Coronavirus has ‘catastrophic’ food fraud implications

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Kimberly Carey Coffin warns the industry could be at risk
Kimberly Carey Coffin warns the industry could be at risk

Related tags: Supply chain

The COVID-19 pandemic could give rise to the biggest case of food fraud since the 2013 horsemeat scandal with “catastrophic effects” food safety assurance specialist Lloyd’s Register has predicted.

Concerns were raised earlier this month about food fraud in global supply chains​. A webinar from Foodchain ID pointed to lack of inspections across the globe, which could lead to increased food fraud.  

Lloyd’s Register, one of the leading service providers of food safety certification, said the supply chain continued to be affected by the ongoing pandemic. And it pointed to growing concerns across the global food and beverage industry that vigilance against the varied types of food fraud was “critically low”.

Immense stress

The global supply had been under immense stress due to disruptions related to transport, labour and reduced production capacity, it added, resulting in varying food quality. New suppliers had also been emerging, which might not have been vetted to the same level as established suppliers unable to meet demand.

Further, Lloyd’s Register warned that when the supply and manufacturing of food and beverages could not be policed so vigilantly, food fraud could be committed more readily. This could be anything from substitution of ingredients to relabelling out-of-date items.

“During this uncertain time, we must be vigilant to food fraud of all kinds because now, more than ever, the industry is at risk,”​ said Kimberly Carey Coffin, global technical director – supply chain assurance at Lloyd’s Register. 

Consumer trust

“With consumer trust and product safety more important than ever, we urge businesses to ensure they continue taking the correct precautions to maintain supply chain integrity.”

Lloyd’s Register has urged manufacturers to make sure they are using suppliers that have been verified according to international standards. 

Carey Coffin noted that the value of a business’ brands could be dependent on the food and drink being supplied. 

“Now, more than ever, organisations’ reputations are in the firing line, and a food fraud scandal could be catastrophic to an already-stretched industry. Staying vigilant and making use of support with verification and certification can go some way to avoiding this,”​ she added. 

Related topics: COVID-19

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