Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, May 05, 2017

Food Fraud: Adulteration, Replacement, Mislabelling

"A good fraudster is someone who technically hides very well his game. We're not supposed to discover the issue, but when it turns badly and when the fraud is done by people that have no scruples in what they are doing, it can even lead to tragic consequences."
"An important measure is beefing up traceability measures. Food ingredients are sourced from all over the planet but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be the right traceability to prevent food fraud from occurring."
Samuel Godefroy, leading expert, food risk analysis, Laval University, Quebec

"I think essentially you're dealing with the future of food."
"If you don't have trust from the consumers, it becomes very difficult to add any value and grow the food business."
"Food categories that are more vulnerable to food fraud are fish, seafood, liquids, spices, fruits, vegetables and meat products. Canada has seen its share of cases in recent months, one of the most notable ones is Mucci Farms in Ontario. The company was fined $1.5 million for selling Mexican tomatoes as a product of Canada. The company denies the labelling was intentional and faults their computer system. Other cases have emerged, mostly whistleblowers trying to give food fraud more attention. Cericola Farms, one of the largest poultry processors in the country, was in court over organic mislabelling allegations, but the case has gone quiet since October. The number of cases is adding up. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency received more than 40 complaints in 2016 and many expect that number to increase in 2017."
Sylvain Charlebois, researcher of food fraud, Dalhousie University, Halifax 

"We have to remember the people conducting the fraud are interested in making money." 
"But sometimes it's in ways that we haven't anticipated, so it's important to exchange information and make sure all the players in the system have open channels of communication in order to address this critical issue."
Aline Dimitri, deputy chief food safety officer, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
In this photo, lobsters are processed at a seafood plant in Maine. Sylvain Charlebois argues that seafood is one of the products vulnerable to 'food fraud.' Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Research undertaken by Michigan State university concluded that food fraud reached $40-billion worldwide; fraud that is inclusive of mislabelling country of origin, using 'organic' labels falsely, altering expiry dates, producing counterfeit products -- as well as adulterating or substituting ingredients. The 2008 scheme to adulterate milk powder with a chemical that produces plastic in China, caused the death of four children and made 300,000 people ill.

Instances of wood pulp discovered to be used as a 'filler' in Parmesan cheese, garlic powder 'filled' with talc, misrepresented pure virgin olive oil, the widespread problem of food fraud by unscrupulous purveyors seeking to use inferior products, adulterating pure food with inedible and sometimes dangerous ingredients represents a problem that just doesn't want to go away. And it will not, as long as those seeking to gain profit from short-cuts or the production of dangerous and inferior products go undetected.

The mislabelling of seafood with inferior, more plentiful substitutes is a common problem, occurring in Canada and the United States. A CBC Marketplace study discovered that 34 of 153 fish samples taken from grocery stores had been mislabelled, when lower-priced fish was given a higher-priced fish labelling, for obvious reasons of illicit profit to the detriment of the consumer. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency randomly checks food samples and cites non-compliance with labelling laws by food suppliers.

Some 70 instances of non-compliance with labelling laws annually over the past five years have been published on the (CFIA) Food Inspection Agency's website. And no one researching the ubiquity of food fraud feels this to be an accurate number of fraudsters; merely the number that random checks have ferreted out. Food items like olive oil, honey and maple syrup all have been found adulterated by the CFIA. Mr. Godefroy, in his capacity as a food fraud expert, recommends increased resources for those random checks.

Barcoding technology can be used in the identification of food fraud through testing the precise molecular level production of a food item, determining whether it is organic and what its geographical origin is. DNA analysis technology remains costly and slow, but Mr. Charlebois of Dalhousie University, sees a future where people could access affordable hand-held DNA analysis devices to use while in the supermarket or at home to themselves detect the existence of food fraud.

The University of Guelph, in fact, is working with the CFIA on a goal to simplify DNA analysis technology, making it more cost-effective and accessible in the near future to the general public. A good proportion of Canadians are concerned that the basic foods they purchase are not really reflected on the labels identifying their ingredients. People with specific health conditions in particular are alert to the problems inherent in food fraud, according to a survey a Dalhousie research team conduced on line.

CTV Toronto: Consumers worried about food fraud

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet