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10023628285?profile=RESIZE_710xJohn W. Spink, PhD , a Food Authenticity Network Advisory Board Member, has published a review of INTERPOL/ EUROPOL Operation OPSON IX Final Report 

While the thousands of tons of seized fraudulent product get the headlines, the most crucial result of Operation OPSON is the insight on the shifting food fraud vulnerability. The report has both general information and detailed case studies (and amazing crime scene pictures).

INTERPOL/ EUROPOL Operation OPSON IX was conducted from December 2019 and extended beyond the expected end date of April 2020 to June 2020. The next OPSON X debrief occurred in November 2021 (a future blog post will review that private meeting, and our presentation on “Food Fraud Prevention – Priority Setting to Reduce the Overall Fraud Opportunity”.) The final Operation Opson IX – Analysis Report was published in January 2021.

Read the full review here.





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10005082061?profile=RESIZE_400xThis research provides validated methods for specific food adulteration scenarios, guidance on general MSI validation, and recommendations on technology transfer and feasibility of developing additional MSI related resources (e.g. an MSI database). The project builds on a previous FSA (Food Standards Agency) project, which demonstrated proof-of-principle on the applicability of MSI as a rapid, multi-analyte, non-targeted and non-invasive screening approach for food and feed analysis. In this project, 5 validated methods were successfully developed: adulteration in oregano, presence of offal in meat, ground peanut in ground almond, presence of pork in beef products, and presence of almond in commercial paprika samples, where the application, scope and key performance characteristics were captured for each application. A sixth single fully validated method for determination of multiple fish species was not successful, thought mainly due to the broad scope of the method and associated data used to build the models. The report also identifies six further areas of work that can give greater applicability of imaging technology to food and feed analysis.

The report is available here

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Review of Global Food Fraud Definitions Published


Food fraud, food adulteration, food crime, food integrity, food authenticity and food counterfeiting are all commonly applied terms to a problem that has existed since the commercialisation of food. Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), FSA (Food Standards Agenc)y and FSS (Food Standards Scotland) commissioned the Food Authenticity Network, via LGC, to undertake an examination of published literature to identify the major definitions related to food fraud and global standardisation activities in this area (with a focus on terminology and testing methods).

The project has identified:

  • Ten commonly cited food fraud definitions in the scientific literature, and ten common food fraud definitions identified in the non-scientific literature
  • Definitions for economically motivated adulteration (EMA), food authenticity, food integrity and food crime.
  • Definitions for eleven different types of food fraud with examples.
  • Five standardisation organisations currently engaged in activities to standardise terminology and testing methods.

You can read the report here, and it will be added to the Research section of the website 

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This project was built on earlier projects to develop a real-time qPCR assay for the quantification of horsemeat and pork adulteration in processed beef matrices.It had as its objectives to conduct an intra-laboratory validation, followed by an inter-laboratory (collaborative) validation of the horse-in-beef and pork-in-beef qPCR assays. These were successfully carried out and a draft SOP produced.

The project report is available here, and both the report and SOP will be available in the Research and Methods section of the website in the near-future.


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9997871495?profile=RESIZE_400xThis article outlines some of the food fraud incidents in Ghana in particular, and West Africa. These include the addition of Sudan IV to crude palm oil (a popular cooking oil in W. Africa), meat and fish treated with formaldehyde to falsify its freshness, rice chaff packaged as high-grade rice, and milk powder with no trace of milk in it. It appears that fraud is on the increase in W Afica.

To combat this an Africa Centre for Food Fraud and Safety (AfriFoodinTegrity) has been established by University of Cape Coast, Ghana and collaborates with IGFS-QUB (Queens University Belfast). Rapid, onsite and non‑destructive fingerprinting tests have been developed for palm oil quality and rice. 

Research is being conducted into new methods to assess palm oil safety and quality, to authenticate the origin of cocoa beans using handheld near infrared (NIR) spectrometers, to determine egg freshness using spectral fingerprinting, and to classify cocoa bean quality using portable NIR spectroscopy.

Read the article here (after registering as a guest of account holder).

