food fraud (122)


Lloyds Register surveyed senior executive across the global beverage sector about their supply chain issues and experience of fraud. Of those completing the survey, 97% had been affected by fraud in the past 12 months, and 80% agreed that fraud was a growing concern. Sixty three percent of the respondents were inthe alcoholic beverage sector and 37% in the non-alcoholic sector. When asked to identify the single biggest fraud threat to their business, the respondents were split almost equally between counterfeiting (32%), adulteration (30%) and simulation (designing a product to look very similar to the legitimate product) (30%). 

You can read the reaction of the dairy sector to the report here. The Lloyds Register Report is free, but you have to register to obtain it. 

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Food crime is a key threat to food companies and consumers around the world. The cost to the global food industry for food fraud (which is only one type of crime) has been estimated at around EUR 30 billion every year, according to a 2018 report by the European Commission.

Many companies are making important efforts to reduce and prevent crime from happening across the supply chain and protect their customers and consumers everywhere.

In order to help the food sector to continue strengthening its efforts in preventing food crime, SSAFE has partnered with five leading experts to develop a free educational video series. Dr. John Spink, Dr. Chris Elliott, Dr. Wim Huisman, Jason Bashura and Neal Fredrickson take us on a journey through the world of food fraud, food defence and food integrity – what it is, what the issues are, what is being done, and what can be done in the future in order to help reduce and prevent food crime from occurring.

“Throughout history food crime has been a serious problem” says Adrian Sharp, President of SSAFE. “Working together with some of the best leading experts in the world on food fraud, food defence and food integrity SSAFE continues to help increase awareness and strengthen the food supply chain across the world. This lecture series should be very helpful and informative in helping the food industry, from farm to fork, reduce food crime for a better future.”

This free video series, which can be accessed through the SSAFE website (, will help people working across the food sector better understand what food crime is, the different types of crime that may occur, and what a food business can do about it. Through a broad series of short videos these global experts share their decades worth of knowledge and experience to help strengthen food supply around the world.

Dr. Chris Elliott says “The SSAFE Food Crime Prevention Series is the first of its kind and I hope that both industry and government agencies will find the videos informative and helpful in combatting the growing menace of criminal activity in our global food system.”

This video series complements other important tools from SSAFE such as the Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment tool developed in 2016 available through the 'Tools' page of the Food Authenticity Network's Food Fraud Mitigation section. This tool (available for free in ten languages) enables any food company to self-assess their vulnerability to food fraud. The tool has been a great success with 40,000+ downloads and more than 7,500 online assessments completed across 70+ countries.

In addition to these tools, SSAFE will be launching a free Food Safety Culture assessment tool this summer. Please visit the SSAFE website next month (April 2021) for further information.

The SSAFE Food Crime Prevention Lecture Series has also been added to the 'Guidance' page of the Food Authenticity Network's Food Fraud Mitigation section.

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This report from the Norwegian Research Institute Nofima, and one of the research outputs of the EU Project EU-China Safe, examines the supply chain from the Bordeaux region in France to China to try and identify where discrepancies in the recorded traceability data and points of weakness might occur in order to indicate vulnerability to possible fraud. The mapping and analysis of the supply chain, and the indication of where fraud might happen was partly based on existing scientific literature, reports, and news stories, and partly on a number of interviews conducted with supply chain actors in France and in China. The limitations of this report relate to the fact that the study has focused solely on the Bordeaux wine trade between France and China. Access to respondents for the study was limited, even if the data collected was complemented with both primary and secondary data sources. Because the wine supply trade is quite complex, it is acknowledged that there are many more perspectives along the local-in-global supply chain that have not been reflected in this report. However, this study will contribute to the growing body of academic literature and discussion to inform governance structures for the cultivation of a more secure food trade and traceability between Europe and China in general. 

Read the full report here

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Recent cases show that herbs and spices are susceptible to adulteration. Italian researchers have utilised AMS (ambient mass pectrometry) coupled to mid-level data fusion as a rapid non-targeted method for oregano authentication for the first time. Authentic and adulterated oregano samples were extracted using two procedures and analysed in positive and negative ion modes by direct analysis in real time-high resolution mass spectrometry (DART-HRMS). The four blocs of data were combined into a unique dataset and analysed chemometrically to distinguish authentic from adulterated oregano.  Fourteen most informative signals of authenticity were chosen and validated. The final model gave an accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of >90%.  

Read the abstract here

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Woman checking vegetables in garden allotment

Food fraud poses a serious threat to the food system. How can we fight against it and be confident that the food we are buying is authentic and safe?

