co Louth”. The Irish Times. Accessed March 30, 2019. Retrieved from
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/warning-issued-about-counterfeit-alcohol-after-illegal-factory-uncovered-in-co-louth-1.3844401#.XKXBLDw3QKU.

Melody Ge, Corvium
FST Soapbox

Changes in the Food Safety Industry: Face Them or Ignore Them?

By Melody Ge
2 Comments
Melody Ge, Corvium

“A new era of smarter food safety is coming,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA’s deputy commissioner of food policy and response, at the GFSI Conference 2019 in Nice, France. He went on to explain, “a smarter food safety is people-led, FSMA-based and technology-enabled.” Afterwards, Yiannas announced the need for a greater budget for the FDA to invest in modern food safety for 2020 and beyond.

Now the question is, when this new era comes, are you ready?

The food industry is relatively behind on technology compared to other industries, or even within our daily lives. Take a look at the cell phone you have now compared to what you had 10 years ago; it has come a long way with all of its handy and useful features. Why can’t the food industry also benefit from technology? Of course, every coin has two sides, but no one would deny that technology played a significant role in bringing the world closer and making it more efficient nowadays.

The scary part of change is that it’s hard to predict what and when they will come to us, however, they also force us think outside of the box. Instead of debating whether incorporating advanced technology into our daily operations makes sense, why don’t we take a look at our current processes in place and see where technology can truly help us? We now have the opportunity to take advantage of technology to enhance our food safety and quality culture at our own facility. Here are some thoughts to share.

1. Identify what can be automated in your current process with technology

Certain things just can’t be replaced by technology, such as risk assessment or hazard identification (at least for now). However, inventory, temperature checking, testing results recording, or anything executing a command from you or implementing a part of your SOPs can potentially be automated. Execution is also the part where the most error could occur, and technology can help improve accuracy and consistency. Identify those steps systematically and understand what data needs to be captured to help your food safety management system.

2. Work with your technology developer to build technical requirements

Explain to the technology developer exactly how you want the program to operate daily. List the operating steps along with responsibilities step-by-step, and identify what requirements are needed for each step. Translating the paper SOP to a computer program plays an important role in this transition. Not only does it set the foundation for your future daily operation, but it also ensures that the control parameter is not lost during the transition.

3. Keep the integrity of the food safety management system through verification and validation

Once processing steps are done by technology, it doesn’t mean that we no longer have to do anything. We need to verify and validate the technology with certain frequency to ensure the steps are controlled as intended. Confirming that the software or system is capturing the right data at the right time becomes key to ensure the integrity of control risks is not compromised.

4. Utilize “preventative maintenance” on all technology used on site

Just like all equipment, food safety technology needs a preventive maintenance schedule. Check whether it is properly functioning on a certain frequency based on the safety impact in your process flow and take actions proactively.

5. Learn from your own records

The time saved from traditional ways allows us to have more time for looking at control points and records received to identify areas for continuous improvement. There are many ways of studying the data with modeling and trend analysis based on your own facility situation. Either way, those records are your own supporting documents of any changes or modifications to your food safety management system, as well as strong support to your risk assessment for justifications.

Just like Yiannas said, a smarter food safety system is still FSMA based. The goal has never changed; we want to produce sustainable, safe and high-quality products to our consumers, whether we use traditional or advanced approaches. After all, we are utilizing technology as a modern way to help us enhance and simplify our food safety management system; the outcome from the automated technology is still controlled by us.

So when the era comes, we all want to be ready for it.

Eric Wilhelmsen, SmartWash
FST Soapbox

Where Is the Next Generation of Food Safety Professionals?

By Eric Wilhelmsen, Ph.D.
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Eric Wilhelmsen, SmartWash

Before we can consider where to find the next generation of food safety professionals, we must consider what is a food safety professional. For many people, this question will be answered by describing a set of knowledge and expertise. One might first consider an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological hazards that are associated with food, including the various pathogens responsible for human illness. Additionally, the knowledge could include an understanding of HACCP and risk management strategies for addressing these hazards, including the various processing techniques that can be applied to food. Building further, perhaps we would add knowing chapter and verse in Title 21 of Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR). Perhaps expertise is expected regarding the required documentation for FSMA and the associated regulations and guidance documents. If you are reading this article, you probably have other skills that you would add to this list. For example, IFT has been promoting its Certified Food Scientist (CFS) credential to recognize the possession of a significant amount of this knowledge and expertise, including expertise in food safety. This lays a good foundation but would be expected to some degree in any food scientist, and it is not the entire criteria.

