Experts warn: Food fraud is everywhere

Food fraud has been a problem in the food industry for years, and the problem is only getting bigger. Now, organised criminals are entering the food industry as well. So, what can actually be done to mitigate the food fraud? And how can the industry in general look out for fraudsters?

Organised crime, co-operation, and digitalisation were some of the topics that were on all keynote speakers’ lips, when they shared their expert knowledge at the International Food Fraud Conference in Vejle, hosted by Danish Food Cluster and Eurofins.

                   “Where there is money there is fraud.

Said Ulla Luhtasela from Nestlé in her presentation, and further explained how food companies can fight together against food fraud.

The economic aspect is thus a huge motivator and one of the main reasons why food fraud is such a large global issue.

Food fraud gangs infiltrate the food industry

“We are seeing more and more of the well-known criminal gangs being involved in food fraud, because the penalties are smaller here than in for example drug dealing”, said Michael Rosenmark, Head of Division in the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. He further emphasised that a long supply chain causes a higher risk for food fraud to occur and makes it more difficult to trace the sinner.

However, there may be solutions that can help trace the fraudsters and generally keep a better track on the supply chain, which in the end may help to prevent some of the fraud before it happens…

Digital solutions and block chain may cheat the cheaters

“Implementing of block chain and other digital solutions make it easier to trace a fraudster within the supply chain. It may not be the solution to fight food fraud definitively, but it definitely doesn’t hinder the process either” said Petter Olsen, Senior scientist at Nofima.

The block chain technology does not allow for editing or deleting of documents that have been added to the chain. This way, all information will always be available and may be used to find out where in the supply chain a fraud has been committed.

Even though the new digital solutions are good tools in the fight against food fraud, it may not be possible to fight the fraud through digitalisation alone. Some things are not possible for computers, and can only be done through real humans, at least for now…

Co-operation is the way to go

Jørgen Kruhl, Senior Advisor at the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, also attended the conference, to talk about how the EU handles the issue of food fraud. He pointed out the importance of sharing information to try and prevent the fraud.

“When I talk about food fraud, I always say ‘share information’, we have to look around very carefully, listen, and mutually share our information to mitigate the frauds that happen around the EU” said Jørgen Kruhl in an encouraging manner.

The beautiful view from Munkebjerg Hotel, where the conference was located. 

The future of food fraud

So where will the next food fraud scandal occur?

“Where we look for it”, said Kristian Holst Laursen from University of Copenhagen.

Other suggestions came from the expert panel at the panel debates, which involved the fishing and/or spice industry and generally, the experts believed that scandals in connection with allergens may be occurring in the future.

5 tips to avoid food fraud

  1. Know your supply chain and keep it as short as possible.
  2. Keep yourself updated on new digital solutions that may help you prevent fraud.
  3. Generally, keep eyes and ears open when you make deals with new collaborators.
  4. Do not always trust what you see – fraud is rarely obvious.
  5. Share information – It is much easier to fight food fraud together.

Do you want to know more?

Link to more information about food fraud and Eurofins’ courses (Danish).

Link to Eurofins’ services in regard to food fraud.

If you live in Denmark and want to report food fraud to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration click here.

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2019-12-09T15:11:58+00:00

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