Vulnerability Assessment

Thursday 5th July, 2018

Are you doing enough to prevent food fraud?

Food Safety and quality management systems have traditionally focused on preventing unintentional contamination of food by known ingredients, pathogens, mishandling or processing. Based on the types of food fraud seen in the diagram earlier the fraudulent ingredients and/or modifications are specifically engineered to evade both quality assurance and control systems. These adulterants are not anticipated by existing management systems and as such are only detected far along the supply chain.

Because only the fraudster knows the adulterant-substances being utilized and are motivated by maximum profit and not the welfare of consumers this can lead to hygienic or toxicological risks. According to “Food Fraud Prevention: Policy, Strategy and Decision-Making-Implementation Steps for a Government Agency or Industry”:

While the vast majority of reported food fraud cases do not result in a threat to human health, acts of food fraud create a vulnerability that dangerous adulterant-substances have been added or that the product has been mishandled and become dangerous.”

Current food safety and quality management systems, were not originally designed to prevent fraud. Food fraud prevention requires a different approach that is specifically devised to evade detection: it must take into account economic incentives and deceptive criminal behavior

Fraud generally occurs where:


Potential for and the temptation of food fraud 


Risk of getting caught

Professor Chris Elliot of the Institute for Global Food Security has developed a science- based framework for understanding food fraud risk as seen below. From a contemporary criminology standpoint, economically motivated crimes result from a combination of opportunities, motivations and inadequate control measures.

Food Fraud is a growing concern and recent incidents such as the infamous Brazilian Horse Meat Scandal have shown a need to strengthen the food industry’s ability to detect and combat fraud across supply chains in order to protect consumers.

Completion of a FOOD FRAUD VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT is only the first step of understanding your risks.