In light of the horse meat scandal, a new Sustainable Foods Masterclass has been launched to help operators mitigate risks of food fraud and improve transparency in their supply chains. Taking place in Amsterdam on June 5, the half-day programme has seminars and a workshop on food authenticity and traceability.
The horse meat scandal has highlighted the scale of fraud in the food industry. The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) UK believes that fraud could be affecting up to 10 percent of all food bought by consumers. Apart from species substitution, common types of food fraud are adulteration and mislabelling. As well as meats, food fraud commonly affects seafood, vegetable oils, honey, wine, and eco-labeled products.
The masterclass will highlight the impact of food fraud on human health (food safety), consumer confidence, the environment and commerce. Reasons why food fraud is rising will be explained. It will be shown how convoluted and opaque supply chains of modern food products are increasing fraud risks. The supply chain for various types of food products will be described, highlighting areas vulnerable to fraud.
With organised criminals now involved in food fraud, forensic science is used to authenticate food products. Dr. Simon Kelly from FERA, the workshop leader, will give a detailed account of the analytical tools used to detect food fraud. Analytical techniques that will be covered include DNA fingerprinting, gas chromatography, and gamma spectroscopy. Mass spectrometry and isotopes can be used to trace meat products to within 5 miles of where the livestock was raised, confirm whether animals were reared free-range or caged, and verify food products with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
As the food industry calls for greater controls and transparency, methods of strengthening supply chains and mitigating risks of food fraud will be discussed. Traceability in supply chains will also be covered in the accompanying Sustainable Foods Summit on June 6 to 7.