food fraud (144)


The United States Food and Drug Administration has created a dedicated webpage on food fraud. The page gives information on:

  • How to report food fraud
  • Examples of food fraud
  • How FDA fights food fraud
  • Enforcement and legal consequences
  • Guidance documents
  • Import alerts
  • Research publications
  • Additional resources.

Visit the FDA Food Fraud webpage here.

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9757237698?profile=RESIZE_584xEmerging regulations and industry standards are requiring risk and vulnerability assessments of Food Fraud as a prerequisite to countermeasures and decision-making systems.

These assessments and risk management systems are not familiar food safety tools. It is effective and efficient to utilize an enterprise risk management (ERM) framework, such as developed by the Committee of the Sponsoring Companies of the Treadway Commission (COSO).

ERM risk assessment occurs into two stages: (1) a qualitative initial screening followed by (2) a more detailed quantitative assessment. All types of Food Fraud can result in enterprise-wide risks so an enterprise risk management system must cover all types of vulnerabilities.

The model developed in this paper addresses the unmet need of the first stage referred to here as the Food Fraud Initial Screening (FFIS).

Access the full paper here.

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Herbs are high value ingredients, which are vulnerable to adulteration and fraud. Confirmatory methods based on DNA analysis have shown to be the most useful in investigating herb adulteration. In this study, a customised database and bioinformatics pipeline was developed based on a DNA barcoding metagenomics approach to herbal species identification. The pipeline performance was tested with publicly available datasets, as well as, newly sequenced herbal plants and products. The usefulness of metagenomics is limited by the availability of reference sequences and the need for sequencing depth.  However, this method shows promise for evaluating the authenticity of different herbal products provided that it is further refined to increase the qualitative and quantitative accuracy.

You can read tihe full open access paper

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This is Tenet's first edition of their quarterly newsletter specifically focused on the prevention and protection against fraud and financial crime for the food sector.

In each issue, Tenet will provide articles to assist with fraud prevention planning, advice on protecting brand integrity and recomendations to improve quality control - all from a legal perspective.



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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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9405396455?profile=RESIZE_710xIn spring 2021, Oceana Canada tested 94 seafood samples from retailers and restaurants in four major
Canadian cities: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax and found that of the samples tested, 46 per cent were mislabelled.

This is consistent with national testing conducted between 2017-2019, which showed that 47 per cent of 472 seafood samples tested were mislabelled in some way. Of these,
51 per cent of 373 samples were previously mislabelled in the same four cities tested.

Read full report.


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9405188875?profile=RESIZE_710xAlcohol has emerged as the sector with the largest number of counterfeit cases in India in 2020, with experts attributing this to a lack of enforcement as well as high profits available for counterfeiters during the COVID-19 crisis.

Apart from alcohol, multiple other everyday food items in India including cumin seeds, mustard oil and ghee were mentioned as major sectors affected by counterfeiting activity.

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9405001068?profile=RESIZE_584xA new environmentally friendly prototype sensor has been developed by CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, to help combat food-fraud and protect the reputation of Australian produce.

The novel technology uses vibration energy harvesting and machine learning to accurately detect anomalies in the transportation of products such as meat. 

For example, if a refrigeration truck carrying exported meat stopped during its journey to the processing plant, the technology would be able to detect this and if any products had been moved or removed during this period.

This allows producers and logistics operators to pin-point handling errors and identify when products are stolen or substituted.

Read full article.

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Food fraud is the intentional deception carried out for gain, and is growing. Rice is the most used and the staple cereal for more than half of the world. Because of the scale of the global rice industry, the opportunities for fraud are large, of concern and threat to the economies and health of many.

Scope and approach

This review ouylines the complexities of the global rice industry and outlines current frauds. Fraudulent actions can be on many levels such as: botanical and geographical origin, adulteration/substitution, ageing, cultivation practices, aroma/flavour and amounts of microelements. To deal with new rice frauds, the range of techniques to detect them is increasing.

Key findings and conclusions

Current research concerning rice fraud is mainly focussed on rice authenticity testing for botanical/geographical origin or cultivation methods. In the case of Mass Specrometry, more advanced techniques are increasingly applied due to their great untargeted analysis power. Spectroscopic techniques can mainly provide screening, but rapid and non-destructive sample analysis, they are cost effective and once established require little expertise. DNA assays are excellent tools to apply for authenticity testing of botanical origin of rice. There is at present, no single analytical tool capable of providing an answer to all rice authentication problems, thus it is necessary to use several approaches in profiling and identification of possible markers and/or adulterants.

