Food fraud costs the global food industry around $50 billion each year, according to the Australian Institute of Food Safety. It’s a growing economic and public health problem that erodes consumer confidence in the food industry and can create lethal risks for people susceptible to allergens. Now the PIF V6 is giving manufacturers and other buyers the insight they need to ensure the integrity of their supply chain.

Regulators have been struggling to get on top of the growing scourge of food fraud ever since the Chinese melamine scandal in 2008.

Food fraud is the deliberate misrepresentation of food products for the purpose of economic gain. It most commonly involves exaggerating the quality of products via mislabelling, adulterating (when lower quality ingredients are actually cut or mixed into a product) or falsifying production methods or country of origin.

High-profile cases, such as the European horsemeat and Australian oregano scandals, although rare, have a huge impact on public trust. Closer to home, it’s far more common for everyday products such as tea, olive oil, grains, spices and fruit juice to be under-quality or cut with lower quality ingredients.

Anyone involved in the sourcing or selling of food needs to be aware of the risks of being complicit in food fraud and the associated risks both to business reputation and consumer safety.

Clare Winkel, Executive Manager Technical Solutions at Integrity Compliance Solutions has some practical, affordable advice for Australian food companies wanting to protect their business and their customers from food fraud. In her recent article for Food Australia, she recommends six real-world control measures:

  1. Understand your supply chains
  2. Use sensory evaluation – smell and touch the ingredients you source
  3. Review the Product Information Forms (PIF) for each ingredient – in detail
  4. Read the information printed on the cartons
  5. Research the history of fraud for each ingredient
  6. Get the correct certifications

Clare recently helped a food company overhaul its food fraud risk rating, using the information provided by its suppliers on the Product Information Forms (PIF V6). The PIF is a treasure trove of revealing data including:

  • species names
  • country of origin
  • source manufacturers
  • ingredient declarations
  • detailed product descriptions.

The information supplied on the PIF can be compared to audit certificates and certificates of assurance, and discrepancies investigated. Its detail provides you vital insights into your supply chain that are the foundation of your protection against food fraud and its business and public health risks.

You can read Clare’s Practical real-world food fraud control measures article in full here.

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