Top Takeaways from this blog

  • Food fraud in EU Member States increased by 85% between 2016 and 2019 (1) and the COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to have increased cases even further (2).
  • All types of food fraud are detrimental to the reputation of the agrifood industry and cause harm to consumers and legitimate businesses.
  • Innovation and collaboration are crucial for the agrifood industry to share best practice and create solutions for food fraud mitigation and prevention.
  • Technologies and digital traceability systems such as blockchain can help to track a food product’s journey through the supply chain and pinpoint the origins of food fraud.
  • Raising awareness about how to identify food fraud, through initiatives such as EIT Food’s Future Learn education courses, is a great way to reduce risks and increase consumer confidence. 

Read full blog, which refers to the Food Authenticity Network as a "great example" of what is being done to mitigate and prevent food fraud.

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The Guardian newspaper has made a study of 44 reports in over 30 countries of the labelling of 9,000 fish and seafood samples in catering and retail, which reveal that around 36% were mislabelled. The fish and seafood most susceptible to mislabelling were snapper, king scallops, and shark.  

Read the article here

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Edible Holograms Could Help Prevent Food Fraud


The International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA) claim that a new development of edible holograms could help food integrity and prevent fraud. This follows a report that US scientists have been able to embed edible holograms into chocolate. These are made from a thin film of a dried solution of glucose syrup, vanilla and water, which is coated with a fine layer of non-toxic black dye. The dye is etched off using direct laser interference patterning, leaving raised nanoscale lines, which act as a diffraction grating and produces the image or information visible on the hologram. Whilst the development only works for certain types confectionery, it has opened up a host of opportunities and innovations in the control and labelling of food.

Read the article here

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The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its February 2021 Food Fraud Monthly Summary reporting food fraud incidents and investigations from around the world. 

Thanks again to our Member Bruno Séchet for creating this  infographic and allowing us to share it with the rest of the Network

Read the February 2021 Summary here

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The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) has developed this food fraud resilience self-assessment tool to support businesses in developing and implementing their counter-fraud strategy.

The self-assessment tool covers different areas that businesses will need to be aware of so that they can better identify and address process issues.

The tool is made up of 7 sections and provides advice for countering food fraud. These questions will help you to evaluate your business and identify areas for improvement. The tool will not provide you with a final score.

This can be completed anonymously and any data submitted will not be collected in a way that could identify you. The tool should take no more than 15 minutes to use.

 If you have further questions for the NFCU Prevention Team, or would like support in building your business's fraud resilience, provide your email address at the end of the tool or contact us directly at

Access the NFCU's food fraud resilience self-assessment tool here.

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China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has issued warnings to consumers about the safety of certain fermented foods following a severe food poisoning incident in Heilongjiang province last year when nine members of a family died after consuming home made fermented maize noodles. The cause of the fatalities was a respiratory toxin produced by Pseudomonas cocovenans. There were other severe local food poisoning outbreaks from other home made fermented corn noodles, fermented rice noodles and an edible fungus. Hence, SAMR have warned against consumption or sales of home made fermented products.

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security issued data on 1,400 cases of counterfeit food investigated from May to November 2020, and thought that the move to online shopping made fraud easier. There are two types of fraud. One type is registering a trade mark very similar in name of a branded product to cause some confusion when purchased by the consumer. The other is the direct counterfeiting of a label of a branded product. As an example of the latter, Penfolds wines have been the victim of counterfeiting in China for some years and which is thought to have been worth almost US$ 20million. 

Read the article here

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Analytical Toolbox for Food Fraud


This article summarises the authenticity analytical approaches (based on building blocks of food) to identify the most suitable procedures to prevent food fraud. The methods described are not exhaustive, but cover the majority of approaches that are currently
undertaken. In particular, DNA methodology, proteomics, chromatographic methods and stable isotope ratio analysis are discussed.

Read the full article here

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How the FSA is Helping to Combat Online Food Crime


The volume of trade of food sold over the internet is both growing and changing at a rapid rate, and there is increasing concern about the potential safety and the possibility of food fraud of this trade. In this article, the FSA (Food Standards Agency) explains what action it is taking to regulate the online trade in food, especially dealing with the proliferation of unregistered businesses on online platforms. In particular, FSA has been rolling out a digital Register a Food Business tool, which allows businesses to register digitally with their local authority using a smart phone, tablet or PC.  

Read the article here

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This book serves as a practical resource on the topic of food fraud prevention and compliance with regulatory and industry standards. It includes a brief overview of the history of food fraud, current challenges, and vulnerabilities faced by the food industry, and requirements for compliance with regulatory and industry standards on mitigating vulnerability to food fraud, with a focus on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Benchmarking Requirements. 