One must consider what more is needed to make a food scientist into a food safety professional? I am sure there are some people who will insist that we need professionals who understand all the rules and regulations to ensure compliance and thereby ensure food safety. However, when examined closely, we find that many of these skills relate more to regulatory compliance. The regulations have been promulgated to promote safety and fair trade. The link between regulatory compliance and food safety is strong and may be enough to justify adding this attribute to our growing description of the food safety professionals we seek, but regulatory compliance is considered a separate if somewhat overlapping area of expertise in the CFS credential.

Building further, perhaps adding a performance-based attribute will provide the necessary distinction of what makes a true food safety professional. Perhaps a food safety professional is a food scientist that identifies hazards (and potential hazards) and seeks to prevent them from impacting human health. With a little consideration, though, one realizes that anyone working in the food industry must learn to identify hazards and potential hazards. Everyone must seek to prevent hazards from impacting human health. The line worker must make decisions daily based on the training they have received to ensure they do not contaminate the product stream. The maintenance worker needs to be sure that they do not unintentionally add lubricant to a product stream. The CEO needs to create a culture where one of the first questions considered for any change is the impact it will have on food safety. After this reminder that everyone working in the food industry must be safety minded, we can return to the question of what is a food safety professional.

With the above preamble, let me opine that a food safety professional is a food scientist who materially impacts the safety of a portion of the food supply. This person may or may not have an actual degree in food science but will have acquired the knowledge necessary to materially contribute to food safety efforts. With this description, I suggest that the next generation of food safety professionals will set the standards for safety in the coming decades. They must have both knowledge of what has gone before and be able to identify new hazards and potential hazards. As a form of succession planning, it is prudent to consider where we will find the next generation of food safety professionals.

As a greying food scientist or more specifically, a food chemist from the tail end of the baby boomers, I have considered what has led me to more than dabble in food safety. As with most technical players in the food industry, I have accumulated knowledge and expertise across many fields including chemistry, microbiology and food science on the way to achieving a CFS certification. This knowledge is the gears and cogs that drive the engines of critical thinking, problem analysis and preventative problem analysis. These engines allow me to be effective as a food safety professional. I am involved in food safety because food safety is everyone’s job in the food industry. I am involved in food safety because food safety problems were presented to me or because I have identified food safety problems. Most importantly, I have worked to find solutions to these problems and potential problems.

This experience leads me to conclude that food safety professionals are developed and nurtured as opposed to being found. For almost any position, everyone seeks to hire that 35-year-old with five to 10 years of experience, depending on education. Unfortunately, this means that few are willing to invest in those early years of nurturing right after a person graduates. The pool of candidates is limited because studying food science is not viewed as having the same cache as going into law or medicine. The returns for going into finance can be extraordinary. Worse still is that a typical food science student aspires to product development or perhaps research and development as opposed to going into operations or quality assurance. These students do not necessarily expect to change the world with new products or ideas, but they are not aware of the breadth of opportunities in the food industry. It is a reality that very few food science students aspire to work in quality assurance or quality control—areas that are more likely to lead to food safety careers. In any event, all food science students will need to get some seasoning to become the next generation of food safety professionals, regardless of the career path they take.

Assuming that an institution or company wants to add to the pool or potential pool of food safety professionals, there a number of options and opportunities. These are not as simple or as immediately goal oriented as making those perfect hires, but the institution will get some benefits now and will be casting bread upon the waters that has the potential for long-term benefits.

Inspiring students to explore food science is the first step. Encourage food scientists in your organization and community to mentor, to be judges at science fairs, to visit and participate in career fairs, and just be visible in their communities. I have given guest lectures in a variety of forums on such topics as fraudulent labels and food adulteration. I was lucky to have an uncle who introduced me to two professors in food science during my junior year of high school. I never looked back. Not all of the students we touch will be inspired to select food science, but they will be aware of the opportunities. These efforts should increase the potential pool.

