Food fraud will hit vulnerable firms

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

Herbs and spices are expensive ingredients and a ripe target for fraud
Herbs and spices are expensive ingredients and a ripe target for fraud

Related tags: Food manufacturers, Food

Many food manufacturers are not yet up to speed with vulnerability assessments – a focus of the new British Retail Consortium (BRC) standard, version 7, which came into force last month – a leading certification body has warned.

BRC auditor Cert ID has also claimed that there is lack consistency in the type and scope of many assessments being undertaken.

“Food manufacturers are expected to assess their management of ‘vulnerable areas’ within their supply chain to identify potential food fraud ‘hotspots’,” ​said Richard Werran, md of Cert ID.

“With no coherent format nor approach to vulnerability assessments, [this] permits each supplier to ‘do their own thing’; the lack of consistency adds up to a major headache for retailers trying to de-risk their business.”


The warning came as dried oregano on sale in UK shops and online became the latest focus of food fraud. A study commissioned by consumer group Which? last month revealed that, in some cases, less than a third of the product on sale was oregano, with a quarter of samples containing other ingredients.

The study was led by Professor Chris Elliott of the Global Institute of Food Security in Belfast, who carried out the inquiry into the 2013 horsemeat scandal. He called for better controls to be introduced into the food supply chain.

To tackle inconsistencies, Cert ID’s sister company FoodChain ID has launched a new system which provides food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers with the means to complete an online vulnerability assessment and have it independently assessed.

The VAPor programme assesses the information and research that a company has carried out with regard to ‘intrinsic vulnerability’ (vulnerability from within the business) and ‘extrinsic vulnerability’ (vulnerability as a result of external impacts such as supply base and raw materials used).

Expert knowledge

The programme has been compiled by former enforcement officers, food safety and food technology professionals with expert knowledge and experience of food production and supply chains. It is claimed to create a true, consistent, independent picture of the complete supply chain, so enabling manufacturers to demonstrate transparency and inspire confidence in both customers and end users.

“VAPor has been created to identify potential weak spots in the supply chain so that food companies can build defences against criminals,” ​said Werran. “Just as you would add an alarm to your home to deter a burglar, VAPor works in the same way. It makes things difficult for the food fraudster and as a result, they will go elsewhere.”

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1 comment

BRC Vulnerability assessments

Posted by David Brackston,

The new clauses in the Standard are design to help sites reduce their exposure to being defrauded. As with any new clause at first there is a need for assistance in understanding what is required.To help with this the BRC have published a guideline and have recorded a webinar on vulnerability assessments to help ensure consistency. see

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