• Dr. John Spink (Expanded Profile)

    John SpinkDr. Spink has been focused on product fraud since Michigan State University’s Food Safety Program and the School of Packaging began research on the topic in 2006. This work expanded to the behavioral sciences and criminology and led to the establishment of the Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Initiative in 2008. In 2009 the work shifted to the School of Criminal Justice where the Initiative evolved into a Program.

    Prior to returning to MSU in 2006, Dr. Spink spent more than 15 years in Corporate America. He draws from his experience in general management, operations, sales, product management, and headquarters staff to bring a unique awareness of the needs of industry. His long-time affiliation with MSU brings an awareness of the needs of academia and of MSU.

    His work focuses on five areas:

    1. Food Fraud. This is an evolving concept that has grown out of the economically motivated adulteration incidents such as horse meat in beef products, country of origin labeling fraud on honey, melamine in pet food, Sudan Red carcinogen colorant in sauces, and other types of dilution and adulteration. Food Fraud expands beyond.
    2. Business Risk and Enterprise Risk Management. All threats and incidents must be correlated to all other risks. Enterprise Risk Management is a holistic, all-encompassing concept being implemented in industry that is especially effective in evaluating unknown or unknowable probabilistic risks such as product fraud.
    3. General Anti-Counterfeit Strategy. This is the study of the underlying drivers of the fraud opportunity, which leads to more effective and efficient selection of countermeasures. Deterrence is achieved through a systems approach and not a single, magic panacea.
    4. Anti-Counterfeit Countermeasures. Once the underlying fraud opportunity is understood, effective countermeasures can be selected. These actions must consider the response from the fraudsters in a chess match of wits.
    5. Outreach: Policy, Trade, Building Awareness, and Leadership. Product fraud prevention, intellectual property rights enforcement, and economically motivated adulteration laws are concepts that are highly charged issues. The laws and industry practices are all in development by US and Global Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations. For MSU to attain and maintain a global leadership position, engagement in Policy, Trade, Building Awareness, and Leadership is critical.

    Major accomplishments or publications in the five focus areas are highlighted below. Please see the full Biosketch/ Curriculum Vitae/ Resume for more details or additional entries.

    Food Fraud

    Food Fraud, including Economically Motivated Adulteration, was first defined in regulations at the May 2009 FDA Open Meeting. Dr. Spink’s FDA presentation introduced the definition and the focus on prevention through Situational Crime Prevention and the Crime Triangle. Two months later, he was awarded a grant to expand this work from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-funded National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD).

    5/1/2009 – Spink invited to present “Defining Food Fraud” at the FDA Open Meeting on Economically Motivated Adulteration, Washington, DC.

    Once this research project was completed, it was published in this journal. The project made great strides in not only defining the concept and the risks, but in providing insight on public health vulnerabilities, and framing the prevention in terms of the behavioral sciences and criminology.

    Spink, J, and Moyer, DC, (In Press) Defining the Public Health Threat of Food Fraud, Journal of Food Science, Volume 76 (Number 9), November / December 2011, Pages 157-163. (Refereed)(ISI Impact Factor 1,733; rank 5/15 in Food Science)

    This was another significant Food Fraud publication which defined challenges of enforcement due to the “irresponsible defendants.” Specifically, the article defined the nature of the fraud and fraudsters with case studies. The five case studies included detailed examination of fraudsters who fled, disappeared, hid their money, and found ways to remain in business conducting their fraud. The case studies emphasized that “we cannot incarcerate our way to safety” and must shift to prevention.

    Spink, J (2011). The Challenge of Intellectual Property Enforcement for Agriculture Technology Transfers, Additives, Raw Materials, and Finished Goods Against Product Fraud and Counterfeiters, Journal of Intellectual Property Rights, Vol 16, March 2011, pp 183-193. (Referred)

    This book chapter is significant since it applies the food protection and food fraud prevention concepts to a global question of US-China relations.

