Food fraud has become a major issue around the globe. Consumers are losing faith in their food as the number of contaminant cases has increased exponentially.
According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, food fraud is a big problem and costs the industry over $40 billion a year. Not only is this issue causing an economic headache but is damaging people’s health.
“it has become almost impossible for food producers to guarantee the provenance of their products”
In 2009, the infamous case of a salmonella outbreak in pots of peanut butter, which led to the deaths of 9 Americans and 714 illnesses, highlighted the problem. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 10 people become ill every year from eating contaminated food and the problem is so widespread that drastic action needs to be taken to combat the issue.
According to Food Safety Tech, our food supply chain has grown so complex that “it has become almost impossible for food producers to guarantee the provenance of their products—meaning consumers can never entirely trust in the food they eat.”
The website writes that food trace-ability is in increasing demand from consumers. A survey found that “consumers want to see everything from a complete ingredient breakdown to sourcing information, with 94% of respondents saying they are likely to be more loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.”
One effective way of tracking food and ensuring that all stages of production are monitored to avoid food fraud is by using an innovative app which charts where food comes from.
The BBC writes that the Provenance app tracks the source of food using pioneering blockchain technology to monitor each stage of food production so that when a consumer goes to the supermarket to purchase their item they can follow its journey. Experts believe that using technology like this can reduce the number of food related incidents and will help the industry monitor and track methods used during food production to decrease risk to consumers.
Food scanners are already proving an effective measure. They can be used to scan foods at a molecular level for macro-nutrients and contaminants, and provide information on food fraud, food adulteration or food quality.
Not only can the technology give users a complete breakdown of exactly what’s in the products they buy to avoid certain ingredients, but can give full breakdowns of exactly where it has come from.
Food Safety Tech says that this kind of consumer driven, high-quality information “opens up a world of possibilities for companies that recognize the significance of its demand. Brand protection, demand forecasting and consumer loyalty all becomes possible for early adapters who show themselves to be taking practical steps to guarantee the authenticity of their products.”
It also takes bold steps by policymakers to implement change to tackle the food fraud issues faced. Several steps have been made to legislation to allow for earlier prevention of food safety incidents occurring. Food safety has become many western government’s prime area of focus, whereas, until now, food fraud has taken a back seat because it’s harder and more expensive to tackle.
“consumers want to see everything from a complete ingredient breakdown to sourcing information”
Times are changing though as governments and leading organizations are realizing that food fraud should be tackled head on, and they are.
Calls for more stringent food labeling to be put in place have been made across America, and tighter legislation, leading to “significant punitive measures taken against actors found to be committing fraud” are a vital catalyst in ensuring that food in our supply chain is as secure as possible.
The growth of the global food supply chain has led to many challenges to face. Food fraud is now so great that it can’t be ignored. With the help of technological tools provided to both the food industry and consumers, along with several new measures implemented across the food industry board, the number of food related incidents should decrease over time. But, remember to be vigilant and keep a track of your own food sources to be 100% sure of its provenance.