Europe Launches 'Knowledge Centre' To Tackle Food Fraud

The Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality has been set up in response to consumer concerns about food products most susceptible to tampering or adulteration like olive oil, wine, honey, dairy, fish, meat and poultry.

Mar. 29, 2018
By Isabel Putinja

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The European Commission has launched a new infor­ma­tion-shar­ing sys­tem to tackle the issue of food fraud and qual­ity in the European Union.

The qual­ity of the food we eat is impor­tant to all of us, and because food fraud is a transna­tional crim­i­nal activ­ity, the EU has a clear role to play in the response.- Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport

Called a knowl­edge cen­tre” and oper­ated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, this is the newest of five such cen­ters that bring together inter­nal and exter­nal experts to tackle a cer­tain issue.

The Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality has been set up in response to con­sumer con­cerns about food prod­ucts most sus­cep­ti­ble to tam­per­ing or adul­ter­ation like olive oil, wine, honey, dairy, fish, meat and poul­try.

The cen­ter was launched at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on March 13 by Tibor Navracsics, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.

Food is one area where sci­ence can very directly and tan­gi­bly demon­strate the ben­e­fits it brings to cit­i­zens,” Navracsics declared at the open­ing. The qual­ity of the food we eat is impor­tant to all of us, and because food fraud is a transna­tional crim­i­nal activ­ity, the EU has a clear role to play in the response.”

The cen­ter’s activ­i­ties will include coor­di­nat­ing mar­ket sur­veil­lance activ­i­ties, oper­at­ing sys­tems for early warn­ing and infor­ma­tion on food fraud, and link­ing the infor­ma­tion sys­tems of the European Commission and EU mem­ber states.

The launch of the Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality is an impor­tant step,” Navracsics added. It will help pro­tect the integrity of the EU food chain and safe­guard the qual­ity of food prod­ucts, gen­er­at­ing a clear added-value for Europeans.”

When cases of food fraud are uncov­ered, con­sumer trust is dam­aged and it affects the farmer-to-retailer food sup­ply chain as a result. An exam­ple of food fraud includes the horse meat scan­dal that hit Europe in 2013 when it was dis­cov­ered that many meat prod­ucts labeled beef con­tained horse meat.

But there are also cases of dis­hon­est mar­ket­ing prac­tices like recent rev­e­la­tions into dual qual­ity” where prod­ucts of the same brand and pack­ag­ing actu­ally con­tain dif­fer­ent ingre­di­ents in dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

In tests com­mis­sioned by a Croatian Member of European Parliament, food prod­ucts of the same brand were tested in Croatia and Germany and found to con­tain ingre­di­ents of dif­fer­ing qual­ity or quan­tity.

The Knowledge Centre is work­ing on meth­ods to test dual-qual­ity prod­ucts to step up the fight against such prac­tices.

Olive oil is the most adul­ter­ated food prod­uct in the European Union because it’s a high-value prod­uct with high demand but lim­ited in sup­ply. Fraudsters mix it with low-qual­ity or other veg­etable oils like sun­flower and mis­lead­ingly label it as extra vir­gin.





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