    Spink, J, Chapter: Food Protection and Food Fraud – Enabling a Shift to Prevention: A Sino-American Perspective, Book: The Path to Global Food Safety: A China Perspective, Editors: Richard Gilmore, R. and Lu, J, Global Food Safety Forum (GFSF), Washington, DC., ISBN: In Processing, 2011. (Refereed)

    Business Risk and Enterprise Risk Management

    This was one of the first Enterprise Risk Management articles in packaging trade magazines or journals. The article spurred several ongoing research projects in the applied risk assessment area. Research in the area of anti-counterfeiting and risk is quite challenging due to the nature of the likelihood and consequences of the incidents. There is often very limited insight on incidents. The threat itself is often more of a qualitative vulnerability rather than a quantitative probabilistic risk. In many instances, the probabilistic risk is unknown or possibly unknowable.

    Spink, J (2009). Risk Management, Packaging World Magazine, January, p.21

    This is another example of the refinement and testing of the practical aspects of risk assessment. IFT is the largest food industry professional association and it publishes multiple journals, magazines, and newsletters. Food Fraud, Economically Motivated Adulteration, and Enterprise Risk Management are clearly major concerns for industry.

    Presenter, Best Practices in Managing Risk, Intentional Adulteration Workshop, Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), New Orleans, June 2011

    While the supply chain management discipline is an unequivocal leader in risk assessment and management, the counterfeit and substandard product risk is still largely undefined and misunderstood. This presentation was a successful effort to build awareness and make contact with thought leaders in Supply Chain Management.

    Presentation, Risk Assessment & Mitigation With Focus on Anti-Counterfeiting, 2011 Supply Chain World North America, Supply Chain Council, Baltimore, May 2011

    General Anti-Counterfeit Strategy

    SOSS MAPPR IPPSR 2011 2012 2013 Final Report v06 Final cover pageSpink, J. (2013) Annual Survey Study of Product Counterfeiting by Michigan Residents Utilizing the State of the State Survey: Update 2011-2012-2013 – A Survey of Attitudes toward Product Counterfeiting, Related Law Enforcement Priority Setting, and Internet Medicines Purchasing Behaviors, Michigan Applied Public Policy Research Report, MSU, (Co-PI JA Heinonen) Fall 2013.

    This was the third year of an annual product counterfeiting related study of residents in the State of Michigan. This was funded by the MSU IPPSR/MAPPR and utilized their annual State of the State Survey. The brief results from the three annual surveys were:

    • Attitudes Toward Product Counterfeiting: The rate of knowingly purchasing counterfeits in their lifetime was 16% with 10% have bought a product they later found was a fake.
    • Internet Prescription Medicines Purchasing Behavior: The number of residents who purchased pharmaceutical medicines legally with a prescription online grew from 4 to 8%. Those who illegally purchase prescription medicines online stayed consistent at 1%.
    • Related Law Enforcement Priority-Setting: While 55% of Michigan residents thought the “government” should do “more” to combat product-counterfeiting, 71% of the overall sample did not support increased taxes to cover the additional activity. Of the 55% that thought the government should do more, 82% of them did not support diverting resources from other crime fighting activity and 76% of them did not support increased prison time if it meant other types of prisoners would be released.

    These two chapters represent one of the first published linkages between anti-counterfeit strategy and Situational Crime Prevention, or the Crime Triangle. The Case Study includes the application of the Counterfeit Product Risk Model.

    Spink, J, Chapter: The Counterfeit Product Threat, In Kennedy, L.W. and McGarrell, EF, Crime and Terrorism Risk – Studies in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Taylor & Francis, 2011 (Referred)

    Spink, J, Chapter: Case Study: Product Counterfeiting. In Kennedy, L.W. and McGarrell, EF, Crime and Terrorism Risk – Studies in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Taylor & Francis, 2011 (Referred)

    This was one of the first clear statements of product counterfeiting as a logistics disruption threat to a supply chain. Co-author, Dr. Helferich, is a leader in Supply Chain Management with Michigan State University and Central Michigan University. He is also a leader for the Red Cross.

