• Announcement – New MSU Food Fraud Think Tank – Members include: Danone, Mars, Cargill, Wegmans, Mondelez and Hershey

    by John Spink • March 31, 2017 • Blog • 0 Comments

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Michigan State University announces the creation of the MSU Food Fraud Think Tank (FFTT). Founding members include Danone, Mars, Cargill, Wegmans, Mondelez and Hershey.

    Food Fraud is now a “thing” but needs a spark to transition to a globally harmonized “standard operating procedure.” Without a focused tangible effort the momentum may be lost or at least the implementation could become fractured.

    The MSU Food Fraud Think Tank (FFTT) operates within the MSU Food Fraud Initiative (FFI) in an effort to advance the scholarly study and research on Food Fraud policy & strategy. This collaboration expanded with a core group of founding FFTT members, including Danone, Mars, Cargill, Wegmans, Mondelez and Hershey. This brand owner/manufacturer support has led to a significant expansion of MSU’s world supporting or leading current projects and activities. Sponsorship will expand the FFI activities which could fund travel to CODEX, ISO, FDA public meetings, GFSI; additional research staff; expand the MOOC capacity building reach; and informing regulatory policy.

    We at MSU are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with thought leaders from around the world. The FFTT activities are inclusive for brand owners/ manufacturers and we look forward to expanding our reach. We will continue to expand beyond this base to seek other partners and advisors. Now is the critical time to help lead Food Fraud research. FFI

    Contact: Dr. John Spink, Director & Assistant Professor, Food Fraud Initiative, Michigan State University, spinkj@msu.edu, www.FoodFraud.msu.edu, Phone: (517) 381-4491

    Full Food Fraud Initiative Announcement Flyer:  http://foodfraud.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MSU-FFTT-FFIR-FFTT-Announcement-2017-v10.pdf


    • Danone
      • Frederic Rene, Chief Food Safety Officer, Paris
      • Marc Cwikowski, Food Safety Centre Director, Paris
    • Mars
      • Bob Baker, Director, Mars Global Food Safety Center, Beijing
      • Guangtao Zhang, Global Head of Analytical Food Safety Research, Mars Global Food Safety Center, Beijing
    • Cargill
      • Mike Robach, VP Corporate Food Safety, Quality & Regulatory, Minneapolis
      • Sean Leighton, VP of Food Safety & Quality, Minneapolis
    • Wegman’s
      • Gillian Kelleher, VP, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Rochester, NY
      • Tom McLernan, Quality Assurance Manager, Rochester, NY
    • Mondelez
      • Details Pending
    • Hershey’s
      • Paul Vilches, Director, Global Food Safety and Quality, Guadalajara, Mexico
      • Arcchana Patil, Sr. Manger – Global Food Safety & Food Defense, Hershey, PA

    MSU FFI “Share-the-Puck” Award Winners (Colleagues and Advisers): This is presented to valued partners who have helped shape the direction of food fraud prevention and MSU’s Food Fraud Initiative.

    • Yongning WU, Chief Science Officer, Chinese National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA) – 2014
    • Andy Morling, Head of the UK National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), UK Food Standards Agency, London – 2016
    • Jinjing ZHANG, Deputy Director-General, Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA)
    • Beijing – 2017
    • Christopher Elliott and Research Team, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland – 2014


    The FFTT advances the harmonization and best practices which benefits the entire food supply chain. The immense challenge of product fraud prevention is the extremely interdisciplinary nature of the risk.  The FFTT is unique in focusing on the root cause as well as the resource-allocation decision-making needs. The decision-making could be for individual companies, entire industries, specific agencies, or even entire governments. The FFTT supports the broader efforts of MSU’s Food Fraud Initiative (FFI).

    Michigan State University created the Food Fraud Initiative (FFI) in 2013 as a response to this growing need. MSU has been at the forefront since 2007 when the MSU Packaging for Food and Product Protection Initiative (P-FAPP) laid the groundwork for FFI.  FFI is an interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach organization. We focus on all types of fraud that can contribute to public health and economic vulnerabilities and threats. These include adulteration, misbranding, tampering, overruns or licensee fraud, theft, diversion, simulation, and counterfeiting.

    The FFI mission is to leverage Michigan State University’s broad leadership position to protect the global and domestic food supply from Food Fraud vulnerability. We are a collaboration point for a wide range of stakeholders including industry, domestic and international agencies, associations, and other academics. Aligned with the Land Grant mission of MSU, we apply research, education, and outreach from theory to practical application with those stakeholders. The research forms the base for the development of new educational programs, which is applied to evolving outreach engagements. Feedback from those outreach engagements provides insight and direction for our research.

