Tag Archives: China

Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Finding the Root Cause for Starch Fraud

By Susanne Kuehne
No Comments
Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food fraud, cassava starch
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database.
Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Due to its lower cost, cassava starch is a common adulterant in higher priced starches, such as for potato and wheat. Tests with droplet digital polymerase chain reaction ddPCR in China uncovered that over 30% of sweet potato starch samples, 25% of cornstarch samples and 40% of potato starch samples were adulterated with cassava starch. Besides the economic impact, this kind of fraud also poses a risk to consumers allergic to cassava.


  1. Chen, J., et. al. (February 26, 2020). “Identification and quantification of cassava starch adulteration in different food starches by droplet digital PCR”. PLOS One.
Karen Everstine, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Fraud in Alcoholic Beverages

By Karen Everstine, Ph.D.
No Comments
Karen Everstine, Decernis

Recently, a group of researchers published a paper that documented unique chemical “fingerprints” left by whiskies after evaporation that could be used to identify the origin (specifically, American whiskeys in relation to Scotch and Irish whiskies.) Authentication of value-added label attributes in wine and spirits is important for protection of producers, brands and markets. Other examples include varietal fraud and geographic indication misrepresentation with wines and counterfeit production (intellectual property infringement) of a variety of spirits.

Food Fraud, wine
The Food Fraud Database has captured 220 incidents of fraud involving all alcoholic beverages and 63 specifically involving wines. (Source: Grape Wall of China)

Unfortunately, alcoholic beverages are also prone to fraud involving the addition of substances that can cause illness or death. This often happens at the local level, with the production of “moonshine” or other unlicensed spirits. Some of the substances used have included methanol, isopropyl alcohol and industrial-grade alcohol.
One notable incident from the 1980s had global implications and severe market effects. Diethylene glycol was added to Austrian wines, resulting in recalls around the world when the adulteration was detected. Fortunately, no illnesses or deaths were reported. Just a year later, methanol added to Italian wine caused both hospitalizations and deaths. More recently, incidents involving the addition of methanol to spirits have caused deaths in India, China and Malaysia.

Authentication and traceability for alcoholic beverages, and specifically wines, lend themselves to technology-enabled solutions such as blockchain. On a lighter note, take a look at some of the labels documented by reporters covering the wine market in China. In a high value marketplace such as the wine business, there is no end to creativity in labeling.


Kroger to Sell Groceries in China Via Alibaba

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments

The Cincinnati-based supermarket chain Kroger has entered into a pilot partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform to sell its “Our Brands” products online to consumers in China. This platform is China’s largest business-to-consumer marketplace, and helps retailers that don’t have physical operations in the country build virtual storefronts and send products to China.

The pilot will start with Kroger’s Simple Truth products, which are positioned as natural and organic, and are also the second-largest brand sold in Kroger stores. This year alone the brand generated more than $2 billion in sales, earning it the title of largest natural and organic brand in the United States, according to Kroger.

“Kroger is the world’s third largest retailer by revenue–$122.7 billion in sales in 2017,” said Yael Cosset, chief digital officer at Kroger in a news release. “We are creating the grocery retail model of the future by focusing on digital and technology.”

The partnership also supports the company’s “Restock Kroger” pillars of redefining the grocery customer experience by elevating “Our Brands” and creating customer and shareholder value through promoting top line growth via alternative revenue streams.

American beef

United States and China Finalize Details on Beef Exports

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
American beef

On Tuesday Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the posting of technical documents pertaining to the shipments of U.S. beef to China. Last month the United States and China reached a trade agreement that allowed the export of American beef to China, where the meat has been banned since 2003.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service posted the requirements for the Export Verification program for U.S. companies shipping to China. The program will allow packers to apply for approval to export to China. In addition, FSIS updated its online Export Library with China’s requirements for certifying U.S. beef.

According to the USDA, China’s beef imports have increased from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. As the world’s largest beef producer, the United States generated more than $5.4 billion in global sales last year.

American beef

USDA Announces American Beef to Return to Chinese Market

By Food Safety Tech Staff
No Comments
American beef

Today U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue praised a trade agreement reached between the United States and China that is allowing the return of American beef to the Chinese market for the first time in 13 years. The ban has been in place since 2003 following a case of mad cow disease. However, China’s domestic cattle population is not keeping up with the increased consumer demand.

“This is tremendous news for the American beef industry, the agriculture community, and the U.S. economy in general.  We will once again have access to the enormous Chinese market, with a strong and growing middle class, which had been closed to our ranchers for a long, long time.  I commend the persistence of President Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the U.S. Trade Representative’s officials, and our own USDA professionals.  I also thank our Chinese counterparts, who worked so hard to get this agreement into place.  When the Chinese people taste our high-quality U.S. beef, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll want more of it.” – Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Under the trade agreement, cooked Chinese poultry may be imported into the United States once issues related to safety and hygiene are addressed.