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Supply Chain Resilience Report 2021

9937545498?profile=RESIZE_710xThis report draws from a depth of data and in person interviews that will allow readers to more fully understand how the pandemic impacted global supply chains, how different companies reacted and the lasting changes that will be with us for years to come. It also analyzes other ways in which supply chains were disrupted and how the impact of these events was compounded by the pandemic

Key Points:

  1. More organizations than ever are now using technology to assist with supply chain management and mapping: More than half (55.6%) of organizations are now using technology to help analyse and report on supply chain disruptions.
  2. The number of supply chain disruptions organizations encountered in 2020 was higher than
    any other year in the report’s history.
  3. COVID-related disruptions were more likely to occur beyond tier 1.
  4. Solving the logistics puzzle has been a key challenge to organizations during 2020 – and is set
    to continue into 2021.                                                                                                                 
  5. Senior management are now more engaged with supply chain issues.
  6. Organizations are now more likely to interrogate the BC arrangements of critical suppliers.
  7. More due diligence should be carried out pre-contract.

Read full report.

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Fake wines and spirits costs the global drinks industry Euros 2.7bn in sales across the EU according to figures from the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Food Standards Scotland -Food Crime and Incidents Unit have warned that there is a large scale national trade in counterfeit drinks, which targets the low to medium priced market leading brands of vodka and wine. This trade damages legitimate beverage businesses and retailers, and is often linked to organised crime outside of Scotland. In addition, counterfeit spirits may also present a risk to health.

Read the article here

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9929965484?profile=RESIZE_710xDepleting fish stocks are having a detrimental impact on the world’s biodiversity and food chain. According to INTERPOL’s environmental and maritime security teams, which coordinated a five-month intelligence-led operation (June- October 2021) spanning 34 countries and all ‘Seven Seas’, the decrease in marine living resources are also driving a surge in fisheries-related crime.

A total of 1,710 inspections carried out during the one-month tactical phase of Operation IKATERE uncovered over 100 cases of fisheries and other crimes. More than 40 arrest warrants have already been issued, while many investigations remain ongoing.

Nearly one tonne of illicit products were seized worldwide, including protected fish and wildlife species, drugs and explosives. Law enforcement in Montenegro alone recovered more than 20 cylinders of explosives during the operation.

“The use of explosives as an illegal fishing method is a growing trend amongst the industry’s unscrupulous actors, as the progressive depletion of fish stocks pushes vessels to maintain catch rates at any cost,” said Ilana De Wild, INTERPOL’s Director of Organized and Emerging Crime.

“Their use also boosts the circulation of explosives that can be used by criminal or terrorist groups. Bomb makers behind terrorist attacks in recent years have been found to also be providing explosives to the illegal fishing industry,” Ms De Wild added.

Read full article.

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Meat adulteration/substitution has long been a source of concern for a variety of reasons, including public health, religious considerations, wholesomeness, unhealthy competitiveness in the meat industry, and fraud. Therefore, a range of kits have been developed to permit rapid, precise, and specific identification of meat species. These are based on DNA methods (PCR and Real-Time PCR) and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). In response to these developments, Advance Market Analytics has published a new research publication on “Global Meat Species Identification Kits Market Insights, to 2026”.

The report has 9 chapters:

Chapter 1: Introduction, market driving force product Objective of Study and Research Scope the Meat Species Identification Kits market

Chapter 2: Exclusive Summary – the basic information of the Meat Species Identification Kits Market.

Chapter 3: Displaying the Market Dynamics- Drivers, Trends and Challenges & Opportunities of the Meat Species Identification Kits

Chapter 4: Presenting the Meat Species Identification Kits Market Factor Analysis, Porters Five Forces, Supply/Value Chain, PESTEL analysis, Market Entropy, Patent/Trademark Analysis.

Chapter 5: Displaying the by Type, End User and Region/Country 2015-2020

Chapter 6: Evaluating the leading manufacturers of the Meat Species Identification Kits market which consists of its Competitive Landscape, Peer Group Analysis, BCG Matrix & Company Profile

Chapter 7: To evaluate the market by segments, by countries and by Manufacturers/Company with revenue share and sales by key countries in these various regions (2021-2026)

Chapter 8 & 9: Displaying the Appendix, Methodology and Data Source

 A free example copy of the report can be obtained.

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Measures to monitor meat substitution are in place in many developed countries, however, information about similar efforts in sub-Saharan Africa is sparse. Kenyan researchers have developed a PCR-HRM (High Resolution Melting) analysis targeting three mitochondrial genes—cytochrome oxidase 1 (CO1), cytochrome b (cyt b), and 16S rRNA, to detect 7 species ( goat, sheep, bovines, pig, camel, rabbit and chicken) of commercially traded meat in Kenya. One hundred and seven meat samples (whole pieces) were collected from randomly selected stalls in Nairobi’s major meat wholesale market (Burma market) and butcheries in the 10 surrounding districts.  Out of the 107 samples, 11 (10.3%) had been substituted, with the highest rate being observed in samples sold as goat (7 out of 30 samples). The PCR-HRM assay worked with fresh, dried, heated and decomposed meat, as well as admixtures of the different species. and is regarded as a robust and reliable assay for meat species.

