Tag Archives: adulteration

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Yellow Is Not Always Golden

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Saffron Fraud
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database, owned and operated by Decernis, a Food Safety Tech advertiser. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne.

Organized crime in Spain laundered millions of euros by selling saffron adulterated with dyes and herbs, some of these adulterants being unfit for human consumption. Spanish police with the assistance of Europol busted an importer who adulterated imported saffron threads and sold them with the high-end La Mancha region designation. The supply chain for the organized crime scheme was operating across the EU, with 17 arrests made in the sting operation.

Resource
1. Interpol and Europol. (April 12, 2020). “Adulterated saffron scam busted in Spain”. Securing Industry.

Jim Yargrough, BSI
Retail Food Safety Forum

COVID-19’s Impact on Food Industry Reaches Far Beyond Supermarket Shelves

By Jim Yarbrough, Neil Coole
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Jim Yargrough, BSI

2020 proved to be the most challenging year for the food industry in decades, significantly testing the resilience of food supply chains. Many of the industry’s challenges stemmed from the spread and aftermath of COVID-19, forcing food organizations to adjust in new ways to maintain their supply chain continuity, integrity and overall resilience. Yet, at the same time, the spread of the virus also exacerbated known threats that the industry has grappled with for years, such as food fraud, theft and safety issues.

A recently released report about supply chain risks identifies the trends and associated risks most likely to impact global supply chains in the year ahead, and observed that the pandemic’s longer-term effect on food supply chains is expected to result in increased threats, including fraud, theft and safety issues.1 These threats will continue to have an impact in the future, requiring wider adjustments to continuity and resilience planning.

Stockpiling, Panic Buying and the Global Rise of Food Insecurity

As we all saw in local supermarkets and grocery stores in March 2020, panic buying and stockpiling created significant disruptions to supply chains that ultimately led to empty shelves.

According to the World Bank, last year as many as 96 million additional people were pushed into food insecurity across 54 countries. This number, combined with the “137 million acutely food insecure people at the end of 2019 across these countries, brings the total to 233 million people by the end of 2020.” Coupled with COVID-19-related supply disruptions stemming from challenges around movement restrictions of people and goods as well as illness-related plant closures and availability of workers in the food sector, job losses across all industries reduced household income, which has accelearted the number of people facing increased food insecurity.

Food Fraud on a Global Scale

Unfortunately, the risk of corruption by individuals working in a supply chain correlates with the risk of food fraud. Approximately 85% of countries with a high risk of supply chain corruption also have a high risk of food fraud. This can create scenarios that criminals can exploit, most commonly by producing substandard food for distribution in that country or substituting labeled products with potentially harmful alternatives.

For example, in India, adulterated dairy products, especially domestically produced milk, were often found to be linked with fraud reports, with some reports indicating that approximately 89% of milk products had been adulterated. Countries such as India sometimes have gaps in legislation and enforcement that can reduce the ability to detect and seize fake food, making this issue one that is likely to continue post-pandemic. Our intelligence reveals that gaps in legislation and inadequate enforcement of regulations reduce the ability to detect food fraud and lead to prolonging the threat.1 At the same time, criminals continue to outpace poor regulatory regimes and grow more aware of their opportunities and advance the sophistication of their tactics.

Other forms of food fraud, in particular smuggling and disguising provenance, are common and are bound to continue in countries where the price of food continues to rise to a point where it becomes economically viable for criminals to take advantage of higher prices and smuggle it across borders. It is also possible that criminals will benefit from lower levels of enforcement, allowing other fraudulent methods, such as adulterating labels or expiration dates or using substandard or alternative ingredients, to proliferate fraud schemes around the world.

Food and Alcohol Become Top Targets for Theft and Safety Issues

The spread of COVID-19 also resulted in an increase in targeting and theft of products considered unusual for cargo theft incidents—arguably the most pronounced shift in this area in the last year. Initially, thieves began to target essential goods with a much higher frequency as the limited supplies and spikes in demand drastically increased their black-market value. Thefts of products such as PPE and food and beverages increased in frequency worldwide, overtaking the theft of historically targeted goods more, such as electronics.

