Developing a Universal Food Fraud Prevention Framework

On October 30 and 31, 2017, the Global Understanding of Food Fraud Conference was held in Beijing, co-hosted by the Department of Food Science at Laval University, Food Safety@Danone, France, the Institute for Global Food Security of Queen’s University Belfast, Ireland and the Mars Global Food Safety Center.

The conference was attended by world-leading food safety experts from international institutions such as the WHO, FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the China National Center for Food Safety and Risk Assessment (CFSA), as well as other members from government agency, academia and food industry. Experts from around the world discussed ways to establish a favourable environment for developing a global food fraud prevention framework and further improving the integrity of the food supply chain.

During the conference, participants agreed that more attention at international, national, and local levels should be paid on food fraud. In order to prevent food fraud, more serious punishments and regulations should be introduced. Moreover, collecting enough data and developing accurate test methods is essential in developing measures for food fraud prevention. In addition, it is critical to harmonize local, national, and international approaches (e.g. food safety standards). Furthermore, a real-time communication vehicle to flag issues across the global community is needed.

The participants also reached an agreement on how to achieve the measures mentioned above through global collaboration. Firstly, a global food fraud prevention strategy is urgently needed. Secondly, it is important to break down silos to optimize communication and sharing between producers, laboratories and regulators. Thirdly, there is a need for a more open approach by industry and a safe and neutral place to share sensitive information. Last but not least, access to a repository of methods and technical consensus on scientific methodologies is crucial.

“Collaboration as well as effective and rigorous communication is needed to be effective in improving standards”, said Bob Baker, the Director of Corporate Food Safety Science and Capabilities, Mars, Incorporated. “This is the ethos that underpins our center and the reason why we organized this follow-up symposium after the one held in April in Quebec.”

 “At this conference, participants reached a consensus on the key principles and frameworks of preventing food fraud through multiple discussions. This is a very meaningful step to prevent food fraud from the root. I hope the outcome of the conference will contribute to the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC)’s food fraud prevention work, and these principles and frameworks can be applied around the world.” said Chen Junshi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Chief Adviser of CFSA.

Together with our partners the Mars GFSC will continue to encourage global focus on food fraud prevention. Based on the themes raised, the Mars GFSC and organizing partners are developing outputs to support the development of an international food fraud prevention framework. We will also share these outputs to support ongoing engagement with partners, regulators, and NGOs on food fraud and food safety.