Read the full open-access paper here

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9917344701?profile=RESIZE_710xThis report is an analysis of statistical data on food security in the United Kingdom.

It is the first in a series of reports which will be published under a new duty in the Agriculture Act 2020 to report to Parliament on food security in the United Kingdom at least once every three years.

The UK Food Security Report (UKFSR) examines past, current, and predicted trends relevant to food security, to present the best available and impartial analysis of food security in the UK, and to lay the groundwork for future Food Security Reports.

Food security is a complex and multi-faceted issue. To address the subject’s many diverse aspects, the UKFSR is structured around five principal ‘themes’, each addressing an important component of modern-day food security in the UK. They are as follows: global food availability, which describes supply and demand issues, trends and risk on a global scale, and how they may affect UK food supply;
UK food supply, which looks at the UK’s main sources of food at home and overseas; supply chain resilience, which outlines the physical, economic, and human infrastructure that underlies the food supply chain, and that chain’s vulnerabilities; household-level food security, which deals with issues of affordability and access to food; and food safety and consumer confidence, which details food crime and safety issues.

The report draws on a broad range of published statistical data from government and other sources. These quantitative sources are supplemented with case studies and qualitative analysis where necessary and helpful. In some cases, where quantitative evidence is not available due to data being limited or confidential, or where the report references recent events which are not yet reflected in published statistics, only qualitative analysis is available.

What is food security?
Food security has many dimensions. As a topic, it encompasses the state of global agriculture and markets on which the UK is reliant; the sources of raw
materials and foodstuffs in the UK and abroad; the manufacturing, wholesale, and retail industries that ultimately bring food to shelves and plates, and their complex supply chains of inputs and logistics; and the systems of inspection that allow consumers to be confident their food is safe, authentic, and of a high standard. 

Accordingly, this report examines the issue of whether the UK is food secure across five ‘themes.’

  • Theme 1: Global Food Availability
  • Theme 2: UK Food Supply Sources
  • Theme 3: Supply Chain Resilience
  • Theme 4: Food Security at Household Level
  • Theme 5: Food Safety and Consumer Confidence: the activities of the Food Authenticity Network and Centres of Expertise are featured in this theme.

Read full report (pdf version) and a fully accessible HTML will be available shortly.

As this is the first in what will be a series of reports to be published, government is very happy to receive written feedback on the content of the UKFSR at and there is also an online questionnaire you can find here.

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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.

Access full paper:

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Maintaining the quality and safety of Australian food and fibre products for domestic and export markets is paramount. Product fraud is on the rise and has the potential to cause significant harm to Australia’s reputation for producing high-quality goods and ultimately reduce returns at the farm gate. Globally, food fraud is becoming a significant challenge, estimated to cost $40-50 billion a year, and $2-3 billion in Australia alone.

In aspiring to reach the National Farmers’ Federation’s target of $100 billion in farm gate value by 2030, Australian producers need to be able to mitigate incidents of product fraud to ensure that trust is maintained with consumers and that producers can capitalise on changing consumer and market trends.

This report, written by Deakin University, explores the range of product fraud cases – from simple substitution or incorrect labelling of a product to more sophisticated methods that result in consumers paying a premium price for a counterfeit product.

High-value products such as beef and seafood are particularly at risk of substitution, as well as the use of fillers to increase volume and mislabelling about provenance and quality. The drivers behind product fraud are commonly linked to shortages or constraint of supply in raw ingredients, and while our ability to detect fraud continues to improve, there is a need for a whole-of-supply-chain approach to combat the problem.

But while the problem is real, and on the rise, the report highlights technology solutions that exist and are ready to be deployed along the supply chain, to reduce the incidence of fraud. A plethora of solutions are needed to make an impact on global fraud. A coordinated supply chain approach is an important first step to mitigate the potential risks and protect Australia’s reputation in domestic and global markets.

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In a report to the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) Board in December, Emily Miles, FSA's Chief Executive reported on the active investigations being carried out by the NFCU. These include: 

Operation Atlas - concerning the sale of 2,4 dinitrophenol in controlled drugs and presciption only medicines. A successful prosecution has taken place in this operation.

Operation Aspen - where fraudsters posing as UK catering franchises online had obtained obtained hundreds of thousands pounds worth of food products from European businesses.

Operation Bantam - where fraudsters have obtained illicit poultry animal by-products (ABP) not fit for human consumption, processed them and diverted them into the human food chain. The NFCU is working with several local authorities investigating businesses involved with this trade, and two are taking prosecutions.