Consumers Drive GMO Debate, Chicken Playtime and Tech Innovation

By Maria Fontanazza
No Comments

Last week several leading organizations in the food industry gathered to discuss trends and key issues facing the industry at The Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum. From the GMO debate to small farming and humane practices to sugar preferences, it’s clear that consumer demand for more control over what they’re consuming will continue to drive industry practices and future policies.

Industry leaders will gather at the 2016 Food Safety Consortium, December 5–9 in Schaumburg, IL | LEARN MOREAgriculture in the Global Landscape

The agricultural sector is often one of the most protected markets, according to Darci Vetter, ambassador and chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Vetter strongly advocated for moving forward with free trade agreements in the United States for fear of falling behind in such a competitive global market.

When the audience was asked which country would see the biggest increase in agricultural exports in coming years, 40% selected China. To this observation, Vetter commented that while China has invested a great deal into basic research in the field of agriculture, the country has not been able to turn discoveries into viable technologies for farmers.

“China’s vision of national security is very much tied to food security.” – Darci Vetter, ambassador and chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Antibiotics: Not in My Chicken

As industry faces unprecedented scrutiny from consumers, the use of antibiotics in livestock remains a hot button issue. Nearly 15 years ago, Perdue Farms saw evidence that consumers were concerned about antibiotics, and the company has made significant strides to reach today’s slogan, “No Antibiotics Ever”. This means that 100% of the chickens are not receiving antibiotics unless they’re sick, which is about 5%, according to company Chairman Jim Perdue. Measures the company has taken to reduce the incidence of illness in birds includes wiping every egg that comes into a hatchery with a baby wipe (Perdue says that the company is the biggest user of baby wipes); using herbs such as oregano in feed, because it has been shown to help condition the gut; and engaging in “chicken playtime” (a controlled atmosphere for chickens to play), which is said to reduce stress in chickens.

Debating GMOs and Technology

In order to address the growing population, industry must look at the entire suite of tools available, said Vetter. According to Mike Frank, senior vice president and chief commercial officer of Monsanto Co., 60–70% more food needs to be produced to feed the future population. Global warming, affordability and consumer education are just a few challenges that farmers face while trying to improve productivity and efficiency. This is where technology plays a key role, said Frank. Industry needs innovation to address the challenge of producing more food and managing the environmental footprint.

“We need every farmer, whether organic or not, to be successful.” – Mike Frank, senior vice president and chief commercial officer, Monsanto Company

Frank predicts that big data will dramatically change agriculture within the next five to six years by allowing farmers to farm by the square meter, thereby improving productivity in areas such as seeding and pest management. Farmers will also be able to leverage data to gain a better understanding of soil conditions and weather, and how it will ultimately impact their harvest.

Closing the Food Safety Loop

“Food safety doesn’t magically happen,” said Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety at Walmart. He emphasized how companies must work hard to reduce risk early in the process, citing Walmart’s guiding principles: Is it safe? Is it affordable? Is it sustainable? He also touched on the company’s program to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in chicken parts and how companies should approach risk not just from the scientific point of view but also consider the regulatory requirements and perceived risk in making risk management decisions.

“We as leaders need to shift the conversation and let food unite us.” – Frank Yiannas, vice president, food safety, Walmart

The discussion between FDA commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. and Susan Mayne, director at CFSAN, focused more on chronic disease and healthy eating, however Califf expressed a need for more interrelated data sources within FDA. He also encouraged that industry conduct more research to ensure that decisions are based on good evidence.

Melanie J Neumann is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for The Acheson Group
Beltway Beat

From Beijing to Baltimore Integration and Collaboration a Common Theme

By Melanie J. Neumann
No Comments
Melanie J Neumann is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for The Acheson Group

At the recent Food Safety Summit in Baltimore, the focus was on building an Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) to aid in implementing FSMA and continued progress along the path of prevention vs. reaction, while at the International Forum on Food Safety (IFoFS) in Beijing, speakers emphasized colla boration for more effective and accurate communication of food safety risks.

In China, the media often over reports on food safety scandals that are actually food quality issues. Consumers are led to believe that food safety is a widespread problem across China and thus have developed a dis trust in the local food industry. At the heart of the matter is multi-stakeholder risk communication. The media is not solely to blame for this problem. Industry and regulators must be more proactive in communicating the true nature of food-related incidents in a way that is more accessible to consumers and the media.

