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Food fraud and food defence: food safety viewed from the inside out

05/05/2019 | Bart Bosch | Food Safety

Quality management systems for food companies primarily look at risks in their own business processes. For emerging phenomena such as food fraud and food defence, however, it is necessary to analyse food safety from an external perspective. Food safety inside-out, that is. Food defence has been around for quite some years. Food fraud has recently also been included in most food safety systems. Both risks are now anchored in the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) standards.

1. Food defence: deliberate damage by additions to products

As a result of global terrorism, companies have increasingly begun to analyse which external threats can deliberately damage their products or brands. In this situation, we speak of food defence. In the first place, this involves external persons or our own (former) employees who can add harmful ingredients during the production process, which in turn leads to consumer health risks. In other words, food defence is about deliberately taking action to cause damage to a product or brand. 

The prevention of these actions starts with a risk analysis to verify who has access to the company. What are the weaknesses in the access control system? Which employees have access to which area or rooms? Are the company premises sufficiently fenced off and secured? Do we work with enough coded badges? What procedure is followed after a dismissal? What damage can a dismissed person still do and how do we accompany him to the exit? When the risks are thoroughly mapped out, targeted action can be taken. 

2. Food fraud: cheating with the idea of making money

Food fraud has only recently been included in food safety systems, but has of course been around for a long time. Even the Romans added water to the wine in order to sell it at a higher price. Or remember the precious spices that were supplemented with gravel for extra volume.  

Food fraud is about making a profit. In order to identify these risks, it is important to analyse the entire supply chain, from the suppliers to the final product for the consumer.  

Different ingredients are more susceptible to food fraud than others. This is the case for olive oil, honey and organic products. Food fraud can also be committed on the end product. The most common forms are counterfeiting of your product, sales via ‘grey’ channels and theft of your products.  

Preventing food fraud is essential for companies. It starts with analysing the reliability of suppliers. In addition, it is important to look at the distribution channels through which the products reach the end consumer. What is the risk of counterfeiting? Again, it is essential to start with an in-depth risk analysis and then take targeted countermeasures. 

Food defence and food fraud in practice?

We note that more and more companies are aware of the importance of food defence and food fraud. The fact that these matters are included in the GFSI standards is already a good thing. However, there are major differences in approach in the field. Some companies carry out a thorough risk analysis, while in other food companies these analyses are only carried out superficially. 

Would you like to find out more about the recommended approach to food defence and food fraud? Contact Quontinuim.