Offer internships to students early in their education. By the time a student is a junior or senior in college, his or her educational path is largely set. The costs for a change in major can become prohibitive. If you reach out to students in their first or second year and expose them to opportunities to make the food supply safer and to better feeding the world, they have the option of choosing food science and maybe eventually becoming those needed food safety professionals. The research program I run for SmartWash Solutions provides opportunities for up to 12 students to assist with the design and execution of cutting-edge research in food safety for the fresh cut produce industry. With a little training, these students can learn to operate pilot plant equipment and learn to analyze samples. These young, enthusiastic students enjoy the opportunity to work in this team environment. The internships are vastly superior to jobs working in fast food restaurants in terms of educational value. These students allow me to accomplish much more than I can alone. Interns can become great regular employees, although it may not occur immediately due to their needs to finish their educations.

Mentoring all those who are coming along behind you is another way to increase the pool and to find the next generation of food safety professionals. Take the time to explain why you have asked for things and explain the importance of tasks. Expose people to the critical thinking and problem solving process of enhancing food safety. Let them see how food safety makes a difference.

There is little doubt that food safety professionals are needed today and will be needed tomorrow. Turnover is as inevitable as death, and we are going to need new champions of food safety. Some might argue that the need is greater today than ever before. Others would argue that detection and reporting have just made the problems appear bigger with the advent of the powerful molecular biology tools being applied today. In either case, there have certainly been some recent outbreaks that have made headlines including those involving romaine lettuce. Additionally, FSMA is focusing more attention on food safety and mandating that people with specific skills perform various required tasks. Clearly, the need for food safety professionals is ongoing.

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Mislabeled Kiwis Get the Boot in France

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Records involving fraud can be found in the Food Fraud Database.

Kiwis are popular in France; they are one of the top 10 fruit consumed. France has only a fraction of the number of kiwi growers compared to Italy. French kiwis are 40% more expensive than Italian fruit, making it worthwhile to fraudulently change the country of origin. A sudden flood of “French” kiwis on the market at the end of the French kiwi season caught the attention of investigators, and 12% of these kiwis were discovered to originate from Italy. The fraud netted several million Euros in additional profit for the involved Italian kiwi producers. What is especially concerning is that the fruit was treated with products that are banned in France to increase the yield.

Resources

  1. Willsher, K. (March 25, 2019). French officials target alleged “kiwigate” fraudsters. The Guardian.
    Accessed March 25, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/25/just-desserts-french-officials-target-alleged-kiwigate-fraudsters
  2. Cassel, B., Pelloli, M., Plichon, O.(March 25, 2019): Alerte aux faux kiwis francais. Accessed March 25, 2019. Retrieved http://www.leparisien.fr/economie/consommation/alerte-aux-faux-kiwis-francais-24-03-2019-8038731.php
Chelle Hartzer, Orkin
Bug Bytes

Invisible Invaders: How Tiny Beetles Destroy Stored Products

Chelle Hartzer, Orkin

Most likely, you’re going to do everything in your power to set up a proactive prevention plan to block out this virus. You’d probably want a new policy for inspecting incoming shipments. You’d probably want to add monitoring devices and install automated devices to ensure the virus is blocked out. And, you’d probably start checking the stored products you already have safely tucked away.

But instead of an imaginary virus, know that beetles can actually do this! Beetles, specifically those that fall into the category of stored product pests, actively seek out and feed on the types of goods that food processing facilities work so hard to protect. While some of these beetles prefer certain types of foods over others (grains are a pest favorite, for example) they’d love to find a home in your facility.

While it may seem like an invisible, pervasive virus is a far cry from some beetles running around your facility, know that this comparison isn’t a stretch. The beetles we’ll look at in this article are all four millimeters long or smaller, so it’s not going to be the type of pest that you happen to notice and can quickly remove. These types of beetles are known for their ability to stealthily invade stored products and feed, reproduce and survive right there in the product. If your first thought is, “well, I’ve never seen one of those,” then you need to inspect your products. And soon.

In fact, one study from the University of Wisconsin and the USDA found that “stored product pests can damage, contaminate, or consume as much as 10% of the total food produced in the U.S. alone, while in developing countries that rate has been estimated at 50% or more.”

Stored product pests are prevalent. And beetles are some of the most common we find in the United States, with multiple different species plaguing food processing and storage facilities. Because the most common species vary from region to region, it often takes the insight of a trained pest management professional to correctly identify one of these pests.

That said, let’s dive in a little deeper on just a few of these beetles to better understand what attracts them and how they operate to get to your stored product.

