Food Fraud — Not just high quality products

Food fraud is the deliberate tampering of food to intentionally create a substitution which adds to the misrepresentation of food, ingredients and packaging which is misleading to the end consumer. Food frauds often go undetected so it is difficult to know the true reach of food fraud and the profits being made.

There are many foods that are at risk of food fraud including supermarket goods, high value goods and household goods. High value goods and popular foods are at a larger risk of counterfeiting. Brands that add organic, natural or free range will attract a premium price and a certain type of consumers and are generally at a higher price point that other products. This results in fraudulent use of these products, brand and labelling.

Some products that are easy to fake are honey, olive oil, coffee, tea and more. These items are easy to fake because they can be diluted with cheaper sugar syrups, oils, water and have other materials added to them to bulk them up and increase their weight, which in return increases their value.

The substitutes don’t always have harmful materials added, that wouldn’t look too good for the fraudsters business. The products will often have different nutritional values and biological properties to the original product that was copied. People who have food allergies and intolerances may be at higher risk from food fraud. This is beach the product isn’t as labelled and they allergen warnings cannot be trusted due to the added ingredients.

It has been said that newer technology will help fight food fraud in the future. These include traceability, QR codes, blockchain and biomarkers. These types of technology will be used to detect fraudulent products in the market and send an alert that the product is fake and unsafe to eat.

Some tips that consumers can use to keep themselves safe from food fraud is shop with trusted retailers. Online bargain stores and alternative retailers can increase your risk of being exposed to fakes. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you think something seems wrong with a product, report it.