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This is a prime example of how a Food Safety incident becomes Food Fraud. INTENT is the line that was crossed. Food Fraud is intentional deception for economic gain using food. (If the intent were to do harm it would have been Food Defense – like a terrorist act.) While a harsh sentence for the perpetrator(s) may deter would-be fraudsters, the detect-and-deter approach is woefully inefficient – and puts consumers and brands at risk. PREVENTION is the strategy necessary for food regulators (See “prevention” in FSMA wording) and brand-owners to truly thwart Food Fraud. It must be holistic and efficient to be a successful strategy.
You can join us in the battle at the Michigan State University’s Food Fraud Initiative (http://foodfraud.msu.edu and @FoodFraud).
The issue of accountability is a topic I have raised at conferences with food regulators across Australia and New Zealand.
The reform to food safety in Australia ostensibly stemmed from a catastrophic food borne illness outbreak and is commonly referred to as Garibaldi. This outbreak occurred over the Christmas 1994 holiday period in South Australia.
A young four year old girl died and 23 others were hospitalised due to the effects of food poisoning after consuming contaminated salami.
Nikki Robinson was killed by toxins in the meat that attacked her brain and caused a fatal stroke.
The illness caused kidney and other systemic failures and long hospitalisations and life-long ongoing illness in others affected.
Her death was the result of Garibaldi Smallgoods failure to upgrade its processes and standards from assurances provided to the South Australian Health Commission from a previous outbreak of which they failed to follow up. The effects of this outbreak nearly ruined the smallgoods industry, it also sent a huge ripple through the Australian food industry and regulatory authorities alike. Much needed food law reform was introduced by ANZFA as it was then known in 2001-2003.