The increase of food, beverage, alcohol and tobacco commodities theft can likely be attributed to their increased value as a result of panic-buying, shortages and increases in consumption, along with the ease with which they can be sold on the black market. However, the increasing value of these items has not only created a greater vulnerability for theft, but also means these commodities are at an elevated risk for counterfeiting and food safety violations.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 significantly affected governments’ capacity to enforce food safety regulations, which means that some foods may not have been checked as thoroughly. As the spread of COVID-19 reduces, government resources will likely be freed to increase food safety controls. However, further virus-related complications may reintroduce this risk.

COVID-19’s negative effects on the food industry have been pronounced, but it is worth noting that there have been areas of positive impact, too. As the industry adapted in novel ways, industry leaders developed a more holistic awareness of resilience, embracing the benefits of agile innovation, including remote auditing, and adapting their pre-pandemic ways of working to focus on meeting consumer demand.

Furthermore, organizations within the food industry learned the importance of resilience and the ability to proactively identify critical suppliers to ensure that appropriate continuity measures are in place in the event of further unplanned disruptions.

As the world begins the next phase of reopening, and many food industries remain on fragile footing due to the economic impacts of the pandemic, it will be critical that they remain aware of the changing regulatory landscape, shifting supply chains and potential disruptions to ensure they remain resilient.

Reference

  1. BSI. Supply Chain Risk Insights Report. (2021).
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

How Not To Sweeten the Deal

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food fraud, Honey
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database, owned and operated by Decernis, a Food Safety Tech advertiser. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Honey continues to be a popular target for fraudulent activity, as this latest case shows. A large number of batches of honey imported into Greece from inside and outside the European Union contained adulterants like added sugars and prohibited caramel colors, which was proven by chemical analysis. Honey produced in Greece was not affected. The adulterated products were immediately withdrawn from the market and the public was advised not to consume them.

Resource

  1. United Food Control Agency (April 16, 2021) “Recall of lots of honey”. EFET Portal.

 

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

An Unwelcome Message In A Bottle

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Beach
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database, owned and operated by Decernis, a Food Safety Tech advertiser. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Adulterated alcohol continues to pose serious risks to health and even life of consumers. In this latest case from the Dominican Republic, more than two dozen people have died from methanol poisoning due to a low-cost illegally made drink, and from fake brand-named products. Businesses associated with the scams were raided and closed, and arrests were made. Officials keep warning against the consumption of illegally manufactured alcoholic beverages.

Resource

  1. News Desk. (April 10, 2021). “Deaths in Dominican Republic linked to tainted alcohol”. Food Safety News.

 

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Embrace Those Curves

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Near infrared spectroscopy
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database, owned and operated by Decernis, a Food Safety Tech advertiser. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Lab methods for the analysis of adulterated food can be time-consuming, expensive and impossible to use in the field. A new study shows promising results for hand-held near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy tools. The investigated method proved to be very quick and highly accurate, and could open new possibilities for remote testing. This was shown in a study with oregano samples, a common target for food adulteration.

 

 

Resource

  1. Mc Grath, T.F., et al. (to be published on August 15, 2021) “The potential of handheld near infrared spectroscopy to detect food adulteration: Results of a global, multi-instrument inter-laboratory study”. Abstract. Science Direct.
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Olive Oil Detectives in the Lab

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Olive tree, food fraud
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database, owned and operated by Decernis, an advertiser in Food Safety Tech. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Canola oil, sunflower oil or soybean oil, colorants and low-quality olive oil, anyone? Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil adulteration is rampant, since the risk of getting caught is low and the profits are huge. A new expert-reviewed Laboratory Guidance Document on olive oil, published by the Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP), lists a variety of laboratory methods at different levels of complexity, as well as the most common methods of adulteration. This Laboratory Guidance Document is an indispensable guide for regulatory and research personnel in the food, supplement and cosmetics industries.

