Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB) Addresses Food Science Issues 

 FOOD FRAUD PREVENTION

November 7, 2016 - The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) today released its latest Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB), which addresses the evolving food industry focus on Food Fraud. The purpose of this IUFoST SIB is to provide an introduction to the issue, a review of incidents, the fundamentals of prevention and insights into the optimal role of Food Science and Technology. This SIB presents the latest authoritative science on emerging and headline food science issues. It is produced by IUFoST experts for legislators, consumers, food science departments and the more than 300,000 members of IUFoST Adhering Bodies worldwide.

Food fraud is one of the most active global food industry and regulatory issues. Food companies and agencies are being held accountable by consumers and agencies for food fraud prevention, regardless of a traditional focus on public health risks. Beyond the potentially catastrophic economic impact of a recall or manufacturing shut-down, corporate officials are being held personally criminally liable for incidents. For these and many reasons discussed in the SIB, there has been an intense focus on food fraud research and specifically on prevention. 

Food fraud is illegal deception for economic gain using food. The broad types of incidents include adulterant-substances (including dilution, substitution, concealment, etc.), tampering, theft, diversion or gray market, over-runs or unauthorized production, and simulations and intellectual property rights counterfeiting. While the greatest health hazard is usually from adulterant-substances and counterfeits, reducing the fraud opportunity is the most efficient focus for prevention of the fraud act by a human actor.

In its review of incidents, the SIB notes the lack of a strategic or holistic approach to fraud prevention and the global megatrends that have led to food fraud becoming a more recognizable threat. How food is determined to be safe and its impact on the goal of preventing, rather than catching, food fraud is discussed, as is the need for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding fraud opportunity.  Criminology and business fraud theories are also applicable to Food Fraud prevention and are addressed in the SIB along with regulatory and business food fraud prevention strategies. 

The SIB concludes that Food Fraud Prevention is complex not only in the analytical methods of detection but also in the interdisciplinary applicable theory. The traditional detection and alert systems often do not detect food fraud because there is usually no health hazard. Of the three key actions in reducing fraud opportunity - detection, deterrence and prevention - the first step should be consideration of how to prevent and how to reduce it. The role of food science and technology will be in developing the specific tests and methods that prevent food fraud and, most importantly, in taking a holistic, all-encompassing view of Food Fraud Prevention.

Download and read the complete SIB here

This SIB was prepared by John Spink, MS, PhD, Director of the Food Fraud Initiative, Assistant Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, on behalf of and approved by the IUFoST Scientific Council. For more information, contact secretariat@iufost.org.