Cigarette and Drugstore Beetles

Similar in appearance and in their habits, cigarette and drugstore beetles are two common beetles found in food processing facilities. Generally, about two to three millimeters in length, these light brown bugs are tough to spot and a pain to remove if not detected quickly.

Both beetles are known for their ability to chew into stored products and penetrate through some packaging. Once inside, they feed and spread to other nearby food sources over time. And when it comes time to reproduce, both species of beetle will lay eggs directly on or in food products. The larvae then go on to spend most of their young lives thriving while surrounded by a consistent food source until they reach adulthood. At that point, the infestation is going to spread to neighboring products and the population will start to increase at an accelerating rate.

Despite their naming, both beetles eat a variety of foods including cereal, coffee beans, spices, rice, dried fruits, animal-based products and pet food. If there are any small holes in packaging—even cardboard—it’s possible that cigarette or drugstore beetles are present.

Flour Beetles

Reddish-brown in color and about three to four millimeters in length, flour beetles are longer, narrower beetles than the cigarette and drugstore beetles. Flour beetles are so small, it usually takes a magnifying glass to tell the difference between the different species (red and confused).

Another one of the common pests found in stored products, flour beetles can live for nearly a year and deposit hundreds of eggs in that time span. Once they find a way to wriggle themselves into packaging, flour beetles contaminate goods with shed skin and frass (bug poop!). If allowed to feed and thrive for too long, they’ll go from product to product and infest an entire room full of goods. Everything they’ve infested will be unfit to eat and will have to be thrown out, which can prove costly.

The good news (if you can call it that) when it comes to flour beetles is that they’re a bit pickier than other stored product pests. They typically feed on the broken bits and dust from grain that collect in bags of grains, flour, cereal and pasta.

Sawtoothed Grain Beetle

These beetles thrive in the cracks and crevices in foods, wedging their flat bodies through miniscule gaps. Ranging about two to three millimeters in length, these long, thin beetles usually get into products when they’re being transported. Often, the pests are brought indoors unknowingly, where they begin to spread their influence. One tainted item can lead to a massive infestation down the road.

These grain beetles are also known to cause mold problems due to moisture buildup. Frankly, beetle-laden products often wind up having moisture buildup and mold, which can attract other pests to the scene if allowed to persist. In their adult form, sawtoothed grain beetles are known to travel quite a bit, so it’s possible you may spot them on the floor or in cracks and crevices near food storage areas.

The food preference for sawtoothed grain beetles is a little different from the previous two groups of invasive beetles, as they prefer to feed on food items like birdseed, cereal, chocolate, dried fruit, flour, pasta, pet food, nuts, tobacco and yeast.

Proactive IPM and Prevention Tips

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the signs that stored product beetles might be present at your facility, let’s discuss the many things you can do to proactively prevent them.

First and foremost, a variety of tactics should be incorporated as part of your Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Under FSMA regulations, this is something every facility should have at this point. It emphasizes a proactive approach to pest management, which is something you’ll need to implement immediately if you want to decrease the risk of a costly pest infestation.

So, let’s look at some specific things you and your pest management professional can implement.

Initially, closely inspect the facility and set up an ongoing plan to inspect incoming shipments for signs of stored product pests like live insects, webbing on products and damaged kernels. FSMA mandates that considerations for your supply chain are in place, so talk to your supply chain partners about inspecting all incoming and outgoing shipments to ensure pest issues can be identified promptly and traced back to the source.

You should also use monitoring devices to help you keep a pulse on pest populations around the facility, which is especially helpful for larger buildings and warehouses. Pheromone traps are especially helpful when monitoring for stored product pests and can help you detect any of the invasive beetle species mentioned previously. Other tools like fly lights and glue traps can help you track other pest trends over time. Once placed, monitoring devices will offer insight as to which areas in your facility are most at-risk for pest problems. Then, you can work on improving the exclusion and sanitation tactics in those areas to reduce the risk of invasive pests.

Also, use temperature as a tactic. These beetles (and other stored product pests) cannot live in extreme temperatures. The fact is that most stored product insects can’t develop below 15o C (60o F). While this isn’t an option for all facilities, even fans and lower humidity can help.

Finally, create a sanitation schedule. This should involve as many staff members as possible and include daily, weekly and monthly duties. Perhaps most importantly, clean up product spills immediately and watch for damp or wet spots that may encourage mold. While it’s impossible to clean up everything, the more you limit the amount and access to food, the lower the chances of insects detecting and pursuing those food sources.

