Companies facing more sophisticated fraud issues - Eurofins

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Food fraud is a current hot topic in industry
Food fraud is a current hot topic in industry

Related tags Food fraud Food Fraud

Food authenticity analysis is being increasingly used in industry as companies face more sophisticated frauds issues, according to Eurofins.

The firm hosted its second annual meeting on food fraud in Paris yesterday (17 June).

Yves Rey, corporate quality general manager, Danone, Françoise Dorcier, criminal intelligence officer, trafficking in Illicit goods and counterfeiting sub-directorate, Interpol, Stéphanie Lemaitre, technical director of the IFS and Jérôme Malavoy, founder and CEO of Trace One presented.

Eurofins employees Dr Michèle Lees, Dr Eric Jamin, Dr Andreas Pardigol will also speak at the session moderated by Dr Faisal Bellatif.

Non-targeted cover larger scope of risk

Speaking after the event Dr Jamin told FoodQualityNews around 70 people attended from industry and retail sectors.

“The main trend is towards the big concern in authenticity and getting analytical, audits and software to gather information in an efficient way,” ​he said.

“Things are improving as more technical and analytical tools are available to detect in non-targeted ways so covering a larger scope of risk.”

Key topics of the event included responsibility of those involved in food fraud and the legal provisions, initiatives from Interpol in the struggle against it, assessment of the vulnerability of supply chains and certification considerations of the GFSI.

Eurofins Scientific recently gained accreditation by Le Comité français d'accréditation (Cofrac) for analysis of profiling by NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance).

The NMR profiling approach combines targeted and non-targeted analysis for several types of food such as fruit juices, wines, honey or cafes.

Keller and Heckman view

Another speaker at the event, Katia Merten-Lentz, spoke to us before she presented during the day, around the topic of food fraud.

“At this stage there is no legal definition of food fraud​,” said the partner in Keller and Heckman’s Brussels office specializing in European Food Law, with an emphasis on Belgian and French food laws and agricultural issues.

“We know a lot and can define food safety standards but not for food fraud and fraud is always there in every field not just food.

“The main principle is to bypass the law and we need to find an answer in law to stop fraud. It tends to attract criminal gangs because of the financial turnover and the difficulty of the authority to sanction gangs for fraud actions.

“We need to change the sanctions and persuade the criminal it will cost a lot if caught. We see from other fraud in cosmetics and pharmaceutical the only way to fight it was to put high levels of fines and jail time.”

Merten-Lentz said there was a difference between fraud and other industries.

“The consumer is a passive victim in food fraud, in clothes he knows what he buys and he does it on purpose but for food fraud he doesn’t know if something is made of horse and not beef.

“National authorities can be reluctant to inform consumers because of frightening them and confidence being lost in the food sector.

“There is not one solution, we need a harmonised system of control and fines and criminal action. We, and when I say we I mean the authority, needs to work with the food sector to ensure it has its supply chain under control. Within each company a quality manager needs to be responsible for its own process to appreciate the weaknesses, if any, in the process.”  

Merten-Lentz advises clients on the legal and scientific aspects of the implementation of food regulations throughout Europe, on the European Union (EU) and national level.

She also counsels operators throughout the food chain on traceability, geographical indicators, and regulations impacting food supplements and novel foods.

BfR and NIFDS co-operation

Meanwhile, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) renewed its cooperation agreement with the South Korean National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation (NIFDS).

Professor Andreas Hensel , BfR president, spoke about the challenge of food and feed safety especially with regard to authenticity and falsification of foodstuffs in the era of globalisation. 

He also presented the “FoodChain-Lab” software developed at the BfR, which can be used to help follow product chains.

The BfR and NIFDS signed the first cooperation agreement in 2010. South Korea has concluded free trade agreements with the EU and the USA. 

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