Here’s a brief description of the Section’s first Webinar on Food Fraud by Amine Djeffal, ASQ CQA, RAC, Quality and Regulatory Affairs Professional.
Deborah Esplin is a Food Safety and Quality Contract Auditor with SAI Global, with 16 years in food production and auditing. Before starting her career in consulting, Deborah worked 13 years for several companies ranging from nut and granola processing, gluten-free bakery products to natural products and packing of drink mixes.
As a food safety consultant, she has carried out almost 200 audits in food manufacturing plants in North America. Since fraud detection and controls are important elements in many of the standards audited, this webinar was an opportunity to learn more from Deborah’s experience and knowledge.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), food fraud happens when food is intentionally misrepresented. It may also happen through substitution, addition/adulteration and tampering at any point in the supply chain. In 2019, Canadians were shocked when confronted with news that counterfeit seafood had found its way onto retail store shelves and restaurants. Surprisingly, based on webinar poll results, only 44% of the attendees felt confident in the food they consume as being genuine.
Food adulteration is not easy to control due to supply chain complexity. In addition, one cannot rely solely on certifications to reduce risk. Some certifications like those issued by the Global Food Safety Intiatiative (GFSI) require food fraud risk assessment and controls from applicants. At government level, CFIA requires preventive control plans for meeting labelling regulations. Other initiatives and strategies to mitigate risks include stricter control over labelling. Definitely it takes a joint effort between industry, including all stakeholders in the supply chain, and governments.
It is also important to not forget the public, which needs to be part of the solution, by making information easily accessible in addition to having the ability to lodge complaints and report fraud.
As a bonus, instructions on how to do a taste test were provided at the end of the presentation.
In conclusion, the topic was very interesting and the webinar worth the attendance.
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Here’s a look at JP Amiel, ASQ Montreal Web Committee Chair, behind the scenes.