New Standard to Combat Food Fraud

Without international cooperation, dealing with global food crime is impossible. Now, a European standard on terminology and concepts related to food fraud is being formulated, so as to ensure univocal communication on the subject.

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“Food crime is a worldwide problem,” says Senior Researcher Petter Olsen. “Over the last few years, many countries have put a lot of effort into combating this, which requires us to cooperate well across national borders. Several similar words and terms are in use, and we must ensure that we use the same word for the same thing.”

Petter Olsen will coordinate the work to formulate a common European standard for words and terms related to food fraud and the authentication of foodstuffs, i.e. checking the veracity of that claimed about the food.

“How should the term ‘food fraud’ be defined? And what about secondary terms such as ‘fake labelling’ and ‘counterfeiting’? Food crime has become a large-scale subject area, and we need to define and discuss concepts and terminology.”

Food fraud is varied and diverse. It may involve claiming a foodstuff to be something other than what it actually is. It may involve false information about the origin of the food, or the omission of required information about the ingredients in the product.

Standard in place next year

Representatives from twelve European countries met in Italy in May to initiate the work. A draft of the standard will be submitted for review by the end of the year, and the final version will be adopted in February 2018. The new standard being formulated is titled ‘Authenticity in feed and food chain – General terms and concepts’. Nofima is leading the work, with Standards Norway serving as secretariat.

In addition to the new terminology standard, a website is being developed for all research-related information pertaining to food fraud, called ‘Food Authenticity Research Network Hub’. The website will contain comprehensive information on the subject and will be accessible to the public from 2018. This work is part of ‘Authent-Net’, an EU-funded network project. Participants in the project have abundant expertise in the areas of food and food origins.

Nofima has previously overseen work on various standards, including ISO standards on the traceability of fish products and European standards on environmental auditing.


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