    Spink, J, Helferich, OK, and Griggs, J, (2010). Combating the Impact of Product Counterfeiting: Defining the Growing Risk to Supply Chain Cost and Service Performance [Refereed Article], Journal of Distribution Business Management. (Refereed)(ISI Impact Factor NA)

    Anti-Counterfeit Countermeasures

    Book Chapter COUNTERFEIT_MEDICINES_1_C09 Authentication Spink use cover pageThis chapter was developed after years of interacting with brand owners, suppliers, and agencies. The chapter focuses not only on the “what” of counterfeiting or the countermeasures that exist, but on the “how” and the “why” to select countermeasures. A detailed section addresses definitions to try to harmonize terms. Two other sections provide specific questions for the corporate perspective on assessing the risk and value of reducing the vulnerability.

    Spink, J. Chapter: Overview of the Selection of Strategic Authentication and Tracing Programs, Book: Counterfeit Medicines-Volume I: Policy, Economics, and Countermeasures, Editors: Wertheimer and Park, 2011.[In Press] (Refereed)

    This article reviewed consumer behavior and warning labels to seek potential applications for anti-counterfeit strategy. It was apparent that in general, industry wide applications, warning messages are often ignored by consumers. In other cases, where only one company has a warning or message, the sales of a product can be greatly positively or negatively impacted. Due to the consumer response of driving behavior to extinction (such as switching to another company’s products), unique warning labels must be considered with great caution.

    Spink, J., Singh, J. and Singh, S. (2011), Review of Package Warning Labels and Their Effect on Consumer Behavior with Insights to Future Anticounterfeit Strategy of Label and Communication Systems. Packaging Technology and Science (Refereed)(ISI Impact Factor 1.434, rank 1/5 in Packaging).

    Outreach: Policy, Trade, Building Awareness, and Leadership

    There are many efforts underway to create regulations, common practices, and standards. One key MSU engagement is with the International Standards Organization (ISO). ISO has created a group—called a Technical Committee or TC—to initiate and  manage international standards for Fraud Controls and Countermeasures. This includes counterfeiting and food fraud. Dr. Spink is the Chair of the US representative group. One of his first proposals was for a Working Group to develop a glossary of terms. The first final draft is due later in 2013 for development as a recognized international standard. This is significant since, even though there may be industry or cultural disagreements on the exact use of each term, there will be a central ISO document for reference.

    Park, HH, Spink, J, and Moyer, DC, (2010). ISO TC 247 (Counterfeiting) Working Group on Terminology, “Terminology,” submitted to the international ISO TC 247 working meeting in Berlin, Germany, June 7, 2010

    Another important outreach activity is participating in the development of regulations and legislation. The US government communicates formally with the public through the Federal Register. The Federal Register is published daily and often includes thousands of electronic pages. Agencies such as FDA either provide notices of actions or changes in regulatory practices,  or request formal comments on draft guidance or regulations. The agencies seek formal responses to notices related to counterfeiting, economically motivated adulteration, and other related topics. The significant role of academia has been to comment not only on the specific application questions, but also to address what have been called “existential” questions. For example, one response included “What will counterfeiters learn from this guidance document to become more efficient counterfeiters?”

    Spink presented Public Comments at the CFSAN/FDA & FSIS/USDA Open Meeting on Improving Product Tracing of Foods, Washington, DC. Meeting Announcement,  Spink Comments, and full Transcript attached. December 10, 2009

    Spink with Dr. Michael Rip and Instructor Doug Moyer, submitted comments to the FDA on the”Proposed Rule: Guidance for Industry – Incorporation of Physical-Chemical Identifiers into Solid Oral Dosage Form Drug Products for Anticounterfeiting – Draft Guidance.” (PCID), November 15, 2009

    Other important outreach activities include involvement in NGO and GO reports and information-seeking. Two examples of key reports that include mentions of Spink or related MSU activities are included below. The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) report is significant since it represents insights from the food industry including retailers and manufacturers. This report established that food fraud, or economically motivated adulteration, is in important topic for industry. The second report is a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. Where the Congressional Research Service (CRS) is more a research organization, the GAO is charged with monitoring the effectiveness of how the US government spends taxpayer dollars. The GAO report is significant since it established, for the US congress, that robust methodologies—or estimates themselves—do not exist for a government to quantify the economic impact of counterfeiting and piracy. The interaction on this report has led to Spink and related MSU activities, publications and research in this area.

    Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, GMA. (2010). GMA report on Consumer Product Fraud: Deterrence and Detection, January 2010. Researchers at Michigan State University’s Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Program developed a framework to analyze counterfeit risk drivers based on a product’s characteristics.

    Government Accountability Office (GAO), (2010). Intellectual Property: Observations on Efforts to Quantify the Economic Effects of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods. April 2010. (Identified as an expert that was interviewed for this report:  “John Spink, Michigan State University.”)

    Professional Service

    A goal of MSU’s Food Fraud Initiative is to build awareness and harmonization of concepts.  A key opportunity is to engage in professional service to organizations, working groups, and expert panels. By engaging the groups, we gain a deeper insight on the issues and challenges, and at the same time we can hopefully provide evidence-and science-based guidance.

    The professional service groups are categorized as government (GO or USG for US Government), non-governmental organizations (NGO)  or trade associations, and individual companies.


    Government.  Beyond actively responding to Federal Register Notice requests for comments, it is important to engage the governments when they seek expertise on emerging topics. These task forces or working groups are an important, formal way for MSU to be involved in policy making.

    • Member, Anti-Counterfeiting Medical Products Task Force, Interagency led by Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Health and Consumer Products, 12/2010+
    • Member, Import Food Vulnerability Assessment Team, US Department of Homeland Security and Food and Drug Administration project led by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), 2008
    • Steering Committee, Member, State of Michigan’s Agriculture and Food Protection (Bioterrorism) Strategy Team, 2004+, and Founder/ Chair, Packaging Sub-Committee

    Non-Government Organizations and Associations.  The US Pharmacopeia (USP), which now includes the Food Chemicals Codex, has been entrusted for over 100 years by the US Government to oversee the testing and specifications for drug and food ingredients. The activities of USP committees shape the direction of regulations and industry standards. The work with the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is important since this involves the development of global standards that are adopted by companies and governments. For example, ISO Technical Committee 247 is the first global standards development work – this engagement is shaping the very first direction in this area. Involvement on boards, such as the Food Safety Summit, is important because the messages and concepts to industry and agencies can be shaped. For example, before 2009, economically motivated adulteration and food fraud were not identified or mentioned by industry. Food Fraud is now a repeat symposium session and is incorporated in workshop sessions in HACCP and food risk assessment.

    • Founding Member, Expert Panel, Food Ingredient Intentional Adulteration, US Pharmacopeia/ Food Chemicals Codex, 2010+
    • Founding Member, Expert Panel, Food Ingredient Intentional Adulteration, US Pharmacopeia/ Food Chemicals Codex, 2010+
    • Member, Privacy Steering Committee, ANSI US Technical Advisory Group, International Standards Organization, Technical Management Board, Project Committee (ISO/TMB/PC), 1/2010+
    • Founding Chair and Delegate, United States Technical Advisory Group (US TAG) for the TC 247 Fraud Countermeasures and Controls, 8/2009+
      • Member, Ad Hoc Working Group, ISO TC 247, Counterfeiting Terminology, 2009+
      • Member, Virtual Technical Advisory Group, Document Privacy
    • Founding Chair, Product Protection and Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group, International Association for Packaging Research Institutes (IAPRI), 9/2008+
    • Expert Panel Member, Counterfeit Medicines Initiative, School of Pharmacy, Purdue University, 2008-2009
    • Executive Advisory Board, Food Safety Summit, 2007 (Representing the MSU Food Safety program)

    Industry.  The final professional service grouping is company-specific working groups or task forces. To embrace sustainability and engage its suppliers in the process, Walmart developed Sustainable Value Networks around key activities or products. MSU was the only academic institution that was represented continuously at the first 16 packaging SVN meetings, with Dr. Spink attending 15. During those meetings, some pivotal industry methods and tools were developed, such as standardizing nomenclature and the development of the SVN scorecard. The SVN scorecard has become the standard measure for industry.

    Walmart’s Packaging Sustainable Value Network:

    • Member, Walmart’s Packaging Sustainable Value Network, 2005-2008
    • Member, Walmart Food/Ag/Seafood Sustainable Value Network, and Task Groups of: Traceability and Food Safety, and Fair Trade Certification, 2008+

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