Food businesses advised to increase surveillance on walnuts as a potential fraud
Following a recent report published in The Independent, due to heavy rain in walnut growing areas such as Pakistan and Argentina, market prices are up 50% – triggering alarms that nuts could be the next target for food fraud criminals. However, this threat is potentially more dangerous than past cases as companies choosing to fraudulently use peanuts as an alternative to walnuts could be putting lives at risk.
The prediction of food adulteration in relation to walnuts is from Professor Elliot of Queens’ University Belfast, who also led the government’s investigation into the debilitating horse meat scandal. As walnuts are becoming more expensive thanks to the shortage of regional produce, he fears manufacturers may substitute the walnut for a cheaper alternative which is more widely available – the peanut. This could pose a serious threat with potentially fatal consequences to consumers with allergies. QADEX software is designed to help food companies be fully compliant, ensure food labelling is accurate and keep suppliers and manufacturers on their toes with regular risk assessments and certification reminders.
Walnut substitution is the latest risk to watch out for in a long line of fraudulent activity in the food industry. Natural expensive products which are a specific variation, such as manuka honey, have been targeted by food fraudsters who have made a fortune mis-selling the ingredient. The sale of pomegranate juice has also been corrupted as it has been noted the number of products containing the superfood far exceeds the number of crops, with many manufacturers instead using grapefruit juice or sugary water as a deceiving substitute.
Tracey Cranney, Operations Manager at QADEX said, “We should always draw attention to food fraud in order to warn the public, but this potential adulteration is on a completely new level. Swapping walnuts for peanuts is not only misleading and illegal, but it can also have devastating effects. A recent peanut allergy related death has further highlighted this issue, and QADEX is advising food companies to increase risk ratings for adulteration on all walnut products.”
The trouble is it is actually difficult to tell the difference between a peanut and a walnut when it is combined within a meal, or the difference between walnut flour and peanut flour. In light of the recent price hike on walnuts, the public is being advised to be extra vigilant on all walnut related products – especially when it comes to takeaway meals.
Tracey continued, “Our software is designed to tackle this kind of food fraud, to make sure trustworthy businesses won’t be duped further down the supply chain. The selection of tools on the dashboard ensure that companies can audit every level of the food chain from suppliers, retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and processers to ensure transparency and rule out adulteration at every stage.”