Protecting the food supply chain from fraud and malicious attack

Every few years, an intentional adulteration of the food supply grabs headlines around the world. In 2008, Chinese dairy manufacturers added the chemical melamine, a plasticizing agent, to milk and infant formula to boost the detectable protein levels, resulting in the hospitalization of 54,000 children and six deaths. The 2013 EU horse meat scandal, in which horse meat was substituted for beef in products sold across the EU, severely damaged consumer confidence in traceability and testing standards for meat products. Perhaps even more disturbing is the possibility of intentional contamination of the food supply to cause harm, a possibility that has gained more attention in the age of global terrorism. 

With the complexity of today’s international food supply chain, it is vital that the food industry move beyond food safety and quality approaches to incorporate food fraud—to protect against intentional contamination for economic gain—and food defence—to protect against intentional contamination to cause harm. The profitability of food fraud by substituting low value ingredients or falsifying brand names or country of origin on labels makes it a growth industry in the criminal community, and the guarantee of widespread media coverage makes intentional contamination of food an attractive activity for the ideologically motivated perpetrator. Tools like HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and ISO 22000:2018 have established effective frameworks for food safety and quality, but they are not equipped to handle the criminal who wishes to maximize their profit over the long term by avoiding detection or the terrorist who hopes to ensure maximum attention for their cause. The food industry must therefore build organizational cultures that use integrated food safety management systems (FSMS) and quality management systems (QMS) that incorporate TACCP (Threat Assessment and Critical Control Points), VACCP (Vulnerability Assessment and Critical Control Points), CARVER+Shock for threat assessment, and the PAS96:2017 standard for food defence, while learning about the psychological motivation and behavioural characteristics of the criminals who commit such acts. An integrated food integrity approach therefore requires a complex and highly reliable management system to keep today’s global supply chain protected from threats. 

The new Intelex Insight Report Is Your Food at Risk? Protecting Against Crime and Food Fraud in the Food Supply Chain is the latest in our series of reports dedicated to helping you learn about securing your food supply chain. You’ll learn about: 

  • why you need more than safety and quality approaches to protect against food crime 
  • how food fraud and crime happen and what the consequences can be 
  • what the different types of threats to the food supply are and what motivates them, and 
  • how to promote food integrity with integrated management systems built on safety, quality, defence, strong organizational culture, and awareness of criminal psychology and behaviour.
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