    FFI’s Key Related Projects and Deliverables include:

    • Publications in 2016 – 18 scholarly publications with 15 different co-authors:
      • 6 scholarly journal articles (with formal Scopus Impact Factors), 4 scholarly chapters, and 8 scholarly reports.
      • These publications have reviewed new laws/ regulations/ standards/ certifications or have created a firm theoretical foundation for practitioners. A recent article clarified the shift from “risk mitigation” to “vulnerability prevention.”
    • Joined ISO Technical Committee 34/ Sub-Committee 17 on Food Safety Management:
      • This is an especially important engagement since the ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Standard is being updated, including expanding to Food Fraud.
    • Expanded activity with ISO Technical Committee 292/ Work Group 04 Product Fraud Countermeasures and Controls (formerly TC247):
      • This TC has been focusing on anti-counterfeiting since 2009. MSU’s Dr. Spink is the founding chair of the US Technical Advisory Group Chair of TC247.
      • Recent efforts have expanded the involvement, including a soon-to-be-published “ISO/CD 19564 Product fraud countermeasures and control general principles” – this is based on two previous MSU scholarly articles on “Defining the Types of Counterfeiters, Counterfeiting, and Offender Organizations” and “Development of a Product Counterfeiting Incident Clustering Tool (PCICT).” The PCICT will be formalized in this ISO standard.
    • Engage Codex Alimentarius Electronic Work Group creating a Draft Discussion Paper on Food Authenticity and Integrity (Food Fraud): MSU will participate in the inaugural Food Fraud discussion at the next global Codex Alimentarius meeting.
    • New Food Fraud Audit Guide MOOC (Massive Open Online Course):
      • The course will run from April 4 to May 5 with two, 2-hour live lectures on April 11 and April 18.
    • Ongoing and Expanding Programs – Food Fraud Overview MOOC and
      • The 9th and 10th editions of the Food Fraud Overview MOOC will be offered in 2017.
    • Food Fraud Executive Education:
      • The 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th Food Fraud Executive Education will be offered in 2017 – this is in addition to 11 other offerings of related Executive Education or short-courses since 2009.


    Members are listed here with a summary of their backgrounds and related activities.

    We are incredibly fortunate to have such engaged and world leading partners. Their companies have been leading the protection of the food supply chain… and these are individuals who have been leading the leaders.  The high-level and global reach can be understood by looking at the titles and locations.  In addition, we’ve all met more times outside the USA than here at home.



    Frederic Rene

    Chief Food Safety Officer


    ·         Frederic was an early supporter of MSU’s Food Fraud research building a broad corporate food safety focus.  Through GFSI and the SSAFE organization, Danone was an early supporter of the focus on prevention.

    ·         Recently he has been a driving force in expanding the capacity-building activities presented in the MOOCs.

      Marc Cwikowski

    Food Safety Centre Director


    ·         Marc has been directly involved since his Robert Leader Endowed Lecture Series at MSU for the MSU Food Safety Program.  His involvement with GFSI and other organizations has provided insight on both the needs of industry and on the protection of the entire food supply chain.

    ·         Marc has been a leader in supporting the communication of Food Fraud definition to a wide audience.   He has also been especially supportive of resources that are available on-line and on-demand.


    Mars Incorporated


    Bob Baker

    Director, Mars Global Food Safety Center

    Beijing, China

    ·         Bob has been a strong supporter of MSU’s Food Fraud Initiative, co-presenting at the Thaifex conference in Bangkok in 2014. He leads the MARS Global Food Safety Center, which includes novel risk assessment modeling that covers Food Fraud.

    ·         He has been especially important in expanding the depth and breadth of insight serving the rapidly evolving and developing Chinese food market.

    Guangtao Zhang

    Global Head of Analytical Food Safety Research

    Mars Global Food Safety Center

    Beijing, China

    ·         Guangtao recently attended our Executive Education at Michigan State University.  We have worked together on Food Fraud prevention since the April 2015 Mars Food Safety conference at their Global Food Safety Center North of Beijing.

    ·         Recently his engagement at our Executive Education focused on the integration of science & technology with the complex and interdisciplinary food fraud prevention.



    Mike Robach

    VP, Corporate Food Safety, Quality & Regulatory


    ·         Mike is an MSU Alum who has been a strong supporter of a wide range of programs and activities. His leadership roles – including as the current Chair of the GFSI – have provided invaluable insight on the strategic direction of MSU’s Food Fraud research.  His insight is based on leadership roles with GMA, IFT, SSAFE organization and others.

    ·         Recently Mike has been especially supportive of the FFI focus on business resource-allocation decision-making.

