FAN sets benchmark for monitoring global food fraud reports

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Credit: Getty/RedVector
Credit: Getty/RedVector

Related tags Food fraud

The top three commodities with the most food fraud reports vary depending on the source of the reports and tools used, new global report reveals.

Spearheaded by the Food Authenticity Network (FAN), the inaugural report for the FAN ‘Partner Project: 2023 Global Food Fraud Reports’ provides a summary of global food fraud reports in 2023 from three leading incident collation tools:

  • FoodChain ID Food Fraud Database
  • HorizonScan
  • Safety HUD

FAN is a network that provides an open access, centralised platform for resources related to food authenticity, including testing methods, guidelines, research and tools for fraud prevention.

Its 2023 report found that activity associated with official food fraud and food safety reports remained ‘fairly consistent’ across 2023, despite the food supply chain being further impacted by a continuingly unstable geopolitical environment.

The findings showed that, when assessing official reports solely, ‘fruit, vegetables and legumes’, ‘milk and dairy products’ and ‘beverages’ are the top three commodities with the most food fraud reports. But, when using official, media and peer reviewed publication reports together, ‘honey’, ‘herbs and spices’ and ‘meat and poultry’ take the top spots.

Whilst the foods with the most reports of fraudulent activity varies both over time and according to which and how many data sources are reviewed, it should be noted that all the above-named commodity groups appear to be common targets for food fraud, over a 10-year period (2014-2023), as reported by Food Chain ID.

However, as the report flags, this doesn’t mean these commodities are the world’s most fraudulent foods. Many of them are often the most common subjects of targeted sampling and analysis by regulators and inter-agency operations conducted by Europol and Interpol. 

Data can also be influenced by other factors, such as a higher number of peer reviewed publications on a specific commodity, like honey in 2023 for the Food Chain ID records. These records identified botanical origin fraud as the most reported form of food fraud last year, followed by dilution or substitution, and animal fraud.

The FAN report is the first of an annual series to be produced as part of a FAN Partner project, which is ongoing with quarterly dashboards available for FAN Partners, and forms an ambition to provide a more robust view on global food fraud trends.

However, the number of official food fraud reports that are published is very low – representing only around 9% of total food safety reports. If analysis of food fraud data is to become more reliable, we need more governments to publish their food fraud incidents.

In other food safety news, the Food Standards Agency's chief executive has resigned. 

Related topics Food Safety Technical

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