Food Fraud and Economically Motivated Adulteration

Food fraud and economically motivated adulteration are common industry issues. In fact, food crime costs the global food industry an estimated US $40 billion annually. In this blog, we’ll look at the most common food frauds, high-risk food fraud ingredients, and how to spot potential food fraud.

The Basics of Food Fraud 

When consumer demand is high or supplies are limited, large and small businesses of all kinds are more likely to find themselves vulnerable to food fraud. Short or long-term demand and price pressures occurring in supply chains can result in higher consumer prices and decreased competitiveness for manufacturers, suppliers, and vendors. In an attempt to reduce costs, companies become more vulnerable to seeking shortcuts to stay competitive in business. 
Food fraud is a criminal act involving intentional adulteration, deliberate mislabeling, or misdescription of food for financial gain. Food fraud puts consumers’ health and safety at risk, generates unfair market competition, and threatens consumer trust in the food system. Unscrupulous suppliers and manufacturers might be tempted to take advantage of loopholes in the surveillance, investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of food fraud to keep the increase in costs of their products to consumers as low as possible.

Top Ten Food Fraud Products

As consumer popularity and demand increase for more sustainable foods, we’ll see rising rates of food fraud in the production of alternative proteins and organic foods and products. Currently, the most common food frauds include:

  1. Seafood
  2. Dairy Products
  3. Meat, Poultry & Fish
  4. Wine & Alcoholic Beverages
  5. Herbs, Spices & Seasonings
  6. Vegetable Oils
  7. Honey 
  8. Olive Oil
  9. Coffee & Tea
  10. Grains

How to Spot Potential Food Fraud

The quality of specifications for sourced ingredients and commodities can vary widely. Some hallmarks of the most common food frauds: 

  • Commonly substituted ingredients are involved
  • Ingredients priced and sold well under market value
  • Lack of traceability records for ingredients and commodities
  • Ingredients that do not match their description 
  • Questionable accreditation or quality claims
  • Replacement, removal, and/or addition of ingredients
  •  Absence, falsification, or incorrect food labeling

Because food fraud can take many forms and can infiltrate supply chains at many stages, more companies are demanding certification of all vendors in their supply chains to reduce the risk for contamination and food fraud as well as mitigate risk for potential liabilities. Certifications can help your facility maintain the highest standards for food safety, so they are well worth the time and effort. 

Facilities dedicated to going above and beyond should consider implementing the gold standard for food facilities is GFSI—a set of collaborative benchmarked solutions created to reduce food safety risks, and reduce audit duplication and costs while building trust throughout the supply chain. GFSI’s vision is to provide “safe food for consumers, everywhere.”

The key benefits of becoming GFSI Certified include:

  • Safer global supply chain
  • Gain better access to market
  • Reduction of audits
  • Decrease product recalls and foodborne diseases
  • Improve consumer confidence and public health

For more food safety resources, visit the ASI Resource Center. To learn more about GFSI Certification click here.

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