What is food fraud?

The term ‘food fraud’ describes any situation where a food product is altered or presented in a misleading way. This includes the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging. It also includes false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain.

There are 7 types of food fraud:

  1. Adulteration: A component of the finished product is fraudulent
  2. Tampering: Legitimate product and packaging are used in a fraudulent way
  3. Over-run: Legitimate product is made in excess of production agreements
  4. Theft: Legitimate product is stolen and passed off as legitimately procured
  5. Diversion: The sale or distribution of legitimate products outside of intended markets
  6. Simulation: Illegitimate product is designed to look like, but not exactly copy, the legitimate product
  7. Counterfeit: All aspects of the fraudulent product and packaging are fully replicated

Why does food fraud occur?

There are two main motivators for food fraud: financial gain and public harm (health, economic, or uncertainty). The most common reason is financial gain, but it can also have an impact on public health and safety as they can contaminate the product unintentionally.

Why does food fraud matter?

Food fraud costs producers, distributors and consumers billions of dollars every year. This puts producers under increased pressure as they struggle to remain profitable and can destroy even the most established brands. It also poses serious health risks, as fake and counterfeit products can contain contaminants. Examples of contaminants found in counterfeit foods include traces of peanuts in ‘peanut free’ products, melamine in infant formula, and industrial-grade grapeseed oil in olive oil.

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Sources:

http://foodfraud.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Article-Understanding-and-Combating-Food-Fraud-FT-Food-Technology-2013-01-b.pdf

http://qualitymatters.usp.org/how-does-food-fraud-put-public-health-risk