Organized crime in Eastern Europe has targeted a well-known top-level brand in Australia, shipping counterfeit rice to countries around the world under their brand. Rice grown and processed under uncontrolled conditions can bode a risk to human health due to unsanitary processing conditions and contamination from heavy metals. The affected company has initiated thorough investigations into this matter and indeed seized some counterfeit product in Saudi Arabia.
Italian law enforcement keeps cracking down on fraudulent and illegal activities, like in this latest case of fake alcoholic beverage distribution and sales. About 5,500 bottles were seized and samples were investigated in the lab, revealing substances unfit for human consumption, and endangering human health. The fraudulent products displayed labels of well-known alcoholic beverage brands.
Food fraud prevention has been around for a long time, but it really has only been just over three years since the formal GFSI requirements were established. This webinar will include the review of the current state of food fraud prevention and the most efficient ways to conduct a gap analysis for self-assessment of your compliance status.
Adulterated rice wine served at a funeral is suspected to have caused the hospitalization of 76 and the death of eight people in the Pursat Province of Cambodia. The cause of the poisoning is still under investigation by local authorities. Samples of the suspected rice wine and other beverages are being analyzed in a lab. This year, adulterated rice wine was responsible for a multitude of deaths in several Cambodian provinces.
A study from the Canadian Arrell Food Institute lays out the current status of the fight against food fraud and a comprehensive list of interventions for governments, industry, suppliers, consumers, NGOs and academia. The focus is on collaboration along all stages of the food supply chain. Examples are global harmonization of regulations and testing, implementation of traceability systems, raising awareness for food fraud, using science to identify fraud, and much more.
European law enforcement worked across several European countries to discover a vast glass eel smuggling operation worth $1.5 million. Glass eels are wild baby eels, which are becoming increasingly rare. Glass eels are highly priced in Asian markets, for example for aquaculture farms. Smuggling these protected species is a lucrative business in Europe, since it is illegal to export eels. This is just the tip of the iceberg: The glass eel trafficking business is estimated to have grown to more than $3 billion in size over the past few years.
History has its fascinating stories on food rackets and food fraud. In the 1930s, the American artichoke market was controlled by the Sicilian mafia, since the artichoke was a highly popular and priced vegetable. New York City’s mayor targeted the corrupt artichoke trade with a brave sting operation. Agro-mafia operations often fly under the radar and target everyday goods such as produce, olive oil, alcoholic beverages and more. Many of these activities involve fraudulent products.
Many things have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and here is some good news: Organized crime activity related to food crime has decreased during the first months of 2020; the crimes shifted to medicines and medical devices instead. Apparently, the pandemic has disrupted the criminal activities and supply chains. During another successful Europol and Interpol operation, OPSON IX, 12,000 tons of products with a value of $40 million were seized. The top of the list of affected products were animal feed, alcoholic beverages and produce. The two million liters of fraudulent and substandard alcoholic beverages seized show that these products continue to be a significant threat to human health.
In Italy’s Tuscany / Maremma region a fraud system with a broad scope that included clandestine meat, vegetable and fruits was set up by a company that claimed to sell these items from their own production. Included in this fraud was a significant amount of wine, some of which was violating health regulations. The products were either mislabeled by removing original labels, or they did not have any labeling and traceability. Due to their questionable origin and potential impact on human health, the products were seized by officials and scheduled for destruction.
Globalization has increased the complexity of the food supply chain, thus increasing the focus on food integrity, as more opportunities for food fraud exist. During this event, experts will provide a brief introduction to food fraud, the role of food standards in preventing fraud, and how to conduct a food fraud vulnerability assessment.
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