2021 (6)

This 52 minutes documentary "The Criminals Running Our Food Chain - Food Fraud: An Organised Crime? ", published in 2021, is now publicly available - see below.

The documentary covers some well known food fraud issues encountered in recent years and includes an account of some of the food fraud prevention activities that have been deployed to combat food fraud.

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Food Supply Chain Management: A Year in Review

10845122073?profile=RESIZE_710xThis new article by our Advisory Board Member, Dr John Spink, provides a summary of the past year and drills into lessons learned and best practice recommendations.

The article can be summarized as: “The crux of the last year of supply chain management is that our problems have shifted from ‘known knowns’ to ‘unknowables.’” What I mean by this is that previously we could expect similar types of supply chain disruptions. Now, between the lingering COVID impact, the Ukraine-Russia repercussions, plus other stressors, we’re seeing many completely new and unexpected types of problems.

Read full article.

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10604752891?profile=RESIZE_710xThis report describes the key changes in food standards from 2019 to 2021, a period when the UK’s food system was affected by our departure from the EU and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food standards, of course, mean different things to different people. For the purposes of this report, The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland looked at standards in two ways:
1. Food and feed safety (including allergen management) – that is, ensuring the product is safe to consume, or, in the case of feed, safe for introduction into the food chain. A number of factors are taken into account when proposing safety standards, including advice from the FSA and FSS risk assessors and wider experts as well as other aspects such as the principles that may determine consumer
acceptability of risk. 
2. Other standards that support consumers and provide assurance – this includes provenance and authenticity, production standards (for example, animal welfare and sustainability), composition and nutritional content, labelling and advertising of food, and other information that enables consumers to make informed choices based on the values that are important to them.

Key Findings
The evidence set out in this report suggests that overall food safety standards have largely been maintained during 2021. However, this is a cautious conclusion. The pandemic disrupted regular inspections, sampling and audits across the food system, reducing the amount of data we can draw upon in assessing business compliance against food law requirements. It also changed patterns of consumer behaviour. While food safety standards have largely been maintained, both organisations recognise there are significant risks ahead.

The report highlights two particular areas of concern:

  1. Firstly there has been a fall in the level of local authority inspections of food businesses. The situation is in the process of being repaired – in particular in food hygiene inspections of cafés and restaurants – but progress is being constrained by resource and the availability of qualified professionals.
  2. The second is in relation to the import of food from the EU. To enhance levels of assurance on higher-risk EU food like meat, dairy and eggs, and food and feed that has come to the UK via the EU, it is essential that improved controls are put in place to the timescale that the UK Government has set out (by the end of 2023). The longer the UK operates without assurance from the exporting country that products meet the UK’s high food and feed safety standards, the less confident we can be that we can effectively identify potential safety incidents. It is vital that the UK has the ability to prevent entry of unsafe food and identify and respond to changing risks. Although we have considered these challenges carefully and put other arrangements within our control in place, they are not, in our view, sufficient. We are therefore committed to working with government departments to ensure that the introduction of these improved import controls provides high levels of protection for UK consumers.

Read full report

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 A new type of crime that goes to the heart of what we eat. Criminal syndicates are infiltrating the global food supply chain, undermining the ability of consumers to trust what is on the label and what ends up on their plate.

This episode was aired 2 weeks ago and is available until 20 October 2021: 


and then select the food fraud video


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A law enforcement operation jointly coordinated by INTERPOL and Europol has highlighted the vast quantities of illicit food and beverage products circulating throughout the global economy.

Codenamed OPSON X, the operation mobilized police, customs, national food regulatory authorities and private sector partners to undertake coordinated enforcement actions between December 2020 and June 2021 against illicit food and drink posing serious health risks to consumers.

Operation OPSON X saw law enforcement globally net 15,451 tonnes of illegal products, with an estimated street value of EUR 53.8 million.  Nearly 68,000 checks were carried out by the 72 participating countries, resulting in more than 1,000 criminal cases being opened.                                                                                                                                                       
The enforcement actions have uncovered a wealth of new leads for food crime investigations. More than 600 arrest warrants were issued during the course of the operation, which is estimated to have disrupted the activities of 42 organized crime groups around the world.

The most seized goods in Operation OPSON X were alcohol and food supplements, followed by cereals and grain products. Alcoholic drinks were the most commonly counterfeited according to seizure results, as well as products protected by trademarks, geographic indications or appellations of origin.

Though not directly targeted in the operation, enforcement actions also turned up other illicit items, including fake test kits for COVID-19, HIV and malaria, cigarettes, weapons and ammunition, bush meat and other products of wildlife crime.

In Russia, police discovered a case containing more than 12,000 copies of pirated computer software, valued at around EUR 100,000. Meanwhile, Namibian authorities detected 24 irregular migrants during their actions carried out under OPSON X.

The most common types of food fraud include:

  • mislabeling (42 percent)
  • replacements/dilutions/additions/removals in product (20 percent)
  • unapproved treatment and/or process (16 percent)
  • document failings that are either falsified or manipulated (15 percent).

Further information on OPSON X.


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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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