A resilient food industry
The food and drink industry is under constant scrutiny. It is regularly challenged by consumer and legislative demands, as well as fighting insecurity in supply chains and various forms of criminal activity from outside (e.g. fraud, terrorism). Companies must have in place systems to cope with these, and practical measures to ensure that the systems are working. We have several member-funded projects that contribute to this.
Fraud and raw material risk assessment
In common with other management systems, activities related to fraud prevention need to be validated and verified. It is clearly not realistic for food businesses to test every batch of every raw material for evidence of food fraud. Therefore, a risk model is needed that not only considers the probability of the fraud occurring but also the robustness of the quality assurance system in general and the testing regime in particular to detect food fraud. We reviewed the state of the art with regards to risk management and food defence generally and prevention of food fraud specifically, and then developed a model to enable food businesses not only to identify those raw materials most likely to merit testing for food fraud (risk assessment) but also to modulate relevant testing regimes within the quality assurance system (risk prioritisation). The model also allows companies to determine the possible effects of proposed changes to the testing regime currently in place.
Following on from the raw material risk model project, a new project will look at risk mitigation across the whole supply chain. Increasingly, companies need support in identifying, assessing and managing risks that could compromise the integrity of the food and drink supply chain – leading to safety, quality and authenticity problems. Tools and guidance for this need harmonising, rationalising and, in some cases, updating. This project will develop a tool to help companies evaluate and manage risks and threats in assuring resilience of their supply chain, and to provide improved guidance and harmonised terminology in this area. This will bring together HACCP, TACCP and general food safety management programmes.
Product testing plays a major role in ensuring that products are what they say they are. Our recently completed project has looked at detection of cow’s milk in ewe’s milk cheese, DNA assays for detecting meat species (Loop–Mediated Amplification), and confirmation of red snapper (which is potentially subject to substitution by other cheaper species of fish) by Recombinase Polymerase Amplification DNA.
The project has also resulted in the publication of the –Food Authenticity Resources Bulletin – a quarterly –publication designed to keep member companies up–todate –with issues associated with food authenticity, –adulteration and fraud.