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Food fraud - current issue?

“Food Fraud – Current Issue?” was the topic of the expert presentation held today together with the press conference in the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament. The event was held by the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority (CAFIA) in co-operation with the Agricultural Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament and the Ministry of Agriculture.
“It is a significant problem consequently paid by consumers who pay for something they neither expect nor want. However, this problem has also a significant negative impact on the correct business environment”, Martin Jurečka, Minister of Agriculture, said.
The topic of the event was the matter of food fraud and its undesirable effect on the market and single segments of food production and sale. The participants were informed of the risks associated with adulterated foodstuffs and were acquainted with the possibilities how to fight against this undesirable phenomenon. Degustation enabling comparison of right and adulterate foodstuffs was a part of the presentation.
“In a range of cases consumers are not able to protect their rights by themselves. Therefore I would like to assure everybody that the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority is ready to go on in using all available measures to reveal food fraud,” Martin Klanica, CAFIA Director General, said.
Besides Minister of Agriculture, Martin Jurečka, the event was attended also by Head of the Agricultural Committee, Jaroslav Faltýnek, CAFIA Director General, Martin Klanica, President of the Agrarian Chamber of the CR, Miroslav Toman, senators and deputies of the Czech Parliament as well as representatives of professional public. Also acting Director General of DG SANTE, Ladislav Miko accepted invitation of the CAFIA Director General.

 Annex to the CAFIA Press Release

Food Fraud – the most significant food issue of the developed world
Food fraud is a phenomenon with significant social risk having effect on a large amount of subjects and areas. It is not only attack on consumers’ valets, but also on unfair economic competition. If there is a company on the market that built its business plan on frauds, then honest entrepreneurs are not able to compete with their high quality production in a long-term horizon and they go bankrupt. Systematic used of unconfessed substitutes leads to a decrease in demand and related production of certain commodities, for example fruit, pork and other, and causes significant economic problems of such segments.
Developed world significantly succeeded in the reduction of the occurrence of unsafe foodstuff in recent decades. These foodstuffs occurred as a result of non-observance of prescribed procedures during production and distribution due to technological indiscipline. In relation to safety, significant risk is caused just by intentional food fraud, though. We know cases of mass poisonings and deaths, for example after adding of melamine into milk products, use of aniline dyes into edible fats, substituting of various sort of nuts by peanuts (risk for allergic persons) or deaths caused by consumption of wine with added ethylenglycol. The scandal of non-declared presence of horse meat in meat products in 2012 triggered the effort of the European Commission to search a system solution of food adulteration.
Based on the inspection results of CAFIA, we can say that in the Czech Republic, there are practically no registered manufacturing entrepreneurs that built their business plan on food frauds or their possible occurrence is quickly corrected. In the long-term horizon, CAFIA focuses not only on inspection of food safety, but also on quality parameters of foodstuffs, and subsequently removed significant part of its financial and human resources to this area. CAFIA has two top laboratories which focus on comprehensive analyses of wine and revealing of frauds at cocoa, chocolate, fruit products, food supplements, fish products and many other commodities. CAFIA takes more than four thousands of lots of foodstuffs to carry out laboratory analyses. The total number of analyses carried out in these laboratories is no smaller than several hundred thousand.
Selected methods of fraud encountered by CAFIA:
Adulteration of the foodstuff by cheaper ingredient: For example non-declared tendering of meat, adulteration of olive oil by different oils, addition of ground shells into cocoa;
Presence of non-declared ingredients: For example unauthorised or non-declared use of mechanically separated meat in meat products or non-declared use of offal in meat products;
Adding an ingredient to improve characteristic of the foodstuff: For example unauthorised aromatisation of wines or non-declared adding of colorants, for example into pasta and dumplings;
Misleading indication of geographical origin or the method of production: for example declaring fish produced at farms as grown in the nature or imported wine declared as Moravian.
The most frequently adulterated foodstuffs found by CAFIA:
Wine – adulteration by adding synthetic glycerol, water and colorants, ethanol from added sugar exceeding the limit is found;
Spirit drinks – adulteration by denaturing agents and spirits different than of declared botanical origin;
Honey – diastase of plant origin, colorant sulphite caramel, addition of sugars or sugar syrups;
Jam – failing to comply with the declared content of fruit, failing to comply with the content of fruit prescribed by legislation;
Fish – non-declared content of added water, adding of polyphosphates or citric acid.
CAFIA will keep paying attention to this matter in favour of consumers and honest entrepreneurs in the long-time horizon. Involving CAFIA into the system of transmission of information on fraud, adulteration, smuggling and misleading in the area of food and feed with a trans-border impact (Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System – AACC) is another step. At the present time, CAFIA is becoming the national contact point for the AACS in the CR within the communication among the Member States in the EU. The matter of food fraud got a new dimension with new competencies since 2015 as CAFIA is focusing on it also at the premises of public catering.
Article by: Pavel Kopřiva, CAFIA Spokesperson