The entrenched culture and government supremacy of China also contributes to the problem. The food industry typically does not communicate openly about food safety risks once the government has spoken out. However, at IFoFS, openness was a key focus, and I think we are at pivotal turning point. Chinese and other Asian companies, along with the Chinese FDA, have begun discussing the criticality and need for risk communication as it relates to food safety and food quality as a means to protect both consumers and food brands. One significant challenge involves instances in which errors in judgment are not quickly admitted when a regulator positions an incident as one of food safety when soon after it’s realized it is a quality issue. It’s safe to assume that regulators may not take the initiative to openly admit the misclassification, and speaking out against these issues may be perceived as openly challenging the government.

I also see the same phenomenon happening in the United States, but the over-reporting, is more so connected to the lawsuits against FDA and topical focus by consumer activist groups. For example, certain activist groups are over-amplifying the purported risks of GMOs, and we’re seeing over-reporting of the pressure and lawsuits against FDA related to FSMA deadlines. Similar to China, these issues are not food “safety” issues per se, but the media’s coverage exacerbates consumer misunderstanding and feeds a belief of widespread adverse food safety issues.

At the Food Safety Summit there was more focus on the integration and collaboration of federal, state, local, and regulatory bodies to implement FSMA. Michael Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner of Foods said that the publication of the final rules will meet the court-mandated deadlines, beginning in August. He added that there is an existing, established network between these groups, but FSMA elevates this association to a new level, because Congress has mandated it. The discussion of interaction and integration raised a question during a Town Hall on “integrating” the federal food agencies into a single agency. The general answer: If we were starting from scratch, we probably wouldn’t create separate agencies, but given that there are two today, there are more effective ways of integration versus completely disrupting the system to create a single-agency. (Sorry David—we know how much you would like a single food agency!)

The common thread? The U.S. and China are calling for increased relationship building and trust between all stakeholders. This common thread sews these two conferences, countries, and the global community together. But the question remains, with the media, consumers, regulators and industry seemingly still at odds with each other in both countries, how do we make this happen?

“Asia Geared to be the Global Leader in Food”

Actions taken by leaders in Asia will determine the course of the food industry worldwide, says industry speaker at GFSI Conference.

Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region in the world; by 2030, two thirds of the global middle class will live in this region. Forecasts show that more than 30 percent of global private consumption will fall within Asia Pacific, and the food industry remains at the center of this explosive growth. The retail value of F&B products will grow to three trillion dollars by 2020. Global and regional food manufacturers understand the value of this opportunity very well, as is reflected in the huge investments being made by food companies in manufacturing, distribution, R&D, innovation and supply chain management.

In order to do justice to the opportunities offered by Asia, the food industry must build on the progress it has already made. According to Pradeep Pant, key note speaker at the Global Food Safety Conference, that concluded in Kuala Lumpur last week.

Pant, a highly experienced senior business leader, now involved in business consulting and education, after over 37 years of experience in the FMCG industry, was previously Executive Vice President and President of Asia Pacific (AP) and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) for Mondelēz International.

Pant highlights four key points that should be taken into consideration:

  1. Start Local: Food safety is a global challenge, with various international standards setting the benchmark. As with any aspect of business, the application of these global standards needs to be examined and understood through a local lens with the consumer at the forefront. This in turn will lead to sound policy solutions that are relevant to governments, businesses and the consumers they serve. In Asia, several factors need to be considered when building a food safety culture, such as national diets and traditions, as well as religious, political and social values.
  2. Common Purpose: In order to take advantage of the immense opportunities in Asia, Governments, businesses and civil societies will need to have a common purpose – a shared vision. This is the path to partnership – there will be a lot of debate and discussion in establishing a common purpose, but this cornerstone is vital to success.
  3. Shared Responsibility: Once the various stakeholders have defined the common purpose, it is critical that they identify joint initiatives across the technical and cultural dimensions and deploy the necessary resources behind them.
  4. Personal Leadership & Action: Once there is a sense of Shared Purpose, there is a need for the coming together of technical and societal leadership to harness their individual commitments to the consumer. These goals cannot be accomplished in isolation – it takes a whole community to embed a culture of food safety, and responsible leadership to build this community. Leaders in their respective fields, be it technical, political or educational, have a role to articulate a vision of partnership that goes beyond their day-to-day interactions. Effective leaders can and must break down silos and seek out collaboration with new partners across the political and cultural divide. Together, they can foster a climate of trust among consumers, businesses and governments that will provide the foundation of a thriving food safety culture.

Pant called global leaders of the food industry to take charge in making food better and safer for consumers in Asia and beyond.

Source: Food Industry Asia