covid-19 pandemic (3)




Food fraud is the deliberate and intentional act of substituting, altering or misrepresenting foodstuff for financial gain. Economical motivations for food fraud result in criminals focusing on opportunities to commit fraud rather than targeting specific products, thus reducing the probability of food fraud being detected. Although primarily for financial gain, food fraud can impact consumer wellbeing. Therefore, authenticating food is a key stage in protecting consumers and the supply chain. Food manufacturers, processors and retailers are increasingly fighting back as occurrences of food fraud become more prevalent, resulting in a greater focus on detection and prevention.

Scope and approach

The aim of this review paper is to highlight and assess food fraud and authenticity throughout the food supply chain. Food fraud is a significant issue across the food industry, with many high-profile cases coming to public attention. Hence, this paper shall discuss the impact of food fraud on both consumers and manufacturers, the current and future trends in food fraud and methods of defence that are currently in use. Furthermore, emerging issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, shall be discussed alongside the challenges they yield in terms of food fraud detection and prevention.

Key findings and conclusions

The incidence of food fraud is diverse across the sector, rendering it difficult to quantify and detect. As such, there are numerous food safety and traceability systems in use to ensure the safety and authenticity of food. However, as food fraud continues to diversify and evolve, current methods of detection for guaranteeing authenticity will be drastically challenged. Issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, have instigated increased demand for food. This combined with reduced industry inspections, weakened governance, audits and ever-increasing pressure on the food industry has exposed greater weaknesses within an already complex system.

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This article examines the economic effect of the Covid pandemic, and in particular how it has impacted on the global food security especially in lower-income countries around the world. The World Food Programme estimated in April this year, that 296 million people are undernourished in the 35 countries it works in, which is a 60% increase from the previous year. Not only has the pandemic affected incomes and food supply in lower income countries such as Bangladesh, but also low income families in developed countries.such as the USA because of rising food prices. The World Bank has stated that although there has not generally been food shortages during the pandemic, next seasons's crops could be affected by supply disruptions and inflation affecting key agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and seeds, or prolonged labour shortages.

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The outbreak of the Coronavirus has offered an opportunity for fast cash as criminals exploit shortages of genuine products and the anxieties of the public. Europol has just published a report highlighting examples of counterfeit or sub-standard products sold during the corona crisis, which pose a real threat to public health and safety. People who buy these fake products have a false sense of security, while they are in fact left unprotected against the virus. Europol is currently supporting several operations across the EU to combat the distribution of counterfeit and sub-standard goods during the COVID-19 pandemic. This involves the intensified monitoring of online platforms in order to possibly tackle online Coronavirus-related crimes. Co-operation with private industry stakeholders is also a crucial aspect in the work Europol is transacting in an attempt to counteract the threat in this area. Whereas the report focuses on problems in the health sector, it could also have implications for the Agri-food sector as well. 

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