In a week when the on-line food media are publishing reports about what happened in the horse meat fraud scandal and the Chinese Government has identified a major food oil fraud the European Union issued a report that identified what they believe are the ten foods most likely to be fraudulent.
The report points to key factors likely to tempt the fraudsters.
Ease of creation. Greatest potential for profit. Reduced likelihood of discovery.
The ten foods are: Fish, Olive oil, and Organic food, Powders, Pastes or Milk, Grains, Honey and Maple syrup, Coffee and Wine, Spices, Tea and some Fruit juices.
Perhaps red meat was omitted because the food industry is now focussed and testing and therefore the fraud is most likely to be exposed, but what about high strength spirits like Vodka.
There are tests available that will expose many of the fraudulent products.
The country of origin of meat can be identified. The true identity of fish is but one genetic test away.
Are they used frequently enough? Are they easy to use, quick to give a result and reasonably priced?
Who is developing the next generation or the tests to meet the challenges of the next fraudulent product?
All the products on the list have been publicly exposed when frauds has been exposed.
Are there any missing that were found by the food industry’s diligence in supplier monitoring?
What indicators do you use that may offer early warning of temptation to defraud?
A change in price in a tight market? A new supply of scarce ingredients at competitive rates? A new supplier with an unbelievable financial record?
Or will it sneak up on you?
A good supplier monitoring system is more likely to provide a food processor with better protection from fraudulent ingredients.
Testing can be considered the cherry on the cake of diligent supplier risk assessment.
If you systematically re-assess your approved suppliers list and review the way they do business then perhaps you may spot that one rare fraudster before you spot the fraud.