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9404682289?profile=RESIZE_584xTruffles: the most expensive food on earth and a target for food fraud

Truffles are edible fungi that grow in the soil in symbiosis with the roots of several tree and bush species. Due to their aroma, their price can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars per kilogram. The most valued varieties are the ones produced in Europe (mainly in Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and Spain) which account for 85% of the global market. 

Scientists from the Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, with technical advice and analytical support from the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), are studying their composition in order to determine their origins and help detect fraud. Thanks to the database and the techniques developed, other laboratories worldwide can also test truffles, establish their geographical origin and verify if they are genuine.

The most important results of their study were recently published in the journal Molecules. The study focuses on fraud related to misrepresentation of the geographical origin or species identification of the mushroom, known as mislabelling.

The cheats can be found out with the help of chemical analysis: because the isotopic make-up of the various truffles grown in different parts of the world are different, this analysis helps reveal their origins. The Slovenian scientists created a reference database for truffles. This database includes natural occurring stable isotope ratio of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and strontium as well as the elemental and isotopic composition of authentic Slovenian truffle samples of the Tuber species (which includes calcium, cadmium, copper, iron, mercury, potassium, phosphorus, lead, aluminium, arsenic, barium, cobalt, chromium, caesium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, nickel, rubidium, sulphur, strontium, vanadium and zinc) from a range of geographical, geological and climatic origins.

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9326056301?profile=RESIZE_710xThe International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) ( is one of the three largest food-related professional associations, with more than 4,500 individual food safety professionals focusing on “advancing food safety worldwide.” IAFP started in 1911 as the International Association of Dairy and Milk Inspectors. Their focus expanded to food sanitarians and the current, broader food protection focus. For those of you not familiar with the food industry, “The term public health sanitarian shall mean a person who applies the principles of the natural and social sciences for the detection, evaluation, control and management of those factors in the environment which influence the public’s health.” (reference)

IAFP also is the publisher of several scholarly journals, including the Journal of Food Protection and Food Protection Trends. “The Journal of Food Protection is the leading publication in the field of food microbiology and remains the premier journal dedicated to food safety.”

The IAFP Food Fraud Professional Development Group has published an “interest survey” to be completed by IAFP and PDG members, plus the public at large. We are reviewing our direction for 2021 and beyond. This survey is your opportunity to be heard and to help lead the direction of food fraud prevention.

The survey takes only a few minutes to complete. 

Link to the survey:

QR code to the survey:

QR code for survey
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9158522660?profile=RESIZE_400xBetween September and December 2020, Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) inspectors took 45 samples of fresh and frozen tuna from retailers and frozen tuna from wholesalers, and carried out 92 types of analysis.The objective of the operation was to detect the use and frequency of chemical treatments that are used to hide the spoilage of the fish going brown, and passing it off as a fresher item, which retains its red colour. The FASFC analysed for the treatment with colourants, ascorbic acid, nitrite and nitrates, and carbon monoxide. 

More than 35 tons of tuna was seized having been treated with carbon monoxide. Almost half of the 25 samples tested had been treated with nitrite or nitrate. Sixteen of 29 samples tested were non-compliant for amounts of ascorbic acid, which has a limit of 300 mg/kg under EU Regulations.

As a result of the fraud discovered in 2020, the AFSCA will include testing for carbon monoxide treatment in routine checks as part of its control plan in 2021 and will increase inspections on imports of tuna from non-EU countries.

Read the article here

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9096096860?profile=RESIZE_584xIn March 2021, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific published a booklet entitled “Food fraud – Intention, detection and management”. This concise resource explains the key aspects of food fraud, and discusses a set of measures that food safety authorities can take to stop food fraud. Among these, legal interventions combined with the use of new technologies are promising tools.

Examples of these interventions, such as adopting a definition for food fraud and implementing food standards as well as applying DNA barcoding and blockchain technology, are included in the booklet. Links are readily available in the booklet for those who wish to have greater know-how on the guidance on food labelling, technological interventions and food import and export certification systems provided by FAO and the Codex Alimentarius.

Download the publication:
FAO Food safety toolkit booklet 5 - Food fraud – Intention, detection and management

For more information:


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Report on Food Fraud in Canada


This report contextualises the topic of food fraud across Canada’s agri-food system and presents a novel intervention framework to Deter, Identify and Prosecute (DIP) food fraud.