So, be proactive in protecting your stored products from beetles! They’ll prove costly if allowed to destroy and contaminate product, so don’t wait to improve your food safety plan. This threat is worse than an imaginary virus, because it’s very, very real.

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

By Susanne Kuehne
No Comments
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Coffee, food fraud
Records involving fraud can be found in the Food Fraud Database.

Fraudulent food and beverage products can be found even in large supermarket chains. Counterfeit Starbucks VIA instant coffee was seized from Chinese supermarket chains in Beijing and Jinagsu province. Only Starbucks coffee shops and an authorized online retail platform are allowed to sell Starbucks instant coffee. The counterfeit products displayed (of course, fake) anti-forgery labels, different cover art, a different number of packs in each packet, a significantly longer expiration date, and ironically, a significantly higher retail price. The police arrested several suspects and found unsanitary conditions at the counterfeit coffee manufacturing site.

Resource

Paul, P. (March 19, 2019). Sale Of Fake Starbucks Coffee In Chinese Supermarkets Coming To An End.
Accessed March 19, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.ibtimes.com/sale-fake-starbucks-coffee-chinese-supermarkets-coming-end-2777043

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Pretty Fishy

By Susanne Kuehne
No Comments
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Fish
Records involving fraud can be found in the Food Fraud Database. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Hundreds of seafood samples from U.S. grocery stores, seafood markets and restaurants were analyzed in 2018, and a large rate of mislabeling was found. Cheaper catch, for example, gets mislabeled as higher value fish, especially sea bass, snapper or halibut. Other frauds include illegally caught fish or seafood mislabeled as sustainable, covering up harmful environmental practices. In spite of federal government policy measures already in place, many gaps that allow seafood fraud to largely go undetected still exist.

Resource

  1. O., Warner, K., Roberts, W., Mustain, P., Lowell, B., & Swain, M. (2019, March 11). Casting a Wider Net: More Action Needed to Stop Seafood Fraud in the United States. https://doi.org/10.31230/osf.io/sbm8h
Karen Everstine, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

What Is on the Food Fraud Horizon?

By Karen Everstine, Ph.D.
1 Comment
Karen Everstine, Decernis

People like to ask “what is the next melamine?” Of course, this is an impossible question to answer. However, methods of perpetrating food fraud are rarely novel. Even melamine had a history of use in feed products for nitrogen enhancement.

Examples of recurring food fraud in recent history include:

Spices, food fraud
Spices continue to be a big target of food fraud.

Herbs and spices: High-value commodities, especially when sold in dried, flaked or ground form, have been targets of fraud for ages. Although recent work looking specifically at oregano shed new light on the problems in that particular herb, the group as a whole is long known to be prone to substitution with other plant material and addition of dyes to improve color. Lead chromate and lead oxide have both been used in spices to add color. A recent study in the United States conducted testing on spices recovered from the homes of children diagnosed with lead poisoning and determined that some lead poisoning cases can be attributed to high levels of lead in spices consumed by children.

Milk: Milk has been repeatedly prone to the addition of protein-mimicking compounds such as urea, the addition of other fats such as vegetable oil, and the addition of preservatives such as formaldehyde. Melamine addition to milk discovered in 2008 was not entirely novel. The addition of melamine to artificially enhance the apparent protein content of a product was documented in scientific papers in the 1980s.1

Meat: The two main concerns with meat fraud are species substitution and misrepresentation of production practices. The recent scandals involving horse meat and sick cows slaughtered for meat illustrate the continuing incentive to substitute less expensive species and to misrepresent the production practices of meat.

Liquor: Alcoholic beverages are also a high-value target, especially if they are a popular brand. Counterfeit alcohol is a common form of food fraud cited in the Food Fraud Database. Unfortunately, the use of methanol in unregulated liquor production repeatedly results in illnesses and deaths in consumers.

What forms of food fraud will be common in the coming years? Millennials reportedly place value on sustainability, convenience, high protein, and production practices such as organic and “local.” Verifying claims around production practices through long food supply chains is notoriously challenging. Increasing interest by consumers in these types of label claims may increase this type of fraud in the future.

Reference

  1. Bisaz, R., and A. Kummer. “Determination of 2, 4, 6-triamino-1, 3, 5-triazine (melamine) in potatoe proteins.” Mitt. Gebiete Lebensm. Hyg 74 (1983): 74-79.