Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Queen's University Belfast's online course, Tackling Global Food Safety. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second A common example of substitution fraud is in meat products - where a cheaper meat source is used in place of the advertised or expected product.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds The European horse meat scandal in 2013 is an example of substitution fraud, where beef products, such as beef burgers and lasagne, were found to contain up to 100% horse meat.

Skip to 0 minutes and 28 seconds Geographic Fraud. An example of geographic fraud is olive oil. The highest prices are paid for olive oil produced in Italy and Spain. Frequently olive oil labelled as coming from these regions is found to have been produced elsewhere.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds Addition Fraud. An example of addition fraud is spices. Many spices are traded on the world markets based on their colour. The more intense the colour, the higher the price is paid.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds The addition of dyes to spices to intensify the colour is a fraud often detected.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 seconds In terms of the impact of food fraud on health, there are two types of food fraud that puts consumers’ health at risk - direct food fraud, indirect food fraud.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds Direct food fraud risks occur when the consumer is put at immediate or imminent risk, such as the inclusion of an acutely toxic or lethal contaminant. That is, one exposure can cause adverse effects on the whole, or a smaller, at-risk population.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 seconds Indirect food fraud risks occur when the consumer is put at risk through long-term exposure, such as the build-up of chronically toxic contaminant in the body, through the ingestion of low doses.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 seconds Indirect risk also includes the omission of beneficial ingredients such as vitamins.

Skip to 2 minutes and 10 seconds As we have said, olive oil is a food product, at risk of food fraud.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 seconds This is through the substitution of the advertised oil with an alternative, such as regular olive oil instead of extra virgin. Or even an alternative substance, such as sunflower oil or hazelnut oil.

Skip to 2 minutes and 34 seconds The risks to the consumers include direct fraud risk, consumer exposure to allergenic proteins from substituted oils. And indirect fraud risk, substitution of olive oil with other types of oils that have less benefits to health.

Skip to 2 minutes and 56 seconds Based on reports of food fraud from 1980 to 2010, the five most problematic ingredients for economically-motivated adulteration of food are - olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, and orange juice.

What is food fraud?

“Food fraud, an economically motivated adulteration, is a food risk that is rapidly gaining recognition and concern. Economically motivated adulteration (EMA) is a serious cause of public health food risks” (Spink, 2009).

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has defined EMA as “the fraudulent, intentional substitution or addition of a substance in a product for the purpose of increasing the apparent value of the product or reducing the cost of its production.” Similarly the Food Standards Agency (UK) places a high importance in combating food fraud and this can be seen through its creation of a database for use by local authorities and the work of the Food Fraud Advisory Unit.

Food fraud is therefore the adulteration or tampering of food products for economic gain. This can include adding inferior quality substances into the food, diluting food or drink material, or deliberate mislabelling of the product. Food fraud misleads the consumer causing the sale of poor quality goods and ultimately posing risks to human health.

The video explores the issue of food fraud beginning with substitution fraud.

A link has also been provided to a brief FSA article on Food Crime that identifies the main methods through which food crime can be committed. A PDF of this FSA article is provided in the downloads section below.

Please share any thoughts about the video or article in the discussion area below.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Tackling Global Food Safety

Queen's University Belfast