More information on the contents here

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JRC's December 2020 Food Fraud Summary Published


The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its December 2020 Food Fraud Monthly Summary reporting food fraud incidents and investigations from around the world. Thanks again to our Member Bruno Séchet for creating this  infographic and allowing us to share it with the rest of the Network

Read the December 2020 Summary here












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8388578865?profile=RESIZE_710x14 arrested in Spain and investigations underway in France.

The Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) and Europol have dismantled an organised crime group involved in the production, distribution and sale of alleged organic pistachios which did not meet required ecological standards. 

The operation began in 2019, with various reports of ecological certifications being misused on pistachios that did not adhere to set agricultural standards. The Spanish Civil Guard detected a mix of organic and non-organic pistachio nuts that contained pesticides (including glyphosate and chlorate), illegal under requisites imposed by the Spanish agricultural sector. 

The investigation uncovered that the illegal pesticides were being used to better the quality and quantity of the harvests and increase the monetary value of the production. Marketed as organic the nuts were sold for up to 80% over the retail price of non-organic pistachios. The nuts from the main Spanish distributor were also being sold in France under false organic certifications. 

Read full article.

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The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt across the world and it is reasonable to expect that they have the potential to impact on the vulnerability of the global food supply chain to food fraud. Recent reports suggest the potential for increased food fraud in global food supply chains due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Food Authenticity Network (FAN) and Mérieux Nutrisciences have collaborated to undertake a detailed assessment of the data to establish whether food fraud incidents are indeed increasing.

The analysis conducted identified a small increase in official food fraud alerts since the onset of the pandemic (19 more official reports) and a more significant increase in the number of media reports (81 more media reports) in January to June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019).

It is not clear how significant the observed increases are considering the availability of a relatively small number of global official food fraud alerts and the variability in the type of data available from different countries and sources, making it difficult to undertake statistical comparisons.

Following extraordinary meetings of its Advisory Board in May and July 2020, FAN concluded that the conditions created by the pandemic have increased food fraud vulnerability but that there was insufficient evidence of ‘dramatic’ increases in specific COVID-19-related food fraud incidents. This study supports that conclusion. However, it is likely that the true impact of COVID-19 on the incidence of global food fraud will not be known until full resumption of regulatory surveillance world-wide and at this point, it is possible that more evidence concerning pandemic-related factors may emerge.

In the meantime, FAN recommends that due to the heightened vulnerability of food to fraud, the food industry be extra vigilant and use the available existing best practice authenticity control measures and tools (COVID-19 Resource Base) to mitigate any potential emerging threats.

Read full article.

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Spanish authorities have uncovered a large criminal network producing and distributing counterfeit whisky. The authorities seized items imported from China, which included nearly 300,000 whisky bottles, 171,200 counterfeit tax stamps, 18,400 capsules and more than 27,000 cardboard boxes with the logo of a well-known brand. The first base of the operation was in Ciudad Real, and was run by an Asian businessman who imported from Asia fake tax stamps, counterfeit glass bottles, labels and caps from a well-known brand. The alcoholic mixture was prepared and bottled in another part of the operation in La Rioja. The bottles were sent back to Ciudad Real where the labels and seals were added ready for distribution. The fourteen people arrested are now awaiting trial in La Rioja.

Read the article here

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The Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission has published its Monthly Food Fraud Summary for November 2020.

Thanks again to our Member Bruno Séchet for creating this fantastic infographic and allowing us to share with the rest of the Network 😁.

Access JRC Monthly Food Fraud Reports

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Food Fraud: A Global Threat With Public Health and Economic Consequences serves as a practical resource on the topic of food fraud prevention and compliance with regulatory and industry standards.

It includes a brief overview of the history of food fraud, current challenges, and vulnerabilities faced by the food industry, and requirements for compliance with regulatory and industry standards on mitigating vulnerability to food fraud, with a focus on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Benchmarking Requirements.

The book also provides individual chapters dedicated to specific commodities or sectors of the food industry known to be affected by fraud, with a focus on specific vulnerabilities to fraud, the main types of fraud committed, analytical methods for detection, and strategies for mitigation.

The book provides an overview of food fraud mitigation strategies applicable to the food industry and guidance on how to start the process of mitigating the vulnerability to food fraud. The intended audience for this book includes food industry members, food safety and quality assurance practitioners, food science researchers and professors, students, and members of regulatory agencies.

Food Authenticity Network Members are eligible for a 30% discount by using the code ATR30 at

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