Food Fraud

Brazil Meat Scandal: Should you be increasing the risk profile for certain countries of origin within your supply chain?

Brazil Meat Scandal - Food Inspectors BribedAre you aware of the recent meat scandal in Brazil? If not, below is a quick overview of what we know so far.
The latest meat scandal occurred in Brazil around March 17th, 2017, in a police operation dubbed “Operation Weak Flesh” where some 1,100 police agents performed organised raids against some of the biggest meat producers in Brazil.
These producers are accused of selling meat containing; carcinogenic substances, false labels and Salmonella, using chemicals to improve look and smell of expired meat (Luckily no cases of death or illness have been linked to this investigation – but still a food safety and brand protection nightmare for those involved).
But what is worse is that there are accusations that inspectors and politicians took bribes to allow the sale and export of this tainted food.
This comes as a huge blow to Brazil which is one of the world’s largest exporters of meat, with several countries temporarily halting some imports of Brazilian meat while the true extent of the scandal is uncovered. Brazilian meat exports dropped from $60m a day to a mere $74,000 in wake of this news.
So with that, let’s ask ourselves the question:

Should we be increasing the risk profile certain countries of origin within the supply chain?

Once again a scandal that has undermined trust in worldwide food controls.
I’m sure many of you are aware that the food industry, especially the meat industry has faced several scandals over recent times, the 2013 horse meat scandal for example. These scandals cast a shadow over the food industry reducing consumers trust, despite the supposedly trustworthy information on the label.
And with the people whose job it is to help stop this from happening being bribed by criminals to overlook the crimes that are going on what chance do we have as an industry?
One reaction to this scandal is for food businesses to look at increasing the risk profile of certain countries of origin within their supply chain, especially if some of their supply chain originates from countries known for fraud and corruption.
What do we mean by increasing the risk profile?
When reviewing your suppliers and the information (or lack of information) they are providing you as part of supplier approval management and product specifications we should be looking at this information with even more scrutiny, what other foods or products could be affected by this?
If a supplier is providing vague information, or no information at all claiming that it is “Confidential” or that you “Do not buy enough to spend the time to provide this” just to name a few examples then alarm bells should be ringing.
Brazil Meat Scandal - Cartoon
Do they have something to hide, or do they simply not know where their product has come from? Both of which are equally as concerning.
In wake of these scandals the above questions should be on your mind at all times when dealing with suppliers, especially new suppliers which you do not have much experience with or ones offering suspiciously low prices – Remember, if it seems too good to be true it probably is.
Despite all of this you could still be at risk of corruption of officials. Imagine this – The supplier you are using answers everything correct, telling you everything you want to hear. They tell you that they are inspected regularly and can prove it. Little did you know they had bribed the inspectors allowing them to pass on their unsafe/fraudulent products to you. Should you include a factor for “country of origin bribery and corruption risk” within your supplier risk assessments?
One of the only real ways to protect yourself from this situation is to increase the amount and level of detail of QC checks you perform on products that arrive in your business. This means checking for unsafe levels of certain chemicals or ingredients that should not be there. This can, of course, be time-consuming and expensive, but with the chance of the people who are supposed to prevent things like this from happening being bribed and corrupt, what other choices do we have other than to take things into our own hands?
As a result of these recent scandals, it is more important than ever to have full traceability of your products, what they are and where they came from. Food safety standards such as BRC Version 7 will be putting your company under a great level of scrutiny during their audits to ensure that the products you are producing and selling are safe and that their origin can be accounted for.
They will also be ensuring that you have plans in place to help detect and prevent these from occurring within your business through the use of vulnerability assessments and horizon scanning across your entire supply chain.
Luckily, QADEX has developed a variety of solutions available which can help you manage the setup, and continual management of complex food & drink industry related tasks including; Supplier risk management, QA checks, Vulnerability Assessments and Horizon Scanning for increased Brand Protection for your business against scandals like this.
Our software solution will help you simplify these tasks, freeing up resources and helping with cost savings – No need to rely on outdated and complicated systems or spreadsheets (Or even paper-based systems) which could be putting your business at an increased risk of something slipping through the net.
Please let us know what your thoughts are on this by discussing it on our LinkedIn post.
If you would like to learn more about how QADEX can help protect and help your business through cost and resource savings then please click here to get in touch.