(Written March 6) About an hour ago we finished the Food Fraud breakout session at the GFSI/Consumer Goods Forum here in Barcelona. The session was convened by GFSI Chair Yves Rey (Corporate Quality General Manager, Danone Group). I presented Defining Food Fraud, Petra Wissenburg (Corporate Quality Director, Danone) presented an update on the Food Fraud Think Tank, and Simone Di Meo (Captain, Intelligence Officer, INTERPOL) discussed global enforcement activities.
Petra’s presentation on the Food Fraud Think Tank was a summary of work being done by its members – Petra, Faycal Bellatif and Michelle Lees of Eurofins, Michell Weinberg and Leticia Halchuk of Inscatech, and myself. The group was formed by GFSI Chair Yves back in July 2012 to review Food Fraud and how it could apply to the GFSI Guidance Document. To note, GFSI created a guidance document to state what its member companies expect in Food Safety standards. The combined revenue of the GFSI member companies is estimated to be equal to the Gross Domestic Product of France – that’s a significant share of the market!
Today Yves discussed how the GFSI Board asked the Think Tank to shift focus from “if” to “how” Food Fraud should be included in the GFSI Guidance Document. The initial position of the GFSI Board is that Food Fraud does contribute to Food Safety incidents…and the goal of GFSI is prevention of Food Safety incidents. What this means is that Food Fraud has been formally identified by a major group of food industry leaders as a Food Safety issue and that it needs to be covered by GFSI.
The role of GFSI, and of the MSU Food Fraud Initiative, is to create a public forum to identify specific concerns like this so that we can work with industry to prevent food safety incidents.
Overall, I always find the GFSI/ Consumer Goods Forum to be a fascinating experience and very informative. The attendees are both sharing global insights on food safety and also advancing food safety standards.
It has been important for me to be here to not only present the ideas but also to engage the delegates in discussion about those ideas and their implementation. There are often a lot of nuances to implementing new strategies…nuances that become more concrete with every conversation I’ve been in or question I’ve fielded this week.
Food Fraud is obviously a concern for the entire food industry… and there seems to be a growing sense that although the vast majority of the incidents do not have a public health threat, to be proactive and focus on prevention, the Food Safety managers need to find a way to combat Food Fraud.
In addition, the Food Fraud Overview MOOC was very well received and is positioned to support the training and education goals of GFSI. JWS.