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The manufacture and sale of food is one of the largest and most widespread operations across the planet. The larger a business sector, the greater the opportunities for criminals to attack and profit from it, and the food industry is no exception.

Food Defense

Food fraud/crime can be split into two main types:

  1. The direct contamination, adulteration of food products for ideological ends or to extort money
  2. The fraudulent placement of food onto the market which has been altered, diluted, substituted (to include counterfeiting) or misrepresented with the sole aim of financial benefit

Global Economic Cost

The scale of food fraud, and its cost to the global economy in terms of global production value is hard to define. However, in 2014 the Grocery Manufacturers Association estimated that fraud may cost the global food industry 10-15 billion USD per year and impact some 10% of food products. More recently, others have estimated that food fraud costs the global
economy 49 billion USD. 1

In the UK alone, the food sector is worth up to £200 billion annually. While no definite figures are available for food fraud losses in the UK, if we take 3% as the estimated loss rate from fraud across the UK economy 2 and apply this to food it could equate to a £5.8 billion loss to consumers – for one country alone. 3

Viral Risks

The advent of social media and the potential for threats to and issues within the food supply chain to go “viral” within minutes, means that today the industry faces higher risks with regard to food defense than at any other time.

Perpetrators

Food crime can be carried out by any number of people. The risk is not solely from group such as terrorists, extremists and blackmailers, but also from a disgruntled employee or a person suffering from mental illness and with no specific target or objective in mind.

A key point to note regarding food contamination is that no actual attack (i.e. contamination) has to occur – an allegation or indication that an attack has been made can still be damaging to a company, and to wider public confidence in the food supply chain.

Securing the Supply Chain

Addressing food defense in the context of the current risks to the global food supply chain from criminal enterprises our new white paper ‘Food Defense: Securing the Supply Chain’ is available now to download.

Drawing on our expertise and experience in securing safety, quality and sustainability in the food supply chain, this new white paper provides a brief overview of the current risks to the global food supply chain from criminal enterprises – from both the contamination of food with an aim to harm the consumer and organization and crimes intended to gain a financial advantage.

In this white paper, we explore possible motives and risk factors in relation to both types of food crime, as well as routes for assessment and the preventive controls that can be applied across the supply chain. We provide a global perspective on the subject and context in terms of current regulations, and certification requirements.

The ability to demonstrate accurate food defense assessments and well implemented controls is increasingly a prerequisite for supply into major food manufacturing and retail companies.

To find out more, download your copy of Food Defense: Securing the Supply Chain

For the complete range of SGS services and support visit SGS Food Safety.

Dr Evangelia Komitopoulou
Global Customized Solutions Manager – Food Safety & Quality
t: +44 (0)7824 089985

References

1 John Spink, Michigan State University
2 National Fraud Authority 2013
3 Food Standards Agency, 2016