Nofima: We must ensure we use the same word for the same thing

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nofima: We need to define and discuss food crime concepts and terminology. Picture: iStock/zimmytws
Nofima: We need to define and discuss food crime concepts and terminology. Picture: iStock/zimmytws

Related tags: Italy, Fraud

Nofima is helping to create a European standard on terminology and concepts related to food fraud to avoid confusion on the subject.

A draft of the standard will be ready for review by the end of the year with the final version to be adopted in February 2018.

Food fraud may involve claiming a foodstuff to be something other than what it is, false information about origin of the food or omission of required information about ingredients in the product.

Nofima is leading the work with Standards Norway as secretariat.

It comes as an electronic working group (EWG) of Codex is working on a definition and scope for food fraud/food integrity/food authenticity and related terms.

Cooperation across national borders

Petter Olsen, senior researcher at Nofima and coordinator of the project, said food crime is a worldwide problem.

“Over the last few years, many countries have put a lot of effort into combating this, which requires us to cooperate well across national borders. Several similar words and terms are in use, and we must ensure that we use the same word for the same thing.

“How should the term ‘food fraud’ be defined? And what about secondary terms such as ‘fake labelling’ and ‘counterfeiting’? Food crime has become a large-scale subject area, and we need to define and discuss concepts and terminology.”

Anti-food fraud capability within Europe has not been consolidated and lacks the coordination and support structures available to those in food safety.

Authent-Net project

The work is part of ‘Authent-Net’, an EU-funded network project led by Fera Science which started in April 2016 and runs until March 2018.

It complements DG Santé’s Food Fraud Network and the FoodIntegrity project.

The consortium includes Centre Wallon De Recherches Agronomiques (Belgium), Stichting Wageningen Research (Netherlands), Queen's University of Belfast (UK), Vysoka Skola Chemicko-Technologicka v Praze (Czech Republic), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (UK), Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Instituto Nacional De Investigacion y Tecnologia Agraria y Alimentaria (Spain),

Ministerie Van Economische Zaken (Netherlands) and the Ministere de l’economie, des finances et de l’industrie (France).

As well as Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior Deinvestigaciones Cientificas (Spain), Centre de Cooperation International En Recherche Agronomique Pour le Development (CIRAD) (France), FAO (Italy), Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte Liguria e Valle d'Aosta (Italy), Matis OHF (Iceland), Alma Mater Studiorum – Universita Di Bologna (Italy), Stichting Vu (Netherlands) and Michigan State University.

The new standard is titled ‘Authenticity in feed and food chain – General terms and concepts’.

A website for all research-related information on food fraud called ‘Food Authenticity Research Network Hub’ will be accessible to the public from 2018.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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