Copyright © Global Coalition for Sustained Excellence in Food & Health Protection, 2011 and ALL subsequent years: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Global Coalition for Sustained Excellence in Food & Health Protection with appropriate and specific reference and/or link to the original content.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Discussing Food Safety and Quality Management Models

How many  Food Safety and Quality management models are followed in the industry today? Do you know which of them your organisation has adopted? 

Join us to discuss the options on June 25, 2018 at this Conference in Toronto
Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

John Spink on Food Fraud Prevention 2018

MSU FF Workshop Lecture BRC v3 Evolution of Food Fraud Prevention 2018

I most certainly agree with this slide #4 since it reflects the thought that I shared in my March 2014 post about fraudsters attending conferences or courses that teach how to "catch and punish" them: "Fighting Fraud – Like Fighting Volcanic Eruptions"

Do you also know that fraudsters may even be willing to financially or otherwise support superficial anti-fraud efforts as these provide sufficient distractions, and that the distractions take the focus of industry away from doing what actually prevents them from carrying out their fraudulent activities?

Here is another fact worth considering about food fraud, fraudsters and victims: The most successful fraudulent activities in the industry are those funded and defended by the victims. The scope extends far beyond the usual list of things done directly to, or with, food.
Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Response to Prof. Alan Reilly's Whitepaper on Food Fraud

In his whitepaper, “FOOD FRAUD:UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF FOOD FRAUD IN ASIAProfessor Reilly has provided an excellent discourse from the perspective of mitigating the effects of fraudulent practices in the food industry. The premise and points correctly reflect the general understanding, experience and suggestions for mitigation action, although certain realizations are not reflected. For example, the detection and avoidance of fraudsters and their products largely remains an after-the-fact approach by the industry.

Professor Reilly suggests that: “The onus is now on food companies to develop documented systems for Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment (FFVA) and to implement measures to mitigate the public health, economic and reputational risks that may result from the food fraud”. Although this suggestion has some preventive overtones, it does not sufficiently address the root-cause (the almost insatiable appetite for economic gain).

The appetite for profit spreads to more institutionalized activities than what is done directly to, or with, food for economic gain. I have often maintained that we should be talking about “industry fraud” instead of the narrow focus on “food fraud”.  I have also mentioned elsewhere that the emerging business of selling partial food fraud mitigation solutions expands the very problem that the purveyors are purporting to address. By their own admission, those who sell these partial and ineffective solutions, particularly through the 3rd-party certification routes, agree that their solutions do not solve the problem. So, why do they continue to sell them?  It requires very little imagination, if at all, to know that a company can complete a documented Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment (FFVA), implement measures that it sees as sufficient to mitigate food fraud that affects its operation, get certified, then commit fraud. In fact, under current 3rd-party certification arrangement, it is very likely that one company may judge another company as presenting a low risk of committing food fraud if that second company is certified against the same scheme. In other words, the food fraud mitigation solutions that have been suggested under the certification arrangements are not only short in their anticipated effectiveness. They could actually be counter-productive instead of being preventive.

Truly preventive measures should address all root-causes. As such, even the “catch-and-punish” approach taken by the industry needs the necessary intelligence force and instruments that only law enforcement and judicial authorities have. The industry must therefore rely on these authorities and actively work with them.

It is really unfortunate that it comes down to this because of human greed. The industry must actively seek and participate in the necessary collaboration with law enforcement agencies among other parties that have helpful contributions like the academia, private consulting organizations, etc.  This collaboration must be done concurrently with any approach taken by the industry if any effectiveness is to be achieved with the adopted deterrent measures. It is not at all out of place for the industry to also have an enforced obligation to report identified incidents of fraud to the authorities once confirmed.

Also, as we know, elaborate deterrent operations have been undertaken by various law enforcement agencies, including the Interpol. While such operations must continue in attempts to curb the activities of subversive elements, the frequently reports about fraudulent activities in the industry show the insufficiency of all of the deterrent efforts. Something else is needed that is often not fully addressed. While it is important to educate food businesses on methods for catching fraudulent activities, it is equally important to educate would-be fraudsters on what could be done to avoid committing fraud, as well as on the need, advantages and merits of complete business integrity.

I still maintain that a holistic approach to solving the fraud problem is the only thing that warrants the effort. Insular solutions within individual silos, particularly in the forms of vulnerability assessment and mitigation action implemented by individual establishments will not do the job. Such solutions merely lead to finger-pointing and give the appearance of relevance, particularly when what is suggested can be done to gain certification or unwarranted trust with hidden intentions to commit fraud. Keep in mind that often when one finger points outward, three fingers point inward.

Related Posts on this subject:

Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Food Safety & Quality Management with Warranted, Shaky or No Confidence

What is the relationship between a food operation's level confidence and 3rd-party certification audits?  Here are some points to consider:
A food operation that has warranted confidence in its established food safety and quality management programs does not normally feel the need, nor in fact need, to seek special affirmation by a 3rd-party. The established programs are usually self-affirming through the consistent delivery of safe and desirable quality product.

If, in spite of having the confidence that its programs are able to deliver safe and desirable quality products, a food operation feels the need to seek the affirmation of a 3rd-party, the felt need shows a shaky confidence which is not confidence.

A food operation that lacks confidence in its food safety and quality management programs often feels the need to seek special affirmation by a 3rd-party. The lack of confidence demonstrated by the felt need for a 3rd-party affirmation provides sufficient evidence for the 3rd-party sought not to affirm that the established programs are able to consistently deliver safe and desirable quality product. There is also an often silent legal accountability until a real situation arises that leads to an actual lawsuit.

Could the latter be why the declarations on many 3rd-party “certificates” do not clearly affirm the reliability of examined programs to ensure the consistent delivery of safe and desirable quality products? Could this also be why the lifespan of a 3rd-party certificate does not go beyond the date of the audit?

Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

When the Wool-Over-Eyes is Pulled Back

It's like wool over eyes when the only things one hears or sees are fanciful claims about imposed requirements of food safety certification programs. These claim to be rigorous but are they? The wool is certainly over the eyes completely when one fails to demand: "show me the money".

Oh, there is money exchanging hands for sure in the money-making food safety schemes that are failing to make food safe. Many people (even people with impressive credentials) are still being strung along by fanciful boardroom and desktop food safety. Some are easily impressed by time-constrained third-party focus that is inevitably narrowed within the confines of pre-determined requirements. Requirements that are, themselves, constrained within the imaginative scope of those who come up with the rules. There can never be a better time than now to check and see if the popular food safety and quality assurance schemes are actually producing the desired results on the street.

Take a look at some past and recent reports.There are many more examples around the world but these examples tell the story quite well. They adequately reveal the truth. Some of the food businesses involved had been "certified to the highest 3rd-party sets of requirements":

Source: Food Safety Magazine

Source: Healthline Newsletter

 Source: US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Posted by Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is currently the chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection, and a sworn SSQA advocate.