Operation Hawk -  is exploring large scale misrepresentation of country of origin on packed meat products.

Operation Boston - concerns the diversion of Category 3 animal by-products into the human food chain, as well as the supply of substandard and misdescribed red meat to Ghana.

Read the full article here


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JRC Food Fraud Summary November 2021


The European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC) has published its monthly summary on articles covering food fraud and adulteration. In this November issue, there are articles on frauds involving wine, alcoholic beverages, milk and milk products, herbs and spices, cereals, meat products, seafood, cocoa, tea, fruits and vegetables, oils and honey.

Read the full summary of articles at:

Many thanks to our Members Riccardo Siligato PhD LLM (for producing the report) and Bruno Sechet (for producing the infographic).

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Review of Olive Oil Fraud


As a quality oil, olive oil is susceptible to adulteration and fraud. This paper reviews the most common types of fraud in the olive oil sector. The two most common types of fraud recorded are the marketing of virgin olive oil as extra virgin, and marketing olive oil which is a blend of olive oil and  other vegetable oils. Two on-line surveys focused on current and future issues facing  the industry and control laboratories. These revealed the emerging issues of concern with regards to fraud were from the addition of deodorized oil, and from mixing with oil obtained by a second centrifugation of the olive paste (remolido). In addition, the most frequent fraudulent practices are mixing with lower quality olive oils, and giving a false delaration of origin (EU and non-EU). 

Read the full open access paper

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JRC Publishes Food Fraud Report on Spices


The European Commission published today the results of the first coordinated control plan on the authenticity of herbs and spices launched by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety.

It has been carried out by 21 EU Member States, Switzerland and Norway, with the technical support of the Joint Research Centre, which performed nearly 10,000 analyses. The plan is the largest investigation so far into the authenticity of culinary herbs and spices in terms of participating countries and samples analysed (1885).

The main conclusions were as follows: 

  • The overall rate of suspicious samples was 17% (323 of a total of 1885 analysed samples), which is less than what was previously reported in the scientific literature or by national food control institutions.
  • The oregano supply chain was most vulnerable as 48% of samples were suspicious of being adulterated, in most cases with olive leaves.
  • The percentage of samples which were suspicious of adulteration were 17% for pepper, 14% for cumin, 11% for curcuma, and 11% for saffron.
  • The lowest suspicion rate (6%) was found for paprika/chilli.
  • The majority of suspicious samples contained non-declared plant material; in 2% of the analysed spice samples non-authorised dyes were detected. One sample contained a high level of lead chromate.
  • In two cumin, 45 oregano, and four pepper samples copper compounds above the relevant maximum residue limit set by Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 were found.
  • No specific trend regarding the rate of potential fraudulent manipulations along the supply chain (countries of origin/importers/wholesalers/processors/packagers) could be observed. However, for certain stages (domestic production, local markets, border control, and internet) the number of samples tested was too low to enable statistically meaningful comparisons.

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9850054881?profile=originalThe anticipated failure of many countries to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 necessitates the assessment of science–policy engagement mechanisms for food systems transformation. 

A High Level Expert Group (EG) of the European Commission explore options for enhancing existing partnerships, mandates and resources — or reimagining a new mission — for science–policy interfaces in this paper.

The science policy interfaces (SPI) options presented in this paper provide a potential framework to promote consensus around ways to achieve independent scientific interaction with policy needs at different scales. Establishing more effective food systems SPIs will require financial and political capital and time-defined dialogues that go beyond cooperation among existing SPIs to include other actors (including national and regional governments, the private sector and NGOs). These dialogues should be shaped by openness, inclusivity, transparency, scientific independence and institutional legitimacy.

The UN Food Systems Summit held in September 2021 provided some space for this discussion, which should be furthered during the UN Climate Change Conference in the UK (COP26) and Nutrition for Growth in Tokyo. The global community must seize on this historic moment to formulate commitments that enhance SPIs and that concretely help them to support the urgently needed transformation of our food systems.

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Faegre Drinker’s 2021 Food & Agribusiness National Conference discussed the major issues and trends from across market segments and product categories as a results of changes or developments in US food legislation. This included the increasing number of lawsuites dealing with food labelling and market practices about ingredients, health claims, "clean" claims, and serving size/portion claims. It also covered the new developments in FDA's Food Defense Rule, the new climate ESG (Economic Social and Governance ) task force looking at carbon footprint claims, the Food Labeling Modernization Act (FLMA), and remote inspections.

Read the article here

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