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  1. Food fraud

What is Food Fraud?


There is no EU harmonised definition for "food fraud". However, the lack of a harmonised definition does not prevent the Commission and the EU countries from taking coordinated action against "fraudulent practices" in the food supply chain. It is broadly accepted that food fraud covers cases where there is a violation of EU food law, which is committed intentionally to pursue an economic or financial gain through consumer deception.Violation of EU Food LawIntentionEconomic GainDeception of CustomersHigh profit (e.g. counterfeiting) with lower sanctionsLower priority from police/judicial authorities (compared to drug/weapon/cigarette smuggling)Attracting growing interest of organised crimeFood experts (inspectors)Police/Customs (with investigative powers)Justicehorse meat crisis, EU networks were already in place to coordinate and exchange information with Police/Customs (Europol/OLAF) and with Eurojust, but not with Food Fraud experts.


Since the Horse meat crisis in 2013, the main initiatives intended to enhance the EU control system as a whole for detecting and countering frauds in the food chain have been as follows:


Creation of an EU Food Fraud Network composed by representatives from the European Commission and all EU countries and Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, for a more efficient cross-border administrative assistance and cooperationDevelopment of a dedicated IT tool, the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System (AAC), to enable the members of the network to rapidly exchange information on potential cases of cross-border fraud. The system has been operational since November 2015Organisation of specialised training (in the framework of Better Training for Safer Food initiative) for food inspectors, police and customs officers and judicial authorities of the EU countries, concerning new investigation/control techniques related to food fraud (including eCommerce). Five trainings are held each yearCoordinated Control Plans at EU levelThe new Official Controls Regulation (OCR)Food defense is the protection of food products from intentional contamination or adulteration by biological, chemical, physical, or radiological agents for the purpose of causing harm. It addresses additional concerns including physical, personnel and operational security.







2. Food Defense


What is the Food Defense?



Food defense is one of the four categories of the food protection risk matrix which include: food safety, which is based on unintentional or environmental contamination that can cause harm; Food fraud, which is based on intentional deception for economic gain; and Food quality, which may also be affected by profit-driven behaviour but without intention to cause harm.Overarching these four categories is food security, which deals with individuals having access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food protection is the umbrella term encompassing both food defense and food safety. These six terms are often conflated. Along with protecting the food system, food defense also deals with prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery from intentional acts of adulteration.


Food defense events can generally be categorized into three types. These could be carried out by a disgruntled employee, sophisticated insider, or intelligent adversary with a specific goal in mind. This goal may be to impact the public, brand, company or the psycho-social stability of a group of people depending on the type. However an event may contain aspects of more than one category.