Resource

  1. Mailer, R.J. and Gafner, S. (March 2021). “Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program Publishes Olive Oil Laboratory Guidance Document”. Botanical Adulterant Prevention Program.
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Arrrrr, Rum That Was Not Real

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Counterfeit Rum
Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Blackbeard the Pirate would have refused to drink this: Counterfeit rum worth more than $4 million was seized by the Spanish police, and 24 criminals were arrested. The imitations were so real that the fake rum even made it into Spanish tax warehouses via the Netherlands. No injuries have been reported thus far. However, counterfeit alcohol often contains toxic methanol which can lead to severe injuries and even death.

Resource

  1. Taylor, P. (January 28, 2021). “Spanish police dismantle national fake rum operation”. Securing Industry.
Food Fraud: A Global Threat with Public Health and Economic Consequences

Fundamentals of Food Fraud Explained, Global Threat Cannot Be Ignored

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Food Fraud: A Global Threat with Public Health and Economic Consequences

Food fraud is a global problem, the size of which cannot be fully quantified. A new book edited and authored by experts on the topic seeks to comprehensively address food fraud, covering everything from its history and mitigation strategies, to tools and analytical detection methods, to diving into fraud in specific products such as ingredients, meat, poultry and seafood.

“As we point out in the first sentence of the introduction to Food Fraud: A Global Threat with Public Health and Economic Consequences, food fraud prevention and risk mitigation has become a fast-evolving area. So fast, in fact, that some people may question the value of publishing a comprehensive resource focused on these issues for fear that it will be outdated before the ink is dry. The co-editors of the book disagree,” says Steve Sklare, president of The Food Safety Academy, chair of the Food Safety Tech Advisory Board and co-editor of the book. “This book was written with the goal of providing a solid resource that is more than an academic exercise or reference. The discussion of the fundamental principles of food fraud mitigation and real-world application of this knowledge will provide a useful base of knowledge from which new information and new technology can be integrated.”

Sklare co-edited the book with Rosalee Hellberg, Ph.D., associate director of the food science program at Chapman University and Karen Everstine, Ph.D., senior manager of scientific affairs at Decernis and member of the Food Safety Tech Advisory Board. He hopes that offering access to the book’s first chapter will help communicate their message to the folks responsible for addressing food fraud, whether they are members of the food industry, regulators or academics, or professionals at small, medium or large food organizations.

Complimentary access to Chapter 1 of Food Fraud: A Global Threat with Public Health and Economic Consequences is available in the Food Safety Tech Resource Library. The preview also includes the book’s Table of Contents.

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Four Decades Of Food Fraud

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Malaysian beach
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

For more than 40 years, a syndicate of bribed government and custom officials and slaughterhouses did lucrative business by smuggling fake halal meat into Malaysia. The meat originated in unapproved slaughterhouses in several countries that produced not halal-certified and low-grade meat from a variety of animals. This scandal was a setback on Malaysia’s goal to become one of the world’s main halal meat exporters, which is a multi-billion dollar business.

Resource

  1. South China Morning Post. (December 30, 2020). “Malaysian cartel allegedly sold fake halal meat to Muslims for 40 years”.
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

The Golden Goose, A Timeless Moneymaker

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Donkey, Decernis
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Grimm’s Fairy Tale got it right after all: The “Golden Donkey” (German expression for “Golden Goose”) does indeed exist. In India, officials shut down a factory producing fake turmeric, chili powder and other spices and condiments. Authorities confiscated mostly inedible and hazardous ingredients, which included man-made pigments and colorants, acids, hay and last but not least, donkey dung. The health impact and where the “spices” were sold in retail are under investigation.

Resource

  1. Mishra, S. (December 16, 2020). “Police raid factory making counterfeit spices ‘out of donkey dung and acid’”. Independent.