In this context, deter refers to the strengthening of regulatory and legal deterrents. Identify refers to the
scientific methods to identify food fraud and prosecute refers to the ability to use
the scientific evidence as a basis to prosecute bad actors.

The authors believe that this novel framework captures and integrates the key components which are essential
to reducing the risk of food fraud in Canada.

Read full report.













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battery-hens-c-farm-sanctuary.jpgTwo men and one woman accused of being at the basis of Belgium’s biggest-ever food fraud have been sentenced by a court in Antwerp.

The three were among seven accused and four companies charged with using the insecticide Fipronil (flea control products for pets) in the cleaning of poultry farms. The pollution that was caused as a result led to the destruction of two million hens and 77 million eggs that were polluted with the chemical.

The court heard, that one of the accused failed to inform the poultry farmers of the contents of the product he was using, which was indeed effective in controlling pests, were it not for the small problem of contamination with a banned product. According to witnesses, he told prospective customers the product his company used was reinforced with menthol and eucalyptus.

Read full article here.

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This report identifies the trends and associated risks likely to impact global supply chains in the year ahead. BSI predicts the following trends will likely dominate the global supply chain:

  • Ongoing challenges from COVID-19 creates new threats for organisations in the coming months
  • Economic hardship increases the risk of labor exploitation, human rights violations, and stowaway smuggling
  • Drug smuggling trends remain consistent, however, means and methods will continue to change and evolve due to COVID-19
  • Food fraud and safety will continue to challenge supply chain resilience
  • Regulatory changes will test organisational adaptability

Read the article here or register for the full report here

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The virtual Food Integrity 2021 Conference on 19-23 April was great success with almost 2000 participants from over 85 countries. Prof Chris Elliott discusses the very important take home messages particularly on food fraud. In this article, he summarise them, firstly as an aide memoire and secondly, so progress in tackling food fraud can be addressed in about a year’s time at the 2022 Food Integrity Conference.

Read the article here

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The report gives evidence of the illegal trade of wild caught sturgeon in the lower region of the Danube specifically in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine. Because sturgeon is an endangered species, the trade in both wild and aquaculture fish and its products (primarily caviar) is regulated through CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species). The project looked at official data of enforcement on illegal fishing activities. It also carried out a market survey from October 2016 to July 2020, and collected 145 samples of fresh and processed sturgeon, as well as caviar, from the retail and catering sectors in the four countries. During this period all fishing and trade in wild sturgeon was prohibited in Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Serbia was permitted to have a restrictive catch of wild sterlet sturgeon above 40cm in length, but even this was only until the end of 2018, after which it became illegal as well.

All the samples were analysed by 3 DNA methods (mitochondrial DNA sequencing for species, microsatellites for identification of species and hybrids, and SNPs (single nucloeotide polymorphism) for hybrid and species identification). In addition, stable isotopes analysis (SIRA) was carried out to give information on whether the fish was wild or farmed based on feedstuffs, and geographic origin. The results indicated that 30% of the samples tested were illegal, 27 samples were from illegally caught wild sturgeon, 17 samples of caviar were in violation of CITES Regulations.

Download the full report here

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Europol supported the Spanish authorities in uncovering an organised crime group laundering millions of euros of illegal profits coming from the trafficking of adulterated saffron. The criminal network mixed real saffron with herbs and chemicals to increase their margins before exporting it. More than 500 shipments of this adulterated saffron have been identified, worth an estimated amount of €10 million.

The criminal network laundered their proceeds through multiple bank transfers emanating from a Spanish company to different companies across the EU pretending to having bought this saffron. The network also used carriers to transport large amount of cash derived from the criminal business. Money, luxury items and machines to adulterate saffron have been seized, and 17 arrests made.

Read Europol's Press Release here

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This paper develops a conceptual framework to decide when to implement analytical testing programmes for fraud, and a framework to consider the economic costs of fraud and the benefits of its early detection. Factors associated with statistical sampling for fraud detection were considered. Choice of sampling location on the overall food-chain may influence the likelihood of fraud detection.

The paper is the final Scientific Opinion (SO) paper in a series of 6 SO papers developed in the EU Project FoodIntegrity.

The full open access paper is available here. Access to the other 5 Scientific Opinion papers is in the publications section of the FoodIntegrity website.

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