    Sean Leighton

    VP of Food Safety & Quality


    ·         Sean is a strong Big Ten supporter as a Wisconsin Alum. He recently joined Cargill and has brought an emphasis on the process and methods of building a foundation before implementing programs.

    ·         He has provided broad insight on how emerging research groups – such as think tanks – collaborate to efficiently protect the food supply chain.



    Gillian Kelleher

    VP, Food Safety and Quality Assurance

    Rochester, NY

    ·         Gillian has been interested in MSU’s Food Fraud research since working together on the Food Safety Summit Educational Advisory Board.

    ·         She has been a leader in the FFTT focus on retailer needs.  Retailers need to balance private brand assessments and national brand management.

    Tom McLernan

    Quality Assurance Manager

    Rochester, NY

    ·         Tom became engaged with MSU after Wegman’s joined the FFTT. His broad responsibilities have covered a wide-range of fraud related topics.

    ·         Recently he attended our Executive Education program at MSU on Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment Workshop. He has been an important contributor on the unique retailer food safety and food fraud challenges.

    Mondelez International



    The Mondelez Global Quality and Supplier Quality teams have been long-time and constant partners with the FFI.  Original work with GFSI created a common foundation that has been mutually beneficial.  Their unique global footprint – both for sourcing raw materials but also for high-visibility branded consumer packaged goods – provides very unique and comprehensive insight.

    The Mondelez team has been involved with many MSU educational programs includuing the Executive Education.



    Paul Vilches

    Director, Global Food Safety and Quality

    Guadalajara, Mexico

    ·         Paul leads the ‘Center of Excellence: Food Safety’ for the organization. He is also Director QRC for Latin America. Paul is an alum of the MSU Food Safety Program.  His experience as a working professional/ graduate student is invaluable in providing insight on the practical application of theories and education.

    ·         His global experience is providing insight on the unique needs of a product like branded temperature sensitive products.

    Arcchana Patil

    Sr. Manger – Global Food Safety & Food Defense

    Hershey, PA

    ·               Arcchana recently attended the Executive Education Food Fraud Business program at MSU. Her insight on managing both their Food Safety and Food Defense programs provides an important insight on balancing a range of corporate priorities. Her FSMA implementation experience contributes to the research focus as well as training.

    ·               She has been an engaged contact for many FFI activities.


    Award Recipients “Share the Puck”

    Finally, an important FFI and FFTT activity is engaging agencies, other academics, and practitioner advisors. The MSU Food Fraud Initiative (FFI) recognizes key partners with our “Share the Puck” award.  In the sport of ice hockey this term means to work together to score a goal.  To efficiently and effectively advance Food Fraud research it has required – and will continue to require – that we all work together.  The collaboration has been from across academia and from the four corners of the globe. These hockey pucks are Michigan State University Big Ten College Hockey official game pucks, bearing both the team logo and the FFI Valued Partner award badge.

    Previous recipients recognized on www.FoodFraud.msu.edu include:

    Dr. Yongning WU

    Chief Science Officer

    Chinese National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA)

    Award: Share-the-Puck February 2015 and Keynote speaker at the MSU-led Food Fraud Session at the Food Safety Summit 2014

    ·         Dr. Wu has been a longtime colleague since involvement on the US Pharmacopeia Food Ingredient Intentional Adulteration Expert Panel in 2013. Through Dr. Wu the MSU FFI has presented over 10 times in China.  Our collaboration has also included four scholarly articles and chapters including the new Food Fraud Chapter in “Food Safety in China – Past, Present, and Future.”

    Andy Morling

    Head of the UK National Food Crime Unit (NFCU)


    Award: Share-the-Puck September 2016 and Keynote speaker at the MSU led Food Fraud Session at the Food Safety Summit 2017

    ·         After meeting at several conferences since the EC Food Integrity Project in 2016 in Prague, our contact has increased. The NFCU is one of the first enforcement teams focused on food fraud (food crime). His experience provides a unique insight to the challenges of creating and managing food fraud prevention. Andy will present in our Food Fraud session at the Food Safety Summit in May 2017.

    Dr. Jinjing ZHANG

    Deputy Director-General

    Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA)


    Award:  Share-the-Puck February 2017 and Keynote Speaker Executive Education

    ·         After first meeting at the 2015 IFT conference in Chicago we met later that year at the CFDA headquarters in Beijing.

    Dr. Christopher Elliott and Research Team

    Queen’s University Belfast

    Northern Ireland

    Award: Share-the-Puck April 2014

    ·         Chris was one of the first international supporters of our Food Fraud research when he invited a presentation at the ASSET 2014 program in Belfast. The international contacts at that conference have led to life-long relationships with QUB as well as with colleagues across the Island of Ireland, the UK and Europe.

    Leave a Reply