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The SAAFoST - IUFoST Food Fraud Workshop

The SAAFoST - IUFoST Food Fraud Workshop
CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa, 29 March 2017

Owen Frisby

Ever since a packed out visit to Coca Cola, Johannesburg, in March 2016, when the director of food safety at the company addressed SAAFoST members and guests on food fraud, local food science and related professionals have developed a keen interest in this growing and concerning phenomenon. They were consequently delighted to hear about the organisation of a one-day workshop on the subject and particularly enthused by the involvement of IUFoST-sponsored international guest speaker, Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of the highly-regarded Food Safety Authority of Ireland. ( 

Being keen to compare notes on and experiences of food fraud in order to determine South Africa’s exposure, susceptibility and preparedness to address it, members volunteered their services, submitted names of experienced individuals and suggested names of individuals as speakers and delegates. The result was a full program of interesting local and international speakers, a healthy contingent of SAAFoST members and thanks to IUFoST’s generous support, a full complement of sponsored health and safety delegates representing the widest possible group of government departments, NGO’s, inspection services, laboratories, educators and food safety training providers numbering, on the day, about ninety delegates in all. 

Not having dealt with food fraud at this particular level before, the excellent IUFoST Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB) on Food Fraud Prevention, prepared by Dr John Spink of Michigan State University, was circulated beforehand as a guideline to all speakers. (
The day’s program opened with a very useful and necessary introductory paper on food fraud fundamentals and terminology and was followed by media reports, going back some fifteen years, on its national and international incidence to further set the scene. A later paper picked up on some of these reports providing numerous examples and more in-depth detail, facts and figures. A talk on the Food Fraud Model, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency in 2013, illustrated how raw material and supplier vulnerabilities could be highlighted for better targeting of surveillance measures controls and preventative interventions. 

The South African Departments of Health and of Agriculture described their systems of local and international alerts, control, quality standards and consumer protection activities, listing incidents experienced and response mechanisms available and deployed. A most interesting presentation dedicated to legal aspects of food fraud, expanded on the largely unapplied muscle of the South African Acts relating to Food Cosmetics and Disinfectants, Agricultural Products Standards and Consumer Protection, all of which provided for the criminal prosecution of entities misleading and defrauding the consumer in any way whatever.

An overview of the science-based regulatory body that is the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) described its impressive working organisation, vision, mission and strategic goals and official national food control network of state departments, agencies, institutes and authorities. Ireland, which to its credit, had its science and forensic systems already in place to protect its tourism and trade, was consequently able to uncover the international 2013 horsemeat scandal, a global problem of beef mislabelling. This event triggered the formation of the EU Food Fraud Network and Working Group. Combatting food fraud had subsequently become a part of working lives at the FSAI with the formation of the local National Food Fraud Task Force, which included customs and excise, local authorities, the police and other organisations while international networks were extended to include Europol and Interpol, begging the question whether food scientists would devolve into criminal investigation units or police specialists into a food inspection service!

From the food industry perspective, and via a Skyped presentation from Singapore, the Kerry Group, a multinational company that operates in twenty-eight countries with sales in one hundred and forty, stressed the current need to embed a food fraud program in every quality-serious business. A science-based tool, prepared and refined by academia and industry to help companies identify vendor vulnerability was described. Able to meet new GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) requirements, available in eleven languages and known as the Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment Tool, it was freely available on the internet via SSAFE ( The point was made that purposeful, economically motivated adulteration and fraud was often contrived to evade detection so unanticipated and unexpected consequences, beyond traditional food safety risks, had to be considered and expertly and scientifically prepared for. 

This Food Fraud Workshop, with its unique blend of popular and capable presenters, invited guest speakers, selected officials and motivated members gave rise to intensified interest, discussion and networking at the highest level. This was most useful in establishing a general awareness of the local situation and of available expertise, and experience and of the capability of the food industry and state to recognise, anticipate and deal with food fraud. It provided valuable guidelines on what is required of food science professionals, the food industry and the state and what is already being done successfully in international circles by numerous countries and companies. A similar workshop approach, with assistance from IUFoST to engage the most appropriate delegates, is recommended for all countries wanting to develop capacity and proficiency in this area.

Watch this space for news of selected presentations from this SAAFoST-IUFoST Food Fraud Workshop appearing on YouTube.

Owen Frisby is Executive Director, South African Association of Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST), PO Box 4507, Durban, SA 4000; e-mail: 


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IUFoST Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB)



John Spink, PhD
Food Fraud – and the focus on prevention – is an important and evolving food industry focus. Even though the vast majority of these incidents do not have a health hazard in some ways they are more dangerous because the substances and actions are unknown and untraceable.  The types of food fraud stretch the traditional role of food science and technology to include criminology, supply chain traceability and other control systems. The food authenticity and integrity testing will be the most complex actions and their value should be assessed in terms of the contribution to prevention. This Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB) presents an introduction, review of incidents, the fundamentals of prevention which then provide insight on the optimal role of Food Science and Technology.
See IUFoST SIBS below for the complete Food Fraud Prevention Scientific Information Bulletin.






Congratulations Prof. Dr. Purwiyatno Hariyadi

Congratulations to Prof. Dr. Puwiyatno Hariyadi who has been elected to the position of Vice-Chair of the  CODEX Alimentarius Commission.

Dr. Hariyadi is a Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology (IAFoST) and Senior scientist, SEAFAST Center; Professor, Dept. Food Science and Technology, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia.

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