Fraud is an important source of risks that can affect the safety of food and feed. Also because fraud undermines exactly the system that was built to assure that safety. Just like the food industry, the feed sector acknowledges the necessity to put it on the agenda and take action accordingly. To contribute to this, GMP+ International has drawn up a manual. The feed fraud information document provides guidance for recognizing fraud, describes the impact of fraud and describes measures that companies can take.
Over the past six months, the fraud approach has been prepared with representatives from the feed chain and with food authenticity professor dr. ir. S. van Ruth of Wageningen Research / Rikilt. Feed fraud is defined as ‘the fraudulent addition of non-authentic substances or the fraudulent removal or replacement of authentic substances’. Motivation is making money, with which feed fraud distinguishes itself from feed safety as deliberate action. In feed safety, incidents with, for instance, undesirable substances, have an unintentional cause, such as weather conditions. An intentional, fraudulent action may consist of replacing a product by another product of lower value. Consciously concealing low quality, incorrect labeling or adding banned substances or products of non-assured origins is also considered fraud by GMP+ International.
Fraudulent actions can result in the presence of undesirable substances or products in feed. This can compromise the food and feed safety. In addition, the integrity of a company or its products are at stake in case of fraud, warns the information document. The impact also has a negative effect on the reputation and the confidence in the company and the entire industry. This could lead to economic damage due to loss of customers and / or sales, required recalls and possible claims.
It is important for companies to find out how vulnerable they are for feed fraud. Three factors are decisive in this. The first factor is the possibilities that exist for committing fraud. Complex products, production process or chains offer frauds more opportunity to strike. If fraud detection isn’t on the agenda or is very difficult, frauds have more opportunities. The second factor is the motivation for fraud. The drives for fraud can be personal, cultural and economic. An example of this is financial pressure from the customer relation or the survival of the company. Third factor are control measures to prevent or detect fraud. A company without control plan is more vulnerable to fraud than a company that does have such a plan.
Companies can prepare for fraud. In the information document, GMP+ International gives companies tools, which are briefly and concisely discussed in the information sheet about feed fraud. What’s important, is to know what ‘the standard’ is (in terms of price, quality, levels etc). Based on that, deviations can be detected, which can be a signal for fraud. The company must be able to deal with these signals adequately. In addition to an open culture to report and discuss signals, this means that people know what action is required and who bears what responsibility. These elements for a proprietary approach are also discussed in the training day about feed fraud. GMP+ International organizes this day next summer.
In case of fraud signals, the company itself takes the measures. If the fraud incident compromises (the assurance of) the feed safety, the EWS procedure of GMP+ International applies. In this case, the company reports the matter to GMP+ International and to the authorities if national legislation requires so. In case of doubt, a company can consult with GMP+ International on whether or not the EWS procedure applies. Thanks to reports about (potential) issues that affect the feed safety, the EWS procedure helps prevent or limit damage by means of adequate measures. In this, GMP+ International does not perform any detective work into the fraud, that is and shall always remain the task of the competent authorities.
In addition to the Feed fraud information document, GMP+ International, within the GMP+ FC scheme, has documents about incident management in the field of Early Warning, identification and traceability and non-compliant products.