Canadian Honey Producers Stung by Sophisticated Food Fraud

Food fraud is big business. Criminal organizations around the world earn millions of dollars annually by cutting high-quality food products with cheaper substitutes to increase profits. The practice is so ubiquitous throughout the food industry that food protection agencies refer to it as economically motivated adulteration (EMA) The consequences of this practice can include reputational damage to respected food brands, public health crises resulting from adulteration using hazardous elements designed to avoid standard integrity testing, and financial damage to legitimate producers who can’t compete with cheaper adulterated products.  

According to a recent news story, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has been conducting targeted surveillance on international producers of adulterated honey entering the Canadian market since 2018. By analyzing 240 samples of imported honey, CFIA determined that one-fifth of the samples advertised as pure honey are adulterated with corn syrup, rice syrup, and cane sugar syrup. As a result of the inspection, … Read more...

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. … Read more...

Food Integrity: The Case of Canadian Meat Imports to China

In late June 2019, the Chinese government suspended all imports of Canadian meat after having discovered a shipment of Canada-labeled pork that contained residue from a banned additive called Ractopamine. Ractopamine helps animals to grow larger and leaner on less food, which means farmers spend less money on raising the animals and make a larger profit after their sale. While Ractopamine is legal in Canada and the United States, it is banned in several other countries, including China. Chinese import officials detected the residue during normal sampling and testing procedures. 

The more disturbing discovery was that the accompanying veterinary certificate that testified to the origin and quality of the meat was falsified, which was confirmed by an inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). According to Canadian officials, the meat shipment is of unknown origin. The case has been referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for investigation. … Read more...

Processes and data-driven technology are protecting your food from contamination and adulteration

In the United States alone, food travels on average 1,300 miles from farm to fork, with 33% of produce and 80% of seafood imported from other countries. Food products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are processed by more than 300,000 different facilities in over 150 different countries. The complexity of this supply chain means that food can travel around the world in the custody of multiple agents along the way, with variations in documentation and processing resulting in loss of critical information about food authenticity and origin or even loss of the food itself. Approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost from the global supply chain annually without any understanding of where it goes. Traceability and authenticity in such a complex supply chain are therefore extremely difficult to manage, especially when consumers are increasingly concerned about those assurances, as well as about additional elements like sustainability and genetically modified … Read more...

Using food integrity to secure the global food supply chain

Today’s food supply chain stretches across the globe. While consumers used to eat the food they grew in their communities and adjusted their diets based on the availability of seasonal products, today’s consumers can have food from all over the world any day of the year. Although this has increased food choice and availability for consumers, it has also created a complex global supply chain with multiple points of vulnerability to both accidental and intentional events that impact food safety and quality. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illness each year, with approximately 128,000 hospitalized and 3,000 deaths. The steady annual increase of this number is at least partially attributable to the complexities of the global food supply chain. 

To meet the challenges the food supply chain presents, the food and beverage industry must move towards the concept of food integrity. Food integrity is an approach that combines food safety and quality principles, … Read more...

Using QMS Software to Tame the Complexity of Food Regulations

Not many safety failures hit the headlines quite the way those in the food industry do. With high-profile incidents like the 2013 horse meat scandal in the EU, the listeria contamination at Maple Leaf Foods in 2008, and the seemingly constant cadence of recalls involving leafy greens, food safety failures have the potential to create foodborne illnesses that cause serious harm to human health and significant financial damage to the organizations at the heart of them.

Global supply chains for food products have only increased the complexity of the compliance requirements for food safety. Organizations in the international marketplace must consider standards and frameworks such as ISO 22000:2018, FSSC 22000, ISO 9001:2015, HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Control Points), and the many voluntary standards of Codex Alimentarius, as well as overseers such as GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and SQFI (Safe Quality Food Institute). In … Read more...

BRC V.8 Puts the Spotlight on Global Food Safety and Quality

In today’s global marketplace, the food on your plate can come from anywhere in the world. Increasingly complex global supply chains mean that the assurance of food safety and quality to prevent foodborne illness is more important than ever.

Among those looking to bring uniformity to processes that ensure safe food for all is the British Retail Consortium (BRC), whose food safety and quality standard has provided important guidance to global food growers and suppliers, as well as a common framework for safety and quality for the worldwide food industry, for the past 20 years. The BRC Standard offers important direction and common metrics for consistency and safety in food quality and production.

Version 8, the latest iteration, provides an umbrella framework for other individual international regulations regarding food safety and quality monitoring. It helps suppliers raise the bar on things like reducing food recalls due to factors including: … Read more...

Quality in the Food Safety Industry

Each industry will have different interpretations of the concept of Quality and how to prioritize its tenets within their own field of practice, expertise and work experience. Perhaps the best fundamental principle is the definition of Quality given by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements where a requirement is a need or expectation.” This look at the Food Safety sector is one in a series of blogs that provides a quick look at how the concept of Quality applies in different industries.

The global food supply chain is increasingly complex – especially when it comes to addressing food safety incidents and recalls. Food moves around the world in an international marketplace, and the potential for error with catastrophic health consequences for consumers is high. Each year in the United States, 48 million people fall ill as a result … Read more...

What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong – Part 1: Maple Leaf Foods and Quality Management

Quality Management is more than simply a collection of processes and tools that lead to better efficiency and customer satisfaction. It’s a perspective that must change the way everyone in an organization views the way they do their jobs and the way they process information. It’s not enough for an organization to have Quality software; it must also listen to every voice in the organization to identify weaknesses in the overall QMS, no matter how slight they may appear. As we’ll see below, negative events are not always big, dramatic cataclysms, but are often found hiding in the furthest reaches of even the best Quality Management Systems.

In 2008, Canadians in several provinces reported illnesses that were eventually diagnosed as listeriosis, a type of food poisoning related to the listeria monocytogenes bacterium. A total of 57 people became seriously ill and 22 people died. The source of the bacteria was … Read more...

BRC Version 8 targets global food safety and quality assurance

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Today’s food literally comes from everywhere in the world. The sourcing of it is now an international affair and assurance of food safety and quality is perhaps more important than ever.

Among those